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PERFECT: Jessica Ramokotjo says mixing a vintage skirt with simple modern T-shirt can update the old classic photos: supplied
STEP UP: Work clothes can look this fabulous according to vintage style designer Ramokotjo
BLAST FROM THE PAST
: Old favourites given modern twist
Get it wrong and you will probably look like you just walked out of a 1920s time capsule.
Yet Mogale City-based fashion designer Jessica Ramokotjo has risen to the challenge and found a way to fuse vintage wear and contemporary style to ensure that the vintage genre that she is passionate about does not go out of style.
Ramokotjo is an upcoming designer who specialises in vintage wear. She says her inspiration is the history-rich Sophiatown.
"I have always loved vintage wear, and I have always enjoyed tweaking my mom's old clothes and rearranging her closet.
"That is where I would say I fell in love with vintage fabrics and how strong and durable they are.
"Without dwelling on the poli-tical landscape of Sophiatown, I would say I'm inspired more by the style and the night social activities of that period," she says.
"Sophiatown was about thriving in the midst of hardship during the apartheid era.
"Even through the difficult times our people still aspired to look great and the music was so powerful.
"Their impeccable fashion sense is my biggest inspiration.
"So I'm all about bringing that stylish vibe to this century's woman."
Ramokotjo buys vintage fabrics that most people would think are old school and uses them to design modern looking pieces.
"I use a lot of Scotch tartan material, geometrical fabrics, polka, rich linen and what they called 'mekotla' then.
"Crimplene is also one of my favourites. Yes, Crimplene can be made to look modern.
"Sourcing these materials can be tricky as most fabric shops hardly carry vintage fabrics.
"But I have since narrowed it down to three stores and I usually ask them to reserve these fabrics for me."
Ramokotjo adds that people often wonder how she can make timeless pieces more current. She says the trick is making clothes that are versatile.
"I make clothes that can easily be worn to the office, and with a few edits, be worn out for sundowners with friends or even to the club.
"An example would be a classic shirt dress made from one of the vintage materials.
"To give it a modern twist, one could wear it with jeans or formal pants to the office.
"And then for after hours, take off the jeans, put a flashy belt on the dress and wear it alone with thigh high or ankle boots.
"That will immediately take the look from day to night.
"Another example would be a vintage high-waisted skirt that I made from Scotch material with side pockets.
"Wearing it with a frilly blouse for example would make it too vintage, but wearing it with a nice simple T-shirt would create a perfect balance."
Ramokotjo says wearing vintage is not for everyone. She says one needs to have an eye for finding the right balance.
"Vintage is all about bold colours and prints, but the trick is not to wear them together at once. Although Sophiatown fashion was absolutely stunning, there were also hats, gloves, belts and eccentric accessories.
"What I have learned to do is take minimal aspects of the fashion and play around with them.
"At the end of the day, one should not look like they were frozen in time."
What can often turn people off vintage wear is the steep price often associated with the genre.
Ramokotjo says she has managed to design affordable pieces without compromising on quality.
"Although vintage is timeless couture, it does not have to be expensive," she adds.
Ramokotjo says that her vintage accessories range from R50 to R200, and that her clothing range is priced from R150 to R1500 depending on the item.
My range of leather wear and tailored suits falls within the R1500 bracket but other than that, the clothes are really affordable."