“I’m drunk off the ‘90s,” Chelsea Neufeld laughs, throwing her head back.
In reality though, the 23-year-old University of Winnipeg film major is buzzed off an “exotic berry” flavoured vodka cooler, and the year is 2012.
Neufeld is a teen dream— a woman who balances the effortless babe factor of D.J. Tanner with the sincere wackiness of Kimmy Gibbler. She has built a reputation as a fashion force to watch, due partly to the success of Shop Limbs, her first online vintage store, and for her devotion to crop tops and high-waisted everything.
After being scolded by an elderly women to the tune of “I can’t finish my meal because I can see your ass crack,” Neufeld traded in her low-rise jeans for the practicality of high-waisted pants, found only in thrift stores. The move would mark the beginning of her love affair with vintage.
As Neufeld prepares to launch WAISTED, her second online vintage store, The Uniter spoke with her about fashion, wallflowers and Jessica Rabbit.
The Uniter: Are you familiar with UrbanDictionary.com? Given your position as a connoisseur of all things unique and offbeat, can you provide readers with your own spin on a few fashion slang terms, à la urban dictionary?
Chelsesa Neufeld: Yes.
Someone who can pull off any genre of clothing and look good. They work it in a “classic-modern” way.
You heard me.
Basically a person’s style. Someone with good style is confident, has their shit together and looks chic. Steeze is your attitude. You’re badass if you got steeze.
A wave of style that people ride.
When you breeze in looking good, but are, in fact, late for a party.
When you breeze into a party, late, looking good, and are clearly intoxicated.
Technically it’s W-A-I-S-T-E-D, like high-waisted. It’s (the name of) my online Etsy shop that caters to the minimalist girl who moonlights as a Ghostbuster.
Did you come up with the name when you were fashionably drunk?
No, it was one of those 4 a.m. ideas.
Describe the WAISTED girl.
She’s confident, yet introverted like a wallflower. An introvert does their own thing. I love those people. They’re daydreamers and get lost in their heads. They can hop on a bike and create an adventure with no one else around.
You used to run another store, Shop Limbs.
Shop Limbs came about as the online equivalent of a garage sale, just a way of cleaning out my closet. I love vintage shopping and accumulated a lot of clothes. I would buy things that were beautiful but I’d never wear them, so why not sell them? The majority of items were ‘80s and ‘90s in flavor, with exceptions here and there. The stock wasn’t as tailored as it is in WAISTED.
What does WAISTED offer that your first store, Shop Limbs, didn’t?
Shop Limbs was a rookie store. I had no concept of how to run a store or how to make it successful. This time around I’ve taken the most care conceptually in building a store for shoppers to identify with. I want people to feel like they are part of the WAISTED brand. Clothing-wise it’s more curated to vintage ‘90s attire of the best quality. All the vintage gems are selected with love. The stock focuses on the ‘90s bombshell look, the turbo babe— high-waisted jeans/trousers, crop tops, Maxi dresses, textured sweaters, mini backpacks, schoolgirl skirts, band (t-shirts), and oxford booties. I’ve stuck to a specific silhouette so that shoppers know what they are getting and can expect consistency in all their purchases. With WAISTED, it’s about the fit.
Do you plan for it to grow into a physical store?
I prefer online. What’s cool about Etsy is it’s accessible internationally. The fact that I don’t have to put in an eight-hour workday at a physical store is a bonus.
You’re known to do local styling gigs as well. Tell us about that.
I started styling with Sandbox magazine and recently teamed up with them again for an editorial that was featured in the first issue of Downtown Winnipeg, a new magazine produced by the Downtown BIZ. The latest shoot I did was for ThisIsPoster.com. It was minimalist theme, lots of blacks, and navys. There was this super beautiful model that looked like a 15-year-old Jessica Rabbit. I also work as a makeup artist at Edward Carriere and do freelance makeup for photo shoots.
Is there a must-have article of clothing that everyone should include in their wardrobe?
A black leather backpack brings an outfit together. Mini backpacks are fresh.
I have a black leather fanny pack. Does that count?
There’s an Adidas fanny pack in WAISTED. It’s a slice of coolness.
What is a Neufeld staple item?
Charcoal long sleeve crop tops.
What’s your favorite city for retail?
Vintage shopping in Winnipeg is the best. About four years ago I found a pair of black, high-waisted Dolce and Gabbana jeans from the ‘90s, like supermodel ‘90s. They made your ass look on fire. That summer I was freaking out because I didn’t have any shorts; I decided to cut them, but I cut them too short and had to throw them away— it was devastating.
For those that missed the ‘90s, or like to simply pretend they never happened, what were some highlights?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Craft, Clueless, crop tops, backwards hats, skateboards, the dudes were pretty impeccable. Chibo Matto’s Sugar Water is fucking good.
For more information, visit http://www.etsy.com/shop/WAISTEDWEAR
Published in Volume 67, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 12, 2012)