What do you do when your mum and dad sell their house and each room is bursting full of your vintage treasures? Well, if you're Mary Ann King, you open up shop. The vintage connoisseur is the founder and owner of Glasgow retro boutique, Mr. Ben Retro Clothing, which is stocked to the brim with fabulous vintage EVERYTHING.
I was about nine or 10, it was very early on. It was the 1960s and I was away with my mum at our usual holiday home. The lady upstairs was very glamorous - very Vegas glam. She was in her seventies and she was binning all her 1950s and 1960s dresses and I was this kid watching her throw her clothes in the bin, all these beaded gowns. She was just chucking things in the bin and there was me, fishing them out.
What are your favourite vintage eras and style icons?
My style icons are always women who are not afraid to buck the trend; the don't give a damn type. Amy Johnson, the WWII pilot, Helena Bonham Carter, Tilda Swinton. Striking, strong and highly opinionated, her style speaks volumes for personality.
Any top tips for styling vintage wares?
Make sure it fits properly. If you love it, you can't go wrong!
What are your most treasured vintage pieces?
Things that came through the Second World War, the Suffragette period, things that have travelled through time and were part of these momentous moments in time and that tell me a story. My Suffragette pins and postcards are precious because it's very touching to own a little item that was created to fight for a woman's right to vote, usually designed by lady artists of the period. So these items have an artistic, emotional and political content.
How can you tell if a vintage piece is worth investing in?
The item interests me. I once had a dress a woman handmade and her granddaughter was coming to sell it. It was simple and straightforward, but made so lovingly. It was a multicoloured striped dress and for every patch of dress she'd lovingly changed her thread to match the colour she was weaving. It was clear that the woman didn't have a lot of money, but what she put into it was precision and love. I was blown away by it. I managed to convince her granddaughter to keep it and I told her I would never part with that dress - that dress tells me about your grandmother's personality.
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