In the closet with Lady Lou Lou Bell

Buxom beauty Lady Lou Lou Bell tells Natasha Francois how discovering pinup has helped her live her best retro life.

A leopard never changes its spots. Just ask Emma Holden, aka Lady Lou Lou Bell. The Christchurch pinup is addicted to leopard print and her wardrobe boasts at least 20 items which walk on the wild side, however, she also has a love for green and classic black.

Lady Lou Lou Bell cuts a colourful figure on the streets of North Canterbury with her feline-esque winged eyeliner, her ever-changing hues of brightly coloured hair (right now it’s a tantalising tangerine shade, and before that, electric blue), and her bright vermilion lipstick.

emma holden diner shoot chch0258

The mum-of-two proudly, who works as a hearing equipment technician, proudly describes herself as ‘fat, freckly and fabulous’. She’s even coined her own hashtag with the phrase. After her birthday in a few week’s time, she can add another ‘f’ to the list– forty!

“I grew up being teased for my freckles but now I embrace them, it cracks me up that they’ve become trendy so that people tattoo them on or draw them on with makeup.”

“It just goes to show the old adage stands that you always want what you haven’t got.”


Emma fell into the Christchurch pinup scene several years ago after having her hair styled at one of the local car shows and being invited to meet some local pinups. She was instantly hooked. Now she’s a fixture at hot rod and vintage events and a member of the Southern Pinup Belles– a group of Christchurch pinups who put on events to fundraise for charities.

“The New Zealand pin-up scene is so accepting and varied,” she says. “I’m incredibly proud to have been a finalist of Miss Pin Up NZ 2018 and especially for walking away with the title of Miss Picture Perfect,” she says.

Dying to for a peek inside her wardrobe? Read on to see more!


You seem to have a great wardrobe. Wanna take us on a tour of your closet?

Nobody is going to be surprised when I say leopard print, leopard print and more leopard print.  I honestly have to have at least 20 separate pieces with differing leopard/animal pattern. But there’s also lots of black and green.  I also have quite an extensive collection of cardigans.


How would you describe your style?

It depends on the day.  Some days I feel more vintage 1940s, some days rockabilly 1950s, then there the other days when I’m in track pants and T-shirts at home with my kids and dogs.  That’s part of the fun of dressing the way we do, do what you feel like on the day, there are no rules. You do you.


Do you prefer reproduction or true vintage, why?

Both, the accessibility and the inclusiveness of size in reproduction is fantastic,  but there is something very special about vintage pieces that may have survived several decades.  I love to know the history behind pieces, who did it belong to, was it made for a specific event etc.


As a plus size lady, what are your thoughts on finding and wearing true vintage pieces?

I adore true vintage; the fabrics and the quality are always amazing.  But when I can find pieces in my sizes, they are very rarely in my price range! Etsy is always my go-to for true vintage. If you find it and it fits, it should be worn!


Which are the most size inclusive labels?

Vixen and la Femme en Noir by Micheline Pitt. My wardrobe is very slowly filling up with more formal and casual pieces from those ranges. My only gripe is that I often have to look overseas to get my hands on the pieces that I lust after.

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

My most prized possessions are my heirloom accessories that previously belonged to both of my great grandmothers.  You can buy another reproduction piece, but once an heirloom is gone its gone forever.


Any noteworthy recent purchases?

My Collectif Leopard trench coat that was a birthday present last year and my Vixen leather circle skirt are on high rotation at the moment.


How did you first become interested in vintage style?

I have always loved vintage. I have a vivid memory of trying on my grandmothers vintage cocktail dresses when I was about 11 (sadly I didn’t inherit any when she passed).  My 6th form formal dress was a purchase from Tete e’ Tete from pre earthquake Christchurch.  I felt like it was as close to being Scarlett O’Hara as I was ever going to get.

Lots of gold and green – and Kaye from Kabella Baby suspects that it may have been originally made for a theatre production.  Needless to say Im pretty sure that I was the only one wearing vintage in a sea of shiny, short late 90’s dresses


Emma at her first Very Vintage Day Out

What is it about vintage style that appeals to you the most?

Not looking like everyone else. Putting effort into creating outfits from top to toe.


What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

True vintage 40s appeals to me the most.  I especially love the look of classic vintage when paired with the edge of tattoos.


Where are your favourite shopping haunts?

I’m one of those horrible people that shop online.  But the world is an international market, and I’m fully prepared to buy from overseas if it means that I get a better deal or something that isn’t stocked locally.  Of course the government is probably going to curtail that with the taxes etc that they keep bringing in, but maybe it will mean I’m more selective with my purchases. Maybe.


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

A true vintage leopard fur coat in my size is my ultimate holy grail piece.  I know where there’s a few hiding, but I haven’t managed to have a play in Natasha’s wardrobe yet!


Whose closet do you envy and why?

Definitely The Glambassador for her classic vintage style, her wardrobe (including the hats, bags and accessories) must be immense!


The Glambassador

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

So so many – isn’t Instagram a wonderful thing to be able to find inspiration!  First people that come to mind would NZ’s own Soda Fontaine, and internationally would be Lady Kitty Hawk, Cherry Dollface and Mariza Seita.



Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home décor, car, accessories and other collections?

I have 2 young children and 2 large dogs, so that’s why I cant have anything nice in my house lol.  But my dream home is a 2 storey art deco house.  One day it will be mine.

Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

Never say never but I’m not a huge fan of 1960s and 70s style.


Follow Lady Lou Lou Bell on Instagram now!

Check out Lady Lou Lou Bell’s Facebook page

In the closet with… Miss Mabel May

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!


