Kittie Walsh is an unmistakable character around campus: renowned for her impeccable blonde beehive and thick black winged eyeliner, not to mention her classic sixties-influenced style. She manages to pull off a timeless look which few girls even attempt, one that is so unique to herself that for her birthday party earlier this year all the ladies made it a point to dress accordingly in her style, teasing their hair and donning vintage pastel baby-doll dresses.
She loves to experiment with bold color, an interest she picked up from her grandmother. “When I was really little, I used to always watch Elvis movies with my grandmother and I don’t know if you’ve seen Elvis movies but they’re god-awful but I was obsessed with them and I think I’ve seen every single Elvis movie and it took me a while I think to figure out why I liked them so much and I think it’s because it was my first exposure to Technicolor, because they were all shot in the 60’s, so it was kinda like watching the Wizard of Oz with all those bright colors. I feel like I’m always trying to wear Technicolor, to wear Elvis movies.”
Like Elvis, Kittie is a southerner. She has found some of her most prized pieces in vintage stores around the area (like her favorite burnt orange calf-length coat with a broad brown fur collar), as well as in Florence where she studied art history and photography for a semester last year (where she found her beloved blue party dress with a lace bodice which she tells us she wears whenever she has a chance). But she is cautious not to jump head first into the vintage ocean. “I really like vintage clothes, I think that they’re hard to do well. I feel like it’s really easy for that to backfire and to look like a cartoon. And if I had more time I’d really like to cultivate a bigger vintage collection, but I feel like that’s one of the biggest mistakes people make–if something is old then it’s good–but people made ugly clothes 60 years ago just like they make ugly clothes today.” Wise words that are put to use in the assembly of her own wardrobe.
“I know it sounds basic, but I think if the clothes fit and if they flatter you then you can almost look good wearing anything. I think that’s like the biggest mistake people make sometimes is wearing clothes that don’t fit them well.” She does indulge in collecting vintage lingerie, nightgowns, and bloomers, which are beautifully delicate pieces that still make her look and feel nice even if no one else can see them. “Clothes are your blanket, what you wear is what you project. I like for people to think that I’m somewhat put together. It’s a first impression, as transparent as it sometimes may be, I think it’s important to look nice. I feel better when I think I look nice.”
Kittie wasn’t born with her classy style; it developed slowly along with the refinement of her own tastes and a reconnection with her elegant relatives. “My style has changed a lot, it used to be so bad. My grandmother, when I was 18 or 19 broke out this photo album, her and my grandfather were both English teachers and they travelled around Europe pre-WWII to teach English, so she gave me her photo album that for some reason I had never seen or was never really interested in looking at, and they were just these gorgeous black and white photographs. I saw those and she just looked so classic and elegant and what she was wearing looked so timeless, I think I started trying to keep that in mind, of wearing things that aren’t going to be completely embarrassing in ten years. I feel like that timelessness effect is really important.”
Photography by: Isabel Farrington