ally ) Andrew ferguson 1950s
Ally Ferguson was primed to fall in love with old-timey things from childhood. Her family was a musical bunch – her grandfather played classical piano, her mum played 12-string guitar, and she grew up surrounded by the sounds of Elvis and Frank Sinatra. “I was heavily influenced by those things, even though I didn’t know it at the time,” she says. Like any teenager, Ally played with fashion in an effort to find her identity, but it wasn’t until she was in her 20s that she landed on her trademark ’50s and early ’60s style. “I was experimenting with all sorts of styles, and just hit a point where I was tired of trying to fit in. When I tried vintage styles, I didn’t look back.”
These days, you’ll find Ally in full-skirted ’50s swing dresses and other fabulous pieces that nip in at the waist and cascade outwards. “It’s the silhouette that makes me feel most beautiful. I think that’s what drew me to the era most,” Ally says. “I’m not exactly stick thin – I have curves and a booty, and the ’50s really embraced this. I’m definitely drawn to the vibrancy and colours of the time, as well. No one was afraid of shapes and being outlandish – it was all ‘the bolder, the better’.” She completes her look with bright red lippy and a headscarf, while special occasions call for Betty Grableinspired rolls (a dramatic, poodle-esque hairstyle). Ally’s husband Andrew shares her love of the 1950s – it was part of what drew them together in the first place – and is happiest in rayon shirts and drapey gabardine slacks. “When I slip on a ’50s Aloha shirt I’m transported back in time to my happy place, sipping rum on a beach in Honolulu,” he says.
For Ally, accumulating a 1950s wardrobe was a slow process that involved constant digging through op shops and vintage resellers. She loves thinking about the stories behind every item she finds, where someone might have been and what they did while wearing it. “Some people get creeped out by wearing other people’s clothes, but I feel lucky to continue its story instead of just putting it away,” she says. Getting the perfect fit, though, can be tricky. “Women’s bodies were different back then,” Ally explains. “A lot of the time, I’ve had to leave pieces behind because they just don’t fit, especially now that I’ve had kids – my body has changed. But that’s OK. And you can get creative – I’ve rolled down the top of a dress to make a skirt because the bust doesn’t fit.”
As a mum of two, Ally’s had to be a little more practical as of late. She’d rather not get banana smooshed all over her treasured garms, so she saves them for the weekend and instead dons vintage reproduction brands during the week. And just like the rest of us, she jumps straight into her fluffy pyjamas or tracksuit pants at night (how else could you survive the Melbourne cold?). “It was much more achievable to wear a vintage robe to bed when I lived in Western Australia,” she laughs.
Ally and Andrew love being part of the vintage community. Back in WA, Ally worked as a swing dancing teacher and ran a vintage hairstyling business. In their current hometown of Geelong, Victoria, the Fergusons regularly drop in to car shows, antique fairs and vintage social gatherings. “Going out and doing anything becomes an event for us,” Andrew says. “We’re like the leads in our own little period film.” “The best thing I did for myself was book into a swing dancing class,” Ally adds. “If I didn’t take that chance, I don’t know what kind of life I’d be living now. This feels like home to me.”