April 16, 2015

Looking back to move forward on the eve of Chronically Vintage's sixth birthday

Do you ever stop and think about when your blog was brand new? When you were a novice blogger and everything felt exciting and challenging and like you couldn't soak up knowledge fast enough? There was joy and trepidation, rocky starts and times when you felt as though you’d hit the ground running so quickly you could have broken the sound barrier.

Your blog might have been your first adventure in online writing (Chronically Vintage wasn't mine; I'd been running various websites since 2004, a full five years before this site sprang to life), but chances are it quickly became one of your very favourites and a place where, understandably, you devoted a substantial amount of your time, attention, drive, and perhaps even resources.

Though I don't view them through (vintage) rose coloured glasses, I often look back on the early days of this site with great fondness and appreciation for the plethora of lessons it taught me (very much including the 10 harsh truths that will make you a better blogger). The blogging landscape was a vastly different place at the time in many ways (for example, social media didn't have quite the massive foot hold in this world that it does today and the notion of microblogging though sites like Facebook, Tumblr and Instragram was scarcely a concept yet). Though I do get nostalgic and yearn for those "simpler times" some days, I also very much enjoy seeing how the web continues to expand, grow and change.

Tomorrow Chronically Vintage will turn six years old. I have run and drawn joy from this website for a full 1/5th of my life now. That is not a small amount of time by any measure and as my blog jumps into its sixth year of life, I find myself thinking about those early days a lot. There was a different sort of joy and wide-eyed wonder back then. It was a honeymoon period of sorts, of course, or like the flush and rush that come from a great new relationship, where everything thing seems new, colours are more vibrant, the littlest things take on deeper meaning, and all we want to do is share about our newfound love with anyone who will listen.

I haven't grown jaded about blogging or vintage over the years, but naturally that initial thrill and awe has rubbed off a bit. I'm more realistic and the longer I stay at 'er, the more I realize that returning to my blogging roots, simplifying things (we don't all need to devote ourselves like slaves to social media day in and day out in order to succeed online, for example), and remembering to adhere to a piece of advice I've been slinging here since day one - to only blog if doing so has both a purpose and brings you joy - rings all the more true for me as another blogging anniversary rolls around.

{Image via a sold listing from Amelia Bedelia Vintage}

The past six years have been unlike any other I've know. I never dreamed when I began Chronically Vintage that it would grow into the popular site and (more recently) accompanying Etsy shop, that it is today. I didn't know it would turn into my full-time career, bring some of the best friends I've ever had into my life, give me the opportunity to work with some of the top companies in our field, open up many doors for me, land me in the pages of numerous magazines, and perhaps most poignantly, help me to grow and develop as a person on countless levels.

That has been the greatest gift of blogging and one that, along with my online friendships and desire to share my knowledge and life with all of you, keeps me blogging even when things get rough. I'm a billion miles away from being super human. I have days when the last thing on earth I want to do is even think about blogging, when my energy levels are so nonexistent that I can't even pick up the computer, and spans when my health is so poor, I think that I should stop blogging and spare myself the work, stress, and even physical challenges that it (and my Etsy shop) bring into my life.

But so far at least, I haven't. That day may come, one never know what life holds in store, but I shudder to think of it and have learned along this long blogging road that usually the answer - as with so much in life - doesn't come from throwing in the proverbial towel, but from getting back to your roots, remembering why you started blogging in the first place, enjoying the experience, doing more (or less, as the case may be) of those things that truly matter, and cutting yourself some serious slack if your plans don't always go as you'd hoped they might.

None of us is perfect and neither are our blogs, but for many who have been blogging for any real amount of time now, we deserve a massive pat on the back and to be reminded of just how awesome we're doing. Success has many faces and takes on many forms, and chances are, you've reached more of those than you realize.

I cherish you, my dear readers and online friends, and want you to know that you help ensure I keep on keeping on, as the old saying goes. When things get tough, when they're fabulous, when I'm uncertain, when I have a crystal clear vision, when I'm especially sick, on my rare good days, when tomorrow seems like a question mark, and when I have it mapped out down to the last detail, you've been there and have helped to spur me on in my life as a blogger in so many, many ways.

With all my heart, thank you for that and the countless other positives you've brought into my life. So here, sweet dears, is to the prospect of Chronically Vintage's sixth year of life and all the good, grand, exciting and, yes, even (hopefully momentary) stressful things it will bring my way. Blogging, like life itself, is never perfect, but it sure can be fun and worth every second of the ride.

