In the closet with : Jana Bradley


This week, Nelson-based op shop queen Jana Bradley, lets me delve into her eclectic wardrobe.

Although I’ve never actually had the pleasure of meeting Jana Bradley in real life, I’ve admired her sartorial style via social media for quite some time. Those blunt cut bangs! Those effortless poses! That quirky vintage collection!

The mother of two, who works in fashion retail, also has a great eye for home decor too.

Read on to find out more about her ever-evolving style, her love of pillaging her local op shops, her current style crush and more!


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Cycle chic: Jana strikes a pose on her vintage exercise bike.

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You seem to have a great wardrobe. Wanna take us on a tour of your closet? What would we find within?

My wardrobe is jam-packed with an eclectic mix of vintage and modern which i have been germinating over the years. My greatest interest is in vintage lingerie and sleepwear.

I am forever exploring and changing up my style and I am known for selling and buying at alarming rates.
If I don’t absolutely love something it usually gets the cut pretty quickly. Life is too short to own items that don’t look or make make me feel my best.
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Hanging out: Welcome to Jana’s closet.

Are you a vintage purist or do you wear repro pieces occasionally too?

I have to say my wardrobe predominantly consists of vintage treasures, but I have fallen for the odd reproduction and New Zealand-made piece. These sorts of pieces normally hold a modest portion of real estate in my wardrobe.

Fit and quality is of high priority to me and unfortunately a lot of modern-day labels just don’t cut the mustard. Nothing makes me happier than quality original vintage pieces, they just don’t seem to make garments like they use to and its very sad in my opinion. 

 I never will fit into that purist box just because I ain’t a girl who enjoys those restraints. 

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Statement piece: Necklaces galore in Jana’s bedroom.

What are some of your most prized pieces in your collection and why?

I have a couple of Cole Of California dresses I am happy to possess. I love my full-length ’60s gown as seen in one of my photos, it was saved by a dear friend of mine. I feel gorgeous in this and its a bit of a feel good story knowing it got saved from the rubbish heap.

I have a merry widow corset I absolutely adore, I’ve had it for years and I will be taking that to the grave. My vintage exercise bike was a pretty fruitless purchase but I think it looks cool and it’s a conversation starter. 
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Checkmate: Jana wears her full-length 1960s gown, salvaged from a rubbish heap.

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

Favourite recent purchase was a 70s terry toweling jumpsuit and a Faux Fur leopard print coat for winter. The coat is immaculate, that in itself brings me much joy! 

How did you first become interested in vintage style?
My family had a huge influence in my first interest with vintage. My siblings and I were lucky enough to have a large dress-up box which contained some of mum’s old clothing. She made most of her clothes as a teen (as they did back in the dark ages) and I still have fond memories of dressing up in them. I feel lucky that she saved these garments and i hope to do the same for my own kids.
I still remember seeing my parents getting ready to go to dress up parties as a youngster, this sort of free expression of individuality resonated with me. I remember having a lot of freedom with dressing myself, and wearing something nobody else is wearing was and still is very alluring to me.
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Free spirits: Jana’s parents were a big influence on her style.

How does it make you feel when you wear it?

I feel like a million bucks when I wear vintage. There is something special about walking down the street knowing your not going to see someone else wearing what you’re wearing. If this was to happen I can only assume we would do some sort of slow high five motion. 

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Wash day: A colourful confection of undergarments.
What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?
I appreciate all eras to be honest. I would say the 1940s-1970s are of most interest to me. I go through phases and right now i am going through a long drawn out 70s phase. This one might stick around for a while.

Where are your favourite shopping haunts?

I love pillaging all the usual Nelson op shops and Savemart. I get a wee thrill fossicking through racks of clothing to find a treasure, it certainly can be a workout.
We have a great antique store here called Eclectic which is a great place to peruse. It’s seriously a vintage collector and admirers dream. I’ve certainly daydreamed about moving in there permanently.
The Nelson Reuse and Recycle Centre is a great place to visit if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty!
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Prints charming: Retro pictures hang proudly in Jana’s Nelson home.

What are your general thoughts about op shopping and vintage shopping in New Zealand?


I think op shopping is pretty darn good here. It’s obviously not in the same category as the United States but it’s certainly not too shabby. I have noticed in recent years its become much more popular and prices have skyrocketed.
I worked out pretty quickly that it all comes down to repetition, foraging and luck! Just because there is a vintage section doesn’t mean you won’t find some treasures in other parts. Best place to buy vintage online personally for me has been via Facebook and TradeMe. 
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The finishing touch: Various jewellery and trinkets.

What are your holy grail pieces? Fave labels/ fabrics/ outfit types?

