As a child growing up in Dallas, Texas, dressing up her little brother was one of Emily Chandler’s favorite pastimes. “Heels, jewels, hats–you name it. I think that is why he is such a great shopper for his wife today!” What started out as a hobby of roaming antique stores around Memphis and hunting through estate sales for unique and exquisite pieces has now turned into a thriving business for Emily. Her online Etsy store, Olio Vintage Collection, has given her the creative outlet she craved as well as a profitable way to strike a wonderful balance between being a full-time mom and fashionista! Follow her around Memphis and beyond to discover hidden treasures from the past.
Olio, by definition, is a miscellaneous collection, and what you’ll find in Emily’s treasure trove are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces you won’t see on the next girl. “I like things that stand out. Who wants to walk into a room with the same earrings as someone else?” she says. “I basically buy what I love, and I will admit that sometimes makes it really hard to part with some of the treasures!”
Her two precious little girls, who have (almost) free reign to play in her closet full of vintage treasures, are learning in a very hands-on way that fashion is a fabulous form of personal expression. “I definitely love to see the girls experimenting, that is, until I find a broken necklace hiding under the couch pillow,” says Emily.
We recently had a chance to sneak a peek into her cache of collectible finds that span many moons. Her personal favorite decades to collect are the 30s and 40s. “I am particularly drawn to unusual Art Deco designs that have a mind of their own,” she says. However, she admits an affinity for big chunky 70s or 80s earrings that can really make an outfit.
When asked for her prediction as to what might be most collectible from our lifetime, Emily admits that there really is no crystal ball. “I feel like so much of what is in style now is a twist on something from a different decade. Statement jewelry pieces, ballet flats and skinny-leg pants s have all come back in style. That’s why I have a hard time parting with much.”
Whether you are looking to launch your own collection or perhaps for some direction as to how you can incorporate your grandmother’s baubles or flea market finds into your wardrobe, here’s some sage advice.
Emily’s Five Tips for Collecting Vintage:
1) It’s Personal.
Buy what you love. The thing that I appreciate most about vintage fashion is that it is really personal. What one person deems old-fashioned, another might call fashion forward. Incorporating vintage pieces into your wardrobe is really a great way for your personality to shine through, since you likely won’t find anyone else with the exact same thing. Your vintage piece might even take on a personality of its own!
2) Never underestimate your surroundings.
I could spend days roaming antique stores on the hunt for the most unique piece I can find. Now that I am on a mission for Olio, it seems that I tend to find fantastic pieces in the most unlikely of places. It really isn’t city specific. One of my most surprising finds occurred on a road trip from Houston to Dallas with my sister. We literally decided to stop for a Diet Coke at McDonald’s, saw an antique store next door and took a quick detour. Next thing we know, we are in the store’s attic sorting through fabulous vintage accessories that hadn’t been touched in years.
3) Don’t get frustrated.
Honestly, one of the hardest things about collecting vintage is not to get frustrated. You might search for weeks without much luck and then boom: You hit the jackpot! It really can be hit or miss. I constantly have that giddy excitement when I walk into an antique store or an old estate because you never know what is waiting for you inside! Call me … I’d love to go hunting with you. We will keep each other sane!
4) Mix and Match.
Don’t be afraid to take some risks with your vintage finds by mixing some old with new or fancy with casual. Layer a fabulous vintage blazer with a casual tank top and jeans or throw on a unique gold chain to jazz up an outfit for the carpool line. Even a colorful, unique clutch purse can spice up an afternoon of errands. It all meshes together well, and I can guarantee your vintage find is sure to start up a conversation. I have been shocked how many strangers will stop me in my tracks and ask me where I found this or that.
5) Create a focal point.
For me, the more truly is the merrier. I love big earrings, big bracelets and big necklaces. However, I definitely tend to make one piece the focal point and build my outfit around that. Oftentimes, vintage clothing and jewelry can be very bold, and you don’t want to overwhelm your statement piece with too many other competing accessories. The piece doesn’t have to be big to be powerful. Sometimes the smallest pieces are the most intricate and generate the most buzz.
Today’s pictures were taken by Christen Jones of Christen Jones Photography.