April 14, 2015

Meet a fellow vintage blogger: Helen Mae Green from the UK

In March we launched Chronically Vintage's exciting new blogger interview series when I chatted with CiCi's interview from CiCi Marie and the response to it was fabulous. This month I had the pleasure of (proverbially) sitting down with another marvelous lady from the UK, Helen Mae Green from the blog Love Birds Vintage.

 photo 16812830462_20cc06ed2b_o_zpsgbfrx0dl.jpg

Helen is a sweet, lovely woman with a wide array of interests, a personal style filled with great mid-century fashions, a passion for etymology, and a flare for historical reenactments. Join me as we get to know Helen and her wonderful blog better today. I'm sure you'll feel, as I did, by the end, that you've just spent a wonderful afternoon sharing tea and gabbing with a dear fellow vintage loving friend.

♥ ♥ ♥

Can you please tell us a bit about your blog, Love Birds Vintage?

I started writing Lovebirds Vintage in 2012, a while after I got into dressing in a vintage style, as a way of connecting with other vintage lovers and documenting my personal style. I like to blog about vintage fashion, style and beauty, as well as occasional other posts about cooking, knitting, sewing, shopping and more.

Inquiring minds want to know, what inspired your blog's name?

Unfortunately there really isn’t an interesting story behind it! When I decided I wanted to try writing a blog, I brainstormed a list of potential names and Lovebirds Vintage was the one that felt like it fit me best at the time.

Have you been interested in vintage for a long time?

I've been dressing in a vintage style since around late 2011, but my interest in vintage in general began with music. My parents always played old music around the house when I was growing up, and I played clarinet and saxophone in two swing bands (amongst various other musical groups) for a lot of years. We also went to watch the Glenn Miller Orchestra for my dad’s birthday one year. The music of the 1940s-70s made a big impression on me, especially rock and roll. Eventually I realized there was a whole community of people who don’t just listen to the music but also wear the clothes, drive the cars and decorate their houses in the styles from past decades – I’m so glad I decided to be a part of it.

What do you cite as some of the key inspirations that lead you to start wearing vintage? Do they apply to your decision to blog on the subject as well?

Apart from the music having an early influence on me, I think the thing that really kick started my interest in wearing vintage was when I started university and was suddenly exposed to a much wider variety of people than I had been at school. There was no pressure to look the same as everyone else so there was really nothing stopping me changing up my style a bit and building up a vintage wardrobe like I’d seen other girls wearing online.

You're a big fan of 1940s fashion, do you dabble much in styles from other decades?

I often say that the fashions of the 1940s are my favourite – something about the shapes and detail of the clothing – but I am a huge fan of mixing things up. My wardrobe covers styles from approximately the 1920s to 1960s, and I just dress in a style which fits how I feel on any given day. Sometimes I like to dress top-to-toe in clothes from the same decade, other days I mix and match. I don’t like to feel too restricted because I feel like you should just dress however makes you happy. I usually describe my style as ‘vintage’ rather than citing a specific decade.

{Image © Steve Bond Images, hair by Jac at Tip Top Hair Design}

Five words that often/always spring to mind when you think about your vintage wardrobe?

Tough question! I'll go with: feminine, classic, blue, simple, and textured.

Aside from vintage, what are some of your biggest interests in life?

Of course like most people, my interests are many and varied! I love to bake, I often go walking, I love visiting museums, historic houses, beauty spots – I really enjoy photography as well so I always have my camera with me when I go.

You live in the UK and are fortunate to be able to take part in some historical reenactment events. How did you get into this exciting area? Are you taking part in many such events these days?

I started attending re-enactment because my area is pretty lacking when it comes to vintage events and I was keen to have something to go to where I might find other people with similar interests to me. Sadly I didn’t make it to any events last year as I was too busy working (I work weekends which unfortunately clashes with many events) or studying towards my Masters degree. I have plans to get to more events this year though, including some events that I haven’t been to before.

You've done some vintage modeling in recent years. Do you have any tips based on your own experience for those who may be starting out on this front themselves?

Make sure you’re safe at all times and don’t let anyone push you into doing anything you feel uncomfortable with. You will learn everything you need to know on the job, so make sure you pay attention to any tips that you get from photographers so you can use them in the future. You can also practise posing in front of a mirror to figure out how to pose in the most flattering way.

{Image © Steve Bond Images, hair by Jac at Tip Top Hair Design}

Do you feel that living in the UK, a country with one of the largest and most thriving vintage communities in the world, has helped you in your own vintage journey?

Personally I’d say it hasn't really made much difference. Although the UK does have a pretty decent vintage community, I live outside a small town and my area doesn't really have any alternative community. I actually don’t have any friends who dress vintage so I rely heavily on online resources for my research and inspiration.

