Voluptuous Vintage first opened its doors on Saturday, February 7th, 2015 in Alverstoke Village, but that’s not where our story starts. To really understand all the magic and meaning behind what Voluptuous Vintage has become, we need to go back to the very beginning…
Mrs Darling, aged 2 with her grandmother, Jean
As a little girl growing up in Glasgow, Mrs. Darling wondered if she’d been born in the wrong decade. She pored over old black and white movies starring legends of style like Grace Kelly and Leslie Caron, wondering if there was any way that she could somehow wish herself back into their time, where elegance, charm, and an endless parade of perfect frocks were the order of the day. She craved the romance, glamour and grace that she found in vintage fashion, and regularly lost her heart to three particularly wonderful dresses on screen. Grace Kelly’s wedding dress in High Society, Julie Andrews blue chiffon dress from The Sound of Music and not forgetting the yellow chiffon wonderousness worn by Anne Reinking in Annie. (She still desperately wants that one.)
Luckily for Mrs. Darling, she had a devoted ally in her quest for vintage perfection. Her Granny. A talented seamstress who taught the little girl to sew when she was only six, Jane, (or Jean as she was known), was the ultimate lady. She taught Mrs. Darling everything there is to know about the art of femininity: dressing for your shape, walking in heels, the importance of a beauty regime, colour matching, coordinating accessories, and all of the delicious details that go into creating a beautiful, personal sense of style. Jean was very much the pattern for the woman that Mrs. Darling became, and she’s the inspiration behind everything Voluptuous Vintage stands for today.
As time went on, and she grew up, Mrs. Darling’s love for vintage clothing grew too. What started as a way to dress well on a budget and evoke the favourite images of her childhood quickly bloomed into a full-blown passion. Sizing was often a problem: tiny dresses with 26” waists were most common, so she went out of her way to find frocks in larger sizes. She sourced and collected unique original pieces from around the world over the course of a decade, always intending to open a shop one day far off in the future.
In the meantime, Mrs. Darling was constantly called on by her friends for help with styling. The confidence and knowledge that she had inherited from her Granny turned out to be rare and valuable assets. So many women were frustrated, confused, and intimidated by the whole idea of fashion, and they all needed to be taught how to choose shapes, colours, tailoring and fabrics that would work for them rather than against them. After every impromptu “consultation” the result was the same: a glowing woman who radiated poise, pleasure, and a newfound self-assurance. Over and over and over again they told Mrs. Darling that this was what she should be doing for a living.
Finally, the dream began to take shape. What if she didn’t wait any longer? What if it was possible to not just have a vintage boutique, but to create a place where women could learn how to feel the prettiest they can possibly be, prettier than they had ever dared to dream?
What if she could do her part to combat a culture of body negativity, fear and throwaway fashion? She could get women out of jeans and into dresses and offer accessories, hair, nails, and makeup, and totally transform them in one visit. She could give them personalised coaching and help them reclaim the lost art of femininity, not just for a wedding or a day at the races, but for every day, embracing the essence of vintage fashion but in easy to wear and easier to care for dresses. What if she could do all that and create a village community that reaches far beyond any one village? She could encourage the support of independent traders, designers, and craftspeople, create a place for responsible, sustainable, and ethical fashion, and offer her customers a taste of something truly unique.
As Mrs. Darling answered each of these questions, a part of the puzzle dropped into place. She gathered up all her courage, her inspiration, and her frocks, and put them together to create Voluptuous Vintage.
So that’s our story so far. It was a big dream, but it came true. First with the shop, and now here, with you. Now it’s your turn. Trust us, your true beauty is there, waiting for you. Let us show you.