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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Discovering My Vintage Style

Alot of people ask me if I enjoyed vintage style when I was a 'youngern'...you know, WAY back in the day. ;) Yes, I enjoyed it...but no, I didn't wear vintage clothing or even vintage STYLE clothing as a kid. For one thing, I didn't know HOW to shop for vintage things and I'll be the first to admit that I despised the smell of mothballs, so I avoided thrift shops. I had a huge display of classic film stars on my wall and I really loved their style...but as I've mentioned before, I never knew there was such a thing as retro reproduction clothing. My style was largely influenced by the fads of the days, supplemented with tailored things that my mom encouraged. Still, looking back through these old photos, I can see hints of my love for vintage style-misguided though my fashion choices may have been.

Circa 1987. Notice the hot pink and 'baby pants'? These were very popular, inspired by the movie 'Dirty Dancing'. If you look closely, you can also see the iridescent blue eyeshadow, worn all the way to the brow bone. You can thank Aziza and their mosaic eye shadows for that...every teenage girl had them.

Around 1990. I was really thrilled when a friend of mine loaned me this purple taffeta dress to wear dancing. About this time, the hair got very blonde, very 'hot-rolled', and very big. I was trying to do a Marylin Monroe thing...not quite successful.

1992. Still blonde, just a bit shorter. I loved this dress. Not sure why.

December of 1992. Visiting my cousin in Fl. Still blonde, and slightly more stylish than usual. I was finally getting into classic, tailored stuff at this point...as you will see, that soon goes horribly awry.

For those of my younger readers who weren't around to see the arrival of the beast called 'Seattle Grunge' in the early 1990's-the following fashion choices will be especially puzzling. I think it was the music...we all wanted to look dirty when we listened to it. But I plead my case by encouraging you to look up photos of Kate Moss during this time...even runway fashion was going through a slump.

The above photo was taken at a 'Celebration Station' (go-cart/game center) in 1993. It was taken as a joke. Notice the center parted long hair and Adidas shirt? I was also wearing mens' jeans, about 10 sizes too large.

Hiking in the mountains, 1994. Boyfriend's 'boggan, thrifted coat (At this point, I had long since gotten over my distaste for mothballs. The Goodwill was the ONLY place to shop...specifically in the mens' and little boys section. Tightly fitted tee shirts were a wardrobe staple as well as mens' work shirts w/ the sleeves cut off, worn over the top. If said work shirt was monogrammed w/ someone else's name, it was considered especially worthy.), flannel shirt, mens jeans, and Doc Martens.

April, 1995. This is my lingerie shower, just before my wedding. My hair was newly red, super long, and constantly in braids. I was 19. Baby doll dresses in plaid 'flannel-ish' prints were popular, as were knee socks and 'mary-janes'. I had finally gotten away from dressing like a man- in favor of a little girl.

May 1995. On my Honeymoon. Fitting that we went to Disney World for our wedding trip, no?

Over the next few years, I floundered about aimlessly, when it came to style. I remember owning a pair of bell-bottoms, lots of filmy peasant-style skirts, and several mid-rift baring tops. Towards the end of the nineties, my clothing was universally very fitted and sometimes not as modest as it should have been. For the duration, my hair was usually long and unstyled. Even on special occasions, it seems:

Suddenly, in 2000 (newly a mom) I remember finding a gorgeous Mandarin style dress in a glorious shade of royal blue. I loved the dress because it fit like a dream and reminded me of 'The King and I'. I felt so glamorous in it and wore chopsticks in my hair. I cut my hair to my shoulders and started styling it more often. I also sold Mary Kay at this time, so I was really beginning to experiment with makeup application:

In 2004, I discovered 'Stop Staring', and soon after that Pin Up Girl Clothing. A whole new world opened up to me. I guess I COULD have been the girl that searches out vintage clothing at thrift stores or online, but I never had much luck with that. Mainly due to my lack of patience. Therefore, retro-reproduction was my new best friend.

I placed a few orders and began to experiment with 'Bettie Bangs'. At first, they were all wrong...cut straight across instead of in a 'u' shape, as they should have been. But I was beginning to gain some confidence in my decision to sport a retro inspired look. Most of the time, I went w/ simple styles...side combs, loose waves, a ponytail...I also went platinum blonde, for the first time since I was about 16 years old.

I was definitely a late bloomer, when it came to discovering my style. But once I found it, I'm happy that I haven't done any back-sliding. I am very passionate about recreating the styles I've been watching in films, for my entire life.
I adore discovering ladies online who have the same passions as myself. And I am consistently inspired by all of you.

No, I didnt have it together at 17, like darlin' Miss Amethyst of the Pink Retro Powder Room. But I firmly believe that you should not EVER be ashamed of who you were, when it comes to style or anything else. Just make sure that from here on out, you got some idea of where you're going.



Ruthy said...

That was a lovely and funny read, thanks for sharing :) x

Roxie Roulette said...

What a lovely read! Your smile shines throughout the years too! I love your confidence in wearing vintage too - I envy that greatly!

