Name: April M.
Major: Vocal Performance
Hometown: Florence, Oregon
April wears a vintage dress she recently found at St. Vincent de Paul.
What do you do within music? I’m kind of in the opera area of things. I actually have a recital coming up in six weeks, which is crazy.
How did you get into singing? I actually started in high school. I started watching “Phantom of the Opera,” actually. Then I started getting really interested in real opera.
Was there an opera that really stuck out to you? Well “Carmen” is a really good one actually. She’s a really interesting character. I’m a mezzo-soprano, so there are not a lot of lead roles for mezzo-sopranos. It’s a really great opera though.
Her bag is also a retro find.
How would you describe your personal style? I really love vintage pieces. I usually do a lot of thrift shopping, especially around here. There is a great St. Vincent de Paul’s off of east 13th. I just really love the idea of unique pieces that you can’t find anymore. A lot of them are hand sewn, and you just don’t find things like that, and the quality is amazing.
Have you always worn vintage? In high school, I started wearing dresses. Middle school was kind of sloppy for me: just messy sweatpants and stuff. Then I started getting interested in dresses. It was just kind of a progression. But I went through a kind of weird emo phase, but I think that a lot of people went through that. But my parents wouldn’t let me dye my hair, so I couldn’t go too far with it.
How did you get into vintage? I think it just kind of goes along with the classical music field. I’ve always kind of had a fascination with the past. I just really love that era and keeping that alive. That’s kind of what classical music is too really. Just keeping the past alive.
Is there a decade you prefer for clothes? I think the ’60s are really great because I really like the A-line dresses and everything. Also, they have all the super fun colors, and I’m like a color fiend. I think the ’60s are pretty great. It’s the best of both worlds.
How do you put an outfit together? I usually pick a dress. I think lipstick is really important. So I think, “What lipstick do I want to wear today?” And I kind of match the two. I guess I’m kind of a matchy person, but I feel like shoes are the last thing that I think about. That’s probably why they are so dirty. But it’s weird. I know that a lot of girls are shoe fiends, but I’m a dress fiend. I’m obsessed with dresses and lipsticks.
Do you ever get any interesting reactions based on your vintage style? I’ve gotten some weird reactions before. A lot of people are like, “Do you do that every day? Is that a lot of work?” But I feel that once you get into it, it’s kind of weird not to do it after a while.
She found her coat on her honeymoon in Hawaii.
How long does it take for you to get ready? I guess just like an hour. But I still really value my sleep in the morning, so it kind of depends on the day too.
What does the process of putting on makeup feel like for you? It feels really good. It’s kind of just a relaxing process for me. It gives me time to think about what’s going on in the day. I really like taking that time, actually. It really helps me not to jump out of bed and run to class. It’s a massage for my face, so that’s kind of nice.
Who are some of your inspirations? I really love Audrey Hepburn as a style icon in general because she just has those very classic vibes, and she is just a very strong individual. I just really love her.
Living in this decade, how do you relate to the vintage clothes you wear? I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about that. Sometimes I feel kind of like a weirdo. Just a little bit. Like I kind of just don’t fit in, but it would feel weird not to wear them I guess.
How is your wardrobe organized? I have it by color, actually. I just like having it in rainbow order. But not everything quite fits into that mold. But I try. It kind of helps me a lot to pair things with color.
What have you learned about fashion by making your own clothes? Well, it definitely takes a lot of work, and it definitely takes a lot of time, and it makes you appreciate how much time people really spend to make these things, especially back then with hand sewn things. It’s insane. It’s amazing just learning about how many different fabrics there are and how much art there is to it. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much art goes into making clothing.
Do you think that’s going away nowadays with mass-produced fast fashion? Yeah. I could definitely agree there. It’s kind of sad. I feel it’s becoming more and more of a lost art form. It’s just so much cheaper to go down to Forever 21 and pick something out. But there’s a lot of value in the handmade things.
April has her husband help her dye her hair at home. “For styling and everything, it’s like pomade and hairspray city,” she said. “Just lots of Youtube tutorials. Everything there is a Godsend for me.” She recommends NikkieTutorials for makeup tutorials.
What is your game plan when you go thrifting? I look at the patterns because I really love patterns. I don’t have any crazy patterns today. I can scan an aisle and see what the patterns are. I also run my hands through it to feel the materials because I feel you get an idea for the era just by what the material is.
Do you prefer to go thrifting alone or with people? Kind of both. Sometimes I’ll go down there and walk there by myself. Sometimes I’ll go with my husband. I’ve gotten him to branch out with vintage things.
What’s his style? Well he has got some cool ’70s shirts going on. We’re building it, though.
Do you feel you stand out from your friends based on how you dress? Yeah I guess so. I don’t know really anyone else who goes for this style. My best friend, she is more into the punk style. She changes her hair every month. She has great style too. But I feel like I don’t always dress vintage either. Sometimes I’ll wear some leather.
Are people ever surprised when you aren’t wearing vintage? Sometimes, yeah. I usually get some weird comments, but it’s really fun, though. You never know what is going to happen. Sometimes, I like to go heavier on the eye makeup. Like dark or glitter is really fun. And ’80s stuff is great.
What are your plans for after you graduate? We’re actually talking about moving to Hawaii. My husband is going to be going back to school, and I’m hoping to do whatever I can and perform. I would love to be a full-time performer in opera, but we will see where that goes. I’d love to teach too. Teaching private lessons to kids would be super fun.
What do you like about performing? It’s amazing how you can bring an audience in with you on an emotional experience. There’s so much fun to it, though. There are the costumes, and there is all the makeup. You can actually do crazy stuff, and it won’t be crazy, so that’s really fun. Just everything about it is really neat. There is an elegance to it. Everything is kind of exaggerated. It’s just a beautiful place to be in.
How do you see yourself dressing in 20 years? I feel like I’m in this vintage zone. I wonder, I’m kind of curious, but I feel like I’ll kind of want to keep it up, but I want to keep learning too. There is so much to learn. There are so many different trends throughout the years that I want to pick up on.
Words and photos by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, @HSteinkopfFrank