We are excited to present another Telegram in the series of Other People's Wardrobes. This week we get to hunt through the sizeable wardrobe of Miss Kitty Kat, AKA Andrea Haylings, and when someone says that they like both the 1950s and the 1800s you know you are in for an interesting interview! Andrea hails from sunny Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty and is a writer by trade. Read on to find out all about her passion for vintage.
What first sparked your interest in old things?
I honestly don't really know where exactly my love of vintage etc came from. Mum had a piece or two from the 50s and 60s that we dressed up in growing up and I loved looking at the photos of our grandmother and Mum and the clothes they wore. It may be that this is where my interest comes from, but that would just be a guess. Whatever the reason, it's been a lifelong obsession that's come to a head over the last few years and I LOVE it!
Tell us about your background in vintage clothing and collecting?
I started my vintage collecting after moving to Auckland. There was a store in St Kevins on K Road that sold Vintage and I happened to stumble upon it one day. That was it for me. Over the years I have learned what to look for and how to tell a knockoff from the genuine pieces. It only took me a couple of mistakes to quickly learn this and I'm fairly confident now when it comes to telling the difference. I was also lucky enough to become friends with people who know their stuff when it comes to vintage, so hit them up sometimes for help when considering pieces.
St Kevin's Arcade in the 1960s
What was the first piece you remember buying?
I was working in Auckland City (years ago) when I came across an amazing vintage store located at St Kevins Plaza. It was like a dream come true. There was a downstairs and a small half level upstairs. The ladies there were always so welcoming and lovely and I purchased a few of my most treasured pieces from them.
Back to my story.
It was my first time in the store and I was methodically looking through their dresses when I saw her. A black 1950s dress with white flocking. It was love at first sight and I was so thrilled when I tried her on and she fitted me perfectly. Needless to say I nabbed that gorgeous dress and although I can't fit her at the moment, I still love her.
(Note: I don't normally refer to my dresses as her, just this one)
What do you love most about vintage clothing?
There's so much I love about vintage clothing. Not only are the designs often elegant and feminine, there's a style about them that seems to be lacking in modern clothing designs (Well, that's my opinion) There's something amazing about wearing a vintage dress. I feel incredibly confident in many of my pieces and that's reflected outwardly to the rest of the world.
The other thing I love is the history connected to pieces. I've got 1 or 2 pieces that I know the background on and for me, that makes them even more special. Just knowing where it came from, who wore it etc, is a real buzz.
Are there specific items/ eras that you concentrate on collecting?
Definitely the 1950s and the 1800s! Why? I think there's a great deal of similarities between both eras, although one is a little more practical than the other. The fitted bodices and full skirts that are found in both areas suit my body shape perfectly. Then there are the glorious fabrics! There's something about them, a quality I think you don't really see too often today. Of course, finding something from the 1800s that's not horrendously priced and can fit me is an incredibly rare thing, so I'm confined to purchasing dresses etc from the 1950s. Not that I'm complaining as I always feel fabulous in my vintage pieces and who doesn't enjoy that!
Where is the best place to hunt for vintage bargains?
I adore Op-shops. While many of them are starting to realise the value of certain items, you can occasionally find a real bargain. My favourite is our local Hospice Shop. I've managed to purchase some gorgeous dresses from the Whakatane Hospice Shop. One was just part of a collection donated by an elderly lady who made her own clothes. It's a lilac, heavy satin dress from the 1950s and has a sash too! The dress was a perfect fit and amazing price, so it had to come home with me.
The other place is online. There are times, after scrolling through hundreds of dresses, shoes, tops etc etc, I've come across an incredible vintage piece at a pretty low price. Of course you can get stung with shipping, but I've been fairly lucky with my 'budget' online purchases.
Any tips for readers on what to look for when shopping for vintage fashion and accessories?
Do your research! The internet and social media are incredible tools and are filled with a huge amount of information on vintage clothes and accessories. However, the most important piece of information I can give is this: Follow your heart. I buy pieces that 'speak to me'. If something leaps out at me and I can't get it out of my mind, then it's meant to be. I had one dress last year on Etsy that I couldn't stop thinking about. It's a real wounded bird, but there's jut something about it so I purchased it. No, it doesn't fit at the moment and yes, it needs work, but I still adore it. If you can afford that special piece then buy it because you don't want to regret the one that got away.
One piece you would save in a fire
My Emma Domb dress (pictured at the top of the Telegram). I had wanted an Emma Domb for so long and my husband purchased this one for my 40th birthday last year. It's simple, but incredibly elegant and those rhinestones just give it a little something special! I set it aside, had the hem fixed (it was crooked) and wore it to our wedding reception this year. It's just so stunning and has amazing memories attached, I would definitely save it in a fire.
Best "collection" of items
Ohhhh, that's hard. I collect so much, it's hard to pinpoint one collection. Who am I kidding!! It's my cat pieces.
I don't go around just randomly buying anything with a cat on it. It's got to be something that really grabs my attention. The first cat themed piece of clothing I purchased was a skirt from Ains&Elke Stylehaus. It's dark blue with kitty shapes all over it.
Since then that collection of clothing, along with accessories has grown. My big goals are:
1. To own every Erstwilder cat brooch
2. Find more vintage pieces with cats on them!
Item with the best provenance story
Last year was our first ever VVDO and it was here that I acquired a gorgeous burgundy velvet dress. It's so incredibly soft and looks stunning on. It had belonged to one of the stall holders grandmother, who had originally come from Romania (From memory) She had brought the dress over there and it had made the journey to New Zealand when the family emigrated. It's amazing to think that the dress had started it's life so far away from New Zealand and is still in incredible condition.
Your guilty pleasure piece
Now I won't be telling you the price of this, because I don't want to remind myself! There are a few things on my bucket list and one of these is owning a fully sequined, vintage, wiggle dress. I had seen a few but they either never really gave me the 'wow' factor or weren't the right size.
It was while looking at Butch Wax Vintage on Etsy I came across the one. It's a woollen, 1950s dress and is fully sequined with small amounts of beadwork on it. The belt is still with the dress and it even arrived with spare beads and sequins. It's incredibly heavy and fairly hot to wear, but looks amazing on and I can't wait for the right occasion, and season, to wear it to.
First piece you paid for yourself
The first piece I paid for myself, is a 1950s black dress with white flocking. This was actually the first ever piece of vintage to come into my possession so am pretty thrilled I managed to buy it myself.
Thing that doesn't fit but you love it anyway
This is another from Butch Wax Vintage (she's dangerous). It's a stunning knee length, 1950s wiggle dress with Siamese cats hand painted on it. I had my eye on it for ages and couldn't understand why it hadn't been snapped up. After a few weeks I made the decision to buy it and I'm thrilled I did. I've never seen another like it. While it's too tight for me to wear, I hope with a little hard work I will be able to wear it soon.
This piece just happens to be my oldest one! It's from the early 1900s and is a soft velvet cape, with gold trim and silk lining. It's incredibly light to wear, but manages keep my shoulders nice and warm. It has started to show its age, so I don't wear it as much as I once did. The little cape is definitely a special occasion piece.
What a magnificent cape to finish on! Would you like to snoop around more people's wardrobes? Click here! Fancy featuring your wardrobe on our Telegram? Email email@example.com to find out how.