You can’t miss Cassie Trainer. On this random Thursday, she sits in the upstairs flat at 20 Lanes in Mahalls, dressed in a bright, red and white outfit that spans three decades. She’s wearing a 70s white crocheted sun top, a pair of 90s tri-tiered heart earrings, an 80s red striped maxi skirt and a small pin that reads “World’s Greatest Lover”.
“I have fashion ADHD, and that’s one of the reasons I like thrift stores because I love all of it,” says Trainer. “I kind of try to incorporate a bit of everything depending on how I’m feeling that day.
Whether you meet Trainer at a local vintage market or behind the bar at Mahall’s, his style has a knack for transporting you to another era, or rather, a dimension of his own making. For Trainer, finding interesting vintage items has become a skill honed through his 12 years working as a stockist for vintage store Flower Child. However, her love for second-hand styling started much earlier.
“I’ve been saving since I was a teenager,” she says. “And that has always been my passion. I kind of always wanted to have my own store one day and I knew that I had always wanted to be connected to vintage and selling.
Trainer’s bartending gig was shut down when the pandemic hit in March 2020, but the unexpected downtime has also allowed him to finally launch his own curated vintage collection, Vintage whimsical fawn which she sells online, at Flower Child, Mahall’s and through the app, Depop. A mix of whimsical and animated, her wares range from fun graphic tees, lace jumpsuits 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 dance parties and vintage-inspired events at the Lakewood bowling alley. Their next ongoing project – which will be an ’80s horror movie themed party on Halloween – is one of many elaborate retro wonderlands that Trainer is passionate about creating.
“I think that’s also a big part of the nostalgia, as we take parts of each decade and romance them wherever we want because right now during the pandemic, that’s I mean, it’s been stressful as hell,” she says. “And we have people who want to look back on moments that bring them joy.”
Through the ages
Lining up a timeline of Trainer’s wardrobe, one can find styles ranging from 1960s pin-up swimsuits to romantic 1700s corsets. However, she tends to lean towards specific outfit silhouettes – think high-waisted circle skirts, perfectly cut tops, mini dresses, and always an on-trend earring. You’ll find pieces such as a lilac prairie dress in her wardrobe, as well as an 80s sequin mini dress with a glam 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 then,” says Trainer. “And I was looking at all these magazines and falling in love with fashion at that time.”
You might be able to tell from her Betty Boop earrings, but Trainer’s style also draws inspiration from many vibrant female style icons of the past. According to the pages of the memoir, I am with the group by former groupie Pamela Des Barres, to the New York Club Kids of the 80s and 90s who popularized blunt, gender-biased fashion, Trainer has always looked to a wide range of sources for inspiration to assemble her hyper-feminine and fun outfits.
You’ll also see inspirations from pop culture and TV, like her custom embroidery twin peaks shorts or a skirt and top set with a pattern of The Smurfs designed by Trainer herself. “I’m also very into 60s pin-up culture and vintage Playboys, Bettie Page is one of my fashion icons,” says Trainer. “Vintage lingerie and swimwear is one of my favorite things to find.”
Outfits aren’t the only colorful formulas Trainer regularly creates. As a bartender and beverage mixologist at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, she blends her love for vintage and style into a perfect union. More recently, she’s dreamed up a Y2K-themed cocktail menu, Cyber Gurl Summer (only available for a few more weeks!) that features different drinks inspired by Paris Hilton’s halcyon days (think: a cocktail at blue gin with a scoop of baby pink sherbet titled “That’s Hot”) as well as mixes inspired by AOL chat rooms and other early 200s themes.
“My favorite thing is when people choose the menu – they’re usually girls – and they get so excited about all the memories it brings back,” says Trainer. “And it sparks conversation, which is my goal when I’m making cocktails.” While you’ll always see Trainer decked out in different colored outfits behind the bar, her pair of work shoes are always the same: a trusty pair of 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 color matching, she bravely opts for unexpected combinations such as purple and red, and when mixing patterns, it can range from 1960s dragon prints to gingham skorts. bright red inspired by picnics. Unsurprisingly, Trainer’s advice is to think outside the box and always wear what makes you happy. “I think it’s much more interesting and fun to challenge yourself. Like maybe you see something and you’re like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t wear that.’ But I really like it,” Trainer says. “People tell me that all the time. Like, ‘Oh, you can pull this off, but I can’t’. But I carry this right now for no good reason!
A big believer in all things local, you’ll likely find Trainer wearing different accessories and pieces that showcase local designers and vintage curators. One of her favorites that seems to sneak into most outfits is her colorful daisy earrings or color blocked crop top handmade by local artist Haley Himiko Morris. With ’80s-inspired designs, these pieces are Trainer’s favorite color palette. “I love the rainbow, it goes with everything,” she says.