I started watching Betty Boop cartoons when I was about 10 years old. I remember being absolutely drawn to this grooving, singing, sassy cartoon woman on TV. She definitely contributed to my retro flavour…
I had no idea what it was about her, I think it was a mixture of the hair, her voice and the way she walked… but even as a small girl I literally have memories of wanting to be just like her. I always loved her hair.
I started dabbling in vintage and pre-loved clothing when I was a fresh 18-year-old – before then I liked it, but it never really went anywhere. I had finished high school and got my first job in a second-hand clothing store here in Auckland called Recycle Boutique.
I loved working there, and even left to go and do a year-long certificate in Travel & Tourism… only to return and ask for my job back later because I missed it so much.
I love flicking through other people’s unwanted clothing and finding treasures. Being a staff member meant getting dibs on all the new stock so I was in a good place to buy items that never even made it to the clothing racks.
The mixture of clothing that would come in was a treasure trove of pre-loved gold. I loved buying new style fashion, but also mixing it with vintage pieces.
Working there cemented my love for 1940s and 50’s vintage and alternative fashion. I loved the way clothes were made and the fit on women’s bodies back in those days and longed for the same wardrobe for myself. However, I still enjoyed wearing modern style fashion with a vintage twist.
I never felt fully confident diving head on into wearing vintage/pin-up style. I used to wear vintage dresses with modern cardigans, t-shirts over the top!
I remember buying so many items that I told myself I would wear ‘one day’ – as I didn’t have the courage then. I’m sure some of you can relate to this. I used to buy jeans that were a size too small and hung them up in my room as a physical goal to reach ‘for when I’m that size’ (ridiculous right?).
I brought vintage and pin-up dresses that I wasn’t confident to wear, but thought ‘one day’ I would be able to put them on and walk around comfortably and confidently.
As the years went by, and I got older and wiser I knew that there was no point in feeling the way I did about myself. ‘Life is to short’ and all those wise cliché words… I gradually started incorporating more and more cute, vintage and pin-up style dresses into my everyday wear and eventually it was all I wore.
I’ve actually asked my mum about what she remembers from my days as a youngster – as well as my late teenage years and her memories of my fashion sense as I was growing up and finding myself…
“Charlotte’s introduction to alternate fashion came as a baby; her Grandmother used to make her clothing made of material that she may have saved from her own childhood, and had very old-fashioned taste. So in the post would arrive very unfashionable fussy dresses, cardigans and trousers, which Charlotte would have to wear while her Grandmother was around. That was a fair bit of the time. At play centre, she was always straight into the accessories drawer. Handbags bigger than she was, and too-big shoes were the order of every day.
Charlotte had a particular penchant for taking several colours or styles that were all hideous in their individual status, and making them into an ensemble that popped.
She went through the Glassons and Supre stages, the same as mostly every other teenage girl in New Zealand, but came out of that stage when she discovered op shops. And to that end, she has never looked back. A piece of this, a selection of that, and when Charlotte puts it together, it works! She has the knack of seeing what an ensemble will look like big picture, and is single-minded in her drive to find just the right piece”.
Personally… I don’t feel like I’m myself unless I have a retro styled outfit, 40s or 50s styled hair and some red lipstick on. Only then, do I feel alive and ready to take on whatever my day throws at me.
What influenced you to begin wearing and embracing your own clothing style? How has your unique style evolved over the years?
I find it really interesting learning about others stories so let me know in the comments below