Tag: designer interview

Designer Spotlight: Atomic Swag Retro T-Shirts

k150_28Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDT-shirts are a staple of any wardrobe, but a good graphic design on them really makes statement. From bands to brands, what you wear on your T-shirt reveals a special hint about who you are and what you’re into. It’s like a signal to another like-mind, ‘Hey, this is who I am, do you get it? Then we should be friends!” Plus, wearing a graphic T-shirt, as opposed to a plain one, can add texture and personality to any outfit.

Atomic Swag T-Shirts have been growing in popularity among the retro set for their authentic vintage reproduction designs. The T-shirts themselves have a vintage look with a natural, cream tone and extra softness like some of your well worn, favorite tees or treasured vintage finds.

Atomic Swag T-shirts

Atomic Swag was founded in 2008 by the team of Michelle Griffin and Brian “Shorty” Poole, a creative couple with deep roots in the rockabilly scene. We caught up with Michelle to find out the origins of the company and what makes their T-shirts so special.

How did Atomic Swag start?

We first started out as an online retro boutique in 2008, selling everything from Tiki décor, jewelry, some rockabilly record label tees and motorcycle/hot rod racing tees. Then we started making 1940’s reproduction Hawaiian playsuits and some 1950’s Hawaiian reproduction dresses.

As much as we love wearing vintage clothing, I hated making dresses! There’s so much work, time and frustration in making them. I realized it wasn’t my real passion.

What made you decide on T-shirts?

We looked at what we sold most online and found out that T-shirts were our number one seller and one of our favorite parts of our business. Shorty worked in the T-shirt merch industry at the time. We were already printing T-shirts for our friend’s bands like Deke Dickerson, Big Sandy, as well as Don the Beachcomber restaurant and the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend.

We’re vintage collectors and love vintage novelty print anything, so the math wasn’t hard to do. Also, I saw a huge empty space in the retro T-shirt market. No one was doing reproduction design T-shirts. So we had a very definable niche with no one else in the arena.

Atomic Swag T-shirts

What is your background in fashion design?

I have no formal schooling. I home sew for myself. I’ve learned from eight years of hands-on experience and from my boyfriend’s vast and deep knowledge of graphic design, T-shirt printing and merchandising. We know the best fabrics to use, and which inks and activators give the T-shirt that bright vintage look and feel, mesh counts, layout design, and the best printing techniques to use, along with many other factors that go into T-shirt production.

Do you use original images or do you license and reproduce vintage imagery?

Most of our designs are exact reproductions with no copyright on them. In the past, Shorty would design some and I would design some as well. But I can only come up with an idea, gather vintage elements or influence and then hand them to Shorty to put together.

This year we’ve hired some new artists to do designs. We’re very excited about these designs because each artist has very distinct drawing techniques that are strictly ‘40s/’50s style. They don’t specialize in any other style.

The T-shirt material and look has a very vintage feel. How did you achieve that?

Black T-shirts didn’t become popular to print on until the 1970’s and not everyone is a fan of white tees. So we started using cream/natural colored tees years ago because they look more like an aging vintage tee. Plus, vintage art wasn’t created to go on dark colors – only white, so just sticking it on a black tee doesn’t seem very authentic vintage to us.

Are the shirts cut in a specific way?

In the 1950’s there really wasn’t a “ladies” fit tee. They were all unisex, so we use a modern fit ladies T-shirt. I prefer the longer length so you can tuck your shirt into your jeans or skirt.

Our men’s shirts are a basic T-shirt cut. The sleeves are slightly shorter for most modern fits today, and we chose this T-shirt cut because the sleeves are closer to the vintage men’s sleeve cut, but not as short. Vintage men’s T-shirt seem to have a really short sleeve that most men today would view as feminine, so we chose these two cuts for men and women very carefully.

What about the inks for the graphics?

We use the same inks as the 1950’s inks they used to print cotton tees, making our prints actually “pop” a lot more on our 100% cotton tees than a lot of the stretchy, man-made material T-shirts that a lot of retro companies out there use today. Our prints are bright and crisp, not like the “muddy” or “murky” looking tees that are faded to look vintage. We make our tees bright on purpose so they resemble an actual 1950’s freshly printed T-shirt.


