Bookstore manager Jenna Todd.
Jenna Todd — Bookstore manager
My nana is a really big knitter. She knits all of my jerseys. I’ll send her a pattern — she lives on the Gold Coast — and she’ll just knit one up. I’ve always got her working.
We use mostly 1940s patterns; I really like the shape of them, and because I wear a lot of high-waisted stuff, I like how they are cropped.
My favourite is a grey embroidered jersey ( 03, overleaf). It’s just so cool. It shows her embroidery skills as well. When I wear it at work, everybody comments on it. I’ve downloaded the pattern and emailed it to customers, so there might be a few of them around.
Nana taught me how to knit and so it’s something we do a lot together when she visits. My husband laughs at us because we just sit and knit and talk and drink wine the whole time and watch TV. It’s our idea of a perfect weekend.
I mostly started wearing vintage because, when I used to go shopping, I couldn’t find stuff that fitted me because I was just too small. My favourite vintage store is on the Gold Coast; it’s called Retrosheila and it’s run by this guy called Gregory. I usually go over there to visit my nana and end up spending shitloads of money in his shop. I let him know I’m coming and he brings in stuff from home for me.
I actually saw this outfit ( main photo) on his Instagram and I was just like, “Oh my god”. Nana went down to the shop with her tape measure and measured it all up and was like, “Yep, it will fit you”, so they sent it over. Soon after, I was asked to be a judge for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. It was a career highlight for me. We read 50 books in eight weeks. It was crazy. My boss was really amazing. I’d work downstairs in the shop till 12pm, then go upstairs and read till dinnertime, and then read till midnight. By the end I was doing a book a day.
I had in my mind that this outfit was what I was going to wear, because of course when you say yes to something like judging the book awards, you are already thinking about the outfit you are going to wear to the ceremony.
Then they told me that the theme was going to be gold because it was the book awards’ 50th anniversary and I was just
Nana taught me how to knit, so it’s something we do a lot together when she visits. We just sit and knit and talk and drink wine the whole time and watch TV. It’s our idea of a perfect weekend.
like, “Fucking yes”. I was the happiest ever. It’s so fun to wear; you rustle around. It’s like a walking curtain.
I had my wedding dress ( 01, previous page) way before I got married. I got it from the vintage store I worked at for a couple of years in Dunedin. It’s now called the Preservation Society, but it used to be called Modern Miss, and it is one of the best vintage stores in New Zealand. I saw this and I was like, “I want that dress”. I went through this phase where I bought quite a lot of gowns. I’m always that really overdressed person at a wedding where people might look at me and go, “It’s not your day”. But it’s such an excuse to get really dressed up.
I had it in my closet for years. I’d put it on to wear but then I’d take it off again. It never felt quite right. When we got engaged, I thought, “Oh, I know what I’m going to wear”. We went to Las Vegas and got married at the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel. We had 40 people from around the world. And we partied for three days.
We asked our friend Lucy to take a couple of shots of us before the ceremony, so we went across the road from our hotel to this place called the Fun City Motel, which is like a notorious prostitute place. I love the way the sun is hitting Stu’s glasses.
The dress fitted perfectly. It had all I wanted in a wedding dress. I love the colour as well — I didn’t want to wear white. I’ll find something to wear it to again.
I was given the clutch ( 02) by my Great Rabbit (my name for my greataunt). My great-grandfather brought it back from Egypt after World War II. He was 16 and he signed up for the army a little bit early — he lied about his age. He worked on the motorbikes over there and then came back to New Zealand and opened a butchery in Hawera. I met him just once, at my dad’s 21st. I use it as a clutch. It’s quite delicate — a pretty handy size for going out.
I went through this phase where I bought quite a lot of gowns. I’m always that really overdressed person at a wedding where people might look at me and go, ‘It’s not your day’.
My Life in Clothes, page 70.
OPPOSITE PAGE— Jenna Todd in the outfit she wore to the golden anniversary of the New Zealand Book Awards, for which she was a judge. THIS PAGE—( 01) The dress Todd wore when she married Stu Harwood in Las Vegas.
RIGHT—( 03) The grey jersey is her favourite piece of knitwear, made by her Gold Coastbased grandmother.
BELOW—( 02) The clutch Todd’s greatgrandfather brought back from World War II.