I wouldn’t say no to Vintage Dior or Chanel  but my realistic holy grail pieces would be a Cole of California 1950s leopard print swimsuit, anything Vintage Lee or Wrangler. I am currently searching for Vintage 70s Ringer tees, 1940s jeans and a 1950s Cowboy Cowichan sweater.

I would love to own a few more Warners Merry Widows bustiers. Fabrics I love are Crepe, lace, silk, tweed, leather and denim.

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Style crush: PinkPloyd gives Jana serious closet envy.

Whose closet do you envy and why?

I follow a girl on Instagram called PinkPloyd whom I have a huge style crush on and she gives me some serious closet envy. Her collection consists of vintage American western and work wear.

I have two dear friends here in Nelson that have been collecting for years and I must say I am pretty enviable of their closets. One friend has a vast collection of Rex bags and the other has previously owned her own vintage store, so you can only imagine the puddles of drool when I go visit her! 

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The west is the best: Some of PinkPloyd’s vast collection of western wear.

Who are some of your style icons and influences?


Perhaps a little predictable BUT Audrey Hepburn had such an effortlessly chic and timeless style that I admire. Bettie Page is my biggest influence in terms of my own appearance. I have had Bettie bangs off and on since i was about 3! I’ve even been nicknamed ‘The Fringe’ by fellow friends.
 A modern day style icon would be Vintage Vandalizm, her style oozes confidence and sex appeal, which I am all about! 
Effortlessly chic: “Audrey had a timeless quality to her style.”
Bettie Page’s iconic bangs  inspired Jana to cut some of her own.

Can you remember the first vintage piece you bought? What was it?

I don’t really have a memory span that goes back that far to be honest but i do remember buying an absolutely pristine labelled Blue and Gold Brocade 60s dress from the Nelson Hospice Opportunity shop for $20. This was such a jaw-dropping find and I am still upset that I sold it when I was a poor student. I am not sure I will ever stop kicking myself for doing that!


How do members of the public react to your get ups?


I get sweet comments, i can’t say i have ever had any horrible experiences. On occasions i get passing comments like “I love your bag!!” but generally i am on mum duty so i try to dress as casual and practical as possible.  
Various  finds sourced from Nelson’s secondhand shops.

 Do you wear vintage to work as well? What do you do and how is your style received in the workplace?


I work in fashion retail so people give me a lot of positive feedback when I wear a complete vintage look. I still remember a wee girl asking me why I was wearing a dressing gown to work one day. Needless to say my chic faux fur coat was looked at in a different light after that!
It’s normally very sweet comments and it sparks up a good old chin wag about vintage clothing, who wouldn’t enjoy that!? My fellow workmates are always complimentary when I rock into work.
Jana’s gorgeous kids in their vintage ringer tees.
How did you first become attracted to vintage clothing and style?
When I was a teen I was all about standing out and this of course had to be done on a budget. My older sisters were pretty alternative, one was a metaller and the other a hippie, so i already had the odds stacked against me.
Once I had exhausted fashion options at home I started experimenting with my own style through much trial and error. I can’t say i have it completely figured out yet!  Something I have figured out though, is that vintage clothing truly has my heart and the ‘fast fashion’ i see around me is no longer alluring. I try to purchase as little as possible brand new, hence why buying secondhand suits me down to a T.
 Recently I have started considering even downsizing my collection as I feel like owning a million bangles and never wearing them makes no sense to me– funny that. Vintage is meant to be enjoyed, lived in and shared in my opinion. I love to collect certain things but I’m much more choosy about what I bring home.
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Ballet fixation: She’s always been drawn to the kitsch aesthetic but wants to focus more on her decor in the future.
Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home decor, car, accessories and other collections?
Yes, I’m guilty of collecting too many kitsch ornaments and furniture. I have a tiny flat, so its a bit of a problem. I have inherited a pretty groovy 70s leather lounge suite from my late grandparents. I have a modest record collection which I’m trying to build up. 
My decor needs more focus, I have been too obsessed with clothing but I am slowly building up my vintage collection in all areas. 
 Anything you’d never be caught dead wearing?
Croc’s, Jandals, Ugg Boots, Tracksuits, polar fleece, tie dye, fluffy vests, Ed Hardy, and anything fluorescent or from Kmart.
Do you have any pet hates when it comes to vintage shopping?
When people overcharge for items, especially if they aren’t in tidy condition. When something is labelled as ‘vintage’ and it’s clearly from a chain store or the tag has label has been chopped off! Grrrr!!
What do you think of Jana’s awesome style? Let me know in the comments!
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A dress a day: Some of the vintage beauties in her collection.

3 thoughts on “In the closet with : Jana Bradley

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