February 24, 2016

Meet Kate Dutcher: The stylish jazz age wearing, passionate pet mama behind the blog Retro Rover


When this month began and my laptop died on the first of the month, I feared (especially once I knew that my new one would need to be ordered online and that it wouldn't arrive until around the end of February) that my usual monthly "Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger" interview post might not happen.

Thankfully, this month's interviewee was very understanding about the whole situation, especially since she herself is presently making due without a working computer or iPad.

Between our respective cell phones, we were able to swap questions back and forth and I'm delighted to report that even with all of the unforeseen bumps in the road this month, I was still able to carry on as planned and interview none other than Katherine (aka, Kate) Dutcher from the marvelous blog Retro Rover.




Kate is one of those highly cool people whose interests span a diverse and engaging spectrum of different areas. Not only is she a passionate 1920s - 1960s vintage wearer, but she and her husband are awesome parents to a number pets, including several adorable dogs (so hence the "rover" part of her blog's name), plus she adores classic cinema, Star Trek, kitschy collectibles, and oodles more, all while holding down a career in the highly commendable field of special needs education.

As well, Kate is an active blogger and blog commenter alike, the latter of which I always admire so much in my fellow vintage bloggers.

She's kind, sweet, passionate, loads of fun, stylish, and a supporter of my Etsy shop to boot, so it was with no small amount of joy that I posed the following selection of questions to Kate this month and then lapped up her terrific answers!

Read on to find out (p)oodles more about this fabulous vintage sporting, critter adoring, kitsch collecting lady behind Retro Rover.



Your blog is a wonderful marriage of two of the most important elements of your life: your dogs and your love of vintage. Was it a conscious decision to combine the two or did it come about more organically? 

It was definitely a conscious decision. In 2011 I started a dog blog, Urban Hounds, about my pets. As time went on and I blogged more and more, I started to like the idea of blogging about one of my other obsessions, vintage clothing. In May of 2013, I started a second blog about my love of vintage, that I originally called 'The Old Fashioned Way'. I kept up both blogs for about five months, but it was tough maintaining two blogs. In December of 2013, I decided to combine them both and I created Retro Rover. 


What are some of the elements of vintage that really draw you to it? 

I’ve always liked images, objects, and clothing with an element of whimsy and fun, most utilitarian modern clothing is totally lacking this. However, vintage clothing, as well as vintage reproductions, has it in spades. I’m also a sucker for details, like a pretty button or a bow at the neck of a dress.  I find that these sorts of flourishes are prevalent in vintage styles. 


When did you first begin wearing vintage styles? 

I’ve had elements of vintage style in my wardrobe since I attended high school in the early 1990s.  I used to love shopping in thrift stores for vintage bits and bobs that I’d work into my wardrobe.  Occasionally  I even wore full-on vintage. For example, I wore a 1940s dress to my high school graduation. When I got married at age 23, I wore a 1920s style veil and the wedding definitely had a vintage feel. In my 20s and early 30s, I continued to have vintage elements in my wardrobe, but I didn’t really embrace full on vintage until I turned 34. 

That was when I discovered vintage style blogs, including yours, plus Etsy and various repro companies. I realized there where lots of people dressing just like I had always wanted to. I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger and it was now or never. I made a vow that from them on I’d dress only to please myself and I set about creating a vintage wardrobe.

I’m nearly 38 now, quite a bit older then most vintage bloggers, but I think my age has given me the confidence I lacked when I was younger to wear more "out there" styles. For example, in my 20s and early 30s, I would have been embarrassed to wear a giant 1940s hat. It also helps that my finances are better now and I have more funds to spend on my hobby.





How has your personal fashion sense changed/evolved since then?

When I first got really into vintage I was pretty much all about the 1920s and 1930s. I was really inspired by images and films from the era. As time went on, I became more interested in the 1940s, mostly because the hats are so incredibly fabulous! Lately, I’ve been dipping into the 1950s and 60s, as well, and I’m particularly drawn to the kitschy accessories from this era such as novelty offerings. 


