How to Wear Retro Vintage Clothing with Digital Content Creator Krystle DeSantos
Krystle loves a good hashtag. She uses them to showcase how she plays with her love of retro vintage and design.
“Pour up a fun cocktail, put on a cute outfit, and turn on your favorite tunes to get the party going!” I don’t know why this isn’t my typical (solo) Monday night activity already. Thanks for the inspiration, Krystle!
Who are you? :)
Hi I’m Krystle, creative director and digital content creator from New York City. Vintage shopping, traveling, dancing, and eating ice cream are a few of my favorite things. I'm originally from Guyana and moved to NYC over 10 years ago. With over 9 years of blogging, as well as digital advertising and marketing experience in the tech space, I create colorful content with the mission of empowering women to express their unique selves through the way they look and live.
My love for fashion and interior decor originates from 2 very important women in my life—my mother and grandmother. I’m currently preparing to launch my new accessory shop called Lillian & Joan as a tribute to their influence in my life.
On my blog I write about vintage meets modern style, interior and event decor, culture, travel, women's empowerment, and my numerous DIY projects.
How do you describe your style?
I often describe my style as eclectic encompassing a mix of modern and vintage elements with a strong tropical-glam aesthetic that reflects my Guyanese culture and heritage. I also like to describe my style as encompassing a host of fashion types including vintage glamour, Caribbean flair, sophisticated-sexy, and preppy chic to name a few.
How did you get into vintage clothing?
I was introduced to vintage fashion at a very early age by my mother and grandmother and developed a love for classic yet bold styles of their collective decades. My grandmother’s style reflected a mix of decades ranging from the 1920s through the 1950s with sprinkles of 1960s and 1970s influence. My mom definitely has that 1960s through early 1980s flair. Both these women were highly creative with a passion for fashion and would often design their own clothing too.
We didn't have typical vintage shops when I was growing up in Guyana but I would get a lot hand-me-down clothing and truly appreciated pieces that belonged to my grandmother and mom. When I moved away from Guyana, my best friend who goes by the name Vintage Trixie introduced me to the vintage shopping scene here in NYC and we have a summer tradition where we take a day to go vintage shopping that ends with ice cream. Our favorite spot in Brooklyn is Beacon's Closet.
I have seen #RetroAlterEgo across your Instragram and blog? What is it all about? Who is this alter ego?
I don't think I've actually shared the full story behind #RetroAlterEgo before so here's a little exclusive story for you! Back in 2011 my best friend and I decided to attend a last minute Halloween party. We didn't have time to go shopping for costumes and figured we'd go as retro girls. I wore a navy and white 40s inspired dress with white over the elbow gloves, black and white oxford heels, and a black vintage veiled fascinator. My bestie rocked a colorful 50s style polkadot dress with the cutest bumper bangs. At the party we decided we should give our retro alter egos names and I chose Mildred. I was obsessed with the HBO series adapted from the 1941 novel Mildred Pierce so I gravitated to that name. My bestie chose Betty and that of course was a Mad Men reference to Betty Draper. That night Mildred and Betty were born and I kept Mildred around over the years for fun storytelling purposes especially when I wear outfits that are extra retro in style.
p.s. My #RetroAlterEgo is usually the one to get ice cream on any vacation we take. :)
What are your tips for someone who wants to have more fun with their decor and their fashion but doesn't know where to start?
Just go for it! I know expanding and experimenting with your style or decor can often seem intimidating for many and coming from someone who isn't shy to try new things, that can be easier said than done but I always say if you don't like it you can change it, especially as it pertains to accessories.
I think staying true to who you are as you experiment is crucial as well. For example, I had a colleague who always expressed her admiration for the large colorful tassel earrings I wore to the office. She liked how colorful they were but didn't think she could pull them off, especially the gigantic ones. My advice to her was to try something that challenged her style default but still aligned with her personal taste. I can't tell you how much joy I felt the day she walked into our morning meeting with the cutest pair of gold and magenta tassel earrings on. She couldn't wait to show them off and exclaimed she had found pair in a size that complemented her taste but had challenged herself to step outside the box by going with a bold color.
With decor the same rule applies! Start with what you admire and make it work for you. Maybe a zebra rug is too much for your living space but a zebra accent pillow works just as well. The best part—it's a fairly easy replacement if you change your mind.
Can you talk more about #StyleAndTheBarCart and how you were inspired to match your decor with your fashion? Is this something we can all easily try?
Style & The Bar Cart was born out of the desire to combine all the things—style, decor, vintage ,and DIY—I'm passionate about. It serves as outfit and occasion inspiration for the modern-vintage girl who loves to entertain in style and often prefers cocktails over wine. In my mind decor and fashion are very much related to each other as they both serve as outward expressions of who we are. Bringing the 2 together comes naturally to me and I think it's something we all can easily try. You don't need a bar cart either! You can use a bookshelf as a make-shift bar cart or even a pretty serving tray with some cute glasses and snacks to entertain. Pour up a fun cocktail, put on a cute outfit, and turn on your favorite tunes to get the party going!
What is your go-to look?
That's a tough question. I don't think I have a specific go-to look as I enjoy experimenting with fashion but I can say on very busy days I often default to a pair of high waisted jeans or palazzo pants, cute top, head-wrap or turban, statement earrings, bold lipstick, and cute flats or heels (depending on where I'm going).
On summer days, I tend to wear a lot of vintage floral and tropical-print dresses or retro playsuits with my retro-jelly shoes, a cute vintage purse, and cat-eye sunnies. Don’t forget the lipstick either.
I admire the designs of many including Johanna Ortiz and Kate Spade for clothing and Charlotte Olympia and Sophia Webster for shoes but overall I'm not big on designer names. Many of my favorite vintage 80s and 50s style dresses are by Carol Anderson, Robbie Bee, All That Jazz, and Hilo Hattie to name a few. If the piece is vibrant with a unique print, I'm all for it.
What other brands or stores do you love?
Vintage can get very expensive in NYC but I enjoy visiting local thrift shops such as the Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Housing Works thrift shops, and Beacon's Closet. I frequent shops such as Retrospect Vintage, Raxx Vintage, and Sazz Vintage whenever I visit Philadelphia. Unfortunately some of my other favorite brick and mortar shops have closed in the last few years but I enjoy shopping on sites like Etsy, Ebay, Depop, Poshmark, Mercari, Vinted, and even Instagram since they provide access to an array of vintage sellers.
What's a piece in your closet you wear to make more of a statement?
I wear many statement pieces from my clothing to lipstick to jewelry to purses but I think turbans, half turbans, and head-wraps pack a punch. They offer what I refer to as my signature retro-glam style and here's my little secret—they're perfect for lazy hair days. I’ll be offering a unique selection of handmade turbans in my new accessory shop so be on the lookout for those.