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Heads and Heels: An interview with Marcia Specht of The Spectrum

by Maggie Wilds

There is a phenomenon called Throwback Thursday on social media platforms. #TBT allows people a chance to post pics of last year’s vacation, their wedding, or lunch from just two days before. But for one longtime VFG member, #TBT on Instagram means digging out some tantalizing old photographs. There is that groovy store packed with 1940s’ and ‘50s’ Hawaiian and Western wear, 1930s’ gowns, embroidered silk from China. There are the hippie-painted walls. And now and then a rock star shows up. So I had to ask Marcia Specht about her history with vintage fashion. Let’s take a look at what Marcia had to share:

What hooked you on vintage?
I have always been interested in fashion, and I wanted to be a fashion designer or illustrator. I worked selling clothes during high school and college.

Tell me about when you started wearing vintage. What did you wear? Do you still dress in vintage?

I started in the late 1960s. I combined vintage pieces with fashions of the era—my hippie wardrobe. I do still wear vintage pieces, but not so many in the past few years as I didn’t go anywhere due to the pandemic. I mainly wear vintage hats, coats, and jackets and some of my jewelry. But when I was wearing vintage all the time, I favored Asian tops and jackets, 1940s’ and ‘50s’ men’s shirts and Hawaiian shirts, Hawaiian teatimers, and Victorian/Edwardian/1920s blouses with jeans and black pants. I also loved 1930s’ and ‘40s’ floral and novelty print blouses and dresses and 1940s’ and ‘50s’ jackets and coats. And I loved my vintage wedgies. And my hats!

How many shops have you and your husband had?
From 1969 to 1999, there were three brick-and-mortar locations, an eBay shop from 1998 to 2015, and an Etsy shop since 2008. I am now a hobby seller.

What was your first shop called and where was it located?
We named our shop The Spechtrum (our last name is Specht), but eventually changed it to The Spectrum. Our first shop was just outside of downtown Tulsa. It started out on the enclosed front porch of our house and gradually expanded back until the whole house was the shop. We moved into a house up the street, and when the original house was torn down to build an expressway, we moved into a building on a commercial street a few miles away. We sold antique furniture, vintage advertising pieces, other collectibles and antiques, and vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories, linens, textiles, and sewing patterns. The clothing eventually became the main focus, but we have always sold those other things. In fact, when we first opened we also sold our handmade candles and leather goods, which were quite popular, and we did some local wholesale with that merchandise.

I know you’re a reluctant name-dropper, but I seem to recall that you had some celebrities visit your shop.
Tulsa was a mecca for musicians and filmmakers (still is, to a degree), so a lot of people came through town. We were friends with many local musicians, actors and writers—famous people came in often.
We gave them their space and their privacy. I will mention that Steven bought scarves!

What vintage clothes were selling when you began, and how has the fashion you sell evolved?
True antiques, like Victorian and Edwardian, are what we started with, along with 1920s’ and ‘30s’ items. Eventually the 1940s and 1950s became more popular. Then in the 1980s people wanted 1960s’ things, in the 1990s we added 1970s’. That to me was the limit! When I started selling online, I added 1980s’ but I stop there. Since we started in the late 1960s, I guess I never imagined 1980s (and especially 1990s) as vintage!

Who are some of your favorite vintage fashion icons and designers?
I have always loved movie fashions of the 1930s and 40s, particularly William Powell and Myrna Loy in The Thin Man movies. I loved the mod Mary Quant styles, which I wore in high school and early college days. Elsa Schiaparelli, Kansai Yamamoto and Philip Treacy, for their complete originality and eccentricity.

What vintage things do you collect, fashion and otherwise?
Asian clothing, Hawaiian clothing, hats, shoes, purses, vanity items, bracelets and pins; vintage hand items, fashion ephemera, art books, vintage masks, and heads.

Yes, heads.

Visit Marcia’s Etsy Shop The Spectrum