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Retro Fitted

This hair salon receptionist mixes yesterday's classic styles with today's trendy finds.

'I always knew I didn't fit in wearing conservative clothes but couldn't really dress the way I wanted when I was younger," says 26-year-old Kat Zielinski, who grew up in the small suburban town of Reading, Connecticut. But after attending Fordham University in the Bronx and spending her junior year in London, the Allston resident says the experience "opened up my eyes a lot more, especially to the punk scene." Mix in a love of both rockabilly and movies from the 1940s and '50s - Funny Face is her current favorite - and you get a free-spirited wardrobe that definitely turns heads. "People comment how different I look," says Zielinski, who works as a receptionist at the Mitchell John Salon on Broad Street. "It's the financial district. Most people are in suits." So a size zero platinum blonde sporting tattoos and vintage garb tends to get noticed. When asked how she describes her style, Zielinski says she doesn't like labels. "Just say eclectic." Done.

Zielinski's distinctive white-blond hair with black accents is easy to maintain, since she works at a salon. ''I don't know what the real color is anymore, I've been dyeing it for so long,'' she says with a laugh.
Since her waist is tiny, Zielinski had to poke extra holes in this wide belt from H & M, then cut off the extra fabric and refinish the edge.
While Zielinski is a vintage bargain shopper, these retro round-toe pumps from Saks Fifth Avenue in Boston were a Christmas present from her mom. ''I got them about four years ago, before platforms were in,'' she says. ''I thought they were 1950s pinupish.”

(Michele McDonald / Globe Staff)
In keeping with her love of vintage styles, she scored these rhinestone-trimmed eyeglasses at See on Newbury Street. All her many frames are flirty cat's-eye shapes.
Zielinski bought this scoop-back T-shirt at H & M to show off her back art from Redemption Tattoo in Cambridge. The design is taken from a ring that her grandfather gave her grandmother, who shares Zielinski's love of fashion. ''She gave it to me when I graduated from high school.''
''I love full skirts. They're so comfortable,'' says Zielinski, who bought this circle skirt for $5 at Love Saves the Day in New York's East Village. The crinoline underneath is from the 1960s. How can she be sure? Her mom wore it to her junior prom.
Where She Shops

FOR VINTAGE Since Zielinski likes to combine clothes from various fashion eras, she frequents thrift shops like The Garment District (200 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-876-5230) and Urban Renewals (122 Brighton Avenue, Allston, 617-783-8387). "I'm so little, I often find great things to fit me in the kids' departments," she says. FOR TRENDY Admitting she's addicted to celebrity photos in tabloid magazines, Zielinski says she often mixes the latest styles in with her retro pieces. She says H & M (350 Washington Street, Boston, 617-482-7001) is the best place to go "for up-to-date things you don't want to invest in." FOR TATTOOS Zielinski went to Redemption Tattoo (2094 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 617-576-0097) for the striking design on her back, as well as the grouping of "Salvador Dali ants" on her left foot. "I grew up in white middle-class bubble world," she explains. During her summer trips to Spain, Dali's "surreal, confusing art introduced me to a different world."

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