There are certain people whose blogs you encounter and instantly mesh with. You see in the person behind them and the blog itself something of yourself and a kindred spirit element emerges. That is precisely how I've felt since day one with my lovely friend, and fellow vintage adoring gal, CiCi's seriously marvelous blog CiCi Marie.
Not only is CiCi a terrific blogger and one heck of a gifted fashionistas, but this UK based lass has a fantastic, compassionate heart, is smart as a whip, loves to chat about a wide range of topics, and never, ever fails to inspire me. The fact that we've become online friends is the icing on the (vintage) cake and I truly love that today I have the great pleasure of brining you a one-on-one interview with CiCi that kicks off Chronically Vintage's new blogger interview series.
The response to my post last month about this series was completely positive, with dozens of folks getting in touch regarding wanting to take part and be interviewed. I've already booked such posts until the end of 2016 (yes, seriously, the end of next year) and I really hope that more vintage bloggers will continue to let me know if they've like to be interviewed here so that we can hopefully keep this great new series going for many years.
Thank you deeply, CiCi, for being the first person to respond to my call for posts and for this awesome interview. I loved getting to know you even better and am sure my readers will as well.
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Right off the bat, what would you like readers to know about you and your blog?
I’m a twenty-something girl living in the UK who blogs largely about the ways that vintage style inspires my own, being especially fond of the fashions of the 50s.
What lead you to launch your blog?
In a word: coercion! When the blog launched it had two authors, which is why it was called CiCi & Marie, not just CiCi Marie - ‘Marie’ is my offline friend who persuaded me to blog in the first place. I’d followed a few vintage fashion blogs for years by this point, but had no intention of starting my own - I was terrified of the idea of sharing so much of myself in such a public domain! Once I’d been convinced to contribute we worked together on the content for the first year, when she handed the reins over to me (her heart wasn't really in it) and I transformed the site into the vintage style blog I wanted it to be. I am so grateful, now, that I was talked into it! It felt much less daunting starting out with a friend and was definitely the push I needed to get into blogging.
Can you sum up your personal style in a line or two for us?
The easiest/briefest way to describe it is ‘vintage inspired’. Rather than being faithful to particular eras, I pick and choose elements of vintage fashions that work for me and mix modern, repro and vintage pieces that nod to the past when put together, in varying degrees of subtlety.
You have a phenomenal eye for fashion and knack for putting together outfits that blend modern with vintage and/or classic styles. How long have you sported old school influenced looks and how has your personal style changed (if so) over the course of that period?
As I touched on in a recent post (so apologies for boring anyone with the same story!), it all started with the humble pencil skirt, when I was grappling with how to look more professional and adult for my first job post university. I was hugely inspired by Marilyn Monroe (who I had a bit of an obsession with back then), along with what bloggers I liked were wearing and just found that wiggle shapes really worked for my figure.
As part of me has always desired to look a bit different and has been largely switched off by current fashion trends, building my look for my work wear wardrobe went hand in hand with developing my weekend one. For a while, I wore pencil skirts most of the time regardless of the situation! Over the years I’ve definitely branched out and moved away from this slightly unforgiving and somewhat formal form-fitting style and these days I experiment much more with more flared shapes and pieces inspired by eras other than the 50s. 50s looks are still my favourite though, I just think they’re so endlessly feminine and flattering!
Are there certain colour and/or colour combos that you're continually drawn towards and do you put them to work in your outfits?
I can never seem to get enough of leopard print! I think what I love about it is how even though it's a pattern, it actually works great as a neutral because of the beiges and browns - it’s so easy to put with so many other colours. It also immediately screams old school glamour and, these days, rockabilly - which I can’t deny I kind of like! Apart from that, I’m always drawn to red accessories - shoes in particular; red shoes have the power to make most outfits that bit more exciting, to my mind. Often, however, being drawn towards colours is a seasonal thing and this spring, I can feel a pull towards mint green...
Inspiration can be found just about anywhere and I think that those of us who are bloggers are especially tuned into our environments and the things in that influence/touch us. What have been some your biggest sources of inspiration so far in the course of your vintage/fashion blogging journey?
