Irish songstress Imelda May is known for both her retro rockabilly musical stylings -- she counts legends like Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent among her influences -- and her 1950s pinup girl looks to match. In honor of her recently released album Mayhem, we spoke to May about the merits of '50s fashion, her favorite vintage trove and how she gets her bold red pucker.
What are three words that describe your sense of style?
Colorful. Rockin'. Womanly.
If you had to dress from only one decade, what would it be?
The '50s. They were good at accentuating women's curves instead of hiding them. They were using construction within the dresses to do good things. Roland Mouret does that now. They did a lot to make the best of what you have, instead of everyone looking very narrow and the same.
What's one trend you wish would die?
Stick-thin people who don't eat and don't have fun. I don't get it.
Have you ever worn anything you regret?
Oh, all the time. I always had a strange sense of fashion. My mother was a dressmaker. She'd let me design my own dresses, and she'd make them, which could be lovely but can also be a big no-no when you're six or 12. So on my communion, I dressed like Little Bo Peep. I had a little white gown and this big bonnet. I've made a lot of mistakes, but I blame my mother for that one.
What was your first designer purchase?
I don't really go for designer stuff. If I liked something I would, but I just buy what I like as opposed to going for a brand.
What item do you wear every day?
Lipstick. I love my red lipstick. M.A.C Ruby Woo is my favorite -- it stays on forever.
What's your rule to dress by?
Clash if you want -- whatever you feel like.
Who's your style icon?
I love all the old movies -- I love looking at the beautiful outfits. Grace Kelly in Rear Window --anything by Edith Head. She was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield. Marilyn Monroe was sexy, but classy all at the same time.
What's the most stylish city to tour in?
New York, London, Dublin, Paris...all the ones you'd expect. I love New York and London because everything goes.
If you could only shop in one store for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Any vintage store. There's a great place in London called Beyond Retro. It's like Aladdin's cave. You can just root and root and find fantastic stuff.