You're a big fan of ordering from independent seamstresses on sites like Etsy. What are some of your favorite such sources for old school style clothing?  

I have some gorgeous custom things from Sew Vintage Seamstress. I also love Swell Dame, Jitterbuggin, and Nudee Dudee who are all on Etsy. I have some things from Time Machine Vintage on Facebook, as well as Girl in a Whirl, who is on Facebook and Etsy. She makes amazing 1950s style novelty skirts! 





Any advice you wish someone would have told you about doing so before you started shopping from indie repro brands?

Of course it varies by the seller but it can take a long time to have something custom made.  I’ve waited up to 6 months for a custom dress.  So its very important to plan ahead if you need something for a special event.  Its also a good idea to make sure the seller is totally established and reputable.  I’ve been burned once by a seller who never sent my custom sweater order.  


Another huge love of yours is old movies, which also feature heavily on your blog. What are five vintage movies that you could watch over and over again a hundred times and never get tired of?  Oh my gosh its so hard for me to narrow it down to just five, but here it goes.

1)  It, 1927, with Clara Bow. I think this is a great silent movie for beginners to silent film. It's very entertaining and easy to follow and Clara lights up the screen.

2)   Dracula, 1931, with Bela Lugosi. I’m a big Lugosi fan and this is of course his best film.  

3)   It’s A Gift, 1934, with WC Fields. This is the one of the funniest movies I have ever seen and it manages to hold up wonderfully even 80 years after it was made.

4)   Top Hat, 1935, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I love all of the Astaire and Rogers films, and this is probably the definitive one. 

5)   Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan. I suppose 1982 is vintage enough. I’m a huge trekkie and this is my favorite Star Trek film.  I love that Ricardo Montalban is in it. 





Are there any points that strike you as being much better about vintage movies than modern day ones? And vice verce,  to your mind, do 21st century movies beat those from past eras on any fronts?

I’m a big science fiction, fantasy, and horror fan and one thing I notice is that while modern films have amazing special effects, it is sometimes at the expense of the story. 

I really love the ingenuity of classic science fiction in regards to special effects and make up, they made do with what they had and came up with incredible things. The best example I can think of in this regard is Boris Karlof’s iconic make up in the 1931 classic, Frankenstein. 



You also adore many different TV shows. What are some of your all-time favourites?  


My all time favorite show is definitely Star Trek.  I love all of the Trek series but my favorite is the 1960s original.  I love everything about it from the costumes and sets to the story telling and philosophy. I also love the Twilight Zones. Most of the other shows I love are from the 1990s or early 2000s, such as Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Twin Peaks, The X Files, and Futurama. 





Any series that you've discovered in the past couple of years that you've really connected with?  

Well its been on for 11 years now so its not quite new but I love Supernatural. I also like the Miss Fisher Mysteries a lot and I think the new Muppet show is wonderful, too. 


When it comes to vintage fashion, you often gravitate towards the 1920s, 30s and early 40s. Are there any particular reasons why this time frame speaks so deeply to you?  

My late dad was a huge fan of Fred Astaire so I grew up watching the Astaire and Rogers films as well as lots of other musicals and films. He also introduced me to the comic author PG Wodehouse.  Wodehouse’s stories are all set during the 1920s and 30s. So I think it was being exposed to stories and films from that era at an early age that drew me to the styles of those periods. 




Who are some of your favourite style icons from that era?

From the 1920s, I adore Clara Bow. She has such a fun, exuberant, and approachable style and she always looked comfortable with herself.  It also helps that she was born in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, which is where my husband is from. 

From the 1930s, I love Ginger Rogers. She always had amazing outfits and she wore a wide range of styles, and of course Fred Astaire always looked amazing.  Esther Williams is my favorite from the 1940s.  I think her 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter with Ricardo Montalban is one of the most stylish films ever made. 


