The Queen of vintage fashion shares her va-va-voom tips for retro beauty
Miss Chrissy Keepence is an aficionado of early twentieth century style, whose long-time love-affair with all things vintage began twenty years ago with swing dancing, specialising in the 1930s Lindy hop.
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While dancing, Chrissy developed a penchant for the era’s glamorous fashion and soon her dance students wanted to emulate the look.
Miss Chrissy is Australia's reigning Queen of vintage
She started sharing her knowledge, and as word of these mini styling workshops spread, before long the Lindy Charm School for Girls was born, inspired by her main dance form, the Lindy hop. Since then, her passion for all things vintage has inspired both her life and her career.
“I want to help every woman in the world feel confident and glamorous – one pin curl at a time!" - Miss Chrissy
Q. Miss Chrissy, tell us about your passion for vintage?
I'm headmistress and owner of the Lindy Charm School for girls. My passions are my family, my swing dancing, and making people feel amazing. Bringing out the inner beauty of every woman who comes to our workshops, or for photo shoots, or any woman I cross paths with, that I feel I am in a position to help them to be the best version of themselves. I believe empowered women have the ability to empower women. I am an educator, a vintage stylist and a cancer survivor!
How to rock a 1940's turban - a special video from Miss Chrissy for those on a cancer journey
Q. How did you get into vintage style?
I have always loved old movies, music, values and the fashion of the 1920s through to the 1960s. I think my passion came from my parents initially and then they encouraged all of our individual styles and allowed us to grow.
Growing up I tried to fit into many different genres of style. I tried to copy other looks - having low self-esteem, eczema and feeling like the ugly duckling amongst school friends and sisters - I did struggle until I discovered my own style. Then I felt comfortable in my own skin and I grew into who I am now. My journey has been long and interesting, explorative and eventually fun once I was on the right path.
A stunning photoshoot with a pair of vintage pink flamingos
Q. What is so special about living the retro lifestyle?
I love the styles and the diversity of the eras. I love that it can fit any figure any shape any personality. It's timeless, it's glamorous and it is still so current. It's interesting how differently you are treated depending on how you are dressed.
This is a great message for the next generation of women - whether I agree with it or not - as I believe everybody has the choice to dress as they feel. However, I do enjoy the courtesy shown to me by both genders in almost every situation based on me dressing in a vintage style or dressing up.
“Thou shalt endeavour to always wear red lipstick.” - Miss Chrissy
Q. How much of your time does it take to look this fabulous?
Over time I have organised my wardrobe so it is easy to pick something out quickly, once I know what I'm wearing then I know how my hair and make up will be so the complete picture is formed. I do like to sleep in so I don't like to spend hours getting ready so I will prepare (in my mind) and then when my feet hit the floor I will spend about half an hour getting ready.
If I am setting my hair in hot rollers to get the best hairstyle for the day, I will spend the next few minutes doing my make up, then take the hot rollers out and finish my hair.
Learn how to create a 1940's victory roll hairstyle
With practise and with the right tools and education you can create a knockout glamorous style in about 30 minutes. This is what we teach at the Lindy Charm School for girls workshops around Australia, giving women the tips and tricks tools and know-how to be able to make getting ready easy and fun rather than a chore.
“Exuding confidence is about feeling good, and elements like good posture, proper etiquette and manners and how to give and receive compliments is as important as ever.” - Miss Chrissy
Q. How much money do you spend on your passion for vintage?
Being vintage, and when I started to collect, things were quite a lot cheaper. I have been thrifty and frugal with my choices and my spending. You don't need to spend a lot of money on designer labels in order to look fabulous.
You don't need to spend big to achieve a glamourous retro look
If you have the money, then that is fine, but don't feel you need to do that. Creating your own style with vintage is individual, affordable, up-cycling, recycling, reinventing and creating your own personal style can be done on a budget.
Q. What is your favourite thing about vintage?
It's a wearable memory. It has a history and it belongs to our history, our past and I often wonder about the amazing woman who once wore what I now wear. I wonder about the past life of the clothes and I find that fascinating. I also love that we are recycling and reusing the past so it is an environmental choice tool. I respect and appreciate the ‘make do and mend’ of our past rather than the ‘throw out’ society of our present.
“Beyond the lipstick, powder and paint though, I find, since starting my business, that I have become a better, more rounded person.” - Miss Chrissy
Red lippy is a must for Miss Chrissy's look
Q. Does it make life more fun indulging in vintage?
Yes! The hunt, the find, the discovery, the reminiscing about the history, the difference in the individualistic style are all the things I find fun and fascinating. I love the diversity and the differences between the eras that were very much shape shifters through time, and how hair and make up changed with the fashion of the decades. It's art, it's creative and, for me, the variety is appealing.
From 1928 to 1965, it was a necessity of daily life to refashion clothing. Nothing was thrown out, they kept zips, cuffs, collars and buttons and used them to create and mend clothing. It was about quality, not quantity which today’s mass manufacturing, poorly tailored, throw away clothing culture encourages. There's so many positives to being and having an individual style through vintage, not many negatives other than sometimes the clothes can smell like mothballs which is hard to get out!
“I want to show women that they don’t have to suit fickle fashion trends, but they can create a va-va-voom outfit that complements, rather than conceals their beauty.” - Miss Chrissy.
Make fashion sustainable by reusing, recycling and re-vamping old clothing
Q. What is it like to go to Lindy’s Charm School?
The Lindy Charm School for girls (of any ages) workshops started nine years ago and we have had more than 5000 students. You learn the hair and make up styles and techniques to suit each era. We will teach you about posture, confidence, manners and etiquette as well. Be armed with the right tools in the right knowledge and make life easy for yourself - find your style and just replicate it.
Remember originals are worth way more than copies. So, go forth and embrace your originality, whatever that is. Always have great posture send your heads to the heavens and ‘lead with your heart’.
Being confident and being true to yourself is what Miss Chrissy tries to teach her students
Put your best foot forward. It's not always about the shoes, it's about the confidence in the way you carry yourself that will always make your style stand out. Go forth and compliment others. Learn to receive compliments with grace as this is the giving and the receiving of a free gift that makes a difference each time.
Men won't miss out becuase there is also the suave school for gents!
Do you have a passion for vintage music, dancing or fashion? Join the conversation below.