The Ladybug’s Vintage Book Club Goes in the Author’s Office: Introducing the Amazing Naomi Thompson, author of “Style Me Vintage – Clothes”

Being an avid reader and vintage addict, I spend a lot of time on Amazon or in bookstores (especially abroad) looking- not only for vintage books- but also for books about vintage.
I have two entire shelves full of books about vintage fashion, vintage style, vintage furniture and even vintage cooking and tea parties. The “Style Me Vintage” collection is one of my favorite so far: the first two books “Style Me Vintage: Hair” and “Style Me Vintage: Makeup” are an incredible source of ideas and tips to create great hair and makeup in a perfectly vintage style. They’re also a very interesting journey through different eras and concepts of beauty and hair style.
This is why, when I read the third installment of the collection, “Style Me Vintage: Clothes,” was coming out soon this year- I jumped online to order my copy! When I read that Naomi Thompson (one of my vintage gurus!) was the author I really got excited about it and checked the waiting list every day to see when the book would be in stock and I could finally get a copy of it!
If you don’t know about Naomi Thompson let me say that she is THE vintage reference not only for those of you are just approaching vintage fashion, but in general- for all vintage lovers! She is one of the most important and recognized vintage stylists and personal shoppers in the UK. Her site was immediately included in The Guardian’s “What’s Hot” list, and she is unbeatable in finding the best quality vintage items at the right price. As I told you, she’s my vintage guru!
When I finally received her book I immediately sat on the sofa with a cup of tea and read it all that afternoon! “Style Me Vintage: Clothes” is full of tips, looks and useful recommendations for everybody loving vintage. After a very interesting introduction; with many tips on how to date vintage clothes and how to find your personal vintage style along with great tips for buying vintage, Naomi starts a beautiful journey from the 20s through the 80s, providing many beautiful pictures and descriptions of the characteristics and features of each decade and amazing looks that re-create the daily and evening looks typical of those years.
The last part of the book is all about very useful tips: from vintage swimwear and lingerie to how to repair and maintain your vintage clothes, from the best labels and online shops to the most interesting books and online reading. A special mention goes to the casting of the models: the pictures are really beautiful, but the models are simply perfect! Fleur De Guerre is still at the top of my list of my favorite vintage models, but I also loved Annie Andrews, Hazel Holtham and Jennifer Siggs!
What I liked most about this book, is the fact that it is open to everyone: there’s advice and tips for those who wants to create their own vintage style as well as for those who are already into vintage. But for me the very important part of it is that Naomi doesn’t give general rules to follow blindly just to get “ a vintage look.” She helps women define their personal vintage look. The wide range of looks presented are not a model but an example to help women find their personal style. If you look at vintage bloggers, for example, they all are very different from each other and this is what makes them unique. Their style is considered vintage or vintage inspired but everyone uses the vintage touch infused in so many different ways. This is why I fell into vintage: it allows me to be myself, to wear things that nobody else wears and to mix it in my very personal way.
When I finished the book I contacted Naomi to tell her how much I loved it and how interesting I found it; I also asked her for an interview and I found out that she’s also one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met!

