“Life is too short to live the same day twice” – Up Close and Personal
with Tara Moss
Words: Chrissy Keepence Photos: Berndt Sellheim and supplied by Tara Moss
I have admired Tara Moss for many years for her many accomplishments, and she has inspired me with her strength as a woman, her courage of conviction and her sassy style. So you can imagine I went a little weak at the knees at the thought of her booking into one of my Vintage Styling workshops. I got the call and thought it was a prank. You see, we’re so used to putting celebrities up on a pedestal that when faced with meeting them we are filled with the fear of becoming all tongue tied and coming across as kind of odd! My first thought was “Oh my, what shall I wear?” Ridiculous huh? Tara was coming to my workshop to learn from me and I was worried about what to wear! This lasted for about a minute before I composed myself. When I finally did meet Tara at our first workshop in Penrith it all felt very normal, lovely and familiar – which is exactly how we like our workshop environment to be. It was also exactly how Miss Tara made us all feel too. Wanting to research the 40′s for her upcoming 40th birthday, Miss Tara threw herself at it and all by all accounts loved it.
I recently asked her if she wouldn’t mind sharing a bit about herself and without hesitation she said yes. Enjoy getting to know Miss Tara Moss, the self professed ‘Vintage Newbie’.
You recently turned 40 and decided to dive into the 1940’s styling for the occasion. Have you always had a penchant for Vintage or is this something new for you?
When my daughter was nearly two years old, I decided that it was time to get rid of most of my old wardrobe. I’d gradually returned to my pre-baby weight, but I had a curvier body and my old clothes simply didn’t fit anymore. Instead of hanging on to the old clothes, or buying the same kinds of things again in a larger size, I decided to try something new. After seeing a 1950s classic film one night – with knock out curves and bullet bras, red lipstick, magnificent dresses and hats – I thought, why not try vintage? The shape in the 40s and 50s suits my curves much more, as it was common in that period to have a smaller waist and a generous hip and bottom. Vintage is inexpensive, unique and fun to wear, and I like that it is a form of recycling as well. Now I find it easy to track down vintage things in my exact measurements, which is rare with modern brands. I am the ambassador for Jacqui E and they are one of the very few modern brands that fit my shape perfectly. Too many brands cut for a very narrow hip, in unforgiving fabrics and hem lengths. With vintage, it is easy to find a good hem length and a curvy proportion. It’s been just over a year now since I made the switch, and I am hooked. I’ve been writing about the experience here:http://taramoss.com/category/vintage/ and posting some of my inspiration and vintage looks here: http://www.pinterest.com/taramossauthor/diary-of-a-vintage-newbie/
What is it about the 1940’s and the 1950’s that is so appealing to you? The clothes, hair & makeup, morals & ideals, or?
I have long been fascinated with midcentury history, particularly WWII, with the rationing and ‘making do’. I remember my Canadian grandfather’s uniform and medals, and the stories from my Dutch grandparents, who were in Holland during the occupation. My Opa escaped a Nazi work camp before he and Oma emigrated to Canada with my mum and her siblings, so WWII has always been present as an important part of my family’s history. In terms of style, the ‘ration fashion’ of that period fascinates me, as does post-WWII style, with the sense of optimism and escapism that was put into design. They did novelty fabrics and kitsch handbags. There was a sense of fun and colour. I have always loved the look of vintage from that era, but had always had bad experiences trying to find something vintage that fit me in second hand shops. Basically, I didn’t know how to go about it so I thought I’d learn. The experience has been wonderful so far, and it is enjoyable to be able to put together a great look cheaply and without help, by using old, recycled clothing and accessories with a past. As a hobby to take me out of my sometimes intense novel writing, nothing beats vintage and retro.
The vintage scene is a lot of fun, too. Vintage enthusiasts are wonderful people. We have a vintage caravan, done up in 50s kitsch style. We do a lot of caravanning as a family, and to be honest, it makes me happy just to look at a nice old caravan. Stepping inside is like being on holiday. Sometimes, with a particularly fun retro outfit, it feels the same. Vintage gives me pleasure and the reactions, particularly from other women who love the look, can’t help but bring a smile.
If you are travelling for a weekend with only carry-on luggage, what essentials would you pack?
Ideally, we would travel in our vintage caravan, but if I only had a piece of carry-on luggage, I would pack a good book, sun block, bobby pins, red lipstick and a brow pencil, and a simple vintage outfit and scarf I can wear two ways. And 40s or 50s style low-heel shoes… always. I have no patience for uncomfortable shoes!
How do you intend to develop your daughter’s self confidence?
She is a smart, kind and beautiful young girl and my husband and I intend to continue what we’ve been doing – being hands-on as parents and allowing her to be creative. She reads a great range of books (with our help, of course, as she is not yet three) and I am quite particular about the film and TV she watches at this age, because I want her to see stories about brave and capable women and girls. A startling proportion of films have male lead characters, so I am seeking out the stories that buck that trend and show what girls can do.
When using beauty products as a mood enhancer, what is your favourite? Great red lipstick? A great hair do? Manicure?
Red lipstick gives me a real lift. Even if I don’t have time to do anything else after I get up, except brush my teeth, throw on some clothes and put on a nice red lipstick, I feel ready. I’ve had people tell me how ‘glamorous and dressed up’ I look in flats, a black pull on dress and red lipstick. It’s the lip that does it, I think, as you don’t see that punch of colour so often these days. I only started wearing red lipstick about a year ago and I feel drab without it now. It is an easy mood enhancer.
What experiences as an international model did you witness in the industry that has empowered you as a woman?
I did not find the modelling industry itself particularly empowering, but I did find it empowering to travel the world and become my own boss, in charge of my own career, my finances and my choices as a teenager. Now that I am a writer, I’ve never looked back. My motto is; Life is too short to live the same day twice. The world is a fascinating place, and working as an international model helped me to expand my horizons and see different cities and cultures.
You recently attended 2 of The Lindy Charm School for Girls Workshops, what did you enjoy most about the experience and what practical advice did you get out of them that you are still practising at home today?
After months of watching YouTube tutorials or flicking through Pinterest in my spare time looking for inspiration, it was good to finally sit in a chair and have a hands-on lesson, face to face, with vintage aficionados. Miss Sammy and Mistress Chrissy helped me to wrangle my very thick hair into some good, easy victory rolls, which I hadn’t managed before. Now I am getting the hang of it and it doesn’t take me any longer to get ready than it used to, but I enjoy my new ‘old school’ look. Basically, any day with victory rolls or a flower in my hair is a good day for me. I want colour. I want to feel vibrant and happy. The classes helped me explore some vintage styles, and perhaps most importantly, it was a friendly room full of women having a good time. I liked the celebration of our ‘fore mothers’ and their lives. I took their tips with me, and I’ll pass them down to my daughter.
Tara wrote a lovely blog post about her experience. You can read it here.
The Vintage & Retro Fair, Australian Technology Park, Eveleigh, September 27 – 29.