Julia said...

Love this. Thank you for sharing.. it's not only inspired me, but has made me feel more confident as I explore how to transition into my vintage style :) You're positively lovely Miss Ashley!

Katy said...

Oh !!!! I remember the grunge phase, girls wearing baseball team shirts from the goodwill with boys' names on them!
I did a lot of flannel shirts back then, and the hair was always long and totally untouched. I remember I would wash it and wear it wet to school.

We were so unfortunate to grow up in that time. :/ I also remember when it switched to babydoll dresses and mary janes. The 90's really sucked. The only good part of that decade was the hip hop albums.

Heichelbech-Weill Genealogy said...

I'm a few years younger than you, but went through a similar range of 90s styles, though always infused with vintage clothing. That babydoll dress outfit (almost exactly) was what I wore as a youngin, but with a blazer (trying to be classy I guess). Thanks for sharing your past styles!

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

What a fantastic post! Don't worry, you should have seen me at 17, and 23 and 28 ... :)

Miss Veruca said...

Merci d'avoir partagé ces moment avec nous !/ Thanks for sharing these moments ! I explore my vintage style possibilities (was in gothic style) . Not really simple , and you help me everyday ..Thanxxx a lot ...from France

CherryRosesea said...

I love love love this post!!!! Really enjoyed it. I could just hear you narrating it! Makes me smile to think of how quickly fashion changes : )

Amanda Awesome said...

I remember those early 90's styles. I remember watching my older sister romp around in doc marten's and run off with my brother's jeans. I remember being very confused as to why she didn't want to dress like a girl.

Caroline said...

Nice to know that I'm not alone in my search for style, and lack of patience for finding genuine vintage clothing!

Marie-Jo said...

that was a nice read :) since I'm a child of the '80s, (and after that my grunge period) my pics those days are awfull!

Karin said...

Reading this post was like reading about my own "style history"! Like you, I am a late bloomer and have just now, at the age of 34, realized that I feel prettiest in vintage style clothing and hair. It's also nice to hear I'm not the only one going for vintage reproduction. It's hard to find genuine vintage in my size, as I am a medium-large. Vintage tends to be teeny-tiny!

Zelzega said...

My grunge staple was a little black dress with 1-2 flannel shirts and multi-colored Docs. So much of what you went through, I went through (just a few years younger, lol). Seeing that you're a late bloomer into retro keeps me inspired to keep trying new looks. Late bloomers ftw!

Classic Retro Glamour said...

Really interesting and fun post! Thank you! :)

Aaron Jennings said...

I really enjoyed this :)

Have a look at this :D


Much love :D

Eese said...

I love reading this so much, Ashley! (Especially since I've known you for so long now... back to the days when we had all just gotten married. Eek.) Funny, you call yourself a late bloomer, but I'm blooming FAR later than you, ha! Anyway, I've been drastically improving over the last several years... and just very recently, I'm attempting to venture into these classic, vintage styles. I've been watching your videos and reading your blog for a very long time now, and just this week am I finally TRYING some of it. Thank you for being such an inspiration! (and for being so delightful to watch!)
Much love,

amyalindstrom said...

Oh Gosh... Yep.. The grunge years... I was 15 in 95... SO I was right int he middle of it. I wore boy style tshirts from the 80's with old men golf plaid pants.. Chains on my wallet and neck.. :) It was sooo much fun to go shopping though. And my mom says I saved her a ton!! LOL

stefania said...

Thanks for sharing your photos! Your style changed so much, but you are always beautiful!

Nikki said...

Thanks for sharing your evolution of style. It is good to know that we have all had out bad times. I too suffered through the 90s, as I was 17 in 1995, and recently have discovered vintage style. I love how girly and beautiful it makes me feel. You are truly inspiring, and have helped me embrace my inner "pin-up", with confidence and grace. Not to mention my husband loves it. We are actually planning to attend Viva next year! It looked fabulous in your blog.

Miss Amethyst said...

awww thanks for featuring me !!! thats really sweet of you! I think you look great no matter how your hair looks like or what your wearing!!!

Martha said...

Simply a beautiful post. I'm just experimenting with pin up girl and old hollywood style. So this was a very helpful post =] Thank you x

Jenna Petry Designs said...

This is a fabulous post! Thanks for writing it and giving us gals encouragement. I absolutely relate. I was in my late teens and early 2o's through the 80s and 90s and this was my experience, too. Drove my mom nuts. I am now 38 and just discovering my love of vintage. I want to find the right balance so I'm not over the top, but I really enjoy the femininity and sensuality of the 1940s and 1950s and feel it suits my body and personality best. I'm getting braver, trying new looks and adapting for modern day. I was SO tired of the 90s/2000s "professional" dress down kakis and blue shirt Block Buster uniform everyone adopted, men and women, or having to be built like an anorexic stick. Now I see so many people (women) settle for jeans and tee or ill-fitting capris and men's t-shirt - so tired-looking, or PJs?!?!? or track suits... (ugh). I want a sense of style! :) YAY! Thanks again for sharing your story.

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