Monday, January 26, 2009

Interview: Vintage stylist Sarah Dean

A few months back, I had the giddy good fortune to sit down and chat with local vintage stylist, eBay store owner, and fashion blogger Sarah Dean. We featured her in our November fashion issue at Rare, and since our first interview together, I am unashamed to say that I stalk her on a fairly regular basis. I mean, with styling mojo like this.... could one not stalk?

Read on to hear about the girl who channels Courtney Love and Catherine Deneuve with equal aplomb, skips through homes of dead people, and has vowed to wear only thrift/vintage for an entire year, Sarah Dean.

1. You are a "vintage stylist," and a badass one. Explain to readers what that means, exactly?

Well, I work with photographers and models, helping them ('helping' is pretty subjective, eh?) select outfits/clothes/accessories for photo shoots. With photographers, I am usually there to help them pull off a theme or a mood. With models, I try to assist them in adding certain styles to their portfolios, like "editorial" or "commercial." I have a pretty clear niche because I only use vintage and thrift store clothing. I fancy myself a "green" stylist that way, because wearing recycled clothing is a great way to minimize your impact on the environment. I sell vintage and thrift store finds that I find for shoots on ebay, which continues the recycling theme. :)

2. How did you stumble onto such an amazing job?

To a certain extent I made it up. When I started putting my vintage clothing collection up for sale on eBay, I got hit up by a couple local photographers to lend clothing for their shoots. Then I started coming to the photo shoots and saying pretentious things like "wow, that is the wrong necklace, let's try a lanyard pendant." After a few of those, feeling rather brazen, I put "wardrobe stylist" on my MySpace page, set up an online portfolio and duped people into thinking I knew what I was doing. Now I almost do.

3. Why are vintage clothes magical?

Because they evoke memories with all the senses! Photos you've seen in old books, your favorite classic films, the way your grandma smelled, rock n' roll icons...all those things come back to you when you see these great pieces from the past. And for all practical purposes, vintage clothing is one of a kind. Sure a dress may have been mass produced in the '60s, but what are the chances that many survived to this day? You buy a vintage dress, you can be confident you will be unique in a crowd. It's become more important to a certain group of people now to use style as an expression of personality and taste. Vintage clothing can tell people a lot about you in an authentic way. It's the difference between wearing a '70s costume at a Halloween party and wearing a real polyester jumpsuit to dinner. Like "Yes, I actually like Jimi Hendrix in a non-ironic way."

4. Where do you find your vintage wares?

I spend way too much time in thrift stores and I stalk estate sales like a starved lion. Estate sales (because I have realized lots of people aren't familiar with these) occur when people pass away and their family or lawyer puts the entire contents of their homes up for sale on the cheap. I am there when they open, unashamedly ransacking the homes of dead people. It's a little twisted. To find gold at thrift stores though, you have to get out of town. I suggest finding the most podunk towns in your state and hitting up the salvation army, garage sales, and church donation shops.

5. Your own style reflects a few style signatures...big hair, love of belts and boots. Who and what influences your personal style?

I am usually trying to emulate whatever musical style I am listening to that day. I will have a '90s Courtney Love week, a week of Dusty Springfield, and usually a month at a time of Stevie Nicks. The same thing happens when I read F. Scott Fitzgerald or watch Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour. Find amazing things that move you first, get dressed second.

6. Talk to us about The Year of Living Thriftily! What's this blog all about?

This is my love child. I combined my love for thrifting and vintage with my attention seeking nature. A few months ago, I committed to only buying and wearing vintage or thrift store clothing, shoes, and accessories for at least a year. It sounds a little trivial to an outsider, but it has had a great economic and stylistic impact on my life. I was an impulse buyer and definitely shopping outside my means, so this was a little bit of a self-intervention as well. I am saving money, reducing waste, and taking my creativity up a notch. I am blogging the experience because I wanted to be held accountable and because I love to write. It's been so much fun so far! I will admit to throwing in a lot of personal nonsense, photos of my kid, and thinly veiled critiques. It's my blog and I'll judge if I want to!

7. Hit us with your vintage shopping tips. Favorite local shops? Fave websites?

I'm constantly plugging Feathers on S. Congress because of how well edited the selection is, how nice and clean the layout is, and how large the dressing rooms are. It's a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of vintage stores I have been to. Online I am a huge ebay addict and my favorite ebay shops are Lullie Vintage and Shop Calico Vintage (EDITOR'S NOTE: Calico = amazing boots!!). For things to wear, I love and To dream I peruse and

8. Best thing about Austin fashion?

I think fashion in Austin isn't the sizzling pressure cooker it is in a lot of places, like New York or L.A. There is a relaxation about it here that allows people to experiment without living in fear they'll be turned out of the club. And Austinites seem to know when to turn it out and when to keep it simple. You don't see people still trying to rock a hand knit scarf in June because it looks cool. They know when to let it go and be comfortable...which is something I will probably struggle with until death. I may actually die in an accident involving my heels and the absence of flat ground here!

EDITOR'S NOTE 2: To peek right into Sarah Dean's luscious vintage life, check out her blog here. To go shopping at her eBay store - where I'm currently drooling over the look below - head here.

(LAST AND FINAL EDITOR'S NOTE - I lerve models with tattoos.)

9 comments: said...

Online Shopping, Best computer price comparison shopping, Online computer price comparison shopping, Best compare computer price.

Anonymous said...


Austin Eavesdropper said...

Hey Anonymous, are you referring to most compelling comment? If so, I must agree!

But if you are referring to Sarah Dean....oh NO you di-in't. Ta-ta!

Quel said...

very cool blog. i just ran across it today. i'd wear vintage clothes more if i wasn't so amazonish. i don't think they made women 6'1" and on the thick side back in the day. :) Cool looks though. And ditto...tats are pretty cool.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Hey Quel! Thanks for the compliment, yo! I have the opposite problem as yours - incredible shortness. You're Amazon; I'm pygmy. Le sigh. And AHH...I am all over these girl's tats!

Tiffany Diane said...

ahh, good interview. I actually used to work for Rodellee (Adore Vintage) for a short while. She's really good at what she does, but I can't afford her clothes. :(

tina said...

love your interviews...
just came across these

what do you think about collabing on a vid project like this...i got the camera ;)

Stylist said...

Nice outfit, yeah I appreciate this blog its really okay.

Outsourcing Philippines said...

thanks for sharing about this.