Welcome to our VFG Blog series featuring members of the VFGteam at Etsy!
You will be introduced to a different Team member in each new post. Please check out our Team Gallery page here.
Today's featured seller is Jennifer Karpin and you can visit her shop Morning Glorious here.
She also has a shop exclusively for men: Mister Bibs Vintage
1. When did you first get interested in vintage fashion & why?
It started when I was very little. My mother was an artist and she loved fashion. I can remember being home sick from school and she would sit on the bed with me and draw paper dolls and all their outfits. There were movie star paper dolls, fairy tale figures, ballerinas – she would even be able to draw, from memory, the characters in my favorite TV shows and give them wardrobes for me to cut out and color. She would sew me dresses, too, and I loved to play dress-up in her closet. Also my father had a good fashion sense; there were many tailors and perfume makers in his family, and he even did some work as a male fashion model back in the 1940s. He was in magazine ads for suits, cologne and aftershave!
I’ve always loved fabric and sparkly jewels. In high school in the late 70s, I was that girl wearing a 1940’s frock while everyone else was in polyester and bellbottoms. It never occurred to me I could have a career in vintage until about 12 years ago: I was between jobs and needed income so I put up some things for sale online. As they sold well, I realized I could specialize in selling the vintage things I love, and actually go out and buy more things just to resell. I was hooked! Fast forward - and a decade later, I have 3 websites, a brick and mortar shop, and a fabulous husband who works all the vintage shows with me!
2. Do you regularly wear vintage?
I do. I have a somewhat sizable collection of 1940s-1950s dresses in my personal closet, perhaps 50 or so -- and it’s taken me a while to acquire them because I am not just an extra-large, but very tall, nearly 6’2” - so the proportions of the dresses have to work on my long frame. Those 40’s floor length hostess dresses are often a good fit and I’ll wear them with boots and a fabric flower in my hair. I also mix and match men’s vintage with modern clothes, such as pairing a 50’s bowling shirt with jeans, or I’ll throw on a jazzy 40’s necktie and fedora with a blouse and pencil skirt. I wear lots of vintage scarves, and I have a few quirky feather hats and a 1920’s cloche that fits me well. And of course there’s jewelry, I have bushels of vintage jewelry and am particularly fond of chunky colored rhinestones. I also wear eye make-up and perfume every day, I don’t feel properly dressed without having made a little extra effort to look nice.
3. Do you have a Holy Grail?
I suppose I would shriek out loud if I ever were to find a Mariano Fortuny Delphos dress, tied up with ribbon in the original box, in some attic cleanout. I know it’s happened to other dealers, and one never knows what one is going to discover from day to day – which is part of why I love my job so much!
4. If you could visit the atelier of any fashion designer (dead or alive), who would it be?
If you had asked me this question a few years ago, I would have chosen someone remarkable from the long ago past, like Madame Gres or Paul Poiret. But after seeing the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met last year, I would now have to say it’s McQueen. I love the dark, somber beauty of his clothing, and how he was able to transform things in his unique way with lace, shells, feathers, and even dried flowers. He thought about how clothing draped a woman’s body and how it moved with the wind. I would love to have spent a day watching him work.
5. What do you see as the future of vintage?
This is a tough question. Frankly, I worry about the future of vintage. So many things that make vintage clothing remarkably well made and sustainable – hand sewn button holes, French seams, durability of fabric dyes – are lacking in clothes made today. Even fabrics themselves, like that delicious silky cold rayon of the 1940s, aren’t being made and therefore someday won’t exist anymore. And if you buy something that’s newly manufactured, it’s likely to start falling apart after one wash. So, I worry about the availability of the good earlier vintage as the years roll on. That said - there were amazing things made in the 70s, 80s and 90s that younger people today do appreciate, and there’s also a much more mainstream understanding of the concept of wearing vintage nowadays. I think, as vintage dealers, we have to be flexible and change with the times to meet our changing customers' needs. I see more large retailers getting into the resale business, which will trickle down and create more consumers who desire to own and wear vintage. Then there’s the influence of period films and TV shows on current fashion – like the huge success of Mad Men in bringing back the 50’s and 60’s looks – so, in the long run, that all may be quite good for the future of vintage.
6. What is your favorite item in your shop?
I love them all! If I have to pick a current favorite, it’s this delightful red velvet 1930’s jacket with an amazing double quilted collar and full sleeves. It has a theatrical personality but is so wearable, too. And the softness of the early silk velvets is irresistible.
Here are a few more items from Jennifer's shops:
40s Sulka Silk Robe/Dressing Gown L
40's Fashion Frock Blue Green Cotton Day Dress M
50's Fruit Salad Opalescent Rhinestone Earrings
1920's Peacock Blue Silk Beaded Flapper Dress M
50s Dark Green Mens Tropical Short Sleeve Shirt L