TLC: Naomi, I really enjoyed your book “Style Me Vintage: Clothes,” not only for the helpful tips but also because it is really inspiring for those women who would “learn” how to add a vintage touch in their style. What inspired the idea to write a book about vintage?
NT: Thank you, it is always a pleasure to hear. Unfortunately, the idea was not mine! I was lucky enough, a year ago this month, to be approached by the publishers to make the book. It was a bit of a heart stopping moment. They had followed my work and writing and liked the mixture of clothes, events and social occasions. The format is not far off at all [from] what I would have come up with, and I was very, very lucky that they humoured me in many ways and allowed me to choose the content around the looks. For instance, I was really happy to have the recommended reading section and the page about creating your looks. Half way though making it, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I did not want to make a book that dictated how anyone should dress and I changed the approach to make it more ‘relaxed.’ I think this has been key to its success. I don’t like being told what to wear!
TLC: One of the things that I appreciated most in your book is the idea of vintage fashion as a sign of individuality, a way to escape from the high street diktats to embrace a very personal way of dressing. Can you tell us more about your idea of vintage? What does vintage represent for you and why a woman, in your opinion, should consider wearing vintage?
NT: I feel quite strongly about this. I hate the idea of vintage becoming another slavishly followed trend that people feel obliged to follow. I believe we all need a creative outlet in our lives and our choices when it comes to dressing can provide this. On that note no one should wear vintage if they don’t want to. To me it’s exciting, it makes me feel unique and it’s also an enjoyable hobby, but it’s also a personal choice. There are so many forgotten shapes and patterns to choose from. [Incorporating] the vintage ‘palette’ [gives a] much broader [scope of choice] than if you dressed to be ‘on trend’ in high street clothes. You don’t have to go the whole hog though. I’m a big fan of old and new mixed.
TLC: In the UK, you are considered a “guru” when it comes to vintage fashion and your experience as a vintage personal shopper is clear: how has this experience helped you and what have you learned?
NT: I am quite happy to be a vintage shopping and dressing guru, but I can assure you- there are many people out who know a lot more about vintage than I do. I am no fashion historian. I am completely self-taught, and even that was backwards! My love of cut and colour came first. I still base my choices purely on the aesthetic appeal and garment quality. It was only later that I learnt about labels and fashion history. The personal shopping idea came from years of dressing people in vintage clothing for shoots or styling projects and developing a fairly quick eye when it comes to knowing if a vintage garment will fit someone
TLC: Some time ago we talked about the great success of charity shops in the UK, do you find some of your vintage clothes there? Do you have a favorite one in London?
NT: Yes; I do find them but it’s becoming harder, without a doubt. I also have a bit of a bee in my bonnet with ‘vintage sections’ in charity shops. It’s amazing the vintage that doesn’t end up there. Also I’m sorry to say, I have yet to see a charity shop with a vintage section that is fairly priced. The price range seems to be based purely on the supposed ‘age’ of the garment with no regard for quality or condition. For example I will not pay £19.99 for a smelly stained 70s polyester blouse just because it is from the 70s. I could go to a good vintage shop near me and get a lovely one, in mint condition for £12, that has been washed and lovingly sourced. The best shops are the ones that have a flat price of say £5 for dresses, £3.99 for cardies etc. There is an amazing charity shop in London (all I am saying is it in Hackney) where I have to date, found 6 pre-50s dresses for a fiver each.
TLC: We always try to find new tips about where to buy the best vintage around and you’re definitely the perfect person to ask! Which are your favorite shops or markets where you can find the best bargains in London or anywhere else?
NT: The problem with knowing where the best vintage is, is that after a while of recommending places, they tend to either up their prices or they run out of good stock. This has happened to two shops that I used to adore!
I’ll give you my two favourite shops and leave you to find the rest 😉 The best thing anyone can do is to take a weekend and go and have a good rummage in your area. Vintage is everywhere right now.
The Vintage Emporium and Tea Rooms (Bacon Street, just off Brick Lane)
If pre 1950s is your thing then this is worth more than a trip to the V&A. Owners Olli and Jess really know their stuff and the upstairs tea room is the perfect place to relax away from the Brick Lane masses.
Dead Man’s Glory Vintage (Portsmouth)
Luci’s shop is more like the local hang for the vintage obsessed and she always pulls something amazing out of the bag.

3 thoughts on “The Ladybug’s Vintage Book Club Goes in the Author’s Office: Introducing the Amazing Naomi Thompson, author of “Style Me Vintage – Clothes”

  1. olivenem says:

    fantastic write up and interview 🙂 although i have shleves of vintage books I think I may have to go out and get all three:-) as always fantastic blog lovely.. oh and your pics of your outfits are making me very jealous of your gorgeous country 🙂 xxx

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