Meet Katie from the faux lingerie and hosiery store, What Katie Did.
What Katie Did
3420 W Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank CA 91505
Tell us about your store and why you decided to open “What Katie Did.”
I've had a love of 1950s style fashion since my mid teens. As my collection grew I became more interested in the little aspects like seamed stockings and bullet bras.
I was introduced to the world of vintage lingerie by working for a fetish boutique in London. In the mid 1990s fetish stores were the only place you could find proper steel boned corsets and fully fashioned nylons. The girls I worked with often wore 1950s longline bras and girdles as daywear and that's really where the idea behind What Katie Did really began.
Even being a pretty standard size I found it difficult to find vintage lingerie in my size and when I did, I often didn't want to wear the more beautiful pieces as they were just too delicate. In 1999 I decided to start What Katie Did, with just $150, focusing on nylons and garter belts. Over the years I reinvested all the money I made gradually adding more designs when I could afford to.
After nearly a decade online I opened a boutique in London's Portobello Road (famous for it's antiques) before opening a second store in Los Angeles in 2011.
What’s the story behind the name.
The name What Katie Did is inspired by the book 'What Katy Did' by Susan Coolidge about a 12 year old girl who lived in Ohio in the 1860s. In one of my previous jobs I was asked to come up with the name for a new boutique and was told not to name it after any of the products as then I would be tied to whatever we started selling. This was one of the most valuable pieces of advice as when I started I just sold stockings. Several companies started online around that time including stockingirl, stockingshq and silkstockings and had I used the word stockings would have found it difficult to move on to other products.
How has it been having stores on opposite sides of the world.
It's certainly something that would not have been possible before the internet. Being online allowed us to build up a customer base in LA before opening a store here. The internet also made it affordable. I could research properties and legal information easily and quickly with no big investments. Having said that mistakes were made. For the first 5 years in LA we were based on Melrose which turned out to be just to corporate for our little family run business. It's great to be on Magnolia now, surrounded by like-minded independents.
What are 5 things every girl needs to complete a 1950s look.
Red lipstick, a flick of black eyeliner, seamed stockings, confidence and a smile. One of the great things about 1950s fashion is that it flatters a wide range of body shapes and doesn't need to cost a lot of money. It's still possible to pick up real 1950s dresses affordably at fleamarkets like the Rose Bowl and Long Beach although this does mean investing time and getting up early!
What are your 3 best selling items
Our Maitresse Bullet Bra was launched in 2003 and is still one of our most popular items. Vintage dresses were made to fit around the pointed bust shape of the 1950s so a bullet bra really does make all the difference for an authentic silhouette. This year we've redesigned our Bullet Bra to give a more flattering shape to larger busts in particular. We now make it up to a 40F/DDDD! Our Retro Contrast Seamed Stockings with a black seam are also incredibly popular, as is our Maitresse 6 strap garter belt. Why 6 straps? The extra 2 straps really do help keep your seams straight.