If you are a regular on the UK retro scene, you can’t have failed to notice two fabulous vintage sellers and their infectiously bubbly personalities at events up and down the UK. Kitty and Susie Ford may be twins, but their unique vintage styles are very distinctive.
Tell our readers about yourselves..
Kitty: Hey everyone, I’m Kitty! I've been wearing and collecting vintage since I was 19. I’ve always been fascinated by the history and past lives the clothes inhabited, which added to the mystique and allure for me.
Susie: I’m Susie and I’m also a life-long collector and wearer of dead people’s clothes! I like to think that by giving these pieces a social history and a new lease of life, the past comes alive and is a tangible thing we can all enjoy and learn from.
How did you get into vintage?
Susie: I feel like I’ve ALWAYS had an appreciation of the past and that was fuelled by my parents instilling in their children an inquisitive mind, ripe for knowledge. Being brought up visiting ancient castles, houses, gardens and in the great wilderness inspired me and my search to find meaning in the past. Also, my exposure to BBC costume dramas and historical films allowed my imagination to run wild. I have to thank my father Alan Ford and my mother Christine Ford for their constant curiosity about the beauty of nature and the ancient and more recent past that was a catalyst from my passions.
Kitty: From an early age, I also loved history and the visual feast it held; being surrounded by interesting objects in our house plants, fossils, pictures, and books, being taken to historical buildings (castles and the like), and watching many costume dramas on TV with my family sparked an interest. Art and design was always my fav class at school; I was drawn specifically to fashion and textiles and studied surface pattern design at university so I guess this brought me to my interest in fashion and textiles.
What made you set up your vintage shop?
Kitty: I worked in a vintage shop whilst I was at university and gradually ran the shop more when I returned after four years away. When the shop moved, I took over the business and the rest is history. I've been trading in a shop, online, at events, and creating events for 16 years! It's flown by - I love what I do.
Susie: Whilst living in New Zealand, my Narnia wardrobe grew too large for me to comprehend, so some of it had to find loving new homes. I began selling part-time and then it overtook my life. I think it was an inventive step because I was also inspired by my best friend Kitty. The best thing I’ve ever done is quit my ‘day job’ and follow my passion full time!
What is your favourite vintage style or era?
Susie: I find inspiration in all styles and eras. Good design is good design in my opinion. Fashion always borrows from what came before, so the cycle of style is constantly recycled. I like that aspect of ‘borrowing’ from the past. If I had to choose just ONE decade, it would be the 1930s because of the fun, frivolous, elegant, often simple construction paired with almost cartoonish oversized bows, ruffles, sleeves. I like that contrast.
Kitty: I'd say my fav eras are the 1920s and the 1930s. Even though 20s shapes often don't suit me, I love the artistry, quality, and liberatingly radical designs (especially for women). In the 1930s, I adore the attention to detail, shape, construction, as well as the patterns and elegance. It's hard to choose as I really do love all sorts of different styles and eras and often mix them up depending on my mood; it's more fun to not have rules and to just have fun and get creative with fashion!
Do you have any vintage role models?
Kitty: No one in particular, but I do admire people that aren't afraid to be creative and fun and a bit ‘out there’ with vintage fashion, very much creating their own look, not just a carbon copy from a vintage picture or magazine. I admire that.
Susie: I very much admire strong female role models, who reveal their vulnerability, but I see that as a strength, not a weakness. My very first role model growing up was Anne of Green Gables. She helped fire my passionate love of literature. In more recent times, fearless performers like Bjork and Lady Gaga help to push the boundaries of art, fashion, and imagination!
What is your favourite vintage piece?
Susie: Gosh, this is a difficult one to answer. I guess I’d have to choose a collection rather than one particular piece, which would be my original 1930s knitwear sets. The craftsmanship and art involved in such creations speak to me, as does the social history of knitwear in general.
Kitty: I think it changes to be honest, depending on my mood and what I'm currently inspired by. I'd probably say my collection of vintage hats, particularly late 30s early 40s tilt hats and fedora styles. I just feel it finishes an outfit off and I feel ultra sassy in them!
What is your favourite glasses style/shape?
Kitty: I would say 50s and 60s cat eyes and the beatnik rounder style are my favourites. I like big oversized 70s frames, but not sure they suit me I do also love original 1930s round glasses.
Susie: My favourite is a pair from Retropeepers, in a cat-eye style that I think suits my face shape and individual fashion sense.
Do you have any vintage eyewear styling advice?
Susie: Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour and style. Allow your frames to reflect your personality and most of all ENJOY wearing your glasses! For many years, I loathed putting on my spectacles but I think the trick is to find a pair that speaks to YOU.
Kitty: Yes, just have fun and go with what makes you feel good; try not to worry what others think too much! Also, don't be afraid to experiment a bit - I always feel so confident and 'kewl' with a new pair of sunglasses on!
What are your plans for 2022?
Kitty: Hopefully trading at lots more vintage events nationally. I'd love to go travelling again as I've done a fair bit all over the world. I always find travelling the globe inspiring and mind-expanding. I want to carry on volunteering more with a local environmental group I'm involved in, and is a big part of why I sell vintage, to recycle and reuse existing materials and fashion. Also, I hope 2022 will make vintage fashion affordable for all and inclusive, which is why I'm not an era snob and will try and source pieces in a variety of eras, styles, sizes, and price ranges.
Susie: It’s so hard to plan anything at the moment but I hope 2022 brings hope to us all and we embrace the life we have; for me living in the moment is particularly pertinent in these ever-changing times! Every day is precious.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
Kitty: Mostly on social media - Instagram www.instagram.com/curiousorange_vintage_costume and my Etsy online shop www.etsy.com/shop/CuriousOrangeVintage
Susie: In various places on social media but I’m most active here www.instagram.com/itsdecodarling. We also trade at big national festivals and events, for example, Festival of Vintage in York and Twinwood Festival, and lots of others, as well as online virtual fairs via our Instagram accounts.
Shop the Twins favourite Retropeepers frames here