You are in the Special Features section - Vintage Vanity - Vintage Clothing for UK Online Purchase Including Mod and Vintage 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís Clothing

Vintage Vanity - Vintage Clothing for UK Online Purchase Including Mod and Vintage 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís Clothing








Vintage Vanity - Vintage Clothing for UK Online Purchase Including Mod and Vintage 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís Clothing.

Owner Tessa's love of fifties style and clothes has resulted in her running the Vintage Vanity business as well as finding a partner with a similar passion for Mod and sixties.

Here Digger talks to Tessa at Vintage Vanity.



Digger: Please tell us about your background in vintage Tessa.

Tessa: I became interested in vintage at a very, very, very young age. I actually started wearing vintage when I was fourteen and fifteen .

Digger: That was very brave because normally young people want to be part of the pack and conform really, don't they?

Tessa: I've never been anything like that. I've always wanted to be unique. I was a punk for a time. (Laughs)

Digger: Did you get irritated when people started to jump on the vintage bandwagon and you weren't standing out as much as before?

Tessa: Not really. Because I think with vintage it doesn't matter and you're still unique, aren't you? Everybody has got their own twist on vintage and I'm not a purist. I love fifties and wear fifties but I'll go out in a fifties dress, seventies shoes, sixties handbag and a forties hat.

Digger: I've seen people like you at the V&A Museum events and there will be all these ladies there who are wearing combinations of decades. It doesn't really matter does it? So long as they all look right together as an 'ensemble'.

Tessa: That's it. I've got a friend and she's a forties purist and her house is forties.

Digger: Ah! Has she got a computer and a microwave?

Tessa: No. No. She hasn't got a TV either.

Digger: Oh my, so she is a real purist?!

Tessa: Oh God yes, her house has actually been filmed on TV and film sets and things like that.

Digger: I've seen a lady on telly who lives with her partner and they do both live the fifties lifestyle.

Tessa: Sally is on her own and even her house is forties - it was built late thirties but it's very much in the forties style and she dresses forties, lives forties and even cooks forties.

Digger: Wow, that must be difficult these days.

Tessa: I couldn't do it. My other half is a Mod and that's how we met because we're both into Northern Soul music. I was at a Northern Soul do and I'd actually got a sixties dress on that night. And he said to his friends "Do you know her? She's wearing vintage. Isn't that sixties?" And my friend Helen said "Yes, it's Tessa. She always wears vintage but she usually wears fifties and I'm quite surprised to see her in sixties." And that's how me met. And we've been together ever since. Lee has just sold his scooters - he had a Vespa and a Lambretta and I've done some sixties exhibitions. I did one at The Public in West Bromwich and that was a really, really big exhibition.

Digger: Why do you think vintage is so big? Even within the last ten years it's gone to a whole new level and into the mainstream.

Tessa: I think it's just because of the www and I'm not sure if it has changed that much. People just know about it more. As far as I can remember - I'm 52 now and I've always worn vintage and loved vintage and everybody you speak to, even if it's only an evening bag, they have something vintage. But I think The Internet has made it a lot more accessible and you get to know about it a lot more.

Digger: Do you think there's also an element of modern life just not being very interesting?

Tessa: Exactly. People need an escape, don't they? I certainly do and vintage is a form of escape. I dress up and we go out on Saturdays to Northern Soul do's, and it isn't that I like to be centre of attention, but people look forward to seeing me. "Oh my God, Tess, what have you got on tonight?" And I know quite a few people, in fact quite a lot are my clients, who now form the Northern Soul scene. And even though they've always been into vintage, some of them are living in Scotland and places like that where they're quite remote and they haven't got the resources. They couldn't get hold of the vintage purely because of the location.

Digger: There are a few vintage players up there like Saratoga Trunk and Chic and Unique.

Tessa: Are there? I don't really follow other vintage people - I do my own thing. I've had a business for a long time and wore vintage but then I was a holiday rep for Thomson's for a while...

Digger: Having to wear their suits?!

Tessa: Yes (Laughs)

Digger: I bet you hated that.

Tessa: Yes, especially the bright yellow. And how I got into selling vintage was that I wanted to be a trainer at Thomson's. To be a trainer with Thomson's Holidays you have to come back and do a degree. So I came back on sabbatical to do a degree in 2001, as a mature student, doing a degree in Travel and Tourism Management. Whilst I was studying for my degree, I obviously needed a form of income as my son was living with me. So I started selling vintage at local markets and things like that and then progressed to the vintage fairs and then in 2006 I opened my first shop.

Digger: So what outlets have you got now?

