Today I am pleased to bring you a very special edition of Wichita Artists! This series usually showcases local artists and crafters who sell their handmade items on Etsy. The seller I am featuring today, however, sells vintage items, and as far as I am concerned, that is an art within itself! So sit back, have a read, and then go check out her store! It is chock full of beautiful stuff.
Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m 30 years old, live in a very cluttered little house near the university, no pets since I have trouble keeping one houseplant happy, and I have a super nice sculptor boyfriend named Mike. In December I started teaching art in a residential psychiatric treatment facility for children, which is a great job and always interesting! My degree area is studio art with an emphasis in painting, and I’ve been trying to find more time for my own artwork since I graduated in 09.
How did you become involved with selling vintage?
I first heard about Etsy from a friend (Hallie of Mountainscreamer) who starting selling handmade in our last semester of art school at WSU. It sounded awesome- I like to sew and craft, but couldn’t seem to decide on what to make for an Etsy store, and was lacking motivation just after finishing school. I already had some vintage clothing items I’d bought just because they were cool- not necessarily in my size, so they were just laying around… I made up my mind to sell vintage instead and started building an inventory. Hallie modeled for me to get me started- I relied on her and other friends until I got my first dress form. Selling vintage is a really good fit for me, because I’ve always had this need/hobby/drive to buy things I don’t need- it sounds cliché, I know- and now I have a purpose to my shopping and an outlet for all the stuff I amass!
How would you describe your fashion sense?
I’m not a great fashionista myself- I like things that are easy and comfortable but still unique. One of my current favorite items is a pair of loose-cut pants with a big paisley pattern in shades of brown, and I wear a cardigan or shrug almost every day (in the winter, anyway). I’m a plus size, and it’s really hard to find cute vintage clothes that fit well, so I often find myself drawn more to shoes, scarves, and other accessories to add something unique to my wardrobe.
Who or what inspires you?
I’ve always been attracted to historical fashion, really any era from Victorian onward, and that carries over into any of my art or crafting. I enjoy reading/watching movies set in certain eras as well (aside from anything to do with fashion), the Old Testament era and the Great Depression in particular. I love musicals- the Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. I have my practical side, but I’m also into things that are over the top, decorative, tacky, extreme- think of every set and costume from the newest Phantom of the Opera movie.
What are some of your favorite types of items to collect?
I love shoes the most, especially anything menswear inspired. I’m a sucker for vintage lace- just bought a big bag today that is mostly handmade pieces removed from the hems of slips- oh, my! I also like mugs with rainbows on them- my collection is small, but growing. And I never turn down a unique bed sheet- some of the best vintage patterns are on bedding.
Do you have any favorite brands?
For vintage shoes I’m always interested in Keds, Hush Puppies, and 9 West- I personally prefer comfortable, practical shoes and they really sell better than pumps and stilettos. I love Vanity Fair slips and lingerie, Gunne Sax and Laura Ashley (when I can find it). There’s this brand called Together which made trendy and comfortable clothes in the late 80’s and early 90’s- it’s not really well-known, and probably was moderately/affordably priced at the time- I see it often and almost always buy what I find.
What should one consider when buying vintage?
Consider the fit before anything else! Definitely know your own measurements, even when buying in person rather than online, and remember that marked size means nothing because sizing has changed greatly over the last 60 years or so. A modern size 8 could correspond to a size 16 from the 1950’s, and there is at least a size or two difference between today’s clothes and those of the 80’s.
As far as condition is concerned, it’s a personal choice what level of wear or damage you’re comfortable with- some people like clothes and shoes that show their age, and others are only interested in pristine or mint items. Just be sure you know exactly what you are getting, especially when buying online since you can’t see every detail, touch or smell the item. Vintage clothes are a little more work, so plan on hand washing or dry cleaning most items from the early 70’s or before.
What are you thoughts about vintage in Wichita?
I think Wichita is a good place to buy vintage clothing if you are willing to spend time looking. We have a number of thrift stores that are packed with clothes, more so than other cities I have visited, and good quality vintage clothes are plentiful and affordable. I would venture to say that vintage is underappreciated in our area- most of my items go to the coasts or overseas. It’s funny to think about the history of any one item- maybe it was handmade locally or mass-produced in China, then found a home in Wichita, then it came to me and I send it to California or Australia. I like to think that I’m helping to stir this layer of -stuff- that covers the world.