Shelly Kurzynski Villasenor, 38, does Web design for a medical publisher and plays in the bands Telenovela and the Congees.
Take us through the evolution of your style.
I think my style has definitely evolved as I get older. When I was younger, it was the sparkly stuff and loud crazy prints. I used to be, embarrassingly, into the kinderwhore look–the little babydoll dresses, little bib fronts. I’ve always been drawn to the 60s and 70s, the psychedelic and the boho hippie look. Now I’m trying to dress a little more professionally so I can be taken a little more seriously. I’m trying to supplement my wardrobe with more wearable pieces that are still fun. As I get older I also appreciate the really nicely made stuff and can afford a few pieces now and then. I mix those with my thrift store finds. This year I’ve finally started to covet handbags. I didn’t used to care, I thought they all looked like diaper bags. And now I’m like, I want the Marc Jacobs Stam bag!
How about when you perform?
These days I’m less about the spectacle of dressing crazy. I used to wear, like, these crazy vintage feathered hats that would stick up straight. If I do that, I feel like I have to bring the rock twice as hard, or else why is she dressed like that? If I dress a little less flamboyant, it takes the pressure off.
You sell some of your thrift-store finds on eBay. What’s hot right now?
I found this dress at a local thrift store; it’s 1970s, maybe early 80s, an Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche silk blue-and-white polka dot dress, and I got it for two dollars. I see pieces like it sell for $300 to $500. It’s a good little hobby that can help me maybe finance that purse I want. Acid-wash jeans are back now–high-waisted, acid-wash jeans with see-through cutouts are selling on eBay for $100. I would sell them; I don’t think I would wear them.
What about you-what kind of designers and lines do you prefer?
For vintage designers, vintage Betsey Johnson is really great, vintage Diane von Furstenberg. There’s a new designer whose work reminds me of her, Nieves Lavi. It’s got the prints, it feels like the 70s–it’s all silk. I’m really into print stuff. Lilly Pulitzer. I’d like to have some Pucci–I’ve never found some. Another hallmark is these 70s silky polyesters, as long as they’re not disintegrating. I’m obsessed with those. They make me feel sexy.
This dress, with its cigarette-and-smoke print, has got to be old.
I think it’s maybe 50s, could be 70s. It’s this crepey material. This is one of my all-time ultimate favorites. Talk about a smokin’ dress!
Do you smoke?
No, I don’t. It’s extra funny that way. –Heather Kenny
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Shelly Kurzynski Villasenore photo by Carlos J. Ortiz.