Bold, bright and totally individual, Rag & Bow founder Hazel Holtham's vintage style is a mix of old and new, high street and designer, Thirties silhouettes and Seventies glam. And it's seriously amazing. Jen Barton has a rummage...
Hazel Holtham has a great eye for vintage. Like the time she was browsing in a charity shop in Salisbury a decade ago and stumbled upon a classic, cropped, Eighties-era grey wool Alaïa jacket - for a fiver. Luckily for us, we all have access to Hazel's handpicked vintage style thanks to her roving vintage boutique, Rag & Bow. The shop showcases a selection of funky and fresh retro pieces from the Fifties to the Nineties and is available online at Asos Marketplace.
We quizzed Hazel on her top styling tips, vintage history, favourite vintage pieces and more and got a tour of her envy-inspiring collection (the Alaïa jacket is just the beginning)...
When did you first get hooked on vintage?
When I was about 12 or 13. My mum had kept every single item of clothing she wore in the Sixties and Seventies. I used to sneak into her wardrobe because I was so intrigued by the colours, textures and sequins.
What are the best vintage-sourcing spots?
For work vintage, I love travelling. I did a big tour of America and found some amazing places on the outskirts of Miami. In the UK, I like the car boot sales. They're normally better in the north of England and north Wales and the seaside towns where people go to retire. You tend to get really good gems around there. I still get really excited because of the thought of going to a massive car boot sale. I still get excited by the hunt.
Three top tips for styling vintage wares?
1. Always bring yourself to your outfit. Unless you're a Forties/Fifties enthusiast who dresses head-to-toe. I never dress head-to-toe in vintage; I believe in embracing pieces into your own style.
2. Never be scared of it. You can get a Forties or an Eighties jacket and tweak a few things (like rolling the sleeves up to make it more modern). Tailor it to yourself - whether that's taking it up or getting the waist taken in.
3. Take a statement piece like a skirt or jacket and mix it with something really plain and modern. I've got a classic YSL tuxedo jacket that I'll team with separates from Zara and & Other Stories. Mix things up – you don't have to spend a lot of money, but it is nice to save up and get one classic item you can wear forever.
What's the most exciting piece you recently bought? And the most exciting piece you've EVER bought?
For me, because I see so much of it, it's got to be a bit special. I especially like collecting Ossie Clark pieces. Bus Stop, designed by Lee Bender, is another favourite (it's one vintage person to another vintage person's collectible label). I found a lovely Seventies dress from the label – it's beautiful, the way it's cut, it's wearable and in immaculate condition. That is my favourite piece because I can actually wear it. Classic, it will never date and it looks like something you can buy now.
Any tips to tell if a vintage piece is worth investing in?
The quality – always check the underarms. I can't count the amount of times I've bought stuff only to see the underarms ruined. Look out for moth holes, underarm staining, the boning, etc. Look at the garment carefully before you buy. If it's a designer piece, I think people overcharge a lot of the time.
If you know you like a particular designer, do a little homework, a bit of research on labels (i.e. Ossie Clark will sell at different price points based on when it's from, whether it's from a diffusion line, etc). The Vintage Fashion Guild has every esoteric label you've never heard of on there.
Finally, it you like it, that's all that matters.
For more Hazel and Rag & Bow, check out her virtual visual inspirations on the Rag & Bow Instagram.
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See inside the best vintage wardrobes here.
Find the best vintage shops, salons, bars and diners in your area with our shopping guide Find Me Vintage.