Miss Mabel May

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.

49413390_326321928221839_5737883184251535360_nAnything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

Sneakers or gym pants!



In the closet with Tannia Lee

This week Natasha enters the psychedelic wardrobe of vintage queen Tannia Lee.

Tannia Lee is making Dunedin more colourful, one outfit at a time.

The 36-year-old style chameleon, fashion blogger, stylist and market organiser might don an outrageous day-glo knitted sweater dress one day, a Hawaiian maxi teamed with a giant tropical headpiece, the next.

Her sartorial style is bold, bright and definitely not demure. She loves to take risks and is always coming up with unique ensembles which demonstrate her love for decade on decade and print on print.

“It’s all about the overall vibe when the outfit comes together, so I’m not fussed if they are of the same era, originals, repro, or revamped,” she says.


Tannia’s wardrobe is so gargantuan that it’s completely taken over the spare bedroom in her house and has morphed into her own ‘walk-in’ wardrobe.
It also encroaches on her ‘shared’ bedroom wardrobe.
“You’d laugh to see how much room I’ve left for the hubby!” she quips.

Novavogue [her fashion blog] was born because she wanted a way of showcasing the fun she has injecting colour into peoples’ lives.

Her daughter and ‘mini me’ Nova soon became the star of the show. Every week the pair hit the op shops, play dress ups and then shoot the crazy confections for the blog.

Tannia is also the founder of the Vintage Roundup– Dunedin’s only dedicated vintage clothing and craft market, runs the Facebook page Seen in Secondhand Land and draws on her extensive vintage collection for her work as a personal and interiors stylist.

Dressing up has been a lifelong obsession for her. She has happy memories of accompanying her mother to op shops as a child and remembers growing up with a huge dress-up box full of the family’s old 70s and 80s clothing.
“When friends and family came around, we’d raid the box and play around the farm dressed all crazy.”
This also sparked her fascination with everything vintage. Today she continues to embrace the fun into her everyday life, experimenting with fashion and as always, dressing outside the box.

Wanna find out more about Tannia? Read on!


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

My closet takes over a spare bedroom in our house (which is my dedicated my walk in wardrobe). It also spills into our ‘shared’ bedroom wardrobe and you’d laugh to see how much room I’ve left for the hubby.

You’ll find a lot of stand out feature pieces, dating from the 1960s – 1990s. Bright, colourful, eclectic, interesting prints, shapes and cuts.
We took the doors off all our wardrobes, to create the feel for more space but also to see everything. I don’t like to hide clothes away , just like the saying ‘out of sight out of mind’. I like to see all my options when putting together an outfit. The space is like a mini shop, with free standing industrial racks – a place I can play dress ups, style and display all my gems.

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

I love to mix it up, decade on decade, print on print and powerclash my way through my wardrobe. It’s all about the overall vibe when the outfit comes together, so i’m not fussed if they are of the same era, originals, repro, or revamped. I also love to design my own dresses, from retro fabrics, but I always pay a seamstress as I have lost my sewing skills!

What are some of your most prized pieces in your vintage collection?

I love my ceramic bolo tie collection, they are like nothing i’ve seen before. As well as my bold bright and 80s / 90s knitwear (dresses and coats). A lot of work has gone into these pieces and I appreciate the time and skills used to create them.

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

Yes, I love my retro Diane Freis bedazzled knit that I bought from Proctors Auction. She is one of my favourite designers, I especially love her original 90s designs because they are quite over the top, full of patchwork prints, frills, layers, pleats all within one dress. I didn’t know she also did knitwear, so that was a cool surprise!

How did you first become interested in vintage style?

I discovered op shopping (for fashion) during my rebellious teen phase. I was quite influenced by Kurt Cobain grunge style which was pretty easy to achieve second hand. I think I was sick of trying to fit in by wearing all the surf and skate labels and just wanted to do my own thing.
Once I started op shopping I saw that there was another whole world of fashion out there, where I could put together my own ‘look’ myself. There were no rules and this became an exciting new way to channel my creativity.
Growing up we also had a dress up box, which we raided when our cousins and friends came around. This had a lot of our family’s pieces from the 80s and my best memories were dressing up like ‘crazies’ to go explore around the farm. I got a taste for the freedom of styling and started to realise I didn’t have to listen to what mainstream fashion was telling me to wear.

What is it about vintage clothing that appeals to you the most?

The fact that these pieces we find are the last of their kind. Some are rare, handmade one off’s and existed in a decade that I missed out on.
I also love the way we shop for vintage. It’s not handed to us easily in a department store, with every size and colour available. It’s a challenge and we get to refine our skills hunting for these treasures. Every piece is different to the next, it’s exciting and creatively fulfilling way to shop.

How does it make you feel when you wear it?

I feel like ME. I vividly remember the shift of consciousness, from dressing ‘normal’ to discovering the world of vintage and pre-loved clothing. It was a lightbulb moment where I realised ‘This is who I am’. I felt more comfortable and confident dressing how I wanted to and not how society thought I should.

What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

60s | flower power + hawaiian + tiki + peggy square + kimono
70s | psychedelic + western + oriental + embroidery + kaftan
80s | Bedazzled + tassels + patches + patchwork + high waist + big earrings
90s | fluro + floral + sequins + badges + Fresh Prince + logo tees + high tops + bomber jackets

Where are your favourite shopping haunts?

