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What hidden gems do you have in your wardrobe? An interview with Tracy Martin

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

We all have that much loved dress tucked away in the back of our wardrobes that we just can’t bear to part with. Apart from any sentimental value it might have- it may just be ‘collectable’ as well.

In her book Collectable Names and Designs in Women’s Fashion, Past and Present, Tracy Martin takes us on a trip down memory lane as she explores how events of the day have influenced fashion, and the inspiration behind some of the most iconic designs.

Packed full of great photos, the book is a delight for anyone woman with an interest in style, and the stories behind the clothes we wear.
I caught up with Tracy Martin and asked her to shed a little more light on her book.

Tracy, what are your favourite decades in terms of fashion?

My favourite style decades are the 1920s and 1960s. Being a bit of a rebel, both are evocative of times when women were seeking to be more liberated. From the flapper dresses of the 20s where ‘ladies’ started to wear make-up and the 60s where mini skirts and music are evocative of the era.

The best places to buy Vintage Clothes

Where should you look to buy ‘vintage’ and what should you buy?

From charity shops to specialist vintage stores. Paperdress and Beyond Retro are both good in London, but go to vintage fairs, charity shops, car boot sales. Look for items that epitomise an era. I always like the Goodwood fair. The main thing is to have fun.

Do you have a ‘best’ buy? 

My best buy was a Vivienne Westwood skirt at a car boot sale – I paid £1.50 for it at a car boot sale!

What clothes should we keep and what should we throw away?
Keep anything that brings back memories. Anything with a ‘good name’. Doesn’t have to be designer- think ‘Chelsea Girl’. Keep clothes that epitomise an era- 80s jackets with big shoulder pads are making a comeback now that Hilary Devey is wearing them on Dragon’s Den. 70’s flares? The younger generation are snapping them up! Also the H&M designer collaborations are becoming collectable.

Is there anything you regret giving away?
A Vivienne Westwood dress.

First and foremost fashion should be fun- not to be taken too seriously. Create your own sense of style.  Mix vintage with high street. Play with fashion – wear what makes you feel good. If you have a black dress think about how many ways you can wear it- in my book I mention someone who wore the same dress every day for a month (actually she had 2- one to wear and one to wash!) just to see if she could create 31 different looks.

Women’s Fashion, Past and Present offers fascinating insights to the history behind the trends. A must read for anyone with a passion for fashion!

Collectable Names and Designs In Women’s Fashion Past and Present is available from Amazon



Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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