If you could only wear the fashions of one continuous five years period (e.g., 1930 - 1935) for the rest of your life, what would you pick and why?

I had to get out my 1930s Style Sourcebook to answer this question and I choose 1930-1935.  I love the day wear from this period, beach pajamas and simple bias cut dresses.  I think such looks were flattering and comfortable. 





Are you a big fan of accessorizing and if so, what are some of your favourite types of accessories (including jewelry)?

I’m definitely a huge fan of accessorizing. In fact, it is my love of hats that first really drew me to vintage. I think the right accessories absolutely make the outfit. Of course I love all types of hats and I’m a big fan of fun novelty purses. 

As far as jewelry goes, I quite like Bakelite bangles and vintage brooches. I’m a sucker for any accessory with a dog or cat on it.  One thing I have no interest in is precious jewels - I’d take Bakelite over diamonds any day!


Have you had many opportunities to interact with others in the vintage/rockabilly subculture where you live?

Unfortunately not at all. The only people I know who are into the vintage scene are people I know through social media. I am a homebody though, so I don’t go out that much and while I love to watch dancing, I don’t dance myself.





Your husband doesn't wear vintage. However, are there other other elements of the past that he particularly enjoys?

When  I first met my husband twenty years ago, I was much less into vintage then I am today, my obsession has definitely grown! We do share a mutual fondness for old movies.  For example, we named our first pet, our cat, Baby, who is now 16 years old, after the leopard in 1938’s Bringing Up Baby.


What are some of your favourite things (vintage or otherwise) to collect?

I love to collect kitschy vintage novelty purses, I have about ten now and I display them in my home, as well as use them. I have a collection books from the Victorian Era through the 1950s that I also display. 

I don’t do it often as there are not many affordable ones in my area, but I love going to thrift stores and looking for pyrex and kitschy vintage bits and bobs.  I’d love to collect more vintage Star Trek stuff, but its hard to come by and can be pricey.





For those who aren't familiar with your blog, please tell us how many pets you currently have.

We have 9! 5 dogs: Ping a 12 year old female pug, Bob an 8 year old English bulldog, Weasley a 3 year old male pug, Philip J. Fry (called Fry) a  1 year old pug, and Mr. Tuvok a 1 year old toy poodle. Our four cats are 16 year old Baby, a female, 14 year old Scooter, a male, 12 year old Ernie, and one year old Spot.


Are there any types of animals that you'd like to keep as a pet, but which you've not yet had the chance to do so?

Our current cats are all rescues or foundlings so they are American Short hairs, but I definitely plan on owning a hairless Sphynx cat one day as well as an Exotic short hair cat. I’d love an Angora rabbit, but I don’t think  I could convince my husband or the cats! 





What is your day job and does it allow you to wear vintage while at work?

I’m a high school special education teacher. I work with students with significant intellectual disabilities in a self contained classroom, which means I have the same 12 students all day long. I do wear vintage or vintage inspired looks to work every day. 

I might not wear my most elaborate hats or delicate dresses, but I regularly wear things like a simple 1930s style dress or 1940s style slacks and a sweater.  My eccentric sense of style is well known around the school and often commented on by staff and students. 


Can you share five cool things about yourself that most of your blog readers wouldn't know about you?  

This is a little hard because I’m kind of an open book but  here we go:

1) I love vintage style  but I don’t consider myself old fashioned by any means. I wouldn’t want to travel back in time to a past era and I try not to over romanticize the past. I’m pretty happy in 2016, we have our problems but they did in earlier eras, too.

2) I’ve been married for 14 years and together with my husband for 19 years - he was my first boyfriend. I’m certainly beyond lucky to have found him and have him put up with me! 

3) My blog is somewhat inspired by my late dad.  He passed away four years ago and he really instilled in me my love of vintage because of his passion for old movies.  He always encouraged all of my interests and in some ways my blog is a supplement for the conversations we used to have.