Are you able to find much in the way of vintage fashion locally?

I used to be able to go vintage shopping regularly at a couple of big vintage fairs as well as two vintage shops which were in the town. Last year the venue that was being used to hold the vintage fairs suffered a fire and closed down, and then I found out that both of the vintage shops were closing their doors as well.

Fortunately I've recently discovered two other vintage shops nearby which I haven’t had the chance to visit yet, as well as an absolute goldmine of vintage and antique shops about an hour away. A lot of the shops locally tend to sell newer vintage items (think Doc Martin’s, ugly sweaters and shellsuits) which have their place but aren't my style, but these other shops I've discovered have an amazing range of clothing from the turn of the century onward. When I have some free time I plan to visit all of them and write some blog posts like I've done for other vintage shops I've visited.

In some of your posts, you've touched on the fact that you're keen on entomology. That's really fascinating! What lead you to develop an interest in the study of insects?

My undergraduate degree is in forensic science (the application of science to law). When I had to choose a topic for my final year project and thesis, I considered a few things but settled on forensic entomology, which is studying insects for use in legal cases. I also did some volunteering in the summer between my second and third years at a butterfly farm and at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History which were both great experiences.

I was lucky to have a very inspirational lecturer for entomology classes in my final year and I continued on to study entomology again for my Masters degree and to do some more volunteering at another museum. It’s funny because I used to be the sort of person who was squeamish of insects but they are so amazing and interesting once you start to study them. I can talk about insects for hours!

Have you found ways to translate this passion into the vintage side of your life?

I have a few pieces of jewellery in the shapes of insects and also have a growing collection of butterflies which I display at home. I’ll definitely continue to add to both those collections, and I’d like to include some more insect-themed things in my wardrobe. Perhaps an insect-themed novelty print skirt?

Are you also an animal lover? Do you have any pets at the moment?

I've actually never been able to keep pets in the traditional sense because anything furry causes my eczema to go haywire. I do like to appreciate animals from a distance though. I kept a praying mantis for some time last year which was very cute but of course not really the same thing as being able to cuddle a cat or dog.

What are some things you'd like to focus (even) more on when it comes to your vintage wardrobe?

Right now I’m in need of a lot more separates, mainly trousers and tops, and I could do with some more knitwear and clothing that’s warm enough for the winter. Something a bit more frivolous that I’d like to work on is my hat collection – I used to wear hats quite a bit but I've got out of the habit of wearing them often. I think a hat can really finish an outfit off nicely and add that extra level of style.

Are you a fan of vintage reproduction/vintage inspired clothing or do you generally prefer to stick with genuine yesteryear pieces?

While genuine vintage pieces are usually my favourite, I make full use of repro and modern vintage-appropriate clothing. I don’t live the sort of lifestyle where I am able to wear genuine vintage all the time – I do too many things where I’m worried about staining or tearing delicate items, so I love to have newer items that I can wear without having to be too careful and which I know I can throw in the washing machine at the end of the day. I also have a very small clothing budget and supplementing my vintage wardrobe with cheaper modern vintage-appropriate clothing really helps make my money go further.

Do you make any of your own clothing?

Yes, a small amount. I can knit and crochet, and I like to knit my own cardigans from time to time. I can also sew at a very basic level, but I’m working on improving my skills so hopefully I can sew more of my own clothing in the future.

Do you have any vintage fashion icons (famous folks from the past, fellow vintage bloggers, relatives, etc)?

I draw most of my inspiration from other bloggers and from old photos of ordinary people. Pictures of film stars and people like Dita Von Teese are always fun to look at, but they don’t really inspire my outfits in the same way because I’m just not that glamorous. I feel much more of a connection with everyday fashions and street style – fellow vintage bloggers are always a great inspiration because I love to see how vintage items are being worn by modern women.

If you could travel the world for a year, what are some of the places you'd most want to visit?

I always say I'm not much of a traveler – I've never been on a plane and I hate train travel, although I'm gradually getting more used to it. When I go on holiday I usually like to go to places with lots of history so I think it would be fun to visit places like Rome, Egypt or Peru where I could visit the ruins and remains of previous civilizations. I don't travel light though so I won’t be going backpacking anywhere!

And what vintage items would you make sure you packed in your suitcase for your adventure?

Visiting some warmer places would give me the perfect opportunity to get some more wear out of my vintage summer dresses. I have a vintage powder compact that belonged to my granddad's late first wife that I use on a daily basis so that would come with me as well.

Last, but not least, do you have any exciting plans in the works for Love Birds Vintage that's you'd care to share with us?

