Wednesday, 5 November 2014

BettyRae Interviews: Jessica Cangiano of Chronically Vintage...

BettyRae Vintage was blessed by the presence of the fabulous Jessica Cangiano, founder of vintage fashion and lifestyle blog Chronically Vintage, for an interview discussing her life, work and hopes for the future. This beautiful blog perfectly captures every element of life through the mid-twentieth century and throws us into a vintage wardrobe you're bound to be envious of!

1. For those who dont know, what is your blog about, how long has it been up and running and what inspired you to start? 

My blog, Chronically Vintage, was born late one evening in April 2009 and has been going strong ever since, with more than 1,170+ blog posts published during that the last 5.5 years. I've had a profound passion for both writing and vintage ever since I was a little girl, so it was only natural ("inevitable" in my mind) that I would combine the two at some point. 

That moment came in the midst of an extremely rough spell on the health front for me (I'm severely chronically ill and do daily battles with more than a dozen different chronic illnesses), when I felt like my life and I were being defined almost exclusively by medical problems and their huge impact on my life. I was in my mid-20s at the time and I didn't want that to be the only label people associated with me any more. Instead of just being chronically ill, I decided right then and there that I was going to dub myself "Chronically Vintage" as well, because vintage was/is also a massive part of my life 24/7, and thus both my blog and its title were born.

Like myself, Chronically Vintage is an eclectic mix of different passions and objectively there's very little I won't consider covering there. Some of the main focuses from the get-go however have been vintage fashion (with a particular emphasis on the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as those are the decades I adore, and dress from, most often myself), mid-century history, vintage recipes, how to create a vintage/reproduction/vintage appropriate wardrobe, real world vintage photos, holiday themed posts, and topics pertaining to the vintage lifestyle as a whole and also to the art of blogging. 

I post frequently (on average three to four times a week at present) and always have tons of ideas waiting to come down the pipeline, which is awesome, because I really find that creativity begets creativity and the more/longer I keep on blogging, the more ideas come my way! 

2. What exciting opportunities have you had as a result of your work, and what would you say are your biggest achievements? 

I've been very blessed to have a wide range of opportunities develop, and achievements come to fruition as a result of my blogging. Some that really stand out in my mind are the vast number of (vintage, reproduction, etc) companies and individuals I've had the pleasure of collaborating with, the endlessly dear (fellow vintage loving) friends that I've made online over the years, being interviewed by all kinds of great online and print magazines around the world, being named one of (the website) Queen's of Vintage's Queens of Vintage last year, and being able to transform my blog into my full-time career, in conjunction with my online 
Etsy vintage shop that I opened this year in May. 

3. If you had the chance to ask one question to any iconic person, alive or dead, who would you choose and what would you ask them?

For a perpetual history fan like me, that is not an easy question to answer by any means. There are countless people from the past that I'd love to sit down and have a chat with, but one in particular that stands out for me is Cleopatra. I'd love to ask for her "girl boss" tips and also if any of the rumours about her were true! :)

4. Influenced by the mid-twentieth century, what is it about this era that inspires you so much? 

There is so very much about this period in human history that speaks to me. Yes, I madly love (and fill my world with) the fashions, home decor, cars, architecture, movies and music, but there's more to it than that for me. Though I certainly see the many shortcomings and problems that society had at the time, I also greatly admire the positive points that made up daily life. The diligent work ethic, the sense of community  and pride, the make do and mend mentality, the sense of civic duty, that families still sat down to dinner together every night, the people were often more cordial and well mannered than they are today, and so on. I love a lot of things about the 21st century and am grateful that I live in the day and age that I do, but there are a number of things (like those just mentioned) from the mid-twentieth century that I wish were still as prevalent nowadays. 

5. What is your favourite vintage hairstyle/outfit youve had and why? 

I've loved every single vintage item I've ever owned or currently own. Even when a garment that I bought online (and couldn't try on first in person), for example, didn't fit right and I ended up selling or giving it away, I adored that for a brief spell, I got to be a part of that item's rich history. It's like asking a parent to pick their favourite child, I can't pick just one favourite piece or outfit. But there are certainly some that standout in my mind. Here are a few which I think encapsulates my personal vintage style to a tee. 

6. Can you name a few of your favourite vintage shops and spots and why you love them?

I live in a small town in British Columbia, Canada which does not have any vintage clothing shops at the moment (sadly, there simply isn't the market/interest levels needed to support them here), so I do the vast majority of my vintage shopping online and have for the past decade or so (since I got my first computer back in 2004). Some of my favourite places to source vintage online are Etsy, eBay, Blue Velvet Vintage, The Best Vintage Clothing, and many of the shops listed in a post I wrote earlier this year called Twenty Great Online Non-Etsy or eBay Shops. Each one of these sources has its strengths and specialties. I love eBay for the chance to get something for a total bargain if luck is on your side. Etsy for the quality of the garments, customer care and listing photos (amongst other reasons), independent sellers for their gumption and hard work, and that they've been able to go it alone in such a fiercely competitive market.

It's really important for those who buy vintage to support both their local sellers and the online community too. Many online sellers rely on the sales their shops/sites generate to pay the bills and put food on their tables, so if you have the option to buy vintage (over something similar that's new) online, I highly encourage you to do so. 

7. What message do you hope to give out through your writing and blog to readers and followers?

Excellent question. Two very key points that I hope shine through in my writing are: one, that you should always, unequivocally march to the beat of your own sartorial drum. If wearing something makes you happy, don't let any of the naysayers out there get you down. Rock your 20s cloche, your 60s frock, your 40s handbag and your 80s jewellery all at once, if you please! Fashion, fortunately, has no rules and we're each free to have as much fun with it as we please 24/7. This point is incredibly near and dear to my heart and is something I've written about numerous times over the years, such as in the post Dress Like a Cupcake Should Feel. 

The second point - though I do not generally make my chronic health issues the focal point of my blog - is that I hope I encourage others with medical problems, disabilities, and all kinds of adversity in their life to use the immense happiness that vintage brings them as a way of counterbalancing those negatives and also showing them that they are so much more than just the things in life that are anything but ideal. 

8.Have you any upcoming events/plans? What are your hopes for the future?

As Chronically Vintage (the blog) heads towards its sixth year, I hope very much to continue blogging on a regular basis, to further grow my audience (ideally a bit more into the broader blogging world, not just the lovely niche of vintage blogging), collaborating and working with awesome companies and individuals, and coming up with new ideas and directions to take my site in. I also launched a YouTube channel this summer, which I hope to have time (and good health days) to make more videos for and would love to see that continue to grow in popularity as well. 

And last, but certainly not least, I want to keep growing my Etsy vintage shop and establishing it as one of the top vintage shops online - the sort of stores the people automatically think to turn to when they want to go vintage shopping online. 

Vintage is a huge and indescribably important part of my life, so I know that whatever the future holds in store for me, vintage will always be a major part of my world and that thought fills my heart with joy!

Check out Jessica's blog here:

Interviewed and written by Elly Jupp