Get to Know Jessica Sikes: Vintage Belle of the Bayou

Jessica Sikes, local fashion insider and vintage collector will be hosting Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves: Fall Fashion & Fondue Saturday, September 30th from 1pm-4pm at May's Place. Shop a section of bohemian and western inspired fall fashion hand selected by Jessica from our fall collection. 

I first met Jessica at Fontbonne University on the first day of class in Fashion 101. I've always appreciated her unique, eclectic style and amazing collection of beautiful vintage. Eight years later, she is living the dream as a footwear developer for the Dr. Scholl's division of local footwear powerhouse Caleres, and her vintage collection has only grown more impressive! I sat down with Jessica to talk about fashion, influences to her personal style, what vinyl she has in heavy rotation and more! Check out the interview below!

Photo by Adam Taylor of Cathedral Photography

Photo by Adam Taylor of Cathedral Photography

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Jessica:  Whenever someone asks me this question, I always start with info about my roots, which I think plays a pivotal part in what makes me, me.  I was born and raised in a tiny little town in central Louisiana and moved to St. Louis around 7 years ago to finish school and follow my dreams of working in the fashion industry. Many people ask me why I didn’t move to NY or LA to pursue my goals, but I honestly feel like I made the best decision by playing it “safe” and not moving to a fashion capitol like so many other dreamers do. I’m now a Fashion Merchandising graduate of Fontbonne University and I currently work for Caleres – one of the largest footwear manufacturers in the US. I chose a path that was very different from most people I grew up with. My family and friends back home tell me they are inspired by my courage to leave our small town and everything I’d ever known to find myself and what it is I love to do.

As you can tell, my job is obviously a huge part of my life, but when I’m not working I’m thrifting, traveling, reading, sewing, riding my bike or dancing around my apartment with my cat and a glass of red wine. I have a full-on obsession with anything old and unique, so I’m constantly on the search to quench my thirst for all things vintage!

How would you describe your style?

My wardrobe doesn’t consist of those “timeless pieces that you can mix and match to create 20 different outfits.” I’m very much into color and prints and statement pieces. I adore bright hued 60’s shift dresses, drapey 70’s bell sleeves, calico prairie skirts, oversized turquoise jewelry and fringe. Fringe is my favorite color. It’s difficult to narrow down my style to one particular decade or trend. One day I’m in beat up old Wrangler jeans with a DIY’d cut and cropped George Jones tank, the next I’m wearing a lime green Hawaiian print barkcloth mini dress with macramé upper platform heels. Depends on my mood, the occasion, the phase of the moon, or whichever way the wind blows…

Who are some of the biggest influences of your personal style? 

My biggest style influencers are: Cher, Emmylou Harris, Penelope Tree, Pattie Boyd, Mary Tyler Moore, Daisy Duke, and the Hee Haw “honeys”.  An eclectic mix of country western/prairie/boho is my preferred “go-to” style. There’s been yet another wave of modern couture designers using elements of these styles in their latest runway collections this past year, so I feel like they are very relevant trends to focus on for the upcoming May’s shopping event. I can’t wait to help shoppers find something that not only falls under this style umbrella, but also items that feel organic to their own personalities. I want to show shoppers that they can intermix their contemporary clothes with vintage pieces for a less “costume” like feel. 

How long have you been collecting vintage?

I’ve been collecting since about the age of 19, I suppose. One of my first college roommates in Louisiana introduced me to it. Her parents owned an antique shop, so she had a good knowledge of where to find the best steals in town. She was also a bit of a photographer as well, so we would go thrifting then scout out fun places to get shots of ourselves posing in our latest and greatest finds. I’ve pretty much remained a hoarder ever since. When I moved to St. Louis, I immediately scoped out the vintage and thrift scene and have dabbled in re-selling some items online through Ebay and Craigslist. It’s just so hard to let good pieces go! My parents’ basement is comprised of probably 60% things I refuse to let go of. It’s mostly furniture and old fur coats that I just couldn’t pass up. There’s just something so fascinating about items with history. Who made it?  Where was it made? What was going on in the world during that time period? Who wore it/used it? How many places has it traveled to and why? The adrenaline rush from finding a gem while thrifting is so addicting. I feel like just the act of just searching is sort of therapeutic as well. Meticulously evaluating everything I touch, in hopes of discovering something unique and beautiful. 

What are some of your most cherished pieces?

My most cherished vintage pieces are my turquoise squash blossom necklace and my fringed suede Pioneer Wear leather jacket that fits like it was custom made for me. My most cherished items are mostly those that don’t need alteration. When you stumble upon something vintage that fits you like a glove, it feels as if you were meant to find it, or more so that it was meant to find you…

What has been your best thrift store score?

Some of my all time best scores have actually been home goods: a pristine 20 pc set of Arabia Finland dinnerware for $8, and a Viko Baumritter chair for $14. Another notable find was an authentic Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress that I dug out of a bin at Goodwill Outlet - $0.79 cents!

We don't just sell vintage clothing at May's Place. You've bought lots of records from us over the years too. Tell us about some of your favorite musicians. 

I appreciate many different genres of music. I grew up listening to country, bluegrass and classic rock. A few of my loves include: Waylon Jennings, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Bob Dylan, Thin Lizzy, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, I could go on for days!! Two of my favorite albums that I’ve scored at May’s are ZZ Top’s Degüello and Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog. May’s has such a great variety of vintage vinyl, I’m always thumbing through the new arrivals whenever I visit. 

What have you been playing in heavy rotation? 

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with this Joan Baez ballads album I randomly stumbled upon at a flea market. It includes covers of traditional Appalachian folk songs as well as well as a hauntingly beautiful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.”

 

Join us for Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: Fall Fashion & Fondue at May's Place, Saturday September 30th from 1PM-4PM. Find out more and RSVP below!