4) I’m pretty shy and not very social, and despite my "out there" vintage outfits, I don’t really like to attract attention. I’m very much a homebody and I’m often more comfortable interacting with people through social media then I am face-to-face. On Saturday night you will always find me at home on the couch with my dogs and my husband watching TV, eating pizza and drinking wine. You’ll never see me at a party.

5) I’m the most scatter brained person on earth and would easily lose my head if it wasn’t attached!





What are you looking forward to on the vintage front for 2016? 

Well I’m not planning on going to any events or anything, but I am planning on adding some things to my wardrobe.  I’m getting more into 1950s and 60s looks and I’m planning on adding some fun pieces from this era to my treasure trove.


And, last but certainly not least, what would your "holy grail" of vintage items be?  

Oh my , so many things! 1) I'd love an authentic pair of 1930s beach pajamas; I already have some reproductions.  2) Something from the 1920s Egyptian revival like a dress or jewelry. 3) A 1940s 1950s high school or college pennant sweater. 4)  A 1930s, 40s, or 50s coolie hat.  5) Something with an atomic print from the 1950s.


Connect with Kate on: 










Meet the past interviewees who have taken part in this delightful ongoing post series:

February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon |July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain | August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily | December 2015: Porcelina | January 2016: Nora




♥    




Thank you very much for the great interview, Kate. I adored getting to know you - and your precious pets - even better and really appreciate that even with your own computer related issues, we were still able to make this post happen.

Delightfully, next month will see - on paper at least - the return of spring and with it will come another exciting installment in the fun Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger post series.

Due to unexpectedly being computer-less this month, I've had to shift lot of my posts for February and March around and rejig some blogging plans, so I'm not a million percent certain yet who next month's interviewee will be, but I'm sure that they'll be be inspiring, fashionable, and a blast to chat with, too! :)



44 comments:

  1. How did I not know about this lady - she seems to love dogs as much as I do!! I love reading about bloggers who dip into earlier vintage fashions, even if I don't wear them myself. I have a lot of respect for anyone who breaks from the vintage 'norm' too, because I can't imagine sourcing clothes is easier! Kate seems like a lovely lady xx

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    1. Same here! Just because most 20s and 30s styles look atrocious on me, doesn't mean that I don't love, appreciate and enjoy seeing them on others (cloche hats very much included :)). I'm delighted that I could introduce to you to a fellow pup adoring, vintage wearing blogger, sweet CiCi. Kate is sweet as can be and tons of fun to follow, so I'm sure you'll be smitten with her site.

      Big hugs & many thanks for your wonderfully nice comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  2. I luffs the Retro Rover blog its ALWAYS an interesting read reflecting Kate's so many different interests. Oh, and it helps there are dogs involved of course!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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    1. Doesn't it though? I really like the balance of topics that Kate covers. Though largely centered around vintage + her super cute pets, she also weaves other areas into the fold and covers a wide range of topics within those two fields, so there's always something new and exciting to enjoy on her blog.

      Big hugs coming right back at you!
      ♥ Jessica

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  3. Great interview! She's so stunning ^^

    Hugs, Pri
    vintage.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you sweetly, dear Pri. Kate really does have an awesome style and I sincerely admire how she enjoys dipping into the looks of so many different decades.

      Many hugs coming your way,
      ♥ Jessica

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  4. Kate has some awesome style, and her pups are just so cute! I will definitely have to check out her blog.

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    1. Agreed on both counts! She is such inspiring, stylish lady. I can't count the number of times I've swooned up a storm over outfits she's posted online (both on her blog and Instagram account).

      I'm delighted that I could introduce you to Kate.

      Big hugs, sweet dear!
      ♥ Jessica

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  5. Another great interview Jessica! I really love how you customize the questions for each blogger. I love Katherine's blog and have been flowing her for a while now. It's so nice to read this interview and learn more about her! <3

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    1. Thank you so much, honey. That (making each of the interviews that I conduct with fellow bloggers highly personal) is a vital element of this post series to me and I really appreciate that you picked up on such.

