Fashion Forward: Jamie Elizabeth Hudrlik of Dirty Birdies Vintage

Presented by Revival

I’m quiet. But also a little quirky. I come out of my shell if I get comfortable, for sure. I guess I’m very reserved, but once I trust someone or get this sort of feeling, then I kinda get bubbly. I was born in a small town — Bellevue, Iowa — but I grew up here in Iowa City. I wanted to study art and moved to New York City and lived there for a while and then moved to Chicago. I came back here because I was interested in organic farming.

Jamie Elizabeth Hudrlik of Dirty Birdies Vintage in her home studio. — photo by Jason Smith
Hudrlik stands among the racks of clothes from her online vintage resale shop. — photo by Jason Smith

I love to collect; I’ve always loved to collect vintage stuff, especially living in Chicago. It wasn’t so popular 10 or 12 years ago so I could find really amazing dresses and so I collected them and I would hang them all around my house. I sell vintage clothing through Etsy. My sister and I own a shop, Dirty Birdies Vintage. We were lucky enough to make it possible through eBay at first, and we sold vintage clothing just as a hobby. We transitioned to Etsy and have been selling for almost 10 years now.

Childhood photos courtesy of Jamie Elizabeth Hudrlik

My mom dressed me definitely through elementary school. Cute little skirts; very artsy I would say. I remember this purple midi skirt. I bet it was cotton. It was dark purple and it had the alphabet all over it; it was amazing. I mean, if I had that skirt today, I would wear it. When I got into Southeast Junior High, I totally went through phases like I’m sure a lot of people do. I went through this sporty phase where I wore Umbro. I went through the Guess and Esprit phase. In the ’90s, I did the grunge phase; all these oversized flannel shirts and huge corduroy pants. I used to wear those shroom necklaces and hemp bracelets.

Hudrlik keeps a stash of art and vintage fashion books in her painting studio to draw on for inspiration. — photo by Jason Smith

I think I’m a big color freak because I’m a painter. I just love color. I have this beautiful cardigan that wasn’t even for sale. I got it in Des Moines at this cool thrift store where they sell yarn. There was this really, really chunky knit red cardigan and it was just so yummy. It didn’t have a price tag on it. I asked, “How much is this?” thinking in my head, “I don’t like to buy new things so much. I will pay maybe $65 dollars for it.” At first she said, “It’s not for sale, but I can call someone.” It was just to show people that they can knit this way; it was a showcase thing. I was thinking in my head, “If you had these for sale, people would buy them. They’re amazing!”

Favorite items from Hudrlik’s personal closet, including the beloved yummy red cardigan. — photo by Frankie Schneckloth

I think my style is going to forever change especially since I work in fashion. We buy things for people that are on trend. At first usually we’re like, “Why do people like this? Let’s buy it though, it’s popular.” And the more you buy it, the more you see it, the more it grows on you and you’re like, “I love this.” I think for me I will continuously change, but I don’t think it will be drastic. I don’t know if I’m a minimalist — I mean, maybe. I call it basics, but with just your little pops of specialty things. Signature items that make you who you are and makes you stand out a little bit. I like to stand out but I don’t like to be the center of attention. I like to have one thing that I wear that I just love that’s unique over basically simple clothing.

Hudrlik takes an easy approach to dressing mixing hardworking basics with a pop of color or flair. — photo by Jason Smith

I think I would dress my fashion up even more so if I lived in a bigger city. I don’t like to feel like I’m trying too hard. People are wearing cool things, but for me, I feel like I need to be in a bigger city to blend in more to then be able to stand out a little bit more. Here you would really be the center. When I lived in Chicago, I had different style. I mean, I was younger, but I mean, even now, if I moved back to a city, I would probably be more adventurous with my fashion.

I eat tacos all the time. I’ve already had tacos today. I eat tacos because they’re super easy. I just throw tons of vegetables in there. And scoop ‘em up with a corn tortilla, put salsa on it and call it a day.

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