Spotlight on Starling Irving ’13

Every year, new third formers come to Groton, each haunted with a slight reminiscence of their middle school fashion style. By fourth form, most conform to the staples of a New England preparatory school wardrobe: Patagonia jackets, L.L. Bean duck boots, polo shirts, Vineyard Vines, and Lily Pulitzer. However, this was not true for vintage clothing enthusiast Starling Irving ’13, who arrived on the first day of school in, as she recalled, “clogs, brown leggings, a suede skirt, and a blouse with victorian puffy sleeves.” Despite the pressure to conform to Groton standards, Starling remained the truer version of herself. Starling said that she “preferred to be clad in a studded leather jacket and a polka dot tulle dress.” 

This decision to feel confident in her own unique interest in fashion provided Starling with an “outlet for self-expression unlike any other [she] has ever experienced.” After graduating Bowdoin College in 2017, Starling has earned major success in New York City. She currently works as a social media associate for the fashion blog Man Repeller, writing articles that range from her favorite places to shop vintage in New York City to five vintage looks inspired by movie characters. 

“Working among so many amazing women and men in an office that celebrates the complexity of personal style is an absolute dream come true,” Starling gushes. She enjoys meeting Man Repeller readers on and offline. 

Starling’s love for vintage clothing began at eight years old, when she discovered a pink velvet trench coat in an antique shop run out of a chicken barn in Maine. She started to seriously pursue her passion in the summer of 2017, when she and her sister Rein ’15 took a summer-long journey through New England, living in a 1959 Chevrolet Viking stocked full of hand-selected vintage clothing. Their enterprise, Stillwater Vintage, was a huge success, garnering attention on social media, interviews with travel magazines, and customers throughout several states. The Stillwater Vintage Instagram account has amassed over 6,000 followers. There were, of course, challenges to her enterprise: the sweltering summer heat inside the bus, mechanical issues, and the pressure of applying for vending permits and planning out routes and business models. However, Starling’s personal positivity and excitement lead her to remember one of these setbacks as her favorite memory of the experience. 

“The bus broke down next to a beach in Cape Cod,” she recounts. “While Rein worked on the motor, I tried on vintage wedding dresses (yeah, I’m super helpful), and then we ate some burritos while watching the sunset.” Starling remembers it as a nice break during constant motion. “Although the bus often broke down during inopportune times, that evening wasn’t one

of them,” she says. 

Starling is constantly finding new hidden gems of vintage clothing. She recently found “an oversized tweed blazer big enough to fit multiple sweaters underneath,” which she has worn every day these past few weeks. Where did she find it? The chicken barn antique shop where she bought her first vintage clothing item. It’s safe to assert that Starling’s legacy lives on at Groton, the lasting impact of a girl who is unafraid to voice her perspective. From her documentary on Groton relationships that she shared with the student body to her Theatre and the Creative Process Project, in which she edited together friendly, loving, scared, and sometimes heartbreaking voicemails from her family and friends, Starling has always felt comfortable holding a unique perspective full of passions that are both inspiring and lovely to observe.