I love The Vintage Roundup, clothing and craft market. Not just because I run it, but because it’s bought together such a friendly bunch of vintage and craft lovers. There is such a variety of ‘mini shops’, as we all have a different skills, style and fashion era or genre that we are drawn to.
Even tho I’ve created the ultimate shopping experience for our scene, I also look forward to the social aspect, catching up with stallholders and customers. Some people stay for the whole 4 hours, carefully looking through each of the 20+ stalls and trying on lots of fab pieces. We encourage customers to come out and show us what they have tried on, we love having these impromptu fashion shows.

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

I think I will address the op shop V’s vintage clothing shop debacle. I always appreciate a good vintage clothing shop. I get upset when people complain that they are expensive, because they are comparing them to op shops.
It takes a lot of time and skill to curate a great vintage and retro collection. Vintage shop owners have done all the hard work for you, offering you the very best. They have travelled (sometimes afar) to spend hours or days trawling many op shops, garage sales, online shops, and personal collections to carefully hand pick their stock. They have a great eye and years of experience and knowledge to spot pieces that are rare, well made, collectable, designer and on trend.
You are not just paying for the garment, but this exceptional service. Most vintage shops have put much thought into their shop layout, styling and merchandising, where they display items like they actually matter, with love. They also create amazing window displays and have positive customer service to achieve a fab shopping experience. Their business is their baby, literally created from blood sweat and tears. So please don’t compare this to your local op shop!


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

Retro knitted dresses or peggy square coats (longer the better) I can’t resist retro Coogi knit!
Cheongsams or high neck dresses from the 60s / 70s (anything from Hawaii is fab!)
80s / 90s kids bomber jackets branded with classic cartoon, movies or tv shows (memorabilia)
Sequin jackets coats or dresses pretty much everything from Braxae on Etsy

Whose closet do you envy and why?

Basically any eccentric, vintage shopper from Texas or just America in general. I freakin’ love American vintage, probably cause not much of it shows up in New Zealand op shops. It’s hard to find here in Dunedin!

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

Firstly please google ‘Advanced Style’ and scroll. I’m a very visual person so get very influenced by street fashion, movies and cool designers & fashion bloggers in my insta feed. Too many to name and wouldn’t want to miss anyone out.
I’ve also recently discovered Jenny Kee, an artist and designer who creates amazing knitwear (Since the 1970s) She has recently launched a new limited edition capsule collection of knitwear called ‘New Beginnings’ teamed up with woolmark. Check out her insta @jennykeeoz
Can you remember the first vintage piece you bought? What was it?
Yes, this gorgeous 1960s floral cheongsam from Remains to be Scene in Hamilton.
How do members of the public react to your getups?
I mostly get a positive comments and reactions, people love to see more colour down here in Dunedin. I have also found that people often smile at me on the street when I wear flowers in my hair (try it and see!). I’ve had a few conservative elderly ask me “don’t you worry about what people think?” I’m happy to let them know that i’m not dressing for others, I’m dressing for myself.
Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home decor, car, accessories and other collections?
Absolutely! My home is very much an extension of my wardrobe, filled with cool retro collectables and art in bright colours and bold prints. Almost my entire home decor is purchased second hand from op shops, vintage shops, trademe and the Auctions houses. Mixed up with prints and paintings by my fave Wellington artists and street artists. My obsession also extends to clothing my daughter, i’ve basically turned her into a mini me.
Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?
Black puffer jacket and tracksuit pants, which seems to be the Dunedin uniform and crocs.

Want to channel some of Tannia’s unique vintage style? Head to the Vintage Roundup this weekend. Check out the poster below!


In the closet with…Hettie LaBombe

Hettie LaBombe, the flame-haired stand-up bassist and singer from Boom! Boom! Deluxe spills her sartorial secrets.

By Natasha Francois

By day, she’s a freelance musician, film maker, photographer and music teacher, but by night, you’ll find Hettie LaBombe (aka Henrieta Tornyai) on stage with her neo-rockabilly band Boom! Boom! Deluxe.

The flame-haired double bassist adores vintage and pinup style, 1950s B-movies, rock’n’roll, jazz, classic cars and cats – tastes which are reflected in her personal style.

Leopard print is a firm favourite, alongside an enchanted world of jumpsuits, leopard print, op shop treasures, 60s mini dresses, more jumpsuits, tartan pants, houndstooth jackets, angora sweaters, swing trousers with braces, New Zealand-made reproduction and more.

Combining elements of traditional rock’ n ’roll, rockabilly, blues, punk, swing and do woopBoom! Boom! Deluxe have become a fixture on the classic car/ hot-rod/ vintage scene.

“At the end of the day we just want to write a catchy song,” says Hettie, who originally hails from Slovakia.

“It’s all a bit tongue in cheek, we try not to take ourselves too seriously and I think our lyrics (like Burger and a Beer) reflect that. Someone even described us as “The Ramones of Rockabilly!”


All about that bass: Hettie LaBombe plays in neo rockabilly band Boom! Boom! Deluxe.

“I love playing in the band because I get to play with musicians I really respect. It’s pushed my bass playing in new directions. I’ve never had to be so percussive as a jazz player before. It’s fun to watch people dance to our music. And of course I have the perfect excuse to buy cool outfits and dress up!”

Of course, because this column is all about the clothes –  let’s admire Hettie’s attention-grabbing stage ensembles and find out how she achieves her everyday glamour!

Read on to discover more!

dresser 1-2

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

Why, thank you! Of course! My wardrobe is an enchanted world of jumpsuits, leopard print, opshop treasures, 60s mini dresses, more jumpsuits, tartan pants, houndstooth jackets, angora sweaters, swing trousers with braces, New Zealand-made repro and oh and did I mention the jumpsuits?


