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Marley Victory Bee Finds Confidence in Saddle Shoes and Shirtwaist Dresses

Marley started Victory.bee in honour of the vintage-wearing women she saw posting their looks on social media when she was in high school. Marley reminds us that by being brave enough to defy the rules we may find the confidence that we long for.

Marley wearing a 1940’s inspired outfit pairing a cream shirt with a front yoke and dark blue denim jeans

We often write about different rules and formulas for dressing like creating a capsule wardrobe, mixing patterns like a pro, and finding the best skirt for your body.

And we aren’t the only ones.

Magazines like Vogue include articles about the best dresses for petites, and more and more companies like House of Colour offer services providing the best colors for your skin tone.

In all the recommendations, advice, how-tos, and shoulds, we can forget the value of being open-minded, ignoring the rules, and allowing our hearts to make our fashion choices.

Luckily there are people like Marley (Victory) Bee to remind us.

Marley, known as Victory.bee on Instagram and Tiktok, is a vintage fashion and beauty content creator with a love for ‘40s and ‘50s fashion.

This is surprising, considering she hated fashion as a kid and regularly wore sweatpants and T-shirts to school.

It wasn’t until Marley was a sophomore in high school that she began to notice fashion when she saw pictures of women in the ‘40s and ‘50s in her history textbook.

Marley in a 1950’s floral swing dress and white sandals

“I thought that style was cool, but it still didn’t occur to me to start dressing like that. Then, I saw women on Instagram dressing like that, and it struck me how interesting and practical the designs were. I started experimenting with a few basic pieces I already had in my closet, and then I added red lips and curled hair for a vintage look. The more I experimented, the more I liked the style.”

Then, Marley became involved with her high school theatre department, putting together costumes and caring for their vintage pieces. She learned how vintage fashion should be worn and how to clean it properly. This knowledge and exposure to a different style of fashion gave her the boost she needed to start accumulating vintage and vintage-inspired pieces of her own.

By the summer before she entered college, Marley had a wardrobe of almost exclusively vintage and vintage-inspired pieces. She started college, and then COVID-19 hit and she moved back home. It was a boring time for many college students, including Marley, so she started a TikTok account to share her vintage looks.

Though her wardrobe is full of primarily ‘40s and ‘50s pieces, Marley loves looks from a variety of decades.

“Fashion from the ‘20s and ‘30s is beautiful, but those pieces can be hard to find and are expensive. Items from the ‘40s and ‘50s are more practical for me. In the ‘40s, women were entering the workforce while their families and spouses were fighting in the War, so they wore pants and shirts. I can wear these types of pieces every day. I’ve recently started getting into ‘70s and ‘80s fashion too and am experimenting with it. A great resource I found is vintagedancer.com, which is a tool for researching the fashion from different decades.”

Marley wearing a green short sleeved dress gifted by @sondeflor

Marley finds many of her vintage pieces at estate sales, thrift stores, and online, and she has found several companies that make great reproductions.

“I had never been able to find a modern pair of jeans that fit well. Then, I found a company that makes ‘40s reproduction jeans that fit me perfectly. Shopping for reproductions can be intimidating. Some reproductions can be expensive– I have seen $400 reproduction dresses. To find pieces that fit my budget, I frequently shop on eBay and Poshmark and look for secondhand vintage reproductions. When I supplement those with the basic pieces I already own, it’s easy to put together vintage looks. A lot of the pieces available today, such as capris and blouses, are based on ‘50s fashion. I can replace modern buttons with vintage ones and combine a modern piece with a vintage piece to create the perfect look.”

Marley also loves vintage beauty and believes that makeup and hair is the easiest way to add vintage flair to an outfit. She recommends adding red lips, black eyeliner, and curled hair for a vintage style. In fact, Marley likes one company in particular that creates vintage reproduction makeup – Besame Cosmetics. They remake vintage markup, are reasonably priced, and keep sustainability in mind. One of her favourite products is their cake mascara which is water activated and comes in a recyclable and refillable tin.

Marley finds much of her vintage inspiration by looking at yearbook photos on Pinterest and old photos.

“Often, people who like ‘40s and ‘50s fashion look to old Hollywood glam photos for inspiration, but that is not my style. I prefer everyday looks, which is why I try to find old yearbook photos. You see teenagers who weren’t glamorous all the time; they wore everyday clothes and imperfect hairstyles. The ‘Hollywood star’ look is in everyone’s faces, but that look isn’t for every day. I want to recreate looks that the average woman wore.”

But, when Marley started pursuing vintage fashion, she wasn’t trying to recreate any particular look. As a student, she didn’t have an unlimited budget to go shopping and buy everything she liked.

Marley in a garden of flowers wearing a 1940’s red dress

Instead, she started by pulling everything out of her closet and laying all the pieces on her bed. Then, she set aside any item that even somewhat looked vintage. She made a list of the pieces that she needed to beef up her vintage collection, i.e. one high-waisted skirt, three dresses, one long-sleeve blouse, one short-sleeve blouse, etc. She used these pieces to create a vintage capsule wardrobe.

“Start with what you have; I didn’t start getting unique vintage pieces until a couple of years into my journey. Begin small at first. Don’t hesitate to tell others what you are doing. Family members may have items they can pass to you. You can find items thrifting, shopping at antique malls, browsing Facebook Marketplace, or attending estate sales. Know your measurements before shopping and utilize accessories to add a vintage touch to your outfit. Be creative with what you have and what you can find at stores close to you.”

Marley also recommends getting a slip to wear with your vintage finds, so you have a barrier against itchy fabrics, which are common in vintage wear, and so you won’t have to clean your pieces as much. (You certainly wouldn’t want to wash a 100-year-old garment often.) Spot clean vintage garments when needed and always hand wash them.

Marley started Victory.bee in honour of the vintage-wearing women she saw posting their looks on social media when she was in high school.

“I have struggled with anxiety for many years, but surprisingly, when I began dressing in vintage, it didn’t make me feel anxious. For the first time, I felt confident. It helped me overcome my fears and get comfortable being myself. It just fits me. I’m not sure if I would have found this if I hadn’t seen those women on Instagram. They, and so many others, inspire me. I am in awe of people who are themselves and create awesome things– people who I see on the street that are dressed uniquely, people I see doing something nice for someone else.”

Marley reminds us that by being brave enough to defy the rules we may find the confidence that we long for.

And perhaps, we will learn more about our true selves in the process.

Marley dressing up for an occasion in a black off-the-shoulder dress
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