An interview with Quirk and Folly.

Where she tells you all her juicy secrets. Maybe.

betty bangs vintage fringe with red lips and striped top
^ yep, that’s me!

This is the interview you definitely didn’t ask for and I am definitely humouring myself by doing.

Please give it a like if you enjoyed it and comment any additional questions below!


Well, hello Caz. You look mighty fine today.

Thank you, so do you!

What’s that you’re wearing? Looks comfy.

These? Oh, they’re my go-to clothing for when I’ve eaten too much gluten-free cake — a pair of corduroy dungarees from this amazing brand called Lucy & Yak. I’m not affiliated with them at all, I just feel I need to justify why I’ve spent a small fortune on eight pairs of them. I can’t stop buying them, they are super.

Why gluten-free cake, what’s wrong with normal delicious cake?

Well, it isn’t really by choice. Just, if I ate one of those normal delicious cakes then I would get very ill. So gluten-free everything it is.

Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that.

So am I. I really miss eating freshly baked bread, and pain au chocolat and those lovely Belgian buns with icing and a glacé cherry on top…

Oh don’t, you’re making me hungry.

Sorry.

So, tell me. When did you get into vintage style? Is that what you call it, ‘vintage’?

I tend to vary calling it vintage, pin up and retro style. I feel as though authentic 40s and 50s looks is what I’d call ‘vintage’, a combination of different eras with some modern styles I would call ‘retro’, and ‘pin up’ is very much the overdressed novelty outfits with lots of makeup and big hair. That’s just how I think of it though. Often now, I find myself calling it 50s inspired or 50s style.

When did you discover this new style? Because you haven’t always dressed like this, have you?

Oh no. I had a very bohemian look in my teens, lots of oversized shirts and flowing skirts; lots of baggy pieces that didn’t fit me very well as I tried to hide my body. I later added in a little gothic element, and when I got my first well-paid job aged 20, I treated myself to a wardrobe revamp which was definitely more 80s than anything else. Still quite baggy though; I had this Guns’n’Roses t-shirt which was slashed and off-the-shoulder which I wore to its death with leggings and sometimes a pair of distressed cowboy boots. It was a very different look from now. It was 2015 when I came across a website that sold 50s dresses and when looking at the size guides I realised that I could dress my hourglass figure properly for the first time ever.

Er, how do you mean — you’d never read a size guide before?

No, of course I had. Only, I have 11” difference between my waist and my hips, and most high street shops cater for a 7” difference. It was very much a lightbulb moment when I realised there were shops out there that made clothes that would fit me like a glove. I came across this website, ordered a blue floral dress in the sale, and as soon as I put it on, I knew.

You knew what?

I knew that I would probably need an entirely new room to house all the beautiful clothes I was going to buy over the next few years! The obsession took hold and it hasn’t stopped since. It took me a while to experiment and find my style, but I’m happy with where I am now. I don’t feel comfortable as ‘full vintage’, and the floral or kitsch pastel prints aren’t really my bag either. I love bold colours with a crazy gathered skirt, novelty printed dresses or plain bold coloured cardigans or gathered skirts I can match together. I’m also partial to stripes, and dungarees when I need a day off from the structured tailoring or the unforgiving waistbands.

So, do you just collect 50s style clothing?

Oh no, I have a growing collection of novelty bags — I have a cat, a telephone, a dinosaur, a bookshop and an orange carton just to name a few. I’m running out of space for those too. I also collect brooches and pins — a few of my favourite brands are Tatty Devine, Erstwilder and Punky Pins, although for pins there are some flippin’ amazing independent brands on Etsy that I should definitely write a blog post dedicated to.

Right, let’s get into the deep and meaningful questions. Do you have a favourite animal?

You know, I’m really glad you asked that. One of my favourite things about visiting the coast, which I love to do as often as I can, is that there are often farms nearby and I can visit the pigs or the cows. Cows are incredibly inquisitive and if you’re calm and unthreatening they’ll come over and say hello. No sudden movements though because they can be a little jittery. They are lovely creatures though. I also love chickens and the little noises they make. I’ve had both cats and dogs as pets over the years and I’d like to get another pet really soon as I’m getting broody every time I pass a dog in the street. It doesn’t help that I follow a lot of dogs on Instagram either.

Do you know what kind of dog you’d like?

I know they’re a bit like marmite — as in, you either love ’em or hate ’em — but I’d love to have a black pug. I know they are known for having health problems, but pugs are absolute sweethearts and have the loveliest personalities. I feel that they might get lonely on their own, so I might have to get a second one to keep them company. Or just open a pet rescue and have forty of them, and a few cats thrown in for good measure. I guess that’s my retirement plan sorted.