Over the last few months I've been focusing on trying to improve the quality of my photos and blog posts for Lovebirds Vintage – I’m not a professional photographer so it’s all a learning process. While I don’t have any specific plans at the moment, I’m looking forward to the summer so I can fit in a few more outfit posts without freezing or being rained on! Hopefully I’m managing to create content that people really enjoy.

♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you very much for the fantastic interview, Helen, I adored getting to know you better, as I'm sure my reader have as well.

This series - which I've decided to currently call "Meet a fellow vintage blogger" - is off to a roaring start thank to CiCi and Helen's interviews. Next up in the beautiful month of May, I'll chat with a talented vintage and historical loving sewer, piano player, and home skills fan who will knock your socks off with her amazing creations and passion for the past.

Until then, my lovelies, there are oodles of fun fashion, recipe, seasonal, and outfit posts like usual coming down the pipeline as we celebrate each wonderful day of April.

April 12, 2015

Flickr Favourites: April 12, 2015

{Good Housekeeping, April 1951 ~ Totally Mystified}

{Apple pie with extra soft dried apricots ~ Sara Domjan}

{1950 ... bandwagon for Spring! ~ James Vaughan}

{John M. Gonatos in his curio shop with assistant Niki Vasilikis: Tarpon Springs, Florida ~ Florida Memory}

{Puteri ~ XCharlie}

{1957 Bird’s Custard ad ~ Totally Mystified}

{Postcard of Artesian Tree, Coral Gables, Florida, 1940s ~ Steven Martin}

{Among the lilacs ~ Don Sutherland}

{1956 Kangol hats ad ~ Totally Mystified}

{Mail order dress ~ James Vaughan}

{All images above are from Flickr. To learn more about a specific image, please click on its title to be taken to its respective Flickr page.} 

April shimmers like a freshly polished gemstone, but it isn't always sweetness and light. Powerful thunder storms have made this month famous and brought with it promises of May flowers, as any fan of rhyming will quickly tell you. April can mean the tail end of winter or the glorious start of spring, depending on where you reside (assuming you do so in the Western Hemisphere).

It's a month I welcome with open arms, and no matter how rainy the days, I feel my energy levels perking back up. The knowledge that we're closer to summer's start than to (next) winter's always makes me a joyful camper. I know that I'm not alone here in the slightest and would love to hear about some of the things that are fuelling your excitement levels as we hid mid-April!

There's so much to do and see, smell, taste and enjoy about the fourth month of the year. Yard sale season is back in full force, and with it my Saturdays (health permitting) become exciting jaunts around town in the hopes of unearthing marvelous vintage treasures for both my Etsy shop and my own wardrobe (and home). The past couple of years have been pretty darn slow on the vintage front at such outdoor sales, but one never knows when and where lady luck may smile on them again, and that thought keeps on getting me up at the crack of dawn on the weekends with a big smile on my face and a symphony of coins jingling in my pockets.

The local farmer's market will be starting again soon, too, and most green grocers and supermarkets are stocking fresh, grown in BC produce already. Tiny, elegant strawberries that are perfect precisely as they are, no need for sugar or lashing of cream - though I am rarely opposed to either. Tender, proud spears of asparagus, delightful little waxy new potatoes, and plenty of recipe enlivening herbs of the season are ours to avail of once more.

Though too soon to go swimming (unless you're a duck or fan of polar bear dips), the lakes and beaches that make this part of the country the majestic holiday dentition that it is are waking up. Swarms of walkers take to their sands and sidewalks, lapping up the first ice cream cones they've eaten outside in months, and stopping periodically to take photos of the sweeping desert landscape or to turn the lens on themselves in selfie form.

Spring, like autumn, rarely lasts long in Canada, and that makes me cherish it all the more. The colours, and in some cases, imagery, in today's edition of Flickr Favourites celebrate the liveliness and loveliness alike of early spring, when it's not uncommon to wear open toed shoes with a coat still, and to rarely venture beyond your home without an umbrella.

Before we know it, we will blink and be well into the swelteringly hot dog days of summer - or, two blinks later - hauling the autumn decorations out of storage. Take time to stop and smell the roses (and lilacs, and daffodils, and honeysuckle) this season, both literally and figuratively. Life has a way of getting so busy in the 21st century that we forget about all the action unfolding right under our windowsills and beyond our front doors.

This year, let's all make a point not to do that. Instead, slip on your favourite vintage sundress, turn your face skyward, and let the uplifting, gorgeous rays of spring sunshine remind you of the countless reasons why it is an amazing gift to be alive and be able get to enjoy the good points, as well as the storms (literal or figurative), of every season - very much including those of spring, glorious spring!