conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


Beauty globetrotters
Three Milwaukeeans add fashion and flair to the worldwide beauty scene


February 2011

Tina Poppy: Vintage Vixen

Some of fashion and beauty’s brightest trendsetters travel the world to work with celebrities, put their own stamp on style and produce star-studded events. And when they come home, you’ll find them right here in our own back yard.

Milwaukeeans aren’t particularly trendy, according to Tina Poppy, worldwide fashion blogger and owner of, a vintage clothing Web site. And that’s a good thing.

"To me, one of the most amazing things about Milwaukee is there’s this amazing sense of personal style, where people will go to thrift stores and find this bizarre piece of clothing and make it their own," she says. "In other cities, you can definitely tell what the trends are. In Milwaukee, people are more interested in doing their own thing."

Poppy’s fascination with personal style was evident even in high school, when she haunted thrift stores to create a wardrobe to express her own creative spirit.

After graduation, Poppy left her home in Milwaukee for Los Angeles, and moved around a bit before deciding that this city is where she really wants to be.

Today, she shops the world to find elegant, vintage fashions and accessories for Violetville. She loves to find a ’50s designer coat at an estate sale somewhere in Scandanavia, and give it new life by selling it to a customer in Mongolia, she says.

"Mad Men," the hit AMC television series about the style-driven New York advertising world of the 1960s, has been the latest phenomenon to make fashionistas flock to Poppy’s retro collection.

"The fabric and quality of construction (of the era) is insurmountable," Poppy says. "Dresses were meant to fit the human body. Nowadays, you see things that are meant to fit on a hanger."

The hourglass dresses of the midcentury, however, were designed to tastefully show off curves and encourage women to posture themselves with confidence, she notes.

Poppy is the somewhat reluctant model for the clothing on her site. Visitors can see how the clothing fits an actual person vs. the mannequins that originally featured the fashions.

Scott Yance: Keeping up Apprearances

Occasionally, Poppy welcomes friends into her home — furnished with quirky estate sale furniture and conversation-piece accents ­— and pulls out racks of clothing to play with.

"I love to style people in coats, dresses and things to wear to work," she says.

Although vintage is Poppy’s signature style, she is also interested in unique, handcrafted modern pieces. She recently returned from a trip to Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Iceland to look for contemporary items created by independent designers. Whether a customer prefers vintage, contemporary or a combination of the two, the point is to make getting dressed her own unique art form.

Poppy lives by that credo, even when indulging in her latest obsession, biking.

"The other day I was in this ridiculous snowsuit from the ’70s and biking through the snow," she says. "And I heard three people say ‘That’s awesome.’ If I can make people smile and think about how their day is going and what they can do to make their lives better, then mission accomplished."






Florida Perry Smith: The Main Event




This story ran in the February 2011 issue of: