Vix Brearley, 47 // Full time vintage vixen
Vintage Vixen AKA Vix Brearley doesn’t know it (yet) but she’s sort of my idol. And not just beacuse we both have a penchant for beehive ‘dos and bright clothes.
I first stumbled across the Vintage Vixen blog by way of Google images, when I was looking for retro pictures of jumble sales for a post on Le Blow a couple of years ago. Vix’s face popped up. A LOT. Intrigued, and very much liking her late 60s bohemian look, I clicked through to her daily style blog and have been an avid reader ever since.
Not only do I admire her ‘couldn’t-give-a-shit’ sense of style and straight talking way with words but get this: Vix is (and she won’t mind me saying this as she positively BRAGS about it on her blog, smug cow!) is 47. And looks better than most twenty-year-olds.
With her low-cost way of living – she’s a fellow charity shop rummager like me – Vix still manages to live the rock ‘n’ roll dream (annual trips to India and/or Glasto, anyone?) and positively radiates happiness to boot. THAT IS WHY I WANT TO BE HER.
As you’d imagine with a character like Vix, her back story is an interesting one. From corporate whore to vintage-selling vixen, Vix Brearley: WE WANT YOUR JOOOOOOOOOOOOB! (Please. Thanks.)
When people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?
I live, breathe and occasionally sell vintage clothing.
What did you want to be when you were little?
A journalist or a wardrobe mistress.
From corporate whore to vintage vixen; what was the defining moment when you decided enough was enough and turned your life around?
I was in my early thirties when it finally dawned on me that the only good thing about my corporate career (a hospitality manager for two big city firms) was the massive pay packet.
Every day was a lie, disciplining people for misdemeanours so trivial it was laughable, driving up profits by setting small companies off against each other, wearing fucking flesh-coloured tights, sensible shoes and no bastard jewellery, smiling at instead of punching the tossers who tried sticking their hands up my skirt when I poured out the Fleurie. Working an average of an 18 hour day so I didn’t even have time to go to a friend’s funeral and rarely a night passing without a 2am phone call from a security guard worrying that the freezer wasn’t functioning or something hadn’t been locked up properly.
I used to get up in the morning and cry with disappointment because I hadn’t died in the night. I didn’t care what happened to me, I took ridiculous risks, accepted lifts from strangers, got off my head every night and got into strange situations with dangerous people. I cared so little about myself that I stopped wearing make-up. After months and months and months of this I was forced to see the doctor after a mate said I was no fun any more.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression & given a prescription for anti-depressants (which I tore to bits outside the surgery). Yes, I could have drugged myself into a stupor and continued to sell my soul but instead I decided to fix what had caused the problem in the first place, I took the night bus to work, cleared my office and scribbled my resignation on a Post-it note.
Eventually after a few months without the continual stress balance was restored and I became “me” again. Despite the shitty things that have happened over the last few years every morning I still wake up and feel glad to be alive. Whatever happens to me now at least I’m my own person and I’m free.
What advice would you give to those in similar positions who are unhappy in their day-to-day?
Sit down and do the maths.
Are you financially secure? If you have no debts and can afford to pay the rent/mortgage then get out before it gets you.
I ditched the trips to the high street for the car boot sale, swapped Dermalogica skin care for Superdrug’s own, learnt to cut and dye my own hair and cancelled my daily newspaper for the Saturday Guardian. Having free time meant I could buy food off the market rather than splashing the cash on on-line supermarket shopping.
Our weekly expenditure went down to a few quid almost overnight and I could easily afford to take a few lower paid jobs until we’d cleared the mortgage.
Having prestige and money means nothing if you’re dead on the inside.
What do you know now that you wish you knew back then?
Learn to say no.
I was fast tracked into a career that wasn’t me after being head hunted at college. I knew I didn’t want a career in management but I didn’t know how to refuse.
When did you start blogging, and why?
I used to describe my daily outfit on an internet forum, the other posters were curious to see this 40-something woman who wore 1970s maxi dresses, Indian jewellery and 25p boots from a jumble sale and suggested I start blogging. I was hesitant at first, it seemed very narcissistic and odd and all the blogs I came across seemed to be written by 20-somethings posting “Primark hauls” or reviewing make-up but I bit the bullet and I started one in 2009.
Career (or life) highlight so far?
Am I allowed 5 things?
Of course! Fire away…
Coming round after my hip replacement in 2006 and realising that the pain that been part of my every day life for almost 30 years had gone, visiting Mumbai for the first time, watching the Rolling Stones play Glastonbury, receiving an email telling me I’d been nominated for Vintage Personality of 2014 in the National Vintage Awards and of course, getting together with Jon, the love of my life, 22 years ago!
How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
At home I blog, dress-make or potter around in the garden. We love going to festivals (although this year we’re trading not chilling), wild camping in Gilbert, or VW Campervan and try and spend at least a month in India.
We at Le Blow love the lifestyle you’ve carved for yourself, especially your annual trips to India and summer festivals. What are your top tips for saving money for a big ‘something’?
1. Keep a photo of your dream in your purse (you and your mates at a festival, your favourite beach) – it serves as a reminder that every non-essential purchase is one step away from attaining your dream.
2. Withdraw a set amount of cash from the bank each week and once its spent, that’s it. You’ll be far more aware of sneaky price hikes and learn to shop around for the cheapest deal. Even if its only a difference of 50p between hair dyes in Boots or next door in Superdrug every penny counts.
3. Don’t buy magazines – they just serve to feed into your insecurities and make you and your wardrobe feel inadequate. Read a (second-hand) book and expand your mind, not your overdraft.
Do blondes have more fun or once you go black do you never look back?
I wish I’d gone over to the dark side years ago. I love it. I get loads more attention than I ever did as a blonde.
When I look in the mirror I don’t see the old me, the woman who doesn’t suit bright colours and walks with a limp, I see Vix, an exotic dress-up doll who can wear anything she wants to. I’m the me I always wanted to be, fearless and uninhibited.
I sometimes catch sight of the raven haired glamour puss in a shop window and laugh when I realise its me.
Song that best describes your life?
I’ve loved this track since the moment I first heard it. Not sure whether it describes my life but its positive, happy and I never get tired of it.
What would you like to do before you die?
Whilst having my epidural pre-hip replacement my body went into shock and the crash team were called. Slipping in and out of conciousness all I could think was I’m dying before I’ve been to Bombay. Of course I survived and Mumbai was the first flight we took when I was better.
If I died now I know I’d go without regretting anything.