When you shop vintage, instead of trying to replicate an exact trend, you are typically falling in love with a piece because it speaks to you personally. The world of vintage fashion is exciting because it is not restricted to the trends of the current moment, but instead offers up the history of fashion in a selection of pre-loved garments. By default, vintage collectors are often your most stylish friends because they have been able to cherry-pick their favorite items over decades versus only those popular today. The same logic applies to Object Limited founder Anna Gray—her killer style is evident in her covetable vintage collection.
Despite her vintage niche, Gray knows the entire fashion industry well. She spent 11 years working in what many call “fashion proper,” switching up her titles from PR to stylist, model to editor, writer to photographer before she founded Object Limited. “Though my job titles were varied in their descriptions, the end goal was always to sell more clothes,” Gray explains. “I burned out, questioning why we were all stuck in a bummer cycle of constant production.”
The Object Limited app, self-described as being “like shopping your cool aunt’s closet,” boasts the most amazing vintage finds. It is “an online and IRL inclusive community of good-taste, conscientious consumers.” Not to mention, Gray herself is a haven for styling inspiration. In a series called How to Wear Stuff, she walks you through unique yet classic ways to pair your vintage finds. But be warned, her Instagram is a rabbit hole of innovative ensembles and you may not come out for hours.
When did you first fall in love with fashion?
“I’ve always loved adornment. My parents had me when they were very young, so I was the only kid in their friend group for years. Their cool, creative adult friends would come over, and I would force them to play dress-up with me. Then my brother, Eli, was born, and he became my tiny clothes horse. Labyrinth was my favorite movie (still is?), and I was totally that older sister obsessed with astrally projecting myself into whimsical fairy-tale worlds through clothes and imagination.”
How would you describe your personal style?
“I get this a lot and never know how to answer. Comfortable? Aiming-for-elegant, perhaps? I get dressed depending on the weather and how far I’ll be walking that day.”
Do you have a uniform?
“The way I feel like presenting my body to the world changes every day. Sometimes it’s very femme with ruffles, sometimes I dress like JFK, sometimes I look like a camp counselor. Today I am quite literally dressed like Ace Ventura, Pet Detective so…make of that what you will. I do have a penchant for loud pants. That’s a recurring theme.”
What do you let yourself splurge on?
“I’ll pay more for a vintage designer piece. I just bought a pony-hair ’90s Celine bag from the Michael Kors era that is covered in logos. I love her a lot. It wasn’t a lot of money ($150), but more than I usually spend because I thrift/secondhand buy most of my clothes.”
What has been your favorite purchase of all time?
“This one is hard! I live with Brie Welch (a stylist), so we sometimes buy things together that we share. Recently, we found this amazing pair of Dolce & Gabbana pants made of different-colored strips of leather and ribbon. Hard to explain, but very, very amazing. Very Mick Jagger. But that’s just the most recent excellent thing. I also love my Marimekko-print pants that my friend Maggie found on Etsy. And a pair of clear shoes with tortoiseshell heels from Object Limited.”
How does your career as a vintage collector influence your personal style?
“I am less interested in trends than when I was working in the aforementioned “fashion proper.” Having the new great trending thing isn’t important now that I have a deeper understanding of how cyclical it all is. I buy and wear items that fit, are made of nice materials, and say something special. I also save a lot of money by not buying contemporary clothing that falls apart or loses my interest in a season or two.”
How do you differentiate between curating Object Limited and shopping for yourself?
“Object Limited curates itself! All of our vendors have their own aesthetic and style that comes through in their finds, their styling, and their photography. It’s very cool! The pieces I sell on Object Limited are either items that I love but am ready to give a new life to in the hands of someone else, or pieces that aren’t quite my size but I don’t want to tailor. Essentially, I buy what I like and put it back in the ecosystem.”
What are your favorite retailers for vintage?
“Object Limited! (I have to.)”
Would you rather shop for vintage online, or in person?
“Good Q. I’m an avid, constant browser of all of the sites: Object Limited, DePop, Etsy, The Real Real, Vestiaire Collective… I like looking to look. Back when we could travel, I would make sure to hit flea markets, thrift stores in all of my destinations and regularly made trips to far-flung Goodwills and Salvation Armies. But now we can’t do that, so I’m exclusively online browsing. There’s no replacement for in-person vintage shopping, though. The tactile experience is paramount!”
What would your closet be full of if money were no object?
“My closet is actually very perfect right now! I’ve been collecting for so long and would like to say, as a 31-year-old, that I pretty much have my style figured out. (Maybe that will change in five years, who knows.) I could definitely spend extra cash on organizational techniques.”
Do you have a mix of vintage and new in your closet? How do you balance the two?
“Definitely a mix of the two. I try not to buy anything new (except socks, underwear!), but I receive kind gifts from nice brands that I enjoy supporting via social media. People often ask ‘How do you make vintage look modern?’ And my suggestion is to mix eras so as not to look too costumed. Mixing and matching colors is also a shortcut to making outfits look more cohesive even if the pants are ’80s and the top is Y2K.”
Dress up, or dress down?
Who are your favorite style icons?
“Just went on a deep-dive search of ‘Barbara Hepworth in studio’ that resulted in some satisfying stylish-but-utilitarian looks. Lot of hair scarves and chunky necklaces with a chore jacket. Deeda Blair! Amazing style, amazing brain. I gravitate towards humans that enjoy stylish expression, but it comes off as an afterthought. I just made that up, but it sounds right.”
What does your current WFH wardrobe look like?
“I guess I am employing the elasticated waists in my closet way more. Knit pants with men’s shirts. I haven’t worn heels in a while. When it was cooler, I was still wearing jeans to retain some sense of normalcy. Or because I’m a masochist.”
Who are your favorite small fashion brands of the moment? What designers are your favorite to find vintage?
“For vintage: Singulier MTL, O La Roche, Maj Kiosk, Vaux Vintage, Seven Wonders, Narro Vintage, Face with a View Fashion, Shop Myrgle, Chambers Vintage, Habitual Vintage, M. Melo Shop, Oasis Mini Mart, Hall Of Wonders, Paso Collection, Chrome Jelly, Shop Suki.
“I leave most of the designer hunting to the true experts, but I do love finding old Galliano, JPG, Celine, Anne Klein, Ocean Pacific for summertime, Pucci, Ralph Lauren, Escada. There’s also a brand called Anna Gray, no joke, that friends stumble upon from time to time and send me photos of.”
If you could only keep three pieces in your closet, what would they be?
“This one is hard! I would keep my Marimekko pants, my purple Catherine Malandrino leather duster, and my vintage Missoni cat-eye sunglasses. Can I have one more? I’d like to add my Miu Miu two-tone slides.”
What era of fashion is your favorite, and why?
“Just before the French Revolution because it was so ridiculous and luxe. Clothing is an indicator of style, of status, of exclusion or inclusion depending on who is wearing it. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were all “Fuck it, we don’t care about poor people! Where are my new silk brocade slippers?” and then were executed for ignoring the people! And maybe we are seeing something similar in the world now? With clothes specifically and the collapse of the fashion industry as we know it. I could probably write an essay about this, but I feel like this interview is already too long.”
Jean Paul Gaultier
Trench Style Maxi Dress$495Buy
90s/Y2K Tie Up Metallic Blouse$25Buy
Polo Ralph Lauren
Vintage Hand Knit Cable Knit Sweater$128Buy
Virgin Wool Straight Leg Pants$95Buy
Vintage Knit Cardigan Sweater$91Buy
Mid-century Modern Vintage Desk$2,894Buy