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Playing Dress-Up: Meet Vintage Couple Annika & Carl

Annika White, 24, and Carl Knight, 25, connected over a shared sense of style and love for vintage clothing. Now their favorite hobby is playing dress-up and creating photoshoots.
Playing Dress-Up: Meet Vintage Couple Annika & Carl

“We met one early fall night in 2015 at a grimy basement DIY show at a place called Bohemian Grove (which sadly no longer exists) in Bushwick, NYC. I, Annika, saw Carl in an amazing quilted satin jacket – so, naturally, I awkwardly approached him and asked if I could take photos of him sometime. Not only did he say yes (!) but he also shared that he was a cinematographer (a taker of moving images – something in common). We immediately connected and two days later I was at his apartment dressing him in my favorite dresses and doing his makeup for our first ever photoshoot.

Sharing the same style was one of the first things we connected on. Playing dress-up, styling matching outfits, and swapping clothes are some of our favorite activities to do together.”

70s suit from Etsy & 70s prairie dress from Prototype Vintage
70s suit from Etsy & 70s prairie dress from Prototype Vintage

Carl: “I’m from a conservative suburban town, Friendswood TX, where everyone dresses exactly the same. In high school I started experimenting with trying out different styles and vintage clothing is generally the most accessible, affordable, and fun.”

Annika: “I started thrifting and shopping for vintage when I was around 15 as a way to express myself through my clothes. I was really quiet in high school and felt comfortable communicating through the colors, patterns, and textures of my outfits. I’m originally from northern California and was always taking weekend trips in high school to San Francisco to peruse all the vintage stores there as well as shopping at the thrift stores in my hometown Santa Rosa with friends after school.”

70s suits from Depop
70s suits from Depop

Annika: “The 70s are definitely my overall favorite era of vintage and inspiration – in the photo above I’m wearing an original Sonny & Cher two-piece set from the 1970s – a gem of a find from Gypsy Nation Vintage.

The 30s are a close second as I love the romantic nature of the sheer slip dresses (and those bias cuts) and just feel very “me” in them. Recently, I’ve been getting into more 90s stuff - matching sets, mini skirts, knee-high boots, etc. I also have a forever fondness for 60s mod stuff.”

Paloma Wool & 70s yellow Levi's pants (Carl)
Gem Story image
Gem Story image
Paloma Wool & 70s yellow Levi's pants (Carl)

Carl: “I’m open to all decades of style but generally find that I’m most attracted to clothing from the 70s. Many modern designers are now drawing inspo from the 70s so it’s interesting to be able to seamlessly mix pieces from today and yesterday. Since falling in love with West Texas a few years ago, I’ve been embracing my Texan roots by mixing some western clothing into my wardrobe. Wearing western clothing helps me feel connected to my past. It’s a part of who I am. While living so far away in NYC, nothing else can quite give me this same feeling of connection and identity.”

Clothes: Gypsy Nation Vintage
Clothes: Gypsy Nation Vintage

“We often use clothing to feel more connected to the location we’re visiting. Styling lends the endless opportunity to match specific items to the location in terms of color, tone, feel, and texture. The photo is often a natural process that is cultivated from the feelings we have – both independent and shared – while traveling or even just sitting at home. It’s also kind of spontaneous in the way that we don’t know exactly what we will capture, but it all comes together – one way or another – in the moments of making.”

Shrimps coat (Annika) & London Fog trench coat (Carl)
Shrimps coat (Annika) & London Fog trench coat (Carl)

Carl: “My style can change every day depending on how I’m feeling. I use clothing to reflect my mood and sometimes it can even brighten my day. Somedays I want to be a minimal NY’er and wear all black and somedays I want to dress like a 70s glam rock star. To me, clothing should be fun. It’s not always so serious and perfect. I don’t care about brands or trends all that much, I just want to be me and fashion helps me express who I am.”

Annika: “My style philosophy is to wear whatever you want. To wear what makes you happy, not anyone else. I learned that when I was around 14 and I feel like that realization was life-changing for me. I didn’t have a ton of friends at the time, so I thought - what the heck - I’m going to be the only freshman at my high school wearing a giant faux fur coat and a mini skirt with patterned tights. That was when I learned the power of communicating through fashion and the importance of being yourself and dressing for yourself. Not for others. And I often find that when I wear things that make me feel happy that others feel happy too.”

70s prairie dresses from Prototype Vintage and Gypsy Nation Vintage
70s prairie dresses from Prototype Vintage and Gypsy Nation Vintage

Annika: “I get my style inspiration all over! The places, people, and things that I see and have seen. Films, music, and other forms of art. I’ve loved the style of the 60s and 70s since I was a teenager and draw a lot of influence from old ads and campaigns from those eras. Recently I’ve been into the styles of 90s campaigns. My style is heavily influenced by the color – always has been – so I’m often photographing color palettes I enjoy when out, which I feel naturally inspires what I wear. That may be a key reason why Carl and I often tend to match the places that we go.”

Carl: “I get inspired when I find a new piece of clothing that I previously never thought of wearing. Early on, a lot of my garments were gifted from friends. And then I would embrace this random new piece and adapt it into my style. I often have little to no clue what I’m looking for when going out to shop. I enjoy surprising myself and leaving a shop with an outfit that I never would have thought of to be a possibility.”

Follow Annika and Carl on Instagram