Courtesy of Skye Makaris
Skye Makaris, though only 23, has a flair for historical fashion and wears it well. Most often, you'll see her around the Burlington area in full-blown 1940s or ’50s regalia, from hat to shoes.
Makaris documents her exploits in vintage fashion on her blog, My Kingdom for a Hat
. There, alongside numerous self-portraits, she expounds on market trends in vintage, her love of tailored suit sets, hats and her various fabulous finds.
Makaris purchases many of the dresses and accessories she wears, but about a third of her garments are handmade. In that vein, she's teaching a class on dressmaking next Monday through Friday, August 14-18, 4-6 p.m., at the Heritage Winooski Mill Museum
. Participants will recreate a ’50s-style garment in the historic mill building with Makaris guiding them every step of the way.
She will also teach a pattern-making workshop
on Sunday, September 10, 1-4 p.m., at Generator in Burlington, according to education director Karen Cornish.
When she's not expanding or exploring her closet, Makaris works at the Vermont Kung Fu Academy and writes fiction. Her writing has been published in Letters Journal
, and Bustle
, among others.
We caught up with the vintage-loving fashionista over an espresso to learn more about her work.
SEVEN DAYS: When did you learn how to design and sew clothes?
SKYE MAKARIS: I've come at it from a few different angles. I was interested in it primarily for the historical angle; I've always loved material history and museums in particular, and I was always drawn to the guerrilla aspect of wearing and living history — integrating it into daily life. I got into historical clothing about five years ago, and it's been a slow build-up from there of first modifying the clothes, then mending them, then slowly getting to make my own.
SD: So it wasn't, "I like to sew stuff, and I'm going to make dresses from the ’40s." It was, "I love historical fashion and I'm going to learn how to make it work."
SM: Right. You kind of come by it naturally when you get into historical fashion enough, because half of the garments that you're going to get are damaged anyway, and you'll have to repair them, so you might as well do it from scratch.
Courtesy of Skye Makaris
SD: When you're wearing a vintage outfit, which is your daily look, how do people react to you and how do you respond?
SM: It's interesting, because there are very specific outfits that incur very distinct responses. When I have a more pin-up look going on, it's very approachable. I've been asked if I'm famous, which is weird because, if I'm famous, wouldn't you know who I am? And then I get asked if I'm in a play. It's funny, sometimes when I'm putting in the least amount of effort, I get asked what I'm getting dressed up for. It's like, this isn't even my final form.
And it's interesting because, when I really want to be left alone, I'll put on a suit and hat and I'll look like everyone's grandmother and no one will bother me. But my partner dresses in steampunk every day.
SD: Do you compare stories?
SM: Yes. When people see us together, we kind of become known as "the fancies," or "the fancy pants." Then I feel like there's a lot of pressure to always look historical.
SD: Have you had any negative reaction to your outfits or your work?
SM: I'm pretty oblivious to most things unless they're directed at me. So if people are gawking or laughing, I wouldn't notice. I've never had anything negative directed at me personally, but I've seen sometimes the way people are treated online. I really hate the term "trying too hard." I see that a lot. "Oh, you're trying too hard, who are you trying to impress?" The implication is that effort is bad.
SD: On your blog, you said you were switching your focus from the ’50s to the ’40s. What do you love about those decades?
Courtesy of Skye Makaris
SM: Well, the ’50s, I feel like, is pretty much the archetype of vintage at this point. If you just casually search "vintage dress," you'll find the stereotypical fit-and-flare ’50s pin-up, and that's really become solidified with vintage in people's minds.
The ’50s, I think I grew out of because it's associated with youth culture. The ’30s and ’40s get at this timelessness that I love about vintage. And the older it is, the more I want it. As the ’30s and ’40s start to disappear and disintegrate, I have this urge to collect as many as I possibly can.
SD: What about the early 1900s?
SM: That's kind of the holy grail. I love the Edwardian and the 1910s look — it's the visual predecessor of so many other eras. But those garments, if they exist, are in museums. I have one 1910s dress and two 1920s dresses, and I probably should put them in a fire safe at this point.
SD: You have written on your blog about the difficulties of finding vintage clothes that aren't teeny-tiny. Is that a universal struggle?
SM: It's difficult, but not for the reason people usually think — that people were smaller [then]. Honestly, that's such a broad and gently sloping historical trend. It's more that those clothes belonged to teenage girls who grew out of them. Clothes that adult women, and especially larger adult women, wore got worn out. They don't really exist anymore. So, I've very rarely found anything that isn't noticeably lived in, but I actually like it that way. I prefer pieces that aren't pristine.
Style Points is a blog about Vermont's designers, stylists, fashion mavens and textile-oriented entrepreneurs. We talk to everyone from up-and-coming Etsy sales folk to independent designers to established apparel institutions. Do you fit the bill? Do you know someone who does? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.