Sounds like a great retirement plan.

Yeah, I somehow thought you’d approve.

Shall we retire now?

I’m afraid not, I have a job I’m not sure I’m quite ready to leave yet.

Oh. A job, how fancy. What do you do?

At the moment I run a small web development team. I love design and the psychology of making things that people love to use. Design also spills over into other areas of my life; I occasionally do freelance graphic design projects making posters, leaflets, website branding and logos. I also do the design and editing for a magazine. At some point it would be nice to do more of this kind of thing, as it’s a fun creative side hustle. I’ve been working on a range of posters and greetings cards which I’d like to sell online at some point!

Sounds like a lot of work!

I suppose so.

Did you want to run a development team when you were a kid?

Oh jeez, no. I stood up in assembly when I was six and announced that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up so that I could tell everyone off. What I really wanted to be as a kid was a novelist, but that dream was killed off when I was 14. I won a creative writing competition and as part of the prize, I sat down with an author. I was horrified by the whole experience. He was narcissistic and proud, and I figured that if I had to have that attitude to be a successful author then I wasn’t interested in it. I later thought I might be a professional composer, or a singer-songwriter, then a barrister, then an academic. I also wanted to be a private detective for a short while. To be honest, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up — other than a mother to forty dogs and seven cats, of course.

Of course. Other than writing, do you have any other hobbies?

I make a mean pom pom. And I dabble in painting and calligraphy. I’m pretty musical too — I have three guitars, a clarinet, a ukulele, and an upright piano. I trained as a pianist from ages 5 to 18, and I got pretty good at it. I took a bit of a break and I regret it as I’m definitely rusty and I’m trying to put the time in to practise and improve. I can still bang out a good Mozart so it isn’t all gone.

Ooh Mozart, how sophisticated.

I wish to be honest I’d taken some lessons in jazz as I love listening to jazz pianists take on some of the old classics. Music is really important to me. I don’t just listen to a load of Beethoven and Duke Ellington though, I’m not bourgeois enough for that. My favourite artists are a real mix and often depend on my mood, but some of my solid faves are: Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Steely Dan, Sia, Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar. I would happily listen to all of their albums on repeat forever and ever.

Any hidden talents you’d like to share with us today?

Um…I can touch my nose with my tongue, does that count? And I’m very good at packing suitcases. I’m available to take on holiday to any destination of your choice.

We talked earlier about your ever-expanding wardrobe. Do you have a favourite item of clothing?

That’s really, really tough. I go through phases, and at the moment I am going through a gathered skirt phase. My favourites are probably both Vixen by Micheline Pitt skirts, one is in the Monster Mask collection, which was in conjunction with Ben Cooper, and the other is a leopard print one. I love the quality, they are wonderful over a fluffy Malco Modes petticoat and they fit me perfectly. I suppose I don’t have a favourite dress, but the Caterina swing dresses from Collectif I have in about six different patterns and colourways, and they’re my default dresses. If I’m not in dungarees or a skirt, there’s a 90% chance I’m wearing a Caterina dress.

You’ve named two brands there. Are these where you buy most of your things?

I have pieces from all sorts of places. For clothes, the majority is from Collectif, Vixen by Micheline Pitt, Lady Vintage and Hell Bunny. Lots of my t-shirts and tops are from M&S though — can’t beat their £6.50 slash neck tops for price and quality! My shoes are also more high street. I have wide feet, so I tend to get wide fit flats — most are from New Look — and for heels I have a few pairs from Dune, a few from Next (who do great wide fit shoes!) and Lulu Hun. Lulu Hun are on the narrower side, but I have a few pairs of Chrissie heels which fit well so long as I wear them round the house with a thick pair of socks first to stretch them a little.

Tell us a bit about your writing.

Sure. I enjoy writing fiction, sometimes I write fantasy but I like dystopian science fiction too. Brings out my pessimistic side. I wrote fifty-thousand words of a novel in November for National Novel Writing Month, a challenge to write 50k words in just 30 days. I wrote the beginnings of a fantasy novel involving magic and cats, which I’d like to finish one day. I don’t just write novels — I do sometimes write poetry or short stories too that tend to be a little more reflective (read: arty-farty). My non-fiction tends to be conversational, personal pieces on real-life subjects, like my sexuality or funny stories from my past. I’ve written a few things about my struggles with my mental health over the years too, articles that have been quite brutally honest about my experiences.

You have depression, right?

