Founder of Painted Bird, European Vintage and sustainable stylist Stephanie King shares her savvy tips for finding stylish preloved gems.
REWORK, REVIEW, REIMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES
To me, as a sustainable stylist, this is fashion forward behaviour at its finest. It inspires me because I know it is a learning process and absolutely everyone can get behind it if they choose to. I adore when I can educate and offer my thoughts on how a customer can re-wear something from their own wardrobe that they bought many years ago and see it in a new light. We don’t always need to go shopping every time you have a ‘wardrobe edit’ and we certainly don’t need to Kondo/refill/repeat. Usually, there are so many things already lurking within your grasp inside that wardrobe that we may have just forgotten how to be creative with them.
EVERY PIECE HAS A STORY
My selection firstly begins with the 1930’s to 1970’s eras. I believe in only bringing pieces that can be incorporated into our everyday wardrobe to our country. They are exclusive. They are bespoke. They are unique. When they are gone, they are GONE. I love the eras I work with most. I believe they have the most to offer from a stylistic perspective. They are fashion history at its best and I believe should be regarded with the sustainable ethical shopping values of conscious care for a quality zero waste product.
LOVINGLY BROUGHT BACK TO FORMER GLORY
Crucial to my sustainability philosophies is quality control. Which is why the next step is: no rips, holes, tears or stains i.e. perfect. Every piece is scrutinised for any issues and sizing saleability. I bring only that which I truly believe can be sold. I do not bring in clothing that may, by my hand, end up in landfill here in New Zealand. They are all collectable pieces that in most cases can be worn out of the store and on to the street immediately. Sometimes I will come across a piece so unusual or that is truly timeless and just needs a zipper replaced or re-hemming. My wonderful mother in law has been a priceless support and helps me to reinstate the piece. Repairs are often made with her mother’s collection of metal zippers and vintage buttons so we can remain as authentic as possible.
WHAT WE VALUE WHEN WE SHOP MATTERS
I don’t think humanity will stop shopping. I believe it is HOW we shop that I hope we can change in the near future. I have seen it in so many of my customers and elsewhere in the world. The Swedes wouldn’t have opened an entire mall dedicated to vintage, second-hand and reuse/recycling if there weren’t a worldwide movement for this easy behavioural change. I firmly believe the shopping thought process should be turned on its head.
TRY SHOPPING LIKE THIS
Shop antique or vintage
Shop retro, second-hand or recycled.
Shop new sustainably and or ethically made from small run local designers
Out of your price range or nothing there to your taste?
In that waiting time either the items you so thought you needed will either present themselves or, you will forget about it and the ‘do you really need that kicks in”.
Incorporating vintage into your everyday wardrobe can be as easy as choosing to wear a dress rather than trousers. If wearing a dress doesn’t appeal, explore wearing a vintage blouse with your favourite pair of tailored trousers to work. Throw a vintage jacket or trench over your jeans and a T-shirt this winter and you will be channelling your inner Alexa Chung.
BE YOUR OWN STYLIST
Take a look in the boutiques, find the looks you like and think ‘what do I already have in my wardrobe that looks similar to these on trend looks?’ Sometimes the easiest way to bring a piece ‘into the now’ is just adding a necklace, earrings or scarf. Adapt vintage with current looking accessories. Or, conversely, adapt current pieces with vintage to take your look up a notch and express individuality.
DO’S AND DON’TS
- Get some great underwear. Your dressing starts from undies out and if they don’t fit – well, that’s how the rest of the clothes will hang on you. Get fitted by a professional and find the brand that suits you. I know there are a number of sustainable and ethically made undergarment companies however I would reinforce this mantra ‘If I cannot try it I will not buy it’. Shop local and get your fitting checked every few years and make sure you are ahem … supported.
- Don’t wear make-up to shop. If a piece of clothing does not look nice on you in your ‘au natural’ state then it probably isn’t for you. Make-up should ‘enhance’ the way we already look and I believe it should not be something you need to put on to wear a piece of clothing.
- Taking the plunge and getting your ‘colours’ done is a fantastic investment in making better future purchasing decisions. Your colouring will vary over time, but it is the part of a framework that can stop you making shopping mistakes whether they are new, second-hand or vintage. Vintage comes in all colours so you will never have to struggle to find something fabulous that suits you. Think of the investment as one less bad jacket purchase in your wardrobe – it’ll probably cost the same for the session.
- Take your measurements and work out what your body shape looks like. You don’t really have to be able to draw – don’t worry! This does not mean you need to name yourself any kind of fruit or household item either. It is also, not about finding ways to cover yourself up in voluminous or skin tight clothing. On a piece of paper, you can work out vaguely how to look at enhancing or minimising areas in this way. When you go shopping you can pull out your piece of paper and look at the garment a little more critically. You say to yourself, is all this frou frou going to bring attention or disguise my assets? It is all about balance and is not difficult to surmise. I discuss the importance of this with my customers in store every day. I have certainly spent time drawing with my customers to help them see how to look at the clothing critically, instead of themselves. Enjoy the way you look and let the clothing help you to get there. Less feeling bad about ourselves is one of my personal drivers. Direct any dismay at the cut of the clothing instead! Our bodies also change over time – that means we need to be free to adapt while still looking like ourselves.
- Wear comfy clothes that you can take on and off easily. If you start saying ‘oh I can’t be bothered to take these jeans off again’, it is probably time to head home before you make a poor garment fitting mistake.
- At home, accessorise with gusto. All the things you like! Layering necklaces, using belts, fabric swatches as scarves – bling yourself up! You can always remove it if you are heavy handed. Accessorise with current bits and pieces – bring it all to the NOW. Wear it all with an ‘on-trend’ style that helps you to feel comfortable in a crowd or stand out for those who enjoy a bit of ‘peacock’ (like me). Coco Chanel said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Personally, sometimes I feel the need for overkill. Fashion should be fun and a healthy channel to express yourself.
- Drink water when you are shopping. It might sound bizarre but my reasoning is sound. If you need to take a break or make a pit stop sometimes it can stop you from buying something in a hurry and can give you a little quiet time to think in the confines of a cubicle to reason with yourself – do I really need that?