Sally Parsons is The British Heart Foundation’s expert in all things vintage fashion. Many people have a fondness for fashion from years gone by and look for original pieces to add to their wardrobe. Sally kindly spared some time to answer a few questions for us to share with you about all things vintage fashion!
Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
I work for the British Heart Foundation as a vintage and clothing specialist in their eBay department. I come from a fashion footwear retail background but have always had a love for vintage clothing and expressing myself through fashion. I’m currently renovating a historic barge and I have a rescue bull terrier called Bobby.
When did you first realise you loved everything vintage?
I first began to love vintage at the age of 14 when my mother made 1960s shift dresses for me. She had an original pattern and would let me choose the fabrics I liked and make them for me at home. I would wear them with Doc Martens boots and an army satchel for my school bag – it was the 90s after all!
Do you have a favourite fashion era in history and why that particular time?
I love bright, psychedelic prints so it’s got to be the late 60’s and early 70’s fashion era. American western wear from this time is really appealing to me as I studied American studies at university and love the fusion found in American fashion of this era.
When out shopping for vintage fashion items, where should our readers start?
When starting to shop for vintage, look out for designs that are appealing to you but will still hold value in the future. Vintage designer items are collectable so look out for brands such as Frank Usher, Ossie Clark, Alice Pollock and original BIBA. Keep an eye out for metal zips as opposed to plastic ones. And finally, genuine vintage items from the 1950’s or earlier would often have been handmade so don’t be put off if you find an item with no tags.
When shopping for vintage always buy what appeals to your taste, don’t buy looks which do not suit your personality or suit your style or body shape. Pretty prints are always appealing to me, I regularly scour charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales for pieces, and am always attracted to bright prints that stand out in a large pile of clothing or on rails. Look out for vintage pieces online – eBay is still a favourite of mine as it has been for years. Quirky items are regularly donated to charity shops and end up being auctioned online such as our BHF eBay store which has a huge amount of daily auctions – not just clothing! You can scour the virtual rails at bhf.org.uk/eBay for the best vintage clothing from our shops.
Do you have any advice about styling vintage fashion?
Styling vintage fashion to me is about not overloading your look. Choosing to wear a vintage dress with a pair of mega platform sandals from the high street keeps a vintage look current and fresh. Combining decades works well to create a modern look with genuine vintage and reproduction fused together.
What do you find most exciting about this type of fashion?
The most exciting aspect of wearing vintage is the history this type of clothing holds. Clothing that still exists today holds memories of the people who have worn it before and this is a lovely aspect of vintage collecting for me.
Do you have any favourite designers or particular styles?
I love American designers from the 1970’s and have a collection of non-western folk wear from the 1960’s / 70’s and traditional American western wear from this era.
What’s in your handbag?
My handbag is a functional backpack as I cycle everywhere! I carry around my phone and headphones as I listen to music constantly. I have ‘back up’ pair of trainers for walking and a small make up bag for touch ups!