I’ve kind of touched on this above, but to elaborate, my biggest source of inspiration (apart from a slight obsession with Marilyn Monroe that will never really die) has definitely been other bloggers. The first blog I ever read routinely was Ulrika’s- she is one effortlessly stylish woman and I was in awe of how she worked vintage looks into her everyday wardrobe, not to mention how diverse her style is - one day she's in a full-length 30s floral dress, the next she's in a 60s shift with a beehive! Now, years later, I read so many blogs and take inspiration from them all in one way or another. I love this blog because no one can top your colour co-ordination, Jessica! Nor your glove or hat collection, come to think of it. I often feel like my style is a bit of a melting pot of all the looks of other bloggers I’ve seen and enjoyed!
Is there much in the way of a vintage scene (community) in Cambridge, UK, where you live?
Not that I know of, but it’s worth pointing out I’m a bit of a hermit so I might not notice it even if it’s on my doorstep doing a jive! I know there’s a swing dance group locally and the odd vintage shop, but compared to a lot of cities I’ve explored, I’d say the scene in Cambridge is small in comparison - or certainly more tucked away. I certainly get odd looks more here than in London and don’t tend to see anyone looking particularly ‘vintage’ when I’m out and about...
How about vintage and/or repro centered shops?
There’s a vintage shop at the end of my road which is amazing, but other than that while we’ve got a lot of charity shops, not that I’ve noticed… I tend to buy more repro than vintage though, so I would be more likely to stumble on vintage shops than going looking for them - and to be honest, I've always done the majority of my clothes shopping online, vintage or otherwise. Something that does happen fairly regularly is we get vintage ‘fairs’ pop up that have lots of stalls for vintage vendors. I did check one of these out recently, but it wasn’t really for me - mind you, when I shop I tend to go looking for something in particular which isn't especially helpful for vintage ;)
What are some items that you prefer to buy in vintage and/or repro form (e.g., circle skirts) and what are some that you generally opt to purchase new?
Most of what I buy is either repro or new - and when I do buy vintage it’s much more often accessories. I just feel more comfortable with the fit and fabrics of modern materials and have a tendency to feel frumpy and awkward in a head-to-toe vintage outfit. Vintage can’t really be beaten for glasses though - no modern frames are as beautiful of those of old, in my eyes! The quality is also vastly superior. I love a good vintage handbag too. Otherwise, I find new best for simple pieces in classic shapes like Bardot neck tops or pencil skirts, whereas repro tends to be better for more specific unique pieces that high street shops don’t sell that often like retro outerwear (Hell Bunny and Collectif have had some amazing coats lately) and novelty print circle skirts.
Like myself, you're 5'2" (love that!) and are passionate, as I am, about dressing so as to make the most each precious inch of your height. I think you do a smashing job on that front! Could you please share a couple (or more) of your favourite fashion tips for petite lasses?
My main tip is: don’t swamp yourself! If you want to wear a midi skirt you can, but find the length that is most flattering for your height and get anything longer altered so you’re wearing the skirt and not the other way round! Tops can often be too long or loose for smaller frames too - but not if they’re tucked in and perhaps shaped with a waist-belt; that’s one of my favourite tricks! Other than that, I’d say it’s wise for petite ladies to be careful of what they put on their feet - a shoe that shows off as much of your foot as possible will have the effect of lengthening your leg e.g. ballet bumps and court shoes with low vamps. Shoe-boots or brogues (particularly flat ones) will make your legs look shorter.
Five garments and/or accessories that you currently can't live without?
Top of the list is definitely my berets! Such a simple way to add some class to any outfit and my growing collection now boasts five colours (including leopard print, of course!). A very close second is a pair of tan lace-up heeled boots from BAIT that cost me a fortune in shipping and are technically too small, but I still love them anyway because they seem to literally go with everything!
Number 3 has to be my new Rebel Kate jeans from Collectif, because a lot of the time at the weekends I’m milling around the house and they’re perfect for that, while still adding some ‘retro’ to outfits with their high waist. I can’t go a week without wearing my fairly new cat’s eye glasses that are a perfect blend of vintage and modern and last but not least