Meet our fabulous Vintage Queen no 141 – the beautiful Elena from California. I love how she doens’t tone done her amazing vintage style at work and makes professional vintage dressing her forte. Inspirational!

“Ok, I admit it. I’m a vintage queen posing as government stiff. Or I might be a government stiff posing as a vintage queen. In truth, I guess it’s a little of both. I’m a vintage super hero brightening the days of citizens everywhere, taking the routine and making it interesting, if only through my clothing choices!

All kidding aside, I’m an administrator in an agency that serves the citizens of California. I have a master’s degree and a serious title. I do public speaking and work on the cutting edge of health care policy implementation. A major part of my job is understanding laws and monitoring them. But no one said I had to be boring. They just said I had to be professional and that, I could do, even if I was doing it in an Eighties suit that I picked up for $3 in a thrift store.

But before I get to that, let me tell you about my personal side. I was born in sunny Southern California, smack in the middle of Palm Springs and LA, the birth place of California Mid Century Modern. I’m the youngest of five kids, born to parents who married in 1956, the pinnacle of the era I love. My mom sewed all my clothes, and hers too, including her prom dresses which I would give anything to have today.

I didn’t give a hoot about fashion or vintage until my late 20s but was always a little different. But once I did, that is, give a hoot about vintage fashion, I was all in, all the way. Committed. I’m talking lifestyle level. 1959 Pink Thunderbird. 1961 Aljo Travel Trailer with Pink Appliances. Vintage furniture, patterns, magazines, books, cosmetic bottles, I could go on and on. All vintage costume jewelry, vintage suits, vintage dresses, hats, gloves, swing coats, hair style and make up application. Both in casual situations and professional ones. While I try to get all original vintage, I will wear a vintage inspired suit but my jewelry is always vintage original. Always. And always a pin, earrings, and necklace, with the pin fastened to the side of my suit jacket with the button holes, just like my Momma told me. When I travel, people talk to me all day long. They tell me I remind them of their aunts and grandmothers, show me pictures of their families, and reminisce about their favorite memories.

People often tell me, “You look like you just stepped out of the Fifties,” which is my favorite compliment. They tell me they appreciate my style and professionalism. Many people, some I know and some I don’t, have requested to take my picture for their daughters, to show that a woman can be a professional, fashionable, capable, effective, intelligent, creative, valued, educated and efficient at the same time. My fashion sense isn’t vacant, it’s purposeful and exacting, just like the ladies who wore it before me.

They ask me where I shop. I tell them, I shop in thrift stores, antique stores and on eBay and Etsy, 365 days a year. And I don’t just do it online, although I do look online for a good 20 minutes everyday. I shop in every state and city I visit, all the time. I plan vacations around thrifting and shop in California, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Washington DC, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri. I look specifically for hospital thrift stores, for items from the 1949-1965 and the entire decade of the Eighties because so many things were vintage inspired. People bring me their loved ones vintage clothing after they have passed on. I find vintage originals, dead stock with tags still on and well worn, well loved garments. I find items that need repair, and I do that repair, hanging that repaired item in my collection which takes up 500 square feet of my house.

I haven’t worn a brand new outfit for over two years, and my last year of shopping for professional clothing has exclusively been at thrift stores. My fashion icons are Gwen Stefani, Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day, Dianne Keaton, Kim Novak, David Bowie, Betsey Johnson, Rita Hayworth, and Rhianna. I often reference my 1959 and 1962 Montgomery Wards original catalogs and McCalls and Good House Keeping Magazines for styling tips.

In my spare time I work with local cities and women’s clubs to put on vintage fashion shows, and do vintage photography. I work with the local VFW and hear that models we have styled, remind people of their first girlfriends in the 40,s and 50’s. I see women in the their 80s and 90s smile and nod, telling me,”I used to look just like that.” I work with all kinds of talented and wonderful people and tell the tale of history and the loved ones that forged the path before us.

I have one foot in a formal world, and one foot in world influenced by vintage culture. I am all in in both worlds. As I’ve been told by a kind soul, I live in color while some folks live in black and white. I find that to be the highest compliment, but nothing is higher than the compliment paid to me by those who lived it. I am lucky to be able to experience that all the time as people share their lives, memories and stories with me about vintage culture and clothing. And so really, I’m just a student of the vintage world, privileged to be able to learn how to be a Queen from those Kings and Queens who came before me.”

4 Responses

  1. Delicia

    Not only a wonderful sense of style, but such a great lady! I loved how this was written, it makes me want to know Elena so much!

    • Masha

      Me too, I loved how she has written about herself and would love to meet her.