Tessa: I closed my shop in March because, to cut a very long story short, I was fed up with having to deal with the landlord. I had problems with the heating which he wouldn't fix, then there were burst pipes which he denied responsibility for and then he tried to put the rent up. So I shut my shop because it was so cold for me and for the customers and then the flooded stock was the last straw.

Digger: You'll have less overheads now, which is a good thing.

Tessa: Yes, but I have been asked to do one project which I can't really say much about because it's got to go through a committee and that might happen next year. If it does then that involves running a shop, although not my own and it's all to do with vintage.

Digger: Who are your typical customers Tessa?

Tessa: I don't really deal a lot with students - I know a lot of vintage shops do but I don't do eighties and they tend to like eighties and that kind of thing. Because of my connections with the scooter scene and the Northern Soul scene, I tend to do a lot of the sixties and fifties. So I deal with a lot of scooters, because there are scooter rallies all over the country every week from April onwards. I deal a lot with fifties because a lot of my close friends are all fifties people. They do Rhythm Riot, Twinwood and things like that.

Digger: I was at this year's Twinwood - it was very good actually.

Tessa: Did you go? I've never done it although my friend had a stall there.

Digger: Who was that?

Tessa: Secondhand Rose/Toadstool Vintage.

Digger: I remember them. It worked very well for stallholders and if you can get down there I'd recommend it because one person I spoke to sold 75 items of clothing over the three days. You've got a very captive audience at Twinwood - everybody turns up dressed up in forties and fifties clothes. They're all very clothes-conscious.






Tessa: We do a thing here - the Severn Valley Railway and in July we've got the forties weekend and in May we have the sixties weekend. I arrange the sixties fashion show.

Digger: You're on the committee?

Tessa: I'm an adviser if you like.

Digger: Do you like the forties? That's a big scene.

Tessa: Not really.

Digger: It doesn't float your boat?

Tessa: I think the forties was dark and the clothes were drab. I don't know if it's also because forties clothes don't suit me - I'm a typical fifties shape, the hourglass shall we say? And I always look like an old lady in forties clothes, even if I really try.

Digger: You know what suits you better than anyone. I notice that with my girlfriend, I'll buy her one thing and the colour and style really suit her shape and colouring and buy another and they really don't. If it's right it really illuminates.

Tessa: I've got lots of friends on the forties scene - Rob and Lynn sell all the forties stuff. They're called Vintage and Revival and she's been on telly as well, but her house isn't forties. They look absolutely great in them. I've tried, but they don't suit me. The other thing about forties people is they take it very seriously some of them.

Digger: I know what you mean. That can apply to people who love the Mod scene or indeed any scene.

Tessa: Yes it can. I love vintage but...

Digger: You don't let it rule your life?

Tessa: No, definitely not.

Digger: I wonder sometimes whether we're just looking back all of the time. But a lot of people I talk to who are involved in the retro and vintage scene spend most of their time looking forward to events and future changes and so on.

Tessa: No, the majority of people who are into vintage are quite like me and I suppose we must be eccentric in some respects and we're all a little bit nutty.

Digger: Yes. They've got a spark.

Tessa: They have.

Digger: That's a good thing when people have a spark and are slightly wacky. That's great.

Tessa: I like being different,

Digger: Where do you get all the tips and tricks Tessa?

Tessa: The website is going to be relaunched and it's really beautiful and I'm really pleased with it. I want to get all that sort of information on my new website. These tips and tricks are just things that I've learned over the years, especially with stain removal and things like that. I've got a very, very dear friend and she's been into vintage for as long as I can remember and she's a businesswoman selling vintage, although she doesn't wear vintage strangely enough. She's passed on little tips to me and I've got a lot of them as well from my grandmother.

Digger: That's good isn't it? Being handed down like that?

Tessa: Yes, like the care of your gloves and stockings and some of the things my Nan told me about how they used to wash stockings and how they used to keep stockings. They'd never keep them in plastic bags, it was always tissue paper and they would lie them flat in a drawer.

Digger: Never use wire hangers.

Tessa: God no!

Digger: Use lavender to keep pests away.

Tessa: Yes, you can also get stuff now that does the job and another thing is citrus.

Digger: Yes, my mum used to put an orange in a drawer with cloves stuck in it.

Tessa: That's another way. I've got lots and lots of really, really old clothing books as well from the forties and fifties. So I just take stuff out of there and put it into modern day language, if you like, and put it on the site. Because a lot of people buy vintage, especially people who buy it because it's a bit of a fad and they see everybody else is doing it, and they haven't got a clue how to look after it really. And I've got some really good stain removal ideas on the new website. That's what I'm doing at the moment - putting it all on the computer. When the new website goes live I want it to be full and up-to-date.

