For vintage-loving ladies Siobhan O'Dwyer and Andii Melody Mae, it's all about the repro.
As employees at one of the UK's most beloved 1940s/1950s/rockabilly clothing companies, Collectif (Siobhan is the accessories buyer and marketing manager and Andii works on the shop floor), the duo have plenty to experiment with when it comes to mixing repro and authentic vintage pieces to create their own unique looks.
While Siobhan's style is "a mish-mash of 40s/50s/60s kitsch realness, achieved through a mix of repro and original vintage pieces," Andii describes her way of dressing as "modern vintage, a mix between vintage silhouettes and modern fabrics, with a dash of Rockabilly influence and a healthy dose of pleated skirts." And don't forget flame-red hair with eyebrows and lips to match...
With wardrobes brimming with retro-style capes, furs, pencil dresses, co-ord suits and plenty of killer accessories (Lucite bangles, celluloid jewellery, nylon scarves, cat's eye glasses, hats and more) in bold colours and classic prints, Siobhan and Andii cite style influences from Jackie O. to Lucille Ball to Paloma Faith – and have a wealth of knowledge on how to scour the best vintage bargains.
Check out their vintage wardrobes and top vintage tips below...
What got you interested in vintage fashion? Was there a specific person that got you hooked?
Andii: As a fashion student I spent so long studying mid-century fashions during my fashion history lessons and the wasp-waisted looks of the New Look and old Hollywood glamour always sucked me in.
I love the prints, the lengths and the shapes. Unfortunately for me, my size stops me from wearing a lot of actual vintage, so repro and handmade items make up the majority of my wardrobe, and make it cheaper to play with colours and styles!
A lot of the girls on the scene seem to have got into vintage through other subcultures, and that definitely includes me!
I remember going to rock gigs when I was young and marvelling over the backcombed updos that the 'cool' girls would wear... and soon enough this evolved into the rockabilly style, which then evolved into how I look now... somewhat departed from that, but I remember the roots!
Where are your favourite places to source repro/vintage items?
Andii: Right here [Collectif]! Three repro brands I love all under one roof – what more can you ask for? Spitalfields Market can come up trumps sometimes, too – just bear in mind that prices here can be overestimated!
For vintage, I love a browse through the shops on Camden Passage, and Snoopers Paradise in Brighton is an amazing way to spend half a day rummaging. But my all-time favourite place is Ooh La La Vintage – a Facebook swap and sell shop for vintage.
Siobhan: I do love London but I find that sellers can ramp up prices a bit too much, for worn out items that sometimes can be mislabeled. Going further afield means you'll find some gems at a lower price. Car boot sales are a great place to go- I found a celluloid necklace at one in Watford last year for 50p. Visit The Classic Car Boot Sale (bi-annual) on the Southbank - there's lots of specialist sellers there who don't charge obscene amounts for items.
America is the place to go if you can afford the plane ticket - I came back from my last trip to Texas and LA with a whole extra suitcase worth of bargains. I remember when I drop the dollars that if I were to source the same over here, I would have easily spent three times more.
Online is also a great place to go shopping - especially Etsy. I always keep an eye on Ooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Shop on Facebook- there's thousands of ladies around the world posting up
amazing pieces there on a daily basis. eBay can be amazing but it can also be a bit of a bazaar - I've found some lovely pieces on there but I've also found lots of mislabeled items. You need to know what you're looking for.
Three top tips for styling vintage outfits?
Andii: 1. Just 2. Enjoy 3. It.
Working in repro means that I see and hear a lot of people who are worried about 'pulling it off' or 'looking weird.'
My best advice to anyone is just wear what you want because you like it. The best dressed people are the people that love what they're wearing, wear it with confidence and are comfortable.
Siobhan: Wear whatever you want! What you wear is a projection of your personality and I treat my outfits as such. Don't be afraid to mix up your eras a bit! I love the smooth hairstyles of the 1960s and teaming them with a long pencil dress, or similar.
Don't be scared to factor repro and mainstream fashion brands into your outfit. Working at Collectif is amazing because I have such a wider window of opportunity with my outfits.
I love to club classic turtleneck tops (mainly bought from H&M) with vintage circle skirts. Shoes are especially hard to source if you have larger feet (women had tiny feet all those years ago!), and that's why I turn to amazing vintage-inspired brands like Miss L Fire for shoes.
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See inside the best vintage wardrobes here.