Whether you wear vintage clothes daily, and attend lifestyle events, or whether you just like to snag a great vintage charity shop find, Penny Dreadful Vintage is a blog that, if you already haven’t, you should firmly bookmark and file under ‘favourite-ever-blogs-of-all-time’.
Run by the wonderful Margaret, Penny Dreadful Vintage is firstly an online journal of her life and clothes, and is packed full of vintage fashion, photographs from reenactment events she has attended, and inspiration posts with subjects that fall anywhere between homewares and lifestyle, to hair and old-time photography.
The second reason behind the existence of the blog is to document Margaret’s wonderful finds for her online Etsy shop, Penny Dreadful Vintage. The shop stocks the most amazing vintage finds, from 1980’s YSL dresses and unworn shoes, to Versace skirt suits – if you’re serious about your vintage finds, and their provenance, Margaret’s shop is one place you cannot afford to miss out on.
After talking on Twitter for a while, I decided to pluck up the courage to ask whether Margaret would mind being interviewed for my blog – luckily, she was quite happy to answer my nosy-parker questions; so for a little insight into the world of one of my favourite vintage bloggers, read on….
Q: How did Penny Dreadful Vintage come about? What’s the business actually about?
A: It started very gradually, with selling pieces now and again on eBay. I always hoped I could make something more of it, so I started to learn more about 20th century fashion history, got involved with the vintage community, and then tried out doing vintage fairs until I began the online store on Etsy. I started the blog around the same time as the store, and it has been great to have the opportunity to talk about vintage with people who love it as much as I do.
Q: How did the private boutique service come to be born? That’s a pretty impressive amount of vintage to have in your house – it must be terribly hard not to just think, ‘sod it, I’ll keep the lot’!
A: After I had been selling online for a while, I realised that I always had loads of vintage that was in the ‘waiting queue’ for listing. Now and again I would hold tea parties where my friends could come and try things on and everyone always had a really good time. So it made sense to convert the spare room to a mini boutique, where anyone can make an appointment for a private shopping session. The other advantage of this is that I am able to give personal advice on fit and style, which is really useful for people who aren’t used to dressing in vintage. What is in the online store is only about 10% or less of what I have in stock, so you do get to see a lot more with a personal session.
Q: How long have you been collecting vintage items for?
A: On and off ever since I was a teenager and raiding my mum’s old things. I’ve been through periods where I am in conservative jobs (or with conservative boyfriends) where I haven’t worn as much vintage as I’d like, but now I am old enough to not care so much about what other people think and I just buy what I love.
Q: Where do you find all your wonderful things?
A: I really just look in the same places everyone else does, but I spend a lot more time doing it and I also dedicate loads of time to boring jobs like cleaning and repairs. I used to be really pathetic at sewing but I am starting to get much quicker with a needle, and I am a stain-removal supremo!
Q: What did you do for a job before you went full time with PDV?
A: I was working as a researcher for a large professional services firm. I have always liked solving puzzles and finding out about things, so in a way my skills have been transferred from researching businesses to researching fashion (much more fun).
Q: Which is your favourite era when it comes to vintage clothes?
A: I honestly can’t decide, every time I think I like one era the most, something else pops up from another and I realise I just love them all. I adore fashion in general, so I even like to find out about styles from the Victorian, Regency, or Medieval periods. It is just another art form really, and like art there is something to appreciate from all ages.
Q: What are your main dreams for the business?
A: I’d love to eventually expand into menswear and home. My ultimate dream is to have Mr Dreadful working for me on menswear, ha!
Q: What is your favourite part of being a vintage dealer? And the least favourite?
A: My favourite parts are finding wonderful vintage things, bringing them back to life and then finding someone who will love and enjoy them. My least favourite thing is measuring and listing, it is so boring.
Q: Which part of the UK is best for finding vintage gems in?
A: Little country towns are usually the best for boot sales or charity shopping – or at least that is where prices are cheapest! But then in London you can find the most amazing unique vintage pieces in specialist stores, the trade off is that you have to pay more for not spending all that time searching yourself.
Q: If you weren’t working with vintage clothes, what else would you like to do for a job?
A: Right now I can’t think of anything else I’d want to do, but it would be fun to be a children’s book author.
Q: What happens during a typical working day?
A: I don’t really have a typical working day. For example, today I packaged and posted a dress, checked some charity stores, wrote a blog post, watched an old film while I was having lunch, soaked and washed some clothes, took up a dropped hem on a dress, edited some photographs for the blog tomorrow, listed a few items in the store and replied to some emails. But tomorrow I could spend all day just photographing bags or steaming clothes or working on the website. It is impossible to really have a routine, which is fun in a way but does mean things can get a bit stressful sometimes.
Huge thanks to Margaret for taking the time to answer my (seemingly endless) questions, and for providing me with the permission to lift images from her blog and shop. All images are the property of Margaret, and the Penny Dreadful Vintage Blog.