Updated: Jul 30, 2021
Each month, I will be asking all the important questions (and some less important ones) to a different inspirational person from within the pin up community. For July's Profile, I have spoken to the lovely Tanya, also known as the Secret Plus Size Goddess, blog writer, adventurer and all around vintage goddess! If you would like to take part in a future edition, please get in touch.
How would you define your style? Very Particular. I am not very good with combining colours to make an outfit. There are vintage lovers out there that would put green, purple, fuchsia and mustard together and look absolutely out of this world, but I have never been able to do that. Also, I have a mental health issue which means I need things to match else I get a little bit twitchy! By this I mean if I am wearing a pink and white floral dress, then everything from the top of my head to the tip of my toes will be pink and white. A pink hat or hair flower, white earrings, pink cardigan, white gloves, pink petticoat, white shoes, pink handbag, white and pink bangles and probably a pink parasol would top it all off. I am trying to challenge myself at the moment to step out of my comfort zone and look at ‘clashing’ colours and am putting together an outfit that consists of mustards, browns and burnt oranges. I will admit that it is making me uncomfortable, but I am enjoying the challenge in itself.
What drew you to that particular style? I grew up with my Auntie watching Saturday afternoon films on the BBC. You name it and we watched it; Doris Day, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Gene Kelly, Johnny Weissmuller, Audrey Hepburn, The Marx Brothers, it really didn’t matter what the matinee was. We would sit ready with our bottles of fizzy pop and 4oz of sweets (usually cough candy or sweet peanuts) and get ready for an afternoon of entertainment. Our favourite films were always Musicals. I would watch the glamourous Ladies in beautiful dresses, hats, gloves and more. I literally grew up wanting to look like Doris Day and sing like Julie Andrews, whilst swimming and diving like Esther Williams.
Who is your style icon? I previously mentioned her – Doris Day. I love everything about her. When I started dipping my toe in the vintage world just before my 40th birthday, all I knew was that I wanted to get a ‘Doris Day’ dress. For years I had wanted to dress in big circle skirts but was too frightened of people’s opinions and reactions. Now I was about to hit 40 and decided I just didn’t care about them and actually wanted to make myself happy instead. I succeeded and haven’t looked back since. Now I go all out to accessorise my outfits with perfectly matching items and can often be seen walking around the local supermarket complete with vintage hat and gloves on
Cats or dogs? Definitely Dogs (although I own 3 cats too) My 4-year-old Chow-Chow Theodore is the apple of my eye. Totally spoilt and a real diva, he loves the effect he has on people in the streets and at events. I can always guarantee a big hug and a kiss from him when I get home from work which lifts me out of even the worst of moods.
How long have you been into Pin Up/ Vintage style? I have loved it for many years, since I was a small child really, but it was just 7 years ago when I made my first purchases. Now I have a whole dressing room full of garments, boxes of hats and bags, drawers full of gloves, flowers, jewellery, hair snoods and scarves.
What was your most memorable wardrobe mishap? My most memorable mishap was attending Twinwood 2018 and on the first day I was wearing a made to measure dress, matching shoes, bag and jewellery. I had chosen to wear a vintage styled wig by the amazing Carl Brown with a cream platter hat on top. I had secured the hat to the wig very well, but not the wig to my own hair. I walked into the main shopping area after being dropped off by bus and a gust of wind caught the platter hat, whipping it off my head and taking the wig with it. I was literally stood there with a gorgeous dress on and a beige wig cap whilst my hat and wig went tumbling along the pathway. I was absolutely mortified and stood frozen with embarrassment. Luckily a wonderful lady picked it up, pinned it back on securely and I tried my best to forget it ever happened.
You now own a magic wardrobe- it’s the only way you can get clothes, they are all vintage and in perfect condition and it contains a never-ending supply of them. However, all the clothes must come from the same decade. What decade do you choose? 1940’s definitely. I started really with 50’s circle skirts and swing dresses but now I have developed more into the 40’s style with wide leg trousers, elegant simply cut dresses, hats and hairstyles of that era. I still love the fun of the 50’s but prefer the elegance of the 1940’s.
When I think of film stars like Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly, I am envious of the way they looked on screen. They were the epitome of style with not a single hair out of place. Their elegance just stands out and they were lucky enough to be dressed by some of the best designers in the world.
Who are your favourite musicians? My music taste is very eclectic as I grew up in an extended family where music was very important. The stereo could be on in the kitchen playing Roy Orbison, the sitting room could have Brass Bands on, I could be found listening to Adam and the Ants and in the lounge, it was probably Opera or Classical music.
This meant I was given a fantastic repertoire of sounds and genres to choose from and I ended up loving them all.
My all-time favourite is Ella Fitzgerald. To me she was ‘the’ voice of the vintage era. She literally could sing a nursery rhyme and it would sound fantastic. Her melodic voice was capable of hitting a 3-octave range and she is regarded as The First Lady of Jazz.
Even though she became a huge star, she faced discrimination and bigotry and rose above it.
I also love Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and Billie Holiday. I learnt of these musicians as a small child from my father and also those Saturday afternoon films.
For a more modern side, I am a huge Prince fan and he is sadly very much missed. He was a multi-instrumentalist who was prolific in writing songs and I would love to get a peep inside his vault where there are apparently many thousands of musical creations.
Randomly I also love rock and have a real penchant for Guns n Roses and Aerosmith.
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of fashion? My biggest hobby is blogging, where I write about my adventures, days out, things to do, fashion and anything else that takes my fancy. A lot of time is spent taking accompanying photos and I absolutely adore the writing process as I find it is massively beneficial to my mental health.
I love to read and can get through 2 or 3 books a week, again of all styles. My favorites are thrillers and ‘treasure hunt’ type of books like ‘The Da Vinci Code’
I can play the piano and had a beautiful upright from the late 1800’s but sadly a neck injury stopped me from playing so I gave the piano to a friend, but I really miss the playing side of things.
Travel is another big thing for me and outside of this terrible Pandemic, I do travel with a blogger pal of mine, Boo Brown and we try and go on 2 or 3 City breaks per year. In the past 5 years we have visited Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, France, Disneyland Paris, Portugal, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Greece together.
Have you got any tips for someone just starting their pin up/vintage style journey? Try not to get too hung up on getting the look perfect to begin with, wear what makes you happy!
If you struggle find larger sizes such as I do, then don’t be afraid to wear repro and add the original vintage accessories. There are vintage stalwarts out there that may see that as completely wrong, and can be dismissive, but sometimes you have to work with what you can get hold of. Also, original vintage can be extremely expensive and reproductions can save you hundreds of pounds. Don’t spend huge sums of money on something ‘just’ because it is vintage, unless you absolutely love it and know you will get to wear it a lot. In the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing and would buy items online as they were vintage. I ended up with a lot of things that I have nothing to match with, or it was of poor quality and I just saw the fact it was original. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the look. There will always be certain items that suit you better, but don’t exclude other options as you may discover a new look that you adore.
Thank you so much to Tanya for taking the time to answer my questions! If you'd like to follow her on social media, you can find her at the links below: