Shop Stories: Tara Lyn Evans Studio

Meet Tara Evans, a vintage seller in Huntington Beach, CA.

image for article Shop Stories: Tara Lyn Evans Studio

Meet Tara Evans, a vintage seller in Huntington Beach, CA.

What attracted you to vintage? Buying it? Wearing it?

I’ve never known it to be any other way, it's always been my lifestyle. I grew up spending weekends at the flea market with my mom and my teenage years scouring thrift stores. In a sea of white pumps and acid wash jeans known as the 80s, I was more absorbed in finding thrifted pieces to mimic the runways of Giorgio Armani and Norma Kamali. I like old things, things with history and stories, and the tingle of not knowing what gems you’ll find. Being able to reuse them, pair them in new and unique ways gives you an exclusive style and it's always been my way of self expression. It was my grandmother that taught me the value of taking care of your things and to not be wasteful. She was a master stain remover with her own recipe. Clothes never went in the dryer, always the clothes line, shoes were consistently polished and EVERYTHING was ironed. She honored what she had and took pride in taking care of it…I liked that principle and strive for the same. It wasn’t until I started working in the fashion/textile industry that my reasons for buying vintage and secondhand changed after seeing first hand the havoc that fast fashion is causing our planet as well as the humans who make them. It's just gross. Buying, wearing, and selling vintage allows me to work and live more consciously and gratefully. It's where my personal values align with what’s good for the planet and all of us that inhabit it. To me it simply says, I care.

What inspired you to open your vintage shop?

A total whim. I am also a jewelry designer and had my own business as well as selling through the Etsy wholesale program. I was doing well and gaining wholesale accounts when Etsy decided to terminate the wholesale program. So, on a whim, I decided to open a second Etsy shop, just to sell some excess collectables I had around the house, mostly home goods and women's accessories. But after working in the fashion/textile business for 10 years prior, I still yearned for my fashion but this time in a much more sustainable, conscious way. Out thrifting one day, I found my vintage mannequin, (named Georgie) and I saw it as a sign. Yes, even my supplies are vintage. The once side hustle began to grow and ultimately became my full-time profession.

Tell us a little about your collection? Is it decade specific? Size specific? Themed in any way? 

Heavy on the 80s with lots of love for the 60s, 70s and 90s. There are so many sensational design elements and designers specific to each decade that I love to find those stand out pieces to mix and match into modernity. A 60s Mod Peacoat, 70s Denim, 80s Bold Shoulders…what appeals to me when dressing is a nod or a hint to generations past and not a complete replicated era look.

I have a love affair with leather and will immediately scout a joint for any leather items first. Silk and silk blends reign supreme in terms of quality and durability. Being very fabric sensitive and acutely tactile myself, texture and touch is extremely important to me. Choosing natural fibers is always my first priority with blends, and high quality replicas being a second. Sizes range from 2 to 12 with the median size usually being a 6-8. However, sizing can be so radically different between eras, styles and designers and ill fitting clothes are my nemesis. I like to focus on the fit and provide specific details to cut and proportion such as “best fits a size 6, with small breast size” or “best suited for someone 5’5” or taller with long torso.” Just because an item is seemingly size appropriate, that doesn’t mean that the cut may be smaller in the shoulder or bust. It is these specifics that, I believe, can help to navigate if an item is well suited for you and will fit and feel just as you’d hoped.

If you could dress any celebrity or public figure (past or present) who would it be?

Tilda Swinton. Forever muse. I love her style. The juxtaposition of strong and soft is something I’ve always been drawn to, and what I believe she embodies.

There’s a drama to her dressing without being overt. A pointy toe shoe, a bold shoulder, an odd color, an extreme proportion, a shiny suit, it's always in the details. It's refined and chic but with an edge, I love that combination. It's progressive and current but not trendy. Never fussy. Heavily menswear inspired, but gowned in femininity…it's never one over the other, but a captivating combination of art wearing art. 

What is the hardest thing about being a vintage shop owner or collector?

Being head of every department with no one to delegate to! Customer service rep, shipping manager, restoration and repair, sourcing, photography, listing, marketing manager, accounting manager and sometimes even the HR manager that has to remind me to take my personal days! Learning other business aspects that are not your strengths can be immensely frustrating and a slow process to say the least, but well worth it in the end. One thing I’ve learned is that success will be earned with hard work, determination and integrity but most importantly, universal timing. Be diligent and consistent with your procedures but always flexible for the unexpected. Accept the challenges as learning opportunities and they will help you grow.

Why did you decide to join Thrilling?

From the start, I liked that there was a vetting process in order to sell on Shop Thrilling which signified upholding a standard of professionalism and integrity. I had been watching and reading about ST for some time but it was in a conversation with another vintage seller, who had nothing but wonderful words of praise for ST, that I decided to apply. Once accepted, I was truly thrilled to learn about their Studio Services which help source vintage and secondhand wardrobe for projects in print, online and film/tv. I love this service and the opportunities it provides for exposure and sales. Shop Thrilling marketing is incomparable to other resale sites, IMO, and inclusive to all of their sellers making sure that we are seen through all avenues of emails, social media and collaborations. 

Is there anything interesting, special we should know about your shop or collection?

When I was in fashion school, I fell in love with my History of Fashion Class. The research, the references, the resources, the reasons why and how something was worn, I was fascinated and wanted to work in the movie costuming world. Those dreams were quickly dashed when I realized that starting as an assistant in the '90s on $24,000 a year, raising a child and driving to LA for 14 hour days was not going to be feasible. Fast forward and TLE Vintage has been shown in the New York City Opera of Dolores Claiborne, twice on Sarah Jessica Parker for HBO’s Divorce, Impeachment: American Crime Story and most recently on Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I am giddy and proud and excited that in some small capacity I get to fulfill that dream through the work I do today.

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