Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Interview with Karlee of Gatsby and Me

Hello! Today I will be presenting you with an interview with Karlee from the wonderful blog Gatsby and Me. (More after the jump).

1. When did you first become interested in vintage?
I started wearing 50's style shirt dresses in Year 9, when I was about 14 for two reasons - 1) They were cheap from the Op Shop near school and 2) No one else was really doing it. Wearing Op Shop clothes in the mid 90's was not very popular!

2. What is your definition of vintage?
I think people confuse the terms "vintage" and "retro". For me, Vintage is around 50 years back from the present - 60's clothes are my "cut off." I don't agree with 80's and 90's op shop finds being sold in chain stores like Sportsgirl as 'vintage" for $80! Retro to me means 70's-90's.

3. What sort of things do you do to become 'vintage'? And does it  extend past clothes?

Besides the clothes, I wear my hair in 40's and 50's styles and use traditional pincurls to achieve this. No straighteners or heated rollers! Not because I'm snobby about it, just because I find if you want to look authentic, use authentic techniques. I wear vintage style make up - no glitter, shine, gloss or shimmer that seems popular these days. And no bronzer! You can get very involved - some girls who like the 30's pluck their eyebrows super thin, which can look strange. I think dressing "vintage" should make you look your best, you shouldn't be a slave to any rules. It should make you feel good, not uncomfortable or self conscious. Aside from hair and makeup, I wear garterbelts and seamed stockings when the weather allows and I do have a love for vintage items, but more industrial, "manly" things. I couldn't live in a house full of vintage advertisements, curtains, road signs etc like some people do. My house is a mix of mid century furniture, side of the road finds and ebay purchases. I had to sell my car when I moved from QLD, but I used to drive a '67 VC Valiant and always had old cars before that. My next car will be a 1950's ford shoebox.

4. Why do you think vintage has become more popular in recent years?
I think fashion moves in cycles and reacts against itself. Look at the super low cut jeans of 5 years ago-when you go so far, there's no where else to go but to the other extreme and start again - hence the high waisted jeans that were popular a year or so ago. Vintage shapes, with cinched in waists and full skirts will always appeal because they remind people of a simpler time (however naive that is) when women were "nice" and men were gentlemen and we face quite a different reality today. It's a reaction to the androgynous, the tight, the skimpy, the tacky and the overtly sexual. Vintage has also gained popularity through media figures like Dita Von Teese, who make vintage "sexy." It may not apply to all vintage girls, but I think some girls get into vintage because men find it attractive.
Some girls also want to look "pretty" and vintage is a good way to do that. I have found too, that I get complimented alot when I go out dressed up by girls who are in no way interested in vintage, but appreciate the look. Guys too.

5. Is it a way of life for you?
Well, it's a way of appearance! I have an iphone, I blog, I am in no way 'vintage' in my technology! I find dressing this way makes me happy, so it is in that sense, but I'm not about to start washing my clothes by hand or forgoing any of the modern conveniences we have today. That's what I like about living now. The freedom to use what we like from the past and mix it with the present.

6. What do you think about the whole vintage blogging community?
I don't know many of the girls personally, but have email relationships with a few, who are all lovely. The internet is such a big place that no one HAS to talk to you, or help you out. I like getting comments on my blog because it means someone likes what I've posted so much they've taken time out of their day to type a response. No one asked them to. It's nice. In my experience, everyone has been great.

7. Would you like to see vintage become more popular?
Done well, YES! I think the reason lots of girls appreciate the vintage look but don't do it themselves is because it's not as easy as buying a dress in the mall. It takes time to find clothes, time to learn how to do your hair and make up, time to research the period you like. I have noticed that more men are wearing vintage styles - nice trousers, a collared shirt and suspenders - I love that. I would like to see "dressing up" and putting in some effort become more popular. It blows me away that you can buy "pre ripped" jeans and hair products designed to give you that "bedhead" look. I think dressing well and putting in effort shows respect for yourself and others.

8. If you had the opportunity to live in your favourite era would you take it?
Only for a year and only if I had a time machine to bring back clothes and cars! I think lots of people believe that "vintage" girls would prefer to live in the past. Sure the 30's-50's had beautiful design, but they also had the Great Depression, Wars, less advanced medical care and other things that we tend to forget in our romanticising of the past.

9. When did you decide to open your own shop?
About a year ago. It's hard to find affordable vintage style clothes that aren't covered in swallows, stars, cobwebs or cherry print. Rockabilly style is very well catered for, but traditional vintage is not. I was making dresses for myself and wearing them out and people just started asking for them. It's grown from there.

10. What is one thing from your favourite era that you would like to  see make a comeback?
Effort and manners. There's nothing wrong with looking nice and there's nothing wrong with a man opening a door for you. I appreciate gender equality and the freedom we all have to choose how we look, but a man opening your door simply shows respect and brushing your hair and wearing nice neat clothes is no different. Putting in the time to present well and respect others can only benefit you.

Thanks Karlee for the interview :)


  1. Hi Ruby!
    The blogs looking fantastic already! I wish I was soo into vintage when I was 14! Best of luck with the rest of your project.
    Emma @ emma aime

  2. Hi there Ruby! Congrats on a great blog! I'm always excited to see kids express their creativity and discover the world of vintage. My daughter (age 15) is also into vintage clothing! She gets it from her mama I guess :) I am going to send her info on your blog. She love to collect victorian, but wears dresses from the 50's and 60's, as well as a few from the 80's (not vintage to me, more retro, but they have 1940's styling).

    Can't wait to read more about your project!

  3. Hi Emma! Thank you so much! I can't wait to do more.

    Hello Sue! Your daughter sounds lovely (as do you!). I'd love to talk to her about vintage some time.

  4. manners are always good. it also means things like helping older people, letting the pregnant lady or the guy with a cane have your seat in the bus, not rushing people, etc.

    really nicely done interview! and Karlee looks just beautiful!! steph

  5. Great start Ruby!

    Karlee has given you a lot of information to work with. Using real-life references in your research makes it much more powerful.

  6. Actually, Vintage means anything over 20 years old, although I prefer anything prior to when I was born (1966) and retro refers to something that is inspired by a vintage style.