A modern day sweater girl, vintage event organiser Bettina Scarlett loves everything about the 1950s, from doo wop music to beatnik fashions. Jen Barton sneaks a peek at her bombshell dresses and collection of retro bucket bags...
Meet Bettina: a vintage lover who turned her passion for retro music and clothes into a career when she launched Bettina Scarlett Presents, a vintage event firm which hosts 50s-inspired retro fair The Mid-Century Market, as well as fashion shows at The Rockabilly Rave.
1950s-style parties call for a 50s-era wardrobe, and Bettina's doesn't disappoint. She loves the figure-accentuating style of the decade and her wardrobe is packed with shimmy-ready wiggle dresses, beaded frocks, Capri trousers and sweaters, men's rockabilly gabardine jackets and patterned day dresses. Mixing amazing authentic finds from different eras as well as fab repro pieces from her favourite labels like Lady K Loves and Di Brooks of Outerlimitz, we can't get enough of Bettina's feminine take on vintage. Or her perfectly set curls...
What got you interested in vintage fashion? Was there a specific person that got you hooked?
My parents brought my brother and myself up with rockabilly and rock-'n-roll music and I remember listening to it all when I was a child. I always loved the 1950s look when I was young but didn't start dressing vintage until I was around 16-years-old. My gran was a massive lover of the mid-century period and would always make me and my mum beautiful 1950s-style dresses from patterns she used first-time around, so I'd have to say she was definitely a huge influence on how I dress today.
Three top tips for styling vintage outfits?
1. Don't be afraid to mix eras. I tend to wear high-waisted 40s swing trousers with a 50s blouse.
Reproduction vintage is not the devil. There are a lot more mainstream brands jumping on the bandwagon but there are some truly amazing repro brands out there.
Di Brooks of Outerlimitz sell such a great variety of 50s-style clothing including Lurex jumpsuits and Hawaiian sarong dresses. You can get great quality repro if you're a bit nervous about wearing head-to-toe vintage.
3. Don't be scared to go all-out with accessories. If you think your outfit is a bit plain, accessorise with a thermoset jewellery set: a matching necklace, bracelet and earrings can really glam up any outfit and a lot of vintage jewellery is quite reasonably priced online and in some vintage stores.
What's your favourite vintage shopping memory?
I remember going to a little town called Southwold near Lowestoft (my hometown) a few years ago with my parents. There was a small antique shop there and I remember seeing a vintage 1960s bucket bag in it, which was beautifully embellished with gems and beading. I snapped it up because I couldn't resist it and later found out it was by a designer called Enid Collins, so I started looking up her bags on the Internet and it opened up a new world to me.
I collect her bags now and have around 13 so far. I go through stages of which one is my favourite. At the moment, it is a cream one with a gold horse and carriage design on it. I have so many though, it's hard to decide!
Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?
Like most vintage lovers, I do adore scouring eBay and Etsy for a bargain. I can literally sit for hours on end searching for a new dress or a great pair of Capri pants. I also tend to 'stock up' when I go to rockabilly weekends such as The Rockabilly Rave or Hemsby, where a lot of vintage and reproduction companies have stalls. I love spending an afternoon just hunting through all the stalls trying to find some new bits.
What do you need to watch out for when buying vintage?
I think you need to watch out for being ripped off - because there are so many vintage shops out there now, people think they can charge high prices for a lot of garments.
I will often put a dress back on the rail if I think it's expensive because at the back of my head I know I can find something just as nice on eBay for a lot cheaper. You've just got to do a bit of hunting.
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