      If you'd ever like to take part yourself, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. :)

      Sending lots of hugs & happy end of Feb. wishes your way!
      ♥ Jessica

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  6. Great interview! I always enjoy her beautiful outfit and admire her wide knowledge of vintage, films, etc. It's wonderful she gets to wear vintage at work, too. I think it's a great way to teach students to love what you love and enjoy who you are!

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    1. Thank you very much for your wonderful comment, Tamago. I second what you said regarding how lovely it is that Kate is able to wear vintage to work, especially in an education setting. I'm sure doing so is having a positive impact on many people that she encounters while on the job each day.

      Wishing you a beautiful last week of February,
      ♥ Jessica

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  7. I love reading your interview series on your blog Jessica, so interesting to read about other vintage style fashion bloggers! :)

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    1. You're all kinds of sweet, dear Camilla. Thank you so much!

      Big hugs & happy Thursday wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  8. So Kate loves Star Trek, Astaire/Rogers films, and animals - I am now off to find her on social media, because I love all those things, too! ;-) Thanks for sharing this interview, Jessica, and thank you, Kate, for being interviewed!

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    1. It is my absolute pleasure, lovely lady. It's really cool that you two share several points in common. That makes me all the more happy that I could introduce you to Kate's blog.

      Many hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you very much, Aure. Have a great tail end of February!

      ♥ Jessica

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  10. I love Kate's blog, especially when she introduces me to old films I've never heard of before. She has such great style and some her 1930s stuff is to die for. I do love the way she explores really unusual and quirky looks from the past that you just don't see anyone else doing. Fantastic interview as always xx

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    1. Same here! She finds some of the best old movie clips around. I especially adore those from the turn of the century that she posts. It's rather amazing to stop and think that you're watching something that was captured on film in the range of 110 - 120 years old.

      Thank you you for your wonderfully lovely comment, sweet lady.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  11. until the hairless cat i liked her very much.....
    she has a great style - and looks so comfortable in her vintage attire. you do the most interesting interviews - my dear jessica!!!
    greetings from me and the very furry lisbeth! <3
    xxxxxx

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Beate. Hairless cats seem to be something that people either adore or could never imagine owning. I personally epicly love them, but I can see both sides of the coin when it comes to this unique type of feline critters.

      Tons of hugs coming right back at you from me, Stella and Annie,
      ♥ Jessica

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    2. its not about the poor kitties - it´s about what humans do to them. if a cat should be naked - mother nature had done this already...... they don´t even have whiskers - imagine that!
      same for all animals that are overbred - it´s not right IMO.
      xxxxx

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    3. Absolutely, over-breeding and dangerous designer breeding are terrible things, no matter the type of animal. It's staggering how much of that goes on in this world and it breaks my heart, truly, to think of the poor creatures who often pay with their health (or even life) because of it.

      You're a sweet, caring soul, my dear friend.

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. I agree with CiCi - she loves dogs and so do I, how cute is the poodle next to the poodle purse?! I love her outfits and can't wait to read her blog x

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    1. It's off-the-charts cute! And seeing that photo ago makes want pose with a poodle while wearing some of my poodle fashions as well. :)

      Big hugs & many thanks for your lovely comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  13. This lovely lady has some amazing outfits! And she likes all the same shows I do, especially Mystery Science Theater. Not too many people know about that one! Will go over and check out her blog right away.

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    1. I'm delighted that I could introduce you to Kate's blog. Though I haven't watched an episode in absolutely ages, I was a big fan of that show when I was little (and it was brand new) and am definitely going to see now if Canadian Netflix has it.

      Many hugs & thanks for great comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  14. ahhh I ADORE Kate! Her blog always makes me smile and she is a wonderful blog commenter as well. Her vintage style is spot on and her dogs are always the best dressed as well.

    Marvelous post!

