When it comes to vintage, no one knows their stuff quite like burlesque performers Betsy Rose and Missy Fatale, two of Proud Cabaret's most enticing acts. Not only do these two gorgeous ladies take inspiration from bygone eras for their stage style, they also happen to be vintage fiends in real-life. Jen Barton is totally mesmerised...
Meet Betsy Rose and Missy Fatale: modern-day pin-ups that are utterly captivating, glamorous and alluring – no wonder they're two of the headline burlesque acts at London's Proud Cabaret in the City and Camden (there's also a Brighton venue for those outside The Big Smoke).
These showgirls may have different burlesque personas – Betsy the glamour girl, Missy the femme fatale (she's also a fire artist and snake charmer with a python called Ronnie who's an "absolute diva!") – but they both possess amazing vintage collections, scooped up at markets around London (and across the globe) and inherited from beloved relatives.
While Missy teams repro with authentic vintage, Betsy likes coordinated ensembles that are head-to-toe true to one particular era. Check out their favourite vintage pieces – and jaw-droppingly amazing costumes – and take note of their top styling and beauty tips (we need some seamed stockings and posh undergarments, stat)...
Tell us a bit about your style.
Betsy: Elegant, ladylike and luxurious may describe it well. I tend to dress to the nines despite the destination. I love dressing up every day, and usually topped off by a nice old hat... that always adds a spring to my step, even in the glummest mood.
Missy: Burlesque, fire-eating and snake-charming is what I do for a living, in addition to being a Lindy Hop and 1920s Charleston dancer and instructor - so it's these aesthetics and epochs that inform my style. I adore vintage, but for both visual and practical reasons I often mix it with repro and modern pieces. Back in 2010 I spent some time in Japan (arriving just in time for the earthquake!) and became strongly influenced by the simplicity of Japanese design, and the darker side of the culture, such as Shibari (Japanese rope bondage) and Japanese horror films.
What are some of your tips for styling vintage outfits?
Betsy: The best tip I could give is to dress in what makes you feel comfortable. If you don't wear it with confidence, it won't do your vintage outfit or you the justice it deserves. So with that said, I say more is more. And always add a little brooch too... attention to detail shan't go unnoticed.
Missy: Know your body, and style yourself to suit it - your height/ curves/ skin-tone, etc.
Mix vintage and repro, but don't mix eras unless it's a definite choice! A flapper dress and victory rolls just don't make sense.
Don't throw swing aerials (a Lindy Hop move) in vintage clothes - they WILL fall to pieces!
Do you have a favourite vintage beauty look?
My beauty ritual is never to be seen with pale lips and a shiny forehead. I am the biggest lover of red lipstick. I tend to stick to a Forties beauty look, black eyeliner, rouged cheeks and red lips.
Missy: It depends on the day! But vampy is a particular preference, probably because it fits with my personality. When it comes to top beauty tricks, use setting lotion with hot rollers. And powder over liquid foundation to "set" your face and for the vintage "matte" finish.
What are your vintage wardrobe and beauty must-haves?
Betsy: Seamed nylon stockings are a MUST! I have rather a large fur collection which I simply couldn't be without. And always a hat of sorts!
Missy: Red lipstick - use a stay-on brand if you want to dance, or kiss people.
A strong, steel-boned underbust waist-training corset.
Swing heels with sueded soles.
Beautiful underwear at ALL times - unless you aren't wearing any!
LOVE THIS WRITER? Follow her on Twitter @JenBNYC.
MORE! See inside the best vintage wardrobes here.
LOVE VINTAGE? Check out our guide to vintage stores shops, salons and bars here.