Spring Check In With Vintage Style Expert Alysha Cassis-Shaw

Vintage Prima DarlingSpring is coming but the lingering cold and dreary weather in New York has not offered much motivation to pull a functioning and fabulous spring wardrobe together. At times like this it’s best to seek outside inspiration, coming at it from a totally different angle and coast. Time to check in with our vintage style expert Alysha Cassis-Shaw. We last checked in with Alysha in January but now she is fully into spring for Neutral Ground.

If you missed the first article a brief recap, Alysha is the founder of San Francisco based Neutral Ground, a highly curated vintage site and store focused on quality pieces in a neutral color palette. The general feeling is feminine and romantic with a timeless quality to the design.

Vintage Style Prima Darling
This photo by Xiomara Rosa-Tedla @xiomart, flocked polka dot dress, top photo by Tabanitha McDaniel, blush lace dress

I lately developed a new-found appreciation for vintage style. In this age of lack of exclusivity from fast fashion on up to the designer level, where the same product is sold in boutiques around the world, vintage offers unique pieces at a price. My problem with vintage though has been the hunt. Even living in New York where there are plenty of great vintage stores, I find it difficult to sift through jam-packed racks with no real order to the merchandise. Enter Alysha and Neutral Ground; she does the digging so you don’t have to. Alysha has great personal style, as you can see in the photos, and a discerning eye. I make it a habit to check in on her site regularly and already scored a fabulous pin tucked white cotton top for me, and poncho for a client.

Vintage Style Prima Darling

Here’s our recent conversation:

Jolain Muller I thought it would be fun if we could touch base in the beginning of the seasons, a check in with Alysha sort of thing. What looks good to you for spring?

Alysha Cassis-Shaw I’ve been doing lots of white, ivory and lots of lace, florals, and very feminine pieces. Also lots of things that are sheer, light, flowy and romantic. I’ve been picking up pieces that are from the forties, just by luck, and are still in really good condition.

JM Things were so beautifully made at that time.

ACS Yes, and they have all the little snaps and rolled hems, really pretty delicate kind of things.

JM I’ll have to really keep on top of your site.

ACS Something else I’ve added is to bring in a little bit of blush or a fleshy kind of pink. I’ve come across quite a few things that fit the mood of neutral ground.

JM Well blush is a neutral.

ACS Yes, so not going full on to millennial pink, just blushes. I’m thinking of a dress that I took a picture of just yesterday that will go on the site, it’s full length, in a heavy weight charmeuse, like a caftan dress, with a belt and bell sleeve and it has this really wonderful chrysanthemum print on it.

Vintage Style Prima Darling
Photo Xiomara Rosa-Tedla @xiomart  chysanthemum print dress

JM What’s happening in San Francisco, are you noticing any trends that you can apply?

ASC I’m meeting more people that are interested in being more dressed than usual. This place has really shifted a lot; every time I’m out I meet new people who have just moved from the east coast or the Midwest. I’m definitely meeting a lot more women, or men even, who are really interested in being dressier. So tapping into a clientele that’s looking for more elevated pieces. The trend is, slowly but surely, the bay area is shedding that hippie crunchy vibe that we’ve been known for. Some of this I don’t one hundred percent love because it is changing the fiber and fabric of who the people are, but at the same time I’ve always been a little bothered by going out and seeing people who were, in my mind, too casually dressed for the occasion. Slowly but surely I think people are moving towards the same expectations I have or get it a little bit more, and a lot of young people, again in tech, who are trying to sort of make their mark in their career.

JM Sounds like the tech industry is growing up.

Vintage Style Prima Darling
Silk taffeta dress

ACS I’m meeting people who may still work in tech but they work in marketing and advertising. A lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of people who are networking and trying to sell their brand or figure out what their brand is and create a persona or mystique and those are the people that are coming to me and saying, help me figure this thing out.

JM Well you have a fantastic eye, no wonder people are going to you. You also have a knack for choosing timeless pieces that don’t scream one period or another.

ACS That’s something that I try to do; I want people to have something that can last.

Vintage Style Prima Darling
Grey Silk Chiffon Dress

JM Do you look at the runway and decipher trends?

ACS I definitely look at them, and think that’s really amazing, but Neutral Ground is a specific thing. I like it to be lady like, it’s romantic, it’s elevated, and I’ll pick out the trends that kind of work with my aesthetic. One thing that I saw a lot of on the runways were puffy sleeves and a stronger shoulder. For whatever reason I’ve been finding and gravitating toward that and I’m not sure if it’s the runway or its just happenstance.

 JM For my San Francisco readers do you have any events coming up?

ACS  I’ll be showing at the Bouquet Market on Saturday, April 14th on Berkley’s 4th Street

and on Saturday, April 28th at 6-9pm the Concept 47 SF 1st anniversary party