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

I’m definitely not a purist. I would say I probably wear 60/40 repro/vintage. I love the hunt and the satisfaction of finding the real thing but it isn’t always practical or affordable. There’s a finite amount of vintage out there and it isn’t going to last forever. I want to invest into the future by supporting businesses that make quality repro. There is so much talent out there. I especially love to support NZ designers like Vanessa Kelly, Cry Cry Cry and The Dressmaker’s Wardrobe. 

blue dress-14

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

My 60s leopard print faux fur coat I got from Vouz-le-vouz Vintage. It’s a stunner!  I had the fortune of meeting her majesty Grace Jones at her recent gig and she approved of it so it must be good.

My sunshine yellow mod a-line dress with matching jacket. It fits like it was made for me and with a pair of go-go boots and oversized round sunnies, I can’t help but boogie to the psychedelic music in my head.

A homemade teal houndstooth late 60s coat with oversize pockets. The big fabric covered buttons on this are just too cute!

A pair of 70s two tone python skin men’s shoes. I’ve got big feet so finding vintage ladies shoes is next to impossible but luckily I love men’s styles. Three hour gigs make wearing heels on stage too hard so these are perfect. They can also compete with my hubby’s crazy boots!

houndstooth coat-2

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

A late 50s blue lurex wiggle dress that requires some masterful corsetry to get into but is well worth it and a cream 60s Jackie-O style skirt suit that goes so well with my faux leopard pill box hat.

How did you first become interested in vintage style?

It all started with the music. Unlike all my friends, I was never into the Spice Girls but more along the lines of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald. Just looking at the album covers warped my impressionable young mind and gave me a life-long obsession.

I didn’t really start dressing vintage until my mid 20s though which was partly to do with lack of funds, lack of knowledge on how to find it but mostly lack of confidence. I grew up often being the only girl in the room because I wanted to be a jazz instrumentalist and there weren’t many women doing the same.

cocktail dress

Unfortunately, this made me feel I had to downplay my femininity to be taken seriously. I also had body confidence issues having had cystic acne as a teen. Again it was music that helped me overcome this. I spent a couple of years living in the US where I got involved in a few all female bands including the Ladies Must Swing, a big band just like the one from my favourite film, Some Like It Hot. This helped me realise that I could have it all. I can be a great musician and be as feminine as I like!

What is it about vintage clothing that appeals to you the most?

The creativity, the classiness, the sex appeal, the quality and craftsmanship… everything really. It’s so much easier to put together an outfit because everything is so flattering. You can go from comfortable and causal to glamourous with just a coat of red lipstick. 

blue dress-7

How does it make you feel when you wear it?

There’s nothing else quite like it. It makes me feel like a woman but also empowered. I don’t understand the criticism that wanting to dress as women did in bygone eras is somehow anti-feminist. I think it’s the complete opposite.

Just because I dress like a 50s housewife doesn’t mean I can’t run a business or be as independent as I like. Over the years, women have been made to feel that to be equal to men they have to be more like men.

True feminism is being as feminine as you want while doing what you want regardless of your gender. Wearing vintage makes me feel like I am sticking it to the man!

What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

I love something from every era but I would say my favourites are probably the 40s with swing trousers and feminine blouses, the more casual side of the 50s and just the sheer arty madness of the 60s.

yello 60s

Where are your favourite shopping haunts and why?

These days I probably find most of my things through Facebook groups. I love how social media has enabled us to come together and share our passions globally. I can’t say it’s been good for my wallet though! I still can’t go past my local opshops without having a peek with regular success. I also love a good vintage market for the atmosphere.

black jumpsuit

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

Op shops are always a lottery but I think there are still a lot of treasures to be found and I like supporting a good cause. Small towns and out of the way places are the best for true vintage.

Many designated ‘vintage’ shops don’t have much from before the 80s and the prices are over inflated in my opinion. There are a few notable exceptions though like Retro Addiction.

I do often walk away with something nice and reasonably priced from vintage markets. All the best stuff is online, overseas and expensive. That is why I don’t shy away from wearing quality repro.


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

A houndstooth skirt suit a la Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep. Leopard or houndstooth everything! Jumpsuits!

Whose closet do you envy and why?

There are too many to mention! Instagram is full of them. I especially adore the many kiwi ladies around who just flaunt it. I’m so glad to be part of such a rich and vibrant community. 

black jumpsuit-2

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

I look at Lauren Bacall for the ultimate femme fatale and Eartha Kitt for sass with class, then Diana Rigg’s outfits in The Avengers for my more eccentric side. For day to day looks I draw most inspiration from candid photos of Marilyn Monroe being girl next door, Norma Jean. I love the beatnik style for winter. It’s just so comfortable!


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

When I first graduated from uni, I joined a motown/soul band on electric bass. I wanted to dress the part so I found a floral red a-line mini dress from the early 70s on Ebay. I still have it and occasionally pair it with my white go-go boots. 

green suit

How do members of the public react to your getups?

It’s never been anything but positive. I’m used to being stared at as a musician, especially when I walk around with my double bass, so that never bothers me. I like to think it brightens up people’s day.


I feel most accomplished when I make the older ladies smile because I know they ‘get it.’ They actually remember a time when the standard of dress was much higher than it is today and truly appreciate it.

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

I’m a full time musician so luckily yes! I can wear whatever I like. The more extreme the better it looks on stage! One of the reasons I wanted to play in Boom! Boom! Deluxe was so I’d have an excuse to wear all my crazy stuff out more.


Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home décor, car, accessories and other collections?

As a music buff, a vinyl record collection is obligatory and ours is growing fast. My hubby and I love old b-movies so we’ve got a small collection of posters too.

The house is a lovely 20s villa so it has much potential but we are practical people first. I did recently acquire a mid-century dresser which is something I have wanted for a long time.


