You can’t miss Cassie Trainer. On this random Thursday, she’s sitting in the upstairs apartment of Mahalls’ 20 Lanes dressed in a bright, red and white outfit that spans three decades. She wears a white cropped crochet ‘70s sun top, a pair of three-tiered heart earrings from the ‘90s, an ‘80s red striped maxi skirt and a small pin that reads “World’s Greatest Lover.”
“I have fashion ADD, and that's one of the reasons why I love thrifting because I love all of it,” says Trainer. “I kind of try to incorporate a little bit of everything depending on how I'm feeling that day.
Whether you run into Trainer at a local vintage market or behind the bar at Mahall’s, her style has a way of transporting you to a different time, or rather, a dimension of her own making. For Trainer, finding interesting vintage items has become a skill perfected thanks to her 12 years working as a dealer for the vintage store, Flower Child. However, her love for second hand style started way earlier.
“I've been thrifting since I was a teenager," she says. "And that's always been my passion. I kind of always wanted to have my own store someday and I knew I always wanted to be connected to vintage and selling.”
Trainer’s bartending gig was shut down when the pandemic hit in March of 2020, but the unexpected downtime also allowed her to finally start her own curated vintage collection, Fanciful Fawn Vintage which she sells online, at Flower Child, Mahall’s and through the app, Depop. A mix of whimsical and animated, her items range from fun graphic T-shirts, lacy bodysuits and Victorian revival blouses, which she finds at antique shows and estate sales.
Not only that, but Trainer has also teamed up with local artist Haley Himiko Hudson Morris to create vintage-inspired dance parties and events at the Lakewood bowling alley. Their next project in the works — which will be an ‘80s horror movie theme night on Halloween — is one of the many elaborate retro wonderlands Trainer is passionate about creating.
“I think it's also a huge part of nostalgia, like we are taking parts of each decade and romanticizing them to where we want because right now during the pandemic, it's I mean, it's been stressful as hell,” she says. “And we have people wanting to look back on times that bring them joy."
Through The Eras
When lining up a timeline to Trainer’s wardrobe, one can find styles from the pin-up bathing suits of the 1960s to romantic corsets of the 1700s. However, she tends to gravitate towards specific outfit silhouettes — think high waisted circle skirts, perfectly-cropped tops, micro mini dresses and always a statement earring. You’ll find pieces such as a lilac prairie dress in her wardrobe, as well as an ‘80s sequin mini dress with a glamorous leopard print.
Right now, she’s looking to romanticize her teenage years: ‘90s jelly sandals and all. “I'm really driven right now by 90s fashion, because I was a kid during that time,” says Trainer. "And I was looking at all of these magazines and just falling in love with fashion at that time.”
You might be able to tell from her Betty Boop earrings, but Trainer’s style also pulls from many vibrant female style icons of the past. From the pages of the memoir, I’m With The Band by former groupie Pamela Des Barres, to the New York Club Kids of the ‘80s and ‘90s who popularized outspoken, gender-bending fashion, Trainer has always turned to a wide range of sources for her inspiration to put together her hyper-feminine and fun outfits.
You'll see inspirations from pop-culture and TV too, such as her custom embroidered Twin Peaks shorts or a skirt and top set featuring a pattern of The Smurfs designed by Trainer herself. “I'm also really driven by pinup culture from the 60s and vintage Playboys, Bettie Page is one of my fashion icons,” Trainer says. “Vintage lingerie and swimsuits are one of my favorite things to find.”
Outfits aren’t the only colorful formulas Trainer creates on a regular basis. As a bartender and drink mixologist at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, she blends her love for vintage and style in a perfect union. Most recently, she dreamed up a Y2K-themed cocktail menu, Cyber Gurl Summer (Only available for a few more weeks!) which features different drinks inspired by the heydays of Paris Hilton (think: a blue gin cocktail with a scoop of baby pink sorbet called “That’s Hot”) as well as mixtures inspired by AOL messaging boards and other early '200s themes.
“My favorite thing is when people pick up the menu — it’s usually girls — and they get so excited with all the memories it brings back,” Trainer says. “And it sparks conversation, which is my goal when making cocktails.” While you'll always see Trainer decked out in different colored outfits behind the bar, her go-to pair of shoes for work is always the same: a pair of trusty vegan leather Doc Marten boots.
If you need motivation to wear that bold pattern or those colorful wide-leg pants, Trainer will give you the pep talk you need. When it comes to matching colors, she bravely goes for unexpected combinations such as purple and red, and when she mixes patterns, it can range from 1960s prints of dragons to bright red, picnic-inspired gingham skorts. Unsurprisingly, Trainer's advice is to look outside the box and always wear what makes you happy. “I think it's way more interesting and fun to kind of challenge yourself. Like maybe you see something and you're like, ‘Oh, I wouldn't wear that.’ But I really like it,” says Trainer. “People say that to me all the time. Like, ‘Oh, you can pull that off, but not me’. But I’m wearing this right now for no good reason!”
A big supporter for all things local, you’ll likely find Trainer sporting different accessories and pieces that showcase local designers and vintage curators. One of her favorites that seem to sneak their way into most outfits is her colorful daisy earrings or color blocked crop top handmade by local artist Haley Himiko Morris. Along with the '80s inspired designs, these pieces are Trainer's favorite color palette. “I just love rainbow, it goes with everything,” she says.