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The amazing story of Violet – the vintage, dancing and chocolate addict

Imagine fight. Imagine strength. Imagine empowerment.

Add “Sitting pretty for chicks in chairs” to all that.

Sitting Pretty reveals Valentine’s personal path from heartache to happiness. A paraplegic following an accident in 1999, Valentine opens up about how she tackled everything in her new chapter, from making the bed to making love.

Let us introduce to you Violet Maude Beth Atkinson, the chocolate, dancing and vintage lover. Her amazing life story and style will leave you breathless, we are so honored she agreed to share it with all of us.

I was one of two people in an accident 20 years ago, and only one survived. I acquired a spinal cord injury, and am unable to feel or move my body from my ribs down. Within twelve months of this happening, I buried my dad and brother (my mum passed away when I was 11 years old)


Like most of you, I have been going to charity shops since I was a little girl – they were my Wonderland and I was Alice!  As a kid, I didn’t think about where these second-hand clothes came from, if they were cheap/ expensive or what it said about our family’s socio-economic status.  As I grew into a teen, so did my understanding and comprehension about charity stores, the clothes that were unwanted & donated and the assumptions made about people who shopped at them.   Yet, for me, charity stores were always about fun, finding gemstones, having my own individual style and spending my money at a store that helps & supports others that need help!

These days, shopping at a charity store or buying ‘nothing new’ is about so much more!  It is about acknowledging all the data & evidence that we have around damage, landfill, pollution & wasting resources. It is recognizing that every time we make a purchase, we are either doing good or doing harm, and accepting the part that we play.  And it is about deciding to make better choices, so that we have a better world!

I had just finished training as an Image Consultant (Stylist) in the USA, flown home, designed my very own program (2006) and begun taking clients when it took me by surprise, the enormous sense of disillusionment that was growing inside of me with the fashion industry.  Since acquiring a spinal cord injury in 1999, I am aware that designers rarely take ‘real’ women (and their bodies) into consideration when they are inspired to design.  And as I stood there waiting for a client to try on an outfit, I looked around the store noticing rack after rack after rack, grasping the magnitude of our consumption.  I recognised that a percentage of these clothes would not be bought, and of the ones that were purchased, only a small percentage would be worn outside of the bedroom. Thirteen years ago, we didn’t have the statistics that we now have about production & consumption and how they threaten our future, yet I knew then that I didn’t want to personally feed this consumption beast!

“Sustainability” might be a new(ish) term and it might mean different things for different people, but if you break it down to its bare bones – living ‘sustainably’ is simply about being gentle and respectful to our world & its resources

My husband taught me that “big things happen when you chip away, day after day’!  Sometimes it can be challenging to even know where to begin because we know the two big guns about incorporating change are – time & effort.  So, think about what you could incorporate into your daily/weekly routine that would help our world and talk it over with your family, to see if that is a family goal.  The easier the ‘action’ is and the quicker it is, means that it will just become a part of your routine.  It might be walking the kids to school and leaving the car at home a couple times a week.  It could be re-using your old face cloths as cleaning rags, so that you can throw in the wash instead of the trash.  It is might be planning gifts so that you have time to source your mum/dad’s favourite old comics or vinyl that they relished as a kid.  Perhaps you might gift your friend a soap-making workshop for her birthday and go along together?  Or it could be buying your woman an old Alannah Hill cardigan.  It all begins with making better choices.

1960s designer wedding dress

And this is where buying Old and Vintage Dazzles!!!

Let’s just get the boring stuff out of the way straight up – Buying Old/Vintage is so good for our planet – it could be considered the Kale of the fashion industry.  Buying Old/Vintage does not utilise additional water/land resources, it does not increase gas emissions, it does not add to our landfill, it puts dollars into the pockets of families (not corporations) and these garments can perhaps teach us a thing or two about valuing what is, and what has been.

Marilyn Monroe Pin-up Dress

When we buy new clothes, there are a thousand images/photos of how you are supposed to wear the look, what you are supposed to look like in it and what kind of person wears this garment  – all the time brainwashing and dictating to you, the consumer.  Yet, with Vintage all the rules have well and truly been thrown out the window (with the bath water).  Coz, that’s an oldie but a goodie, yet forever true.

These are super exciting times to be in right now, because the only rules that exist are the ones, we give ourselves.  You know what I’m talking about – “Pink and green should never be seen” – Well, not anymore.  “I can’t wear all my favourite necklaces at the same time” – try telling that to Iris Apfel.  You can wear an 80’s skirt with country boots and a plaid blouse, and you could wear a 70’s yellow maxi dress with a blue leather jacket and flats and you can wear those old safari jackets to work, if it tickles your fancy.

These days, the sky is the limit and getting dressed should be Fun (with a Capital F!)  Going to work and just everyday life, day in, day out, every week, month after month can become a bit of a blur, so why not add a bit of dazzle by trying out some Vintage/Old.  Shop from your heart, forget any rules, buy something that makes you smile and together we will be doing something good for ourselves and our planet.

Remember, it is the little things that add up.  Better Choices – Better World!


Giving a second life to garments that were made 25 – 45 years ago makes me incredibly humble, as these items have survived decades and are a piece of living history, that would have wonderful back stories if only they could talk.  Saving these items from landfill and creating a circular economy are two key factors for doing what I do, but I also find it incredibly difficult to physically walk past a gorgeous old dress!

Since 2014 we have also been actively changing the way we live so that we are helping, not harming our world.  Through my little shop, my goal is to help others see Vintage/Old items for the treasures they are, smash all rules & preconceptions about wearing old clothing, all the while reshaping how consumers shop, one dress at a time!

My vintage/old garments can be found on Sell My Clothes as Violet.Maude store.


Thank you beautiful Violet!

Until next time,

With love,

‘Style has no price tags’

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