I also collect old and strange musical instruments. I’ve even got a theremin!

We would love a classic car, especially something like a hearse or an ambulance that we could fit all the band gear in but we are starving artists so it’s not currently on the cards.

Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

No. It’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it!

When’s the next Boom Boom Deluxe gig?

We are playing all the time. I guess it depends when this will be published. We are playing the Very Vintage Day Out later in the year. Best bet is to follow us on Facebook as we travel all over the country and play most weekends.

What’s your favourite outfit of Hettie’s? Have you seen her band play live? Let me know in the comments!


In the closet with Heather Benzie

In part four of our ‘In the Closet with’… series, Heather Benzie spills her sartorial secrets to Natasha Francois.

Vintage doyenne Heather Benzie has a knack for crafting authentic-looking 1940s and 50s high fashion outfits using a hodge podge of vintage, retro and modern items.

The Christchurch-based apparel manager happily mixes eras and has a particular interest in retro pieces which recall earlier eras such as 1930s does 70s items or 80s does 40s or 50s.

But you wouldn’t know this from looking at her. From head to toe, she’s the epitome of elegance and tailored perfection. She’s certainly no vintage snob but by the same token, doesn’t own a single piece of  ‘purpose-designed’ reproduction clothing.

Read on to find out about her eclectic wardrobe, her passion for formal day-wear and skirt suits, and why she believes 1980s clothing is the ‘vintage of the future’.  


Being ladylike, as I do sometimes for fun, faking the 50s in a modern op shopped blazer. A good blazer is a good blazer, really.

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

I don’t think I own any actual purpose-designed repro. In general, manufactured reproductions and retail shopping don’t really interest me. What I like is the quirky, the individual and the fortuitous. I love to go hunting and see what I find and be inspired by it. And I do value my true vintage for age and authenticity: I suppose I like things that are a bit rare and special.


The green and white ‘Snow Drop’ post, in a pretty polyester 60s blouse on a chilly early spring day …

But I am definitely not a vintage purist either. If I am wearing a good vintage dress or suit I like to keep my fairly accessories in keeping, but for every day I will happily mix up vintage, retro and modern items to create a look I like, and it might or might not be a historically accurate effect that I am after. And I am really interested in retro pieces which in turn reference earlier eras, like 30s-influenced 1970s fashion and 80s fashions which are similar to styles from the 40s or 50s. For one thing they are handy because you can wear them either way, but I am just fascinated by the overlaps and circularity of fashion. 


A beautiful Chloe jacket I bought at the Recycle Boutique in Auckland – more expensive than vintage but exquisite really. The vintage of the future.

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

I have acquired a nice Lilli Ann suit and some lovely 1950s and 1960s dresses and suits which are always nice to wear for special occasions. They are always elegant and glamorous. One of my favourites is a teeny black silk velvet cheongsam which I will probably never squeeze into again … thank goodness for the everlasting photographic record of the internet! If I am buying proper vintage I try to follow the same guidelines I would for buying a new piece of clothing: is it beautiful or stylish (in my opinion), well designed, and well made of quality fabric?


I love a little fierce 40s style: actually 80s vintage jacket and veiled hat. Don’t you just love veiled hats?? I do. Hurrah for 80s does 40s!

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

There are a couple of dresses I picked up recently which are quite different from each other but both of which I love. I recently added to my collection a long silk evening dress, maybe 60s, with a stunning Chinese style water lily print. It’s very elegant. And I bought an amazing 1980s velvet cocktail dress with amazing oversized shoulders and puffed sleeves which I love because it is so ’80s’ but it has a real high fashion flair to it – elegant too, in a different way. It’s what I call the vintage of the future: when the rest of the world catches up with me in appreciating 80s fashion I will have the market cornered! 


One of my nicest things: an ivory cocktail suit. Tres Dior, non?

How did you first become interested in vintage style? Can you remember the first vintage piece you bought? What was it?

I remember from quite a young age loving the the glamorous high style of the old movies which were still pretty standard fare on the telly. As a teenager in the 1980s I got interested in current fashion – it was the age of Madonna, British New Romanticism and punk, so a really fun, eclectic time. There was quite a strong retro element in popular culture, and my friends and I loved visiting the local op shops and mixing up our Glassons stuff with vintage 50s and 60s items, among other things. I used to wear my pencil skirts with op shop 60s cardis and my mother’s gloves and pearls or a silk cocktail jacket and brocade shoes from my Nana. I don’t think we called it ‘wearing vintage’: it was more just a way to stretch our small budgets and wardrobes with nice things!


The closest I ever get to that immaculate pinup style! – pretty 60s wool frock from Dunedin Savemart, and a hat to minimise my naturally chaotic hair.

What is it about vintage clothing that appeals the most?

I am mostly driven by aesthetics and a kind of curiosity about fashion in general. I love a good outfit of any era and style and really appreciate when anyone puts thought into what they’re wearing. Vintage gives me opportunities to try out different aesthetics. I love co-ordinating all the elements from top to toe: it is like a puzzle you can put together in different ways. Sometimes I want to look smart, or cute or romantic or whatever, and sometimes I am just mucking around.


I was inspired by Kate Bush’s video for The Hounds Of Love to photograph this romantic 80s Thornton Hall ball gown this way ..

Given that, the question of whether my clothes are a form of self expression is complicated. It is true that wearing different clothes makes you feel different (if you are interested Google ‘enclothed cognition’) and the fact that I experiment with lots of different looks probably indicates that I am happy with being several different people! I have said before that my clothes mostly express a desire to make the everyday just a little more fabulous and interesting!