I have all sorts. I’ve had bouts of clinical depression and I’m currently taking a medicine called Sertraline to combat a real low where I found myself with suicidal urges. It’s an awful feeling knowing that you just can’t cope on your own anymore but the NHS have been brilliant supporting me through a real rough patch. Some people might be surprised that I talk about it but I’d rather be open about some of my battles as depression still has a bit of a stigma attached to it. I also have generalised anxiety disorder — or as a doctor once said to me, ‘anxiety that we can’t really pinpoint the cause for’. Little things plague me, like worrying if I’ve left the door unlocked (I never have) or not being able to find anything to wear (despite having a bursting wardrobe of beautiful clothes). The third part in this toxic cocktail of mental illness is BDD, body dysmorphic disorder, which is a condition where you obsess over flaws you have that nobody else notices. I am constantly worrying that someone might look at me the wrong angle, or whether my features look big. You’ll notice that I don’t smile with my teeth either, as I believe my teeth are small. Nobody has ever said this to me, it’s just the message my brains sends me — every time I laugh, every time I talk, every time I brush my teeth. It’s a condition that follows you around, a small voice in the back of your head that tells you constantly to worry about certain very specific things that actually, nobody cares about. It can be really, really debilitating. I mean, nobody in my adult life has ever seen me butt naked — and I know you didn’t ask this, but yes, I am sexually active. But how can you have sex without being naked? Ahh, just a lot of experience getting around it, dear reader. I hide certain parts of myself under the duvet or under my clothes, or have the lights off. Honestly, it must be exhausting for the poor people who sleep with me. The second I feel exposed I just freeze and start to have a panic attack. “But Caz, you’re so confident and sassy?” Well, yes, you might THINK that. My brain has other ideas.

So…now we’re in the realm of too much information.

Oh well.

Celebrity crushes?

Really?

Yes, really.

I reckon I was a bit repressed and confused about my sexuality so I didn’t really understand them when I was a teenager — but I suppose the closest was Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. No? Just me? Currently it’s a toss-up between Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba. Although if Tina Fey or Ellen Page suddenly became single, I almost certainly wouldn’t say no.

Is that asking for a follow-up question…?

You bet it is. I’m now a lot clearer on my sexual orientation, but it has been a very long journey to get there. I’ve used all sorts of labels over the years, and the one I feel closest represents me is the umbrella term ‘queer’ which i’ve written about before. I find ‘bisexual’ is a term many people understand but I don’t really believe there is just two genders, men and women. I’m not closed to anyone so I find it a bit restrictive. I’ve had relationships with men, and I’ve had relationships with women, but I’m happy being with anyone that makes me happy as to me it’s the person who’s the most important.

Complete change of subject. What’s your favourite film?

Pulp Fiction. Every Tarantino film is a gem. (Well, apart from ‘From Dust Till Dawn’ which was just dreadful. Sorry Quentin.)

Favourite book?

I love so many books, it’s hard to choose. I have favourite authors, does that count?

No.

That’s mean. Fine. Haruki Murakami ‘Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’, George Orwell ’1984’, Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Kristen Britain ‘Green Rider’ and Virginia Woolf ‘Mrs Dalloway’.

Do you think anyone is still reading this?

Probably not, so I guess this is the point where we start to spill all the juicy gossip. I’ll just try and think of some. Hm.

Whilst you’re thinking, why don’t you describe yourself in eight words?

No.

I probably deserved that. Okay, final question — what takes up too much of your time?

Definitely my smart phone. I guess I’m avoiding answering the question, but it’s true! I use Instagram a lot to check in with people, and I’m always messaging friends. Lots of my friends don’t live in London so I chat to them through Instagram’s direct messaging, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, and over text. I find social media a little bit exhausting — especially when I miss over 100 messages in group chats — but it helps me keep connected to people which overall makes me feel much happier, even if I have to switch off sometimes if my anxiety gets the best of me. There is something else that takes up a lot of my time — I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching TED talks, compilations of funny cat videos or crafting tutorials. I love how many different types of content there are on there. Increasingly I’ve been enjoying beauty and lifestyle vloggers which is something I’ve only recently discovered, and it’s made me want to do more with video, seeing so many creative creators out there. And it’s the same with Instagram — there are so many wonderful people out there doing really good things. Emily Coxhead, who runs the Happy Newspaper, is one of the best people to follow on Instagram. Every post is a cheery reminder that things could be worse and to keep positive. She’s fab.

On that happy note, I think we’ll bring this interview to a close. If you have any other questions, do post them below and I’ll give them a reply!

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Originally published at Quirk and Folly.