What I Wore: Atomic Swags Latest Designs

The folks from Atomic Swag were kind enough to let me give their latest T-shirt designs a spin around the city.   First up, the Aloha Tee with hip shakin’ hula girls. I paired this with my tiki-print skirt and hibiscus hair flower and it was the perfect outfit for cocktails at my favorite Tiki bar.

atomic swag aloha shirt

Next up the, Square Dancers Tee with a swingin’ couple decked out in Western attire. I paired this one with a pencil skirt, my old, trusty, cowboy boots and red bandana headscarf to head out to the local chop house for a good steak!

atomic swag square dancer shirt

Atomic Swag’s new designs are also perfect for upcoming events such as Nashville Boogie and Tiki Oasis!

How To Wear It

A graphic T-shirt can add personality almost any outfit. Use it to top off your favorite jeans for a casual look or go bold and juxtapose it with a fancy skirt. Here I paired the Aloha Tee with a pair of denim capri pants and Tiki-print wedge shoes. I like to wear my tees untucked to elongate the torso, but if you like to tuck in your shirts, add a wrap belt in a go-with-anything neutral color that lets the graphic of the T-shirt be the star of the show! Click the links to shop* this look!

Atomic Swag Outfit

Shop Atomic Swag T-shirts online.


Photos edited with PicMonkey*. Get it!


Shirts modeled here courtesy of Atomic Swag.

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Tag: designer interview

Party Time with NicCoCo Creations Hair Flowers

k150_27Stiletto_City_heel_iconSZDEvery fashion look can use one or two accessories to really make it pop and give it a touch of your own personality. A hair flower accessory is often the piece of choice for the retro pinup crowd and can be worn by anyone who wants to add a pretty flair to their outfit.

Nicolle Saccone of NicCoCo Creations has been making beautiful custom hair flower accessories for three years. While she can be found on Etsy like so many other crafty folks, she held a party to celebrate the launch of her own website.

Nicolle Saccone of NicCoCo Creations

I went to celebrate her big launch and catch up with her for few questions on how she started her business:

What inspires your hair flower pieces?

“Definitely retro/pinup style because the flower piece should become a part of the whole picture of the look you are going for. Also the burlesque scene – I love me some glitter and rhinestones!”

How did it start, was it a hobby or did you always plan for it to be a business?

“Total hobby/extra income. I work a full time stressful job so it was almost my therapy. An escape.”

Your pieces are really popular with the pinup lifestyle crowd. When did you feel it was taking off?

“Well thank you. I still don’t feel like it’s ‘taking off.’ It’s always a pleasant surprise when someone loves my pieces or say that they follow my social media pages. I’m like, ‘I just make hair flowers!’”

NicCoCo Creations

Held at the at Audrey K. Boutique in Burbank, a super cute little store where her hair flowers can also be found, local friends and customers of Nicolle’s showed up – many dressed in their pinup finest – to celebrate with her and witness a hair demo by Miss Rockabilly Ruby, who gave Nicolle a fancy update, accessorized with some NicCoCo Creations, of course!

Miss Rockabilly Ruby Hair Stylist

Retro Hair Style


What I Wore

For Nicolle’s party I wore a floral ‘60s vintage dress that I paired with a vintage purse, jeweled sandals and one of Nicolle’s double hair flower combs.

1960s Retro Fashion Look

NicCoCo Creations Hair Flower

How To Wear Flower Hair Accessories

Here’s how to put together some fashion looks with NicCoCo Creations hair flower accessories. (Click the links to shop* the look!)

Pinup Look

Pair the fluffy Elle Peony Princess Flower with a nautical-style dress that says 1950s with a modern flair.

Tiki Look

The fruity Holiday Flower pairs perfectly with a pineapple print maxi dress that will leave you longing for the islands.

how to wear hair flowers 2

Feminine Date Night Look

Delight your date in the flirty Laughy Daffy Hair Flower paired with a colorfully feminine floral print dress.

Little Black Dress

Jazz up a little black dress with a pop of color wi

The Southern Belle hair flower will jazz up a little black dress with a pop of color and pearl accents.

how to wear hair flowers

Up your fashion game with hair flowers!

Photos edited with PicMonkey*: fearless photo embetterment. Get it!