This lovely silk 70s wedding dress reminded me of the White Witch in the original Narnia illustrations, with its austere medieval styling.

My photographs are really important to me as a creative outlet. I don’t have time to do many at the moment and it makes me sad! When I have time I really love to photograph some of my clothes in a creative way. I am trying to show some cultural or even an emotional association of the clothing for me. For example, I styled a 1980s ballgown in a photo shoot inspired by a Kate Bush album, as an attempt to illustrate the new romantic spirit. It’s a very personal and impressionistic interpretation, though; not a documentary.

What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

I wear clothes of lots of different eras: more than favourite eras I have favourite styles or genres that I gravitate towards. I adore formal daywear and love to wear a skirt suit with all the accessories – from any decade from the 40s to the 80s. The sharper and more glamorous the look, the better, so I do have a special yen for that high drama, fierce 40s, 50s and 80s style.

I take any opportunity to get dressed up in eveningwear too. I have a lot of elegant 50s and 60s frocks but I have started wearing more funky late 60s and 70s dresses, and of course I can’t resist a good 80s number!

For casual wear I mostly revert to various forms and eras of what you might call romantic and boho style, from 40s looks to current ones. 
If I were going to sum up my preferred style, it is either elegant and formal, or colourful and romantic. With a hint of preppy and the odd cute moment. Go figure. 


A ravishing gold satin 50s gown against the golden autumn beauty of the Port Hills here in Christchurch.

Where are your favourite shopping haunts and why?

I do the rounds of my local op shops when I can, buy a few things off Trademe and always visit Overflow in Mayfield when we head south. I don’t buy a lot of ‘retail’ vintage only because I’m tight with money. Some of my best things have been bought from friends in the vintage community, because I trust them. 

Do you have any general thoughts about op shopping and vintage shopping in New Zealand?

Well, it is easy to get envious about the seemingly bottomless pool of amazing vintage you see on overseas sites. But paradoxically the small size of the vintage community and stock in New Zealand keeps prices down, which is nice for a collector. I have bought beautiful true vintage suits and dresses off Trademe for a fraction of what the would sell for on an overseas site. And you can definitely still find bits of true vintage in the op shops and fairly inexpensive second hand shops. Sometimes I can’t believe what I find that has been overlooked or consigned as valueless. You do need patience, sharp eyes, some knowledge, and a bit of luck though.

Whose closet do you envy and why?

Marilyn Monroe’s maybe? Ava Gardner’s? 


Ava Gardner

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

So many influences! I have certainly been influenced by the beauty and glamour of the classic movie stars of the 40s and 50s. My favourite designers are pretty diverse: Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren and Yves St Laurent spring to mind. Fashion advertising and pop culture of all sorts in recent decades interests me.

I don’t really follow any bloggers or such but I totally love Leandra Medine, aka Manrepeller, for the way she has divorced an interest in fashion from conventional notions of femininity, prettiness and sex appeal. I think that is my position, to some degree. Looking pretty is not, in and of itself, particularly interesting to me these days.


Leandra Medine aka ‘Manrepeller’

Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

Nude lipstick. Trackpants. Activewear unless I am actually running. Any form of imitation Ugg boots or boot slippers. Leggings as pants. Chunky gladiator sandals. Makeup modelled on that of a Khadashian. But that’s only me and what I personally consider attractive or suitable for me. I don’t care what other people wear: we are all different! That’s a good thing. 

What do you think of Heather’s vintage style? Let me know in the comments! xx


In the closet with: Bailey McCormack

Natasha Francois peeks into the wardrobe of Wellington’s Fanciforia Foxglove.

With looks to rival Jayne Mansfield and comic timing to match Lucille Ball, Fanciforia Foxglove, aka Bailey McCormack, flawlessly combines slapstick comedy and period-perfect style.

A communications manager by day, and burlesque performer (and publicist) by night, the 29-year-old Wellington denizen describes herself as a “vintage girl in a modern world, with the style of a silver screen queen but the sensibilities of a 21st century woman” .

When it comes to vintage hair styling, she’s a purist who swears by the ‘no heat’ method of pin curling. She believes in her technique so much that she holds classes to teach other women the lost art of pin curls. In her spare time, she teaches burlesque and co-produces the comedy show Lip Sync Battles Wellington.

And if that weren’t enough, she’s also involved with the coolest mass dog walking event in the country The Big Dog Walk with Lots of Dogs, and is a publicist for the upcoming variety show at the Opera House The Menagerie Deluxe.

Read on for a peek at her theatrical threads…


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

Goodness where to start! You would find everything from ostrich boa feathered burlesque costumes, to 1960s deadstock gowns, to custom made corsets; heaps of ’50s style high-waisted capris and even a rooster costume! (Long story) I think the best way to sum it up would be eclectic and theatrical.

I seem to acquire weird and wonderful items that I always try and make use of as a performer. But I would say most of my wardrobe is made up of op shop finds and the odd vintage store splash out.

Fanciforia Foxglove 1 Watermark

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

No, not a purist, but I do get more excited and enticed by true vintage items; I just love the thrill of discovering a gem from the past, especially if it’s an op shop bargain. I’m drawn to unique pieces that tell a story and evoke a sense of character.

However, I do find myself buying more and more repro these days as I feel there is better variety of styles and influences on the market currently. I tend to buy repro items for everyday or work wear as they are great for mixing and matching. I like my vintage items to be real ‘show stoppers’ such as evening wear and costume items.


What are some of your most prized pieces in your vintage collection?

