Getting to know Amber Brookes, Black Country gal, vintage wearer and a lady with a true love for vintage shopping. We thought it would be lovely to share with you all some of our fabulous customers in a getting to know you feature over on the blog. Our second edition features our lovely friend and customer, Amber. We first met Amber whilst taking our shop on tour to vintage events throughout the UK and have since become chatterboxes over beautiful vintage pieces and our shared love of history. Amber is a regular at Maggie Maes and can often be found browsing the rails and having a good old chinwag! She is also now part of the fabulous Duo that make up ‘ The Halcyon Diaries’ with her friend Ria Barry, who explore history, vintage fairs, vintage fashions and makeup and so much more. We took some time to find out a little about her and her love of vintage fashions and in particular her love of the 1940s.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from a not so little place called The Black Country, I live here with my finance Dan and our four cats. I work as a care home Dispenser in a chemist just down the road from our home.
What are your hobbies?
If I could say shopping were one that would be my answer hands down, confessions of a shopaholic... that’s my life. I’ve recently acquired a green finger since lockdown, I’ve loved walking into the garden with our cats and discovering what’s flowering.
My grandad has definitely been on the other end of the phone to rescue my disasters, I suppose we all have to start somewhere. We can’t leave this one out, any vintage/history lover will tell you visiting historical places with family and friends is definitely up there with favourite things to do.
What started your interest in the vintage lifestyle and fashions from the period?
I’ve always been fascinated by old movies as a child and how the ‘olden days’ were something that seemed so magical to me.
I remember looking at pictures of my Nan and grandad from the 60s and thinking just how amazing they both looked, but I’ll never forget when my grandad pulled out photographs of my Nanny Ivy from her years during the war and the 1940s love began. As for vintage lifestyle I’ve got to say it’s goes as far as the clothing, it’s awful I know but this girl would be lost without her phone.
What is your favorite era and why?
I don’t think I have a particular favorite era, I do sway clothing wise more towards the 40s definitely. There are many things I love from different eras I love the sounds of Chuck Berry from the 1950s and the age of The New woman the twenties brought, but my heart will always lie with the 1940s.You can’t beat a set of wide leg, high waisted trousers in my eyes.
Who are your vintage inspirations?
Inspiration comes from a lot of places for me, whether it be old movies or illustrations in books or my fellow vintage ladies on Instagram. I must admit one person I always look up to would be my dear friend Tina, if you’ve ever met Tina you know how fabulous she always looks.
What was your first vintage purchase and do you still own it?
My first ever vintage purchase was an Avalon blue dress that I picked up for an absolute steal from a local vintage kilo event, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. I still have it but it’s not one I usually wear, maybe I’ll get it out again sometime.
What is your favourite piece you have purchased from Maggie Mae’s Vintage?
Another tricky question because you ladies always provide the goods! I must admit though it’s narrowed down to my St Michaels pink and white fern print CC41 dress. I can put this dress on with making minimal effort in myself and feel like a thousands bucks!
Do you have a ‘ Holy Grail’ piece you would like to own?
I’m already lucky enough to own a hand painted blouse that I purchased from you lovely ladies, these items are the ‘holy grail’ I would love to own more, the detail you can find in them is just outstanding.
Do you like mixing eras in your everyday style? And do you like wearing both original and reproduction pieces ?
Most definitely, there are so many incredible reproduction brands out there. I have an absolute soft spot for House of Foxy and their shirt blouse, I think I’m getting close to owning one in every colour.
I’m also a sucker for anything Freddies of Pinewood release, these guys have some absolute corkers. I’ve always been a ‘if you like it wear it’ kind of girl, regardless of its era.
What resources do you like to use to put together styles and outfits for wearing everyday ? Do you have any book recommendations? Or any resource recommendations ?
Instagram I must admit is a big inspiration, I love seeing outfits that other ladies have put together it definitely gets my creative juices flowing.The best book I’d say would probably be "1940s Fashion: the Definitive Sourcebook" if you have yourself a copy of this wonder you’ll never need another, their 30s sourcebook is also brilliant.
I must admit if I’ve picked up vintage staple and I want to accessorize original 1940s illustrations are always a go to. Also I have to add your window displays 100% always inspire me, it’s definitely the first place I swoon over when I come to visit.
What is your top tip for vintage shopping and bargain hunting?
Sometimes unfortunately it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.I recently picked up my 40s bucket bag from my local vintage shop for an absolute steal, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it happily sitting on the shelf for me.
Probably where I’ve picked up some of my favourites pieces is going to 40s events that are held across the country, sadly there hasn’t been many this year which I’m missing dearly.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start wearing vintage fashions and embracing the vintage lifestyle?
It took me a while to get the confidence to wear what I wanted, which I do regret. My advise would be wear whatever you want and love, don’t worry about what any one thinks and just rock it!
If you want to try the vintage look out first then reproduction items are always a great starting place. Visiting vintage shops such as yourselves are always brilliant places to visit, you really become inspired to find what your own version of vintage style is going to be.
What’s your favorite vintage makeup look as a go to for everyday wear?
It’s all about the lips and having that iconic lip colour that brings your look together. Besame cosmetics and Fatale cosmetics are perfect if you want true authentic vintage cosmetics in the prettiest of packaging.
Most days my makeup looks entails tinted moisturiser, mascara, blush and signature red lips. Quickness is key as it takes me hours to tame my hair most days, yikes!
Do you have a favourite event on the social calander that you cant miss and could recommend ?
I’m going to be biased here and say my favourite just has to be The Black Country museums 1940s weekend, it’s right on my doorstep and I always have an absolute blast with friends from near and far.
Coming up in the next couple of weeks The Vintage Retreat in Northampton is hosting their Spiffing 1940s event so I’m definitely looking forward to have a good old mooch for some goodies.
I’m also looking forward to the next workshop with yourselves I really enjoyed the last one I attended and learnt so much, if anyone is thinking about coming along you need to it’s brill.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Thank you for considering me and thank you for inspiring me always.
If anyone would love to see what myself and my dear beautiful friend Ria get up to on our adventures together please check out our new venture of on The Halcyon Diaries, it’s our little project protégée we’ve been working on through lockdown.
Last but not least if anyone hasn’t visited the two beautiful ladies behind Maggie Mae's what are you waiting for? Popping up to Shrewsbury for a wonderful day out and spending some time with these legends getting your vintage fix is just what you need.
We just wanted to say a huge thankyou to the beautiful Amber, for allowing us to have a chat and sharing an insight into her life with you all. If you don't already follow Amber over on social media you'll find her @lifeofamber and don't forget to head on over and follow her and Ria's Halcyon Diaries page @thehalcyondiaries to follow their journey of vintage adventures. We really hope you liked this installment of getting to know our customers on our blog 'Musings of a shop from times gone by'. If you would like to feature in the future please do get in touch.
Thanks & Speak Soon
Maggie & Megan x x