Digger: Is there an issue with people being bigger these days?

Tessa: We are, as a race, getting bigger. But in the early eighties the fashion industry did change all our sizes, unbeknown to the public, so what was a size twelve became a ten. We're getting bigger so they wanted us to feel better about ourselves so a twelve became a ten and so on up and down the sizes. So I'm a size ten and can wear anything vintage from a twelve to an eighteen - it's because the fashion industry wanted to change everything.

Digger: Like when they change chocolate bar size and don't tell you?

Tessa: Oh God yes. I bought a pack of Maltesers the other day and there was nothing in there.

Digger: About three of them?

Tessa: Yes.

Digger: I know.

Tessa: I thought "My God!" Because I haven't bought Maltesers for years and I thought "I'm sure they used to be bigger than this."

Digger: They did Tessa, I'm sure you're right. They've all done a lot of sneaky things with 'new sizes' and so on. They did it with crisps as well a few years back and now you get a packet full of air and three or four crisps, which is probably good from a health point of view. In the old days you got a good number of crisps in a packet. Can you tell us what do you enjoy most about what you're doing?

Tessa: When I had the shop I used to love meeting the people. I'm a people person, I love to see people coming in, especially when they're wearing vintage. I loved looking at what they're wearing. Now, obviously I meet people at fairs but it's not quite the same. So these days I love it when I get a parcel that I've sourced and have ordered some stock. One of the places I source from you just order four bags of stuff and don't get a chance to see what's in the bag. And I love getting it home and opening it up to see what delights are inside.

Digger: Just like Christmas.

Tessa: Yes, I love that. I used to be like that when I was a manager for Help The Aged. (Laughs)

Digger: Funnily enough, all of those charity shops have really got their acts together and have jumped on the vintage bandwagon in a professional way. They really understand the value of what they've got now.

Tessa: Oh God, yes.

Digger: They've gone from an amateur to a professional footing with the vintage clothes.

Tessa: Definitely.

Digger: So what about the future then Tessa? You've got the new website...

Tessa: I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing, with the website and then tomorrow and Saturday, for example, I've got fairs. I have this new project that may or may not come about.

Digger: You'll tell us about it if it does?

Tessa: Yes, I can't say too much because it's got to be discussed more. Also I started working, just a couple of days a week, with my very dear friend Lizzie and I have been putting stuff on eBay for her. I'm not a go-getter, you see. I don't want to be massive. All I want to do is sell vintage and make enough to make a living and to wear vintage.

Digger: And why not?

Tessa: I know some people that I know who are into vintage and they've done this and they're going to do that and that isn't me.

Digger: Well, you're making a living with what you enjoy and that's more than most people can claim. We're luckier than most.

Tessa: We are. People think I'm quite outgoing but actually I'm not, I'm alright if it's something I know, but I'm quite shy. Even when I had my shop I used to get other people to phone for me sometimes. (Laughs)

Digger: You don't come across as shy at all.

Tessa: I know. Lots of people don't think I am but I am when I'm outside my comfort zone.

Digger: Many actors are the same - when they have to be themselves and are interviewed they get shy and tongue-tied but put them in a costume and makeup or mask and away they go.

Tessa: Perhaps that's what it is, wearing vintage. It's my mask.

Digger: Maybe. Whatever we wear says a lot about us, doesn't it?

Tessa: It does.

Digger: People make all sorts of judgements based on what we look like. Best of luck with the new website and with the new venture Tessa. Please keep us posted.

Tessa: I will. Thanks David.





Vintage Vanity - Vintage Clothing for UK Online Purchase Including Mod and Vintage 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís Clothing

My passion for vintage clothing led me to leave the security of a paid full time job and take the risk of opening my own shop. In March 2011, I shut he shop to concentrate on the website, although if you make an appointment you can come and browse my stock in the comfort of my home, where I have turned the top floor into a Vintage Heaven.

I have an eclectic range of vintage clothing for men and women including mod and vintage 50's, 60's 70's and 80's clothing, plus jewellery, handbags and shoes from past eras (from Victorian onwards). I also deal in memorabilia and authentic fabrics.

All items for sale on the website are ready to wear as I wash, iron, dry-clean and repair all articles of clothing before they leave my home. I also do vintage fairs across the country as well as Scooter Rallies. In the past Iíve catered for themed weddings and parties and would be glad to offer my services in this area.

We were established in 2006 in Kinver in the West Midlands, we went on to have shops in both Stratford and Kidderminster.

We closed our shop doors in Kidderminster March 2011 to concentrate on the website.

Vintage Vanity
8 Franchise Street
DY11 6RA
England UK

Phone: 01562 744343









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