I have many treasured items and I’m the sentimental type so it’s hard to single out a few but here goes:

 I have a gorgeous and impressive faux fur coat that looks real and garners an average of two comments a day from strangers on the street complementing it’s splendor. It simply demands attention, especially when worn with a fur hat. It’s my winter staple.


I found a white vintage Edwardian style corset in a thrift store in San Francisco that I turned into a costume piece for a Lucille Ball inspired burlesque act. It required a lot of nipping and tucking, and I added numerous appliques, crystals and feathers but I love it because it’s custom and truly magnificent. I wanted it to look like a piece from the Ziegfeld Follies.


I have a delightful coral vintage chorus girl/carnival dress with white fringing that looks like something Dolly Parton would have worn on stage in the 60s. It’s a costume piece and at one point was used for the Cuba Street Carnival Parade. I was gifted it from the owner of Wellington’s best vintage store Ziggurat in exchange for performing burlesque in her shop window for an event.


I have a vintage black and white 1950s swimsuit my mum found in an op shop that I’ve had since I was about 16. It’s tailored to perfection with a built in bullet bra for true ‘va va voom’ factor, much like a 1960s Playboy bunny costume. It has a white panel on the front that actually looks like the shape of a silver fern.

Any noteworthy recent purchases?

I found the most gorgeous emerald green satin floor length dress for only $30 in an op shop. It has beading around the neckline and is just divine. It is handmade and quite rough around the edges, but all it needed was a bit of mending to resurrect it.

I don’t always go for quality and ‘mint’ condition; I’m attracted to bold and often badly sewn costume pieces because they have an amplified sense of drama. Plus, who doesn’t love a bargain! I’m willing to put in the effort for a damaged piece that has potential.


How did you first become interested in vintage style?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a hard one to answer for me because I feel like it’s in my blood. My mother, grandmother and aunt are all op shop queens – well before op shopping was cool. Firstly, because they grew up working class and it was more affordable, but they all appreciated vintage items (clothes, household items, furniture etc.) as precious relics from the past that kept with them a narrative.

Each item like a little window into the past. They all had an impeccable eye for quality and could sniff out a diamond in the rough from a mile away. They instilled these qualities in me too. To us, op shopping is not just a pastime; it’s a lifestyle, a religion.


Coupled with that, I have a petite but curvy figure with proportions that were considered ideal for women in the 50s and 60s, but certainly not in the 90s or early 2000s when I was a teen!

As an awkward teen growing up in the era of low rider jeans, belly button rings and boob tubes, I instinctively understood that what was  considered ‘cool’ just didn’t suit my body shape and knew that was ok. I never felt ashamed of my body, I knew there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me. I just needed to go against the grain and change my style to feel comfortable in my own skin.

I must have been watching a lot of Trinny and Suzannah. I’m sure having a liberal upbringing and going to a Rudolf Steiner school where mufti was allowed and self-expression was encouraged no doubt helped foster this attitude.


I definitely saw my shape represented in pictures of old Hollywood starlets and pinup girls of the 40s and 50s. So I started to emulate those women and have never felt more at home. But it wasn’t always smooth! In my last years of high school I was still finding my way and kind of got stuck in the 80s for a bit en route to the 40s. 50s and 60s. It was all side ponytails and loud colours for a while. I gained a reputation for being an ‘experimental dresser with a bold style’ that year.

What is it about vintage clothing that appeals to you the most?

The fit and attention to detail. They just do not make clothes like they used to! Especially if you have curves, vintage clothes are simply more flattering for a womanly figure. Plus so much care was put into making every item look beautiful and last forever.

I must also mention ‘the cinch’ which is something I’m known for always having. I won’t wear anything unless it is cinched at the waist in someway. As a short person, I feel swamped by anything too flowy or A line, so a belt, cinch lip or tapered waistline is a must for me. Even when I’m working out I knot t-shirts at the waist and wear high-waisted gym pants. I’m never off-brand.


How does it make you feel when you wear it?

It depends on what I’m in! I often describe my style as ‘character dressing’. Some days I feel like being a French air hostess from the 60s, and other days I’m catwoman or a Russian spy.

Clothes and style are so powerful, they tell a story and inform how people judge you in many ways, But no matter what, they make me feel confident and at ease in my own skin. I’m a true believer in having a sense of fun, humour and play with style. I’m a naturally nostalgic person too, so wearing something from the past gives me great joy and honour.


What are your favourite eras when it comes to vintage clothes?

I really do appreciate anything from the 1800s to the 80s. I think the 70s is my least favourite because I feel it suits me the least – but I can appreciate 70s items on others and I do love other aspects of the 70s outside of the fashion.

But like many modern vintage enthusiasts ad pinups, I’m most comfortable wearing items from the 40s, 50s and 60s mainly because they are fundamentally designed to flatter my curvy figure the best.


Where are your favourite shopping haunts and why?

Any St Vincent de Paul op shop hands down. Of all the charity shops, St Vinnies staff are the least clued up about vintage. Bless their cotton socks! So I find you can score way better bargains in a St Vinnies store. Especially the ones in small towns.

Ziggurat in Wellington is just magnificent. The items are all really unique and of superb quality.

Thrift in Wellington is also a new favourite. The pricing is mid-range, but they also sell on your behalf so it’s a good place to take unwanted items and earn a bit of $$ for yourself.


Etsy is a great addition to the scene. I love being able to trawl the entire world for vintage!I Even if most of the time I’m drooling over my laptop instead of actually purchasing. But I have bought the odd  some gems from Etsy, and it’s perfect for finding something really specific.

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

Gone are the days when it was a secret only a few people were in on! I miss the times where shops were far less picked over. These days you have to go further out into the wops to find true gems for a good price, but it is more satisfying when you do because they are now so rare. I find the further south you go and the more rural, the better the chances.


