Interview: Thea Billings

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Thea is currently in her last year of university studying Criminology and Sociology. As well as her studying, she has a love for fashion. I was lucky enough to have an interview with Thea about her style.

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

I am good thank you! I am currently working on the final stages of my dissertation so slightly stressed but overall in good spirits!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Wiltshire constantly surrounded by the countryside and pets. Currently though, I am in my third year of university studying Criminology and Sociology.

Describe your style.

When I was younger I used to be fixated on choosing a style to abide by and went through a phase of trying to be ‘scene’, ’indie’ and ‘sloane’ all at once. As you can imagine those styles don’t really mix but I’ve learnt along the way to incorporate different aspects of styles that I enjoy. At the moment I try and dress smart but relaxed.

When did you start getting into fashion?

I’ve always had an interest in clothes but when I was 14/15 my dad used to get the train to Reading everyday and he became friends with a lady who always read Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Once she was done with them she would give them to my dad and I would look over them and then make collages of all the things I loved in them.

Where are your favourite places to shop?

I’m one of those people that love window shopping so places like Liberty’s that are pleasing to the eye are my absolute favourites to visit. But I do love TKmaxx because they have all sorts to find including my favourite notebooks that are seemingly only sold there! I also almost always find something in places like H&M or Monki.

What inspired you to get into vintage fashion?

I wanted to find clothing pieces that not everybody would have in my town and part of that was achieved through looking towards vintage fashions.

Do you think it is an important aspect to make your own clothing?

I’d be very hypocritical if I said yes! I used to really want to be able to make my own clothes but I never got past being able to make a cushion. I do think however that it is an incredible skill and that you can really develop your own style if you have that skill and ability.

Do you have any tips for anyone shopping in vintage and charity shops?

Don’t be afraid to touch and feel things. I’m someone who finds it really important to feel the texture of everything I’m looking at before making a choice and although it can look slightly strange stroking everything, it helps me make the best choices.

My other tip is don’t be afraid to look at all the areas. If what you find is in the ladies section or the men section, if it looks and feels good get it! Just because it was in another section doesn’t mean you can’t wear it.

Why do you think charity shops are an important place to shop for clothes?

First and foremost you are supporting a charity in some way but also you are giving that clothing a second lease of life and love when its journey has come to an end with its previous owner. It’s like an eternal cycle for that piece of clothing!

Your style is very unique and wonderful; how do you go about styling different clothes?

I find a full length mirror to be very useful as you can see an outfit in its entirety and what does and does not fit with the overall look. Annoyingly, at University I do not own a full length mirror but I do use an app called Wave Cam which is a hands free camera - oh so useful! Before I found the app I tended to select a key piece and place other clothes next to it and piece my way through my wardrobe; this ended up with a very messy room though!

Other than that I often think about what might go together just before I go to sleep or when I first wake up.

How did you go about finding your own style?

As I previously mentioned I used to be so focused upon wanting to fit into one style genre that nowadays I’ve learnt that you can take nods to specific aspects of a style whether that be classic indie skinny black jeans paired with a relaxed blue shirt or a black preppy skirt matched with a cat sitting in a watermelon t-shirt!

Have you always been into fashion?

Not necessarily fashion but I’ve always been obsessed with clothes. My mother has always had a shopping habit and I used to love sneaking into her room and trying them all on. It wasn’t until I was about 13 that I started to take an interest in specific fashions.

What new pieces have you picked up for this winter and spring that we haven't seen on your Instagram yet?

I recently purchased a black circle skirt that fits perfectly with the transition from winter to spring. I have also bought a maroon long sleeve t-shirt that admittedly is fairly autumnal but is perfect for those slightly colder days.

What are some of your current fashion obsessions?

I think they’re getting slightly outdated now but I must admit I love a good choker and pinafore dress. I have an outfit that I never posted onto Instagram which encapsulated my winter vibes pretty well that included a check pinafore dress with a forest green long sleeve t-shirt.

What are your favourite pieces of clothing?

My favourite pieces are constantly changing but at the moment I would say my Dr Marten boots. They are fleeced inside right down to the toes and so are the cosiest things to wear! I also have a checkered shirt that looks like a farmer could own it which I absolutely adore, it goes with so many different pieces.

What could you not live without?

There are two things I could not live without. The first are a pair of black skinny jeans; they have been a staple in my wardrobe for so many years I don’t think I will ever stop wearing them! Currently I have two pairs; a high-waisted pair from ASOS which I’ve bought to slowly replace the other pair and so far I have been very pleased with them.

My second pair is an almost legging type from Pilcro and the letterpress. I got these from my old job and they fit me so well that I don’t want to get rid of them but unfortunately there are a few too many holes peaking though to get away with wearing them!

The second item I could not live without are Ballet flats. I feel like they are a basic staple to every wardrobe. The two which I currently wear the most are a blue pair from Franchetti Bond and a gold pair from French Sole. By far I most regularly wear the gold pair as they jazz up any outfit as well as being so comfortable.

Do you have any career plans?

Nothing entirely stable! My dream would be to own a cookbook bookshop and cafe one day so since I finish university soon I would quite like to work in a bookshop like Waterstones to learn about the bookshop world.

Do you have a favourite fashion magazine?

Since I was 15 I’ve had a subscription to Vogue magazine, I feel like they have interesting pieces and creative photoshoots. When I was younger I entertained the idea of being a fashion/creative director and I enjoyed Vogue’s approach the most.

Who was your first style icon?

This is a tricky question because I accrued a number of style icons in such quick succession I don’t remember who came first! But I do remember really loving Agyness Deyn, Amber Le Bon, Freja Beha Erichsen and Twiggy the most.

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

I honestly feel that I don’t use social media to its full potential. I feel like it’s an important platform because it gives people a voice especially those that otherwise may not have been given one and that is something I under utilise. It also allows the individuals creativity to flow in ways that it previously may not have been available to so many people.

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram?

Having just finished and really enjoying my week of #ootd I think you can expect to see a least a few more of those on the horizon! I am heading to Glastonbury this year so there will certainly be a wave of Glasto overload. And of course a sickening amount of photos of my pets!

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to set up their own Instagram?

Don’t be too restrictive! I know that for some people having an Instagram theme has brought them success and popularity but I also know that they can also feel too restricted and ultimately quash their creativity by boxing themselves into a tight section! I also say just have fun. It is after all just Instagram!

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

‘Who really cares?’

You can follow this lovely lady on her Instagram ‘theodorajbee’.  She is always posting wonderful outfits and inspiration. Photography by Louisa Hall.