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Tag: designer interview

Vintage Hair Accessories from Chatter Blossom

k150_24heel iconA few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a post of some beautiful hair pieces. I saw the word “vintage” and I had to click through. It led me to the Etsy shop of Chatter Blossom and a whole collection of gorgeous floral headbands, fascinators, crowns and clips.

Soon, I was in possession of the “Spiced Cider” gold and brown leaf headband to celebrate my love of the fall season.

Vintage Floral Headband from Chatter Blossom

I contacted shop owner Jamie Lee to find out more about her collection. Turns out she makes all of the pieces out of vintage materials and started her Etsy shop 2 ½ years ago, as well as vending them at swing dance events in the North Carolina area where she is based. I asked her about what inspired the pieces and her background in millinery.

Vintage Floral Hair Clip from Chatter Blossom Vintage Floral Headband from Chatter Blossom

What inspired you to start creating these vintage hair pieces?

I was inspired by my grandmother in the beginning. She rooted a deep love of antiques in me and taught me to treasure their craftsmanship. As I continue, I find inspiration in old photographs and in the flowers themselves. The silks, rayons, and velvets used were gorgeous and they would make nearly everything by hand, right down to the tiny plaster dipped and painted stamens of the flowers.

The materials are vintage – do you collect them? How old are they? Where do you find them?

All of my pieces have a vintage or antique component. Most of my headpieces are made with vintage millinery flowers. Some are made with modern flowers but with vintage and antique button centers. There is a wide mix, which makes it interesting and varied for me personally. Most of my buttons are 100 years old! I have thousands in my collection and love all the details and stories they depict. My vintage millinery flowers are mostly from the 1950s with a few from as far back as the 1920s. I found the largest portion of my collection in a single warehouse, all in their original boxes with tags. It was incredible!

Vintage Floral Facinator from Chatter Blossom Vintage Floral Crown from Chatter Blossom

Do you have training in design or millinery?

I am definitely a self-taught artist. I’ve always been resourceful and creative. Luckily, the very talented people making the millinery flowers decades ago have given me great bones to work with, so I just have to figure out a way to make them wearable now.

Be sure to check out her shop. They make great holiday gifts, I know I have a few on my wish list!

Chatter Blossom Shop
Chatter Blossom Blog

Live pretty,

Photos compliments of Chatter Blossom. Headband featured in this blog was purchased by the author.

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Tag: designer interview

BlueBelle Vintage’s Colorful Lucite Earrings

k150_24heel iconA few months ago, I stumbled across a photo on Instagram of ‘60s Lucite earrings with interchangeable clasps. I loved the idea of being able to buy silver and gold clasps and just swapping out the earring part.

I tracked down the designer, Loretta Maurencig of Blue Belle Vintage Clothing out of Australia, and discovered the variety of styles and colors she makes – many with glitter, confetti or candy-like details mixed into the Lucite making playful and unique pieces, perfect for retro fashion lovers. I had such a hard time deciding which ones to order from her Etsy shop and she also emailed me more colors and styles to choose from. I was in heaven!

Here are the ones I chose, along with a few Loretta was kind enough to throw in* for this blog:

BlueBelle Vintage Lucite Earrings - StilettoCity.com BlueBelle Vintage Lucite Earrings - StilettoCity.com





I also learned a bit more about BlueBelle Vintage reproduction designs, which includes hair clips, shoes clips and clothing, and asked Loretta a few questions about her business and how she started:

“I love vintage fashion — the prints, colors, the eras — it tells a story.  Unfortunately a lot of real vintage doesn’t fit most women today so that is why I do reproduction pieces after I do a lot of research.”

“I am a Designer/Patternmaker. The Australian market is quite small and with China invading our shores with cheap products, it has been hard to find a full-time position. I am lucky that I am a good crafter and love vintage. I source dead stock and vintage pieces that I can reproduce into unique items that have a modern feel. I may find a pair of old Lucite clip earrings in an unusual shape, make the mold, then add a mix of hand-blended glitter or other bits and bobs to the resin. I’m trying to create a niche market and employment for myself.”

Be sure to check out her designs on Etsy and don’t be afraid to ask if she has more styles than the photos posted. She provides great customer service and loves to make her customers happy.

Here’s to creative entrepreneurs,

*Some styles featured here were compliments of BlueBelle Vintage Clothing

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