Vintage stores will always be more pricey, and they have to be to stay operating, but I’m glad we have them as they can be relied upon for special show stopping items. It’s nice to be able to see them in the flesh, even if it’s just to admire from a distance. But I am also saddened by the shift towards some stores only really stocking 80s and 90s styles as pieces from the 40s, 50s and 60s become more rare and coveted.

Photo credit courtneyjunehooper

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

I’m on the hunt for a vintage Lilli Ann 1940s blazer or a matchy matchy two piece blazer/skirt suit. I haven’t found any small enough to fit me yet, which is incidentally a problem for me, despite knowing many women were more my size in the 40s and 50s.

I am always into a good wiggle dress with a well tailored bust line and a cinched waist a la Jayne Mansfield. Any colour will do as long as it fits tight like a glove.

Annex - Mansfield, Jayne (Kiss Them for Me)_01.jpg

Jayne Mansfield

I also love cute 40s and 50s summer sets, like sun tops with little short shorts. I feel like matching sets just aren’t a thing anymore, but they are just so darn adorable and set me in a frenzy of joy. Gingham, yellow, white and any kind of pastel are my go to colours.

I’m all about leopard at the moment too. I just can’t get enough of it. If I could get all of the aforementioned items in leopard I would die happy. I’m very Jayne Mansfield in that way.


Whose closet do you envy and why?

Dita of course! She has gasp-worthy items from burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee and the most extravagant custom costumes and true vintage collection.

Also the aforementioned Jayne Mansfield. I adore her racy, bad girl 50s style full of wiggle dresses and fur trim.

Violet Chachki the drag queen! She is just killing me with her choices lately. Her aesthetic is really 40s and 50s with a high fashion twist and plenty of sequins of course.


Dita Von Teese

There is a gorgeous Instagram pinup I follow called Miss Lark Bahar who is Elizabeth Taylor reincarnated. She has the best vintage wardrobe and models her items so beautifully, just nailing the vintage poses perfectly. Every detail is era perfect and just to die for.

Who are some of your style icons and influences?

All the classic old Hollywood like Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. But I also love Brigitte Bardot, Lucille Ball, Dolly Parton, Betty Brosmer and characters like Elly-Mae from the Beverley Hillbillies or burlesque performers like Lillian St. Cyr and Josephine Baker.

Ollie Labone

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

I actually can’t. Vintage has just been such a huge part of my life,  I never actually had a significant first purchase moment. My mother even used to put me in Victorian dresses as a child, so my vintage palette was being trained and refined from day dot. I probably came out of the womb wearing a 40s sailor dress with a bow in my hair!


How do members of the public react to your getups?

Very positively. When I entered Miss Pinup I ended up on the telly for basically being Wellington City Council’s sassiest dresser, which is where I worked at the time. The next morning, a nice lady who had seen me on TV came to my work and left a boa feather and some other vintage items because she thought I’d appreciate them! She was a complete stranger but wanted me to have them ‘so I could do them justice’ she said.

I get called Marilyn a lot which is fine with me. Sometimes when I am dressed very burlessquey I get unwanted male attention on the street, but I always stop, turn around and out sass them as a response. They never really expect to be challenged by so feel rather affronted when I do. The performer in me is never afraid to raise my voice and cause a scene on a busy street to make an example out of rude and entitled men.


A lot of women come up to me and say that they admire my confidence and the way I put outfits together which is really sweet. They often go on to say they could never pull off ‘x, y or z’ , or they don’t have the right occasion to dress up etc – to which I say ‘why the hell not?’ and ‘life is occasion enough!’.

Style requires attitude but attitude can also comes from having a strong sense of self through style. They are inextricably linked. I appreciate any person who makes bold choices, whether they are vintage or not. I enjoy seeing people having fun, taking risks and making statements. Your outfit should say ‘helllooooo world! This is me’. 


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

I absolutely do. I’ve been really lucky with my workplaces all totally accepting and in fact encouraging of how I dress.

I tend to stick with more classic silhouettes for workwear but offset that with bold colours and lots of accessories. For example, I will often go with a 1940s vibe, like a pencil skirt and a cardigan in winter so I’m very covered, but the pencil skirt will be hot pink and the cardigan will be mint green. I will then add a beret or a neck tie for added flare.


To me, my workwear is ‘casual’ by my standards, but to others it is dressed up. I think people appreciate it when someone has put in a bit of effort to create a cohesive outfit from hat to shoes. It shows thought and creativity.

We are lucky in NZ because we have a more casual approach to work wear in general, so you can’t really get it too wrong unless you turn up in flip flops and a bikini top. Because I’m an extrovert/show off, this drive away from formality in the workplace actually makes me want to dress up more and stand out against the grain.


Does your vintage obsession extend into other areas too such as home decor, car, accessories and other collections?

Not yet….but I I’m making mental notes for things I’d like to collect for the future. Because I’m a big horse lover, I can certainly see myself collecting vintage equestrian items like stock pins, dressage top hats and jackets, paintings of aristocracy out in the hunting field and anything else horse related. I am just obsessed with all things equestrian. I have jodhpurs that I wear to work sometimes.


Anything that you’d never be caught dead wearing?

I’m pretty much game for anything these days. Especially as a performer! I’ve even dressed up as Bryan from the Backstreet Boys for an act so I’m willing to go great lengths for comedic effect.

But for everyday life, you’d never see me wearing anything of the overly casual ‘normcore’ variety. Anything from the 90s or early 2000s that reminds me of my teen years just makes me shudder.