Welcome to the latest installment of our regular In the Closet series, this week Natasha meets 1940s enthusiast Miss Mabel May aka Jess Hood.
She’s no purist but 22-year-old Jess Hood prefers her reproduction items to be “as authentic as possible.”
“ It can be so difficult to find vintage in my size that is also affordable and my job can sometimes be a bit rough on my vintage pieces so I like to wear reproduction, as I don’t tend to worry so much about the clothing getting stained or damaged while wearing it.”
The Hamilton-based Records Management Officer has a yen for 1940s-inspired silhouettes and a serious addition to hats and handbags but says you can spot items from all eras- from the ‘20s to the ‘60s inside her closet.
She says always been drawn to history and old things but it wasn’t until she attended the Very Vintage Day Out for the first time that she discovered she adored the fashion and wanted to try it herself.
“I bought several items of clothing there and I quickly turned my entire wardrobe into the vintage style. However, it has taken me a couple of years to refine that style and find the eras that are my favourites.”
Wearing vintage makes her feel happy and beautiful, she says.
“It also makes me feel confident, which is something prior to vintage I never felt at all!”
“I honestly only feel truly myself when I’m in my vintage clothing”, she says.
Want to see more of her amazing wardrobe? Read on!
You seem to have a great wardrobe. Wanna take us on a tour of your closet? What would we find within?
When I think of my wardrobe I think of variety. I currently have a lot of 1940s dresses, but you can find items ranging from the 1920s to the 1960s in my wardrobe. Also numerous hats and handbags!
Hats are my favourite accessory with handbags a close second so you will find an overwhelming amount of these in my wardrobe. There are some that are yet to be worn by me as I haven’t found just the right outfit yet, but each one is special and unique to me!
Are you a vintage purist or do you wear repro pieces occasionally too?
I do indeed wear reproduction pieces as well. It can be so difficult to find vintage in my size that is also affordable and my job can sometimes be a bit rough on my vintage pieces so I like to wear reproduction, as I don’t tend to worry so much about the clothing getting stained or damaged while wearing it.
In saying that, I like my reproduction to be as authentic as possible so I love shopping from companies such as The Seamstress of Bloomsbury, as they use genuine 1940s dresses as a basis for their reproductions.
What are some of your most prized pieces in your vintage collection?
My most prized possessions are the items that have come from family are so special to me. I love knowing the history behind the items and where they have been worn.
I have a very special hand beaded cape from my Grand Aunt, which is such a treasure and she loved seeing pictures of me wearing it.
I also have a beautiful 1940’s red dress from Lavonne at Tock Tick Vintage. I tried it on at hers and it was like it was made for me, as it fit perfectly in every way!
Any noteworthy recent purchases?
I have been so naughty lately and buying so much stuff! I managed to get a real bargain in Waihi of a late 1930’s- early 1940’s clutch for $10! I nearly died! I also purchased a lovely milk glass beaded necklace from 1940s Style for You, which is really just a sweet piece.
How did you first become interested in vintage style?
Well I always loved history and old things, but it wasn’t until I attended the Very Vintage Day Out for the first time that I realised that I just adored the fashion and wanted to do it myself. I brought several items of clothing there and I quickly turned my entire wardrobe into the vintage style. However it has taken me a couple of years to refine that style and find the eras that are my favourites.
What is it about vintage clothing that appeals to you the most?
I love the history and femininity of vintage clothing. I love the colour choices and being able to dress differently from everyone else, yet still be classic and stylish! I feel beautiful and happy in my vintage clothing. It makes me feel confident, which is something prior to vintage I never felt at all! I honestly only feel truly myself when I’m in my vintage clothing.
What are your favourite eras when it comes to clothes?
Definitely the 1940s, but I also have a sweet spot for the 1920s and 1930s.
Where are your favourite shopping haunts?
Does Etsy count? I do a lot of shopping online, as I find it difficult to find a lot of what I want in New Zealand. Most of my shopping is done with the incredible Lucy who runs 1940’s Style for You. She finds some amazing vintage and is always reasonably priced.
What are your holy-grail pieces? Fave labels/ fabrics/ outfit types?
I would love a 1940’s suit! I am yet to find one that fits just right! I’m also dying to get a 1940’s dressing gown! Also a telephone cord handbag, because they are just so awesome!
Whose closet do you envy?
Death by Deco from Instagram! I mean she has the most incredible sense of style and her wardrobe is filled with the most divine dresses, coats, skirts and blouses. Her fedora hat collection is a particular envy of mine, as I have only ever managed to acquire one and would love more!
Who are some of your style icons and influences?
My Great Grandmother was my age in the 1940’s so she is a huge influence for me. She was so incredibly stylish and I only wish she was still around to ask questions to.
Can you remember the first vintage piece you bought? What was it?
The very first vintage piece I brought was at my first Very Vintage Day Out and it was a gorgeous grey dress from Vintage Mash. It unfortunately doesn’t fit me at the moment, but it is just too precious to part with.
Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home décor, car, accessories and other collections?
Vintage extends into pretty much all aspects of my life where it can. My home is filled with beautiful antiques, I love listening to 1940’s music on my vintage Bell Colt radio, I try to make 1940’s foods sometimes and if I could afford it I would love to have a vintage car!
Having just moved to a new city, I am in the process of purchasing vintage furniture where I can so that my little home will be as vintage as possible.
Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?
Sneakers or gym pants!