“I’m Shona van Beers from Heyday Vintage Style and I am a dress-a-holic.

I started wearing my own designs when I was Rock and Roll dancing competitively in New Zealand. I was only 15 at the time and I can’t say I ever remember vintage clothing being sold anywhere, so I made mine from scratch.

Fortunately, my mother had me very late in life so the patterns she had were just perfect for the era we needed.  When I discovered Lindy hop I taught myself from video (yes, actual tape!) and my wardrobe extended to include that era too.

I didn’t get into wearing it to the extent I do now – regularly and with a wardrobe of hats and bags – until I moved to London in 2002 and got involved with the scene here.  Some of the dancing crowd we met had a wonderful casual way about wearing vintage and retro, and it resonated with me. It was no longer something to reserve for competitions and dances.

While my passion for styling in general means I appreciate all decades, I personally gravitate to the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, and I’m constantly flicking from one era to another. The post-war styles are the easiest and most comfortable both fit and style-wise for me.

It would be so much easier to stick to just one era but I find myself drooling over Thirties styling and the clever fabric rationing of wartime, and I even have a tiny sprinkling of Sixties and Seventies dresses in my wardrobe for when my palette needs refreshing.

One thing I do like is an outfit that, once on, can be forgotten. It’s important to be comfortable so that you can focus on other people instead of yourself. For me that means really watching the details like the length of the skirt and the fit at the waist and altering it if need be – then I can forget about it and enjoy the company of my friends.

I learnt early on that, if I spent all day hating myself in an outfit, to never wear it again after that. It goes off to sell or to the charity shop, regardless of how much it cost in the first place. Now I’m not caught out as much with impulse buys, and my style, while spanning more than one decade, is still “me”.

It has taken me a long time to learn to appreciate that I want to wear things differently to other people. I have kind of fought with it before, really wishing I could settle in to being “like everyone else”, or even just to not care about clothes as much as it can seem a fickle, self-centred kind of hobby. But looking nice lifts my spirits in a special way and others enjoy that too. While my wardrobe is large, a huge portion of it is vintage, handmade or second hand, and I will be wearing it for decades to come , so – despite storage problems – I no longer feel guilty for loving it all so much.”

3 Responses

  1. Rebecka

    Wow, kudos to you for learning to lindy from videotape! Would love to see you on the dance floor! Nice to know I’m not the only one with the (occasional) guilt over the frivolity of loving nice clothes – I usually feel like a bad person after spending hours on ebay just looking at lovely stuff, but what the heck – a girl has to have a hobby!