    Liz :)

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    1. Same here! There's something so fun, easygoing and enjoyable about time spent at her blog. From puppy pics to scrumptious recipes to her stellar outfits, she always brings such delightful posts our way.

      Big hugs & happy tail end of February wishes, my dear friend!
      ♥ Jessica

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  15. Thanks so much for featuring me on your beautiful blog and your wonderful interview questions

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    1. You're truly welcome, dear Kate. Thank you so much for this fabulous interview, as well as for all of the support that you've showered on my blog and Etsy shop over the years. I love that the web led our paths to cross and look forward to continuing to connect with one as time marches onward.

      Big hugs & happy Leap Day wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  16. I've followed Kate's blog for a good while and always enjoy it. She creates some marvellous outfits and I like to see the things that she has custom made. Fantastic interview, this really is such a brilliant series.

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    1. Doesn't she though? So fun, stylish and well accessorized.

      You're so sweet! Thank you very much. It's such a blast to interview others in our community and share it here with all of my readers. Without fail, each time I know (based on the comments that come in) that I introduce at least a few people to a blog that they hadn't connected with before and instantly fall in love with, which really motivates me to keep this delightful series going for as long as possible. :)

      Scores of hugs & happy first week of March wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

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  17. She sounds so interesting and how cute is her poodle! I shall have a peek at her blog most definitely xx

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    1. Uber cute - all of her pets are and it's such a treat for animal lovers like us to see them featured so heavily in her blog and Instagram posts alike.

      I'm delighted to have been able to introduce you to Kate and am sure you'll enjoy her wonderful blog.

      Tons of hugs coming your way, sweet Melanie,
      ♥ Jessica

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  18. How lovely to read more about Kate. I love the sense of fun she has in her style, her boldness to wear what she loves, and I especially love the way she doesn't just say "Oh I have always loved that outfit from this movie" - she finds it and wears it!

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  19. That is downright inspiring for sure! I really appreciate how invested in her outfits Kate is and also by how frequently she commissions custom made pieces from an array of craftspeople. I think that a lot of us in the vintage (and mainstream) world all but forget that such an option exists (at least sometimes).

    Thank you for you great comment, dear Tanith. I hope that you're having a lovely first week of March.

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

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  20. I had only stopped by Retro Rover a handful of times, but I love how she really brings the 20s to life in a way beyond the flapper/Gatsby look.

    xoxo
    -Janey

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    1. Wonderful point about Kate's take on 1920s and 30s attire. She really does wear more of an "everyday woman" of the era look usually, which objectively is how far more people would have dressed back then. It's inspiring and just such a delight to see (especially all the more so for those of us who may love, but not frequently, if ever, dabble in looks from that time period ourselves).

      Big hugs & many thanks for your great comment,
      ♥ Jessica

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  21. Oh, dearest Kate, if you are on the older side of vintage loving ladies aged 38, what am I then aged 52? Antique!? ;)

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    1. You're a mere spring chicken, as we say over here, dear Sanne - and so is Kate. A lot of us vintage gals are in our 30s, 40s, and 50s now and I love that fact. It was a huge motivational factor behind me large post last year about vintage fashions for those in this age bracket and beyond. I really look forward to seeing how the vintage fashion sense continues to evolve as we age.

      Big hugs & happy Tuesday wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

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  22. A spring chicken! You just made me smile. :) I have noticed "older" women in our vintage circles, but just a few years ago it was only the very young wearing rockabilly, and women like me were considered weird. I am okay being weird, haha. Have a lovely day, dear. :)

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    1. Same here, I'm seeing a definite shift, too, especially since a fair number of women in their 30s and old seem to gravitate more towards more period authentic/inspired looks, as opposed to pinup/rockabilly ones (though some certainly enjoy those, too, or in addition to such). As that's the camp I fall into myself usually, it's great to have others who share a similar passion for these kinds of styles in my same general age bracelet.

      Happy St. Patrick's Day wishes, sweet Sanne!

      Oodles of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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