My Vintage Wardrobe: Jessica Warnes, Owner Of St Cyr Vintage

04/03/2015 12:09 | Updated 20 May 2015

Jessica Warnes has vintage in her DNA: she grew up surrounded by books on costume and fashion thanks to her mother, and her grandfather was an antiques dealer with a store on Portobello Road.

After graduating with an arts degree, Jessica never expected to get into the business of vintage dealing, but after feeling disillusioned with the high street (uninspiring silhouettes, ill-fitting clothes, difficulty finding what she wanted when she wanted it, like a cosy jumper in summer), she decided to set up her colourful shop, St Cyr Vintage, in Camden Stables Market in 2009.

When it comes to her personal style, Jessica is a fan of the 1930s to the 1970s and likes pieces with lots of colour, pattern and most of all, texture - she falls in love with a fabric before anything else.

In her everyday looks, she mixes retro with modern, like a 50s Japanese kimono over denim or Victorian jewellery with 70s flared dresses, and looks to icons like Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin for her effortless, natural and totally covetable style.

Don't miss all of Jessica's top vintage-buying and styling tips and get a look at her fab vintage wardrobe below...

Describe your style

My style is feminine, comfortable, understated-sexy and natural-looking. I think I approach vintage at a slightly different angle to other people: I like the fabrics. There's nothing like a thick, lovely fabric that feels lovely in your hands and against your skin. I'm also a fan of kitsch prints, colours and textures. I mix my vintage with some high street but I'm quite picky about high street clothes because I don't often find a fabric that excites me.

Where are your favourite places to source vintage items?

London has so much to offer when it comes to vintage.

​There is so much competition with so many vintage shops that prices are actually better in London than outside London – people know you have to keep prices down if you want to keep your customers.

Sometimes I go to Paris for the great markets there – you can get some really good bargains. And I go to Holland and Italy once or twice a year for work – they're great for fake fur and amazing leather bags.

I don't shop too much online because I like to try things on and feel the fabric, but I often go to antiques fairs, car boots sales and specialist car boot sales. Places to check out are the Chiswick Car Boot Sale (you can find lots of stuff for £10), Sloane Square charity shops (more designer items and expensive stock), Snooper's Paradise in Brighton (great for jewellery) and Birmingham has a really good mod scene (good for clothing as well as music and dancing).

What do you need to watch out for when buying vintage? Any top vintage-scouring tips?

Firstly, you want to check the condition – when it's something that's lasted many years you want it to last more. Look out for moth damage on a knitted item. It's difficult to repair and tends to run.

Secondly, for someone new to vintage, forget about your size.

​Don't be put off by the size when buying vintage clothing - it's just a number. It's down to fabric, cut, bust, etc. – if you are a 12 in Topshop you may be a size or two up. Knowing your measurements is handy; often vintage shops give you measurements and not the size.

Thirdly, if you're buying early 1960s or before, be careful how you wash it. I accidentally slipped a 1940s crepe dress into the wash and it shrunk in one direction!

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