I recently decided I wanted to interview Lauren Pfieffer of Passing Whimsies. As usual, I had been following her Instagram for awhile - this is how I've connected with most artists and creatives so far - and her passion for thrifting and absolute honesty with her readers made her a perfect subject for this project. I had never been to Fort Greene Park before, but I met up with Lauren there for our interview and portrait session to gain insight into this style blogger's interests in all things vintage and writing.
Lauren Pfieffer originates from Ohio. At sixteen, she started her blog: "I had just started getting really into vintage fashion and thrifting. I had a really tough high school experience. I grew up in a small town, and there wasn't really a lot of people like me; they didn't understand the way I dressed and what I wanted to do. I was just kind of weird, and my English teacher who I really connected with in high school pulled me aside one day after school, and he said, 'Have you ever thought about starting a blog and documenting your personal style and your vintage finds?' and I said, 'No. It never even really crossed my mind.' I didn't even really know what a blog was - this was in 2008 when blogs were first starting to really become popular. He said, 'You should definitely do it. I think you have something really unique and special, and you could go really far with it.' It was the first time someone had believed in me, and that was just the spark that kind of ignited my love for fashion and blogging and the internet and just helping other people, because sometimes you just need one person to believe in you to believe in yourself."
Pfieffer's love of all things old started with a namesake, classic movies, and a church rummage sale. "I didn't really have access to the latest fashions, and even if I did, I don't know if I would have necessarily connected with them. Growing up, I had a connection to old things. My name comes from Lauren Bacall, the famous 1940's film actress. I'm named after her, which is so cool. I feel like it's ingrained in me - I started watching vintage films, and I just started peeking around the internet and discovering vintage fashion. One summer when I was sixteen, I went to our church's rummage sale, and there was just all of these incredible vintage hats and jewelry and clothes - it was like a whole new world was opened up to me. I was thinking 'Wow, I can create these looks that I see online and in these movies; I don't have to spend a lot of money, and it's right here. What is holding me back?' That's kind of how I got into it."
In crafting her blog, Pfieffer realized she would have to post photos of her wearing her vintage finds - she learned the art of the self-portrait, using her camera's self timer and a tripod to develop her own visual content for her site. "Both of my parents worked; I didn't have anyone to take my photos for me, and I didn't want to bother anyone with my photos so I just learned to take my own. Throughout the years I have just kind of kept doing it."
Pfieffer also commented on the difference between the act of self portraiture in Ohio versus New York City: "A lot of times in Ohio I would do it in forests. I would go to my local nature center where no one could see me running back and forth taking pictures of myself. It's really weird to do it in New York. In terms of how I think about it, I have an outfit and I plan the outfit out first. Then I think about all of the places in either Manhattan or Brooklyn that I really like and would kind of set the scene. If it's more of a modern outfit, I'll probably go to Manhattan, maybe to the West Village or the Lower East Side. If it's a more vintage-inspired outfit, I usually will stay here in Brooklyn and go onto a brownstone-lined street or maybe a local park so it kind of fits the scene."
Pfieffer fondly remembers her first vintage find, a piece she picked up at the church rummage sale. "It was this vintage cameo necklace, and it had gold detailing. It was a white cameo, and it was hand-carved from ivory. On the back it actually had a workable clock, so you could turn it around and tell what the time was. I don't know... maybe because it was my first piece and I maybe only thrifted it for a dollar, I have a lot of personal sentiment to it. It was what really made me fall in love with vintage, so it's a prized possession of mine."
Other finds she remembers being excited about include vintage Salvatore Ferragamo heels and a 1950's red ball gown.
In addition to building her own wardrobe, Pfieffer loves to ignite a love of classic fashion in others by selling vintage items online through Etsy. Pfieffer has also scouted out the best thrift shops in New York City listing L Train Vintage (the Gowanus location), Urban Jungle, and Goodwill in Downtown Brooklyn as some of her favorites.
For Pfieffer, she remains inspired by classic actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and strong, independent women. "I just think she (Audrey Hepburn) can truly do no wrong in my book - I know it's so cliché, but she truly is iconic for a reason. Also, I follow a lot of Instagrammers. I think the space can definitely be really cluttered with people just simply following the herd and falling into making a living out of blogging or Instagramming instead of really truly looking at, 'I can really change peoples' lives through this.' One person I really love following on Instagram is Chinae Alexander. She is a lifestyle influencer, and I actually got the chance to meet her when I was working at my previous position through an event we were having. She's just so inspiring - she's so real, so down-to-earth. She is not originally from New York, but moved here with nothing, and she's just a badass female making it in New York, taking names. She talks a lot about body image and women empowerment and knowing your worth and jobs and careers and relationships and just everything under the sun. I'm always inspired by her captions and her genuineness to truly help others in the community."
New York City serves as another point of inspiration. "The possibilities are endless here. I always feel when I walk out the door anything could happen to me that day. I could have my Audrey Hepburn moment... I could meet someone who could change my life. I could get a call that could change my life in a great way. It's just a really exciting city: one full of hope and promise and very inspiring people. Even though I'm very introverted, I think one of my favorite things is the people here just because I love observing them. There are so many different personalities and backgrounds... so different from where I grew up in Ohio, and it makes me feel at home being with all these people. I can truly be myself because everyone's accepted here."
Pfieffer recently took a leap of faith and quit her full-time job to actively pursue a career in fashion and explore what freelancing is like. She encourages others to follow their dreams as well saying, "It's so important to go after what you want. Don't spend your life doing things that don't fulfill you or you know aren't right for you. At least give what you want to do a chance: if it doesn't work out, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen? I'm so scared of failure, and I need to take my own advice. I was scared about moving to New York. I was scared about quitting my job. I've been scared about so many things here, but I think every step and mistake and chance I've taken has gotten me closer to my end goal and my end dream. Just take the chance. I know it's scary, but there will be people rooting for you."
You can follow Lauren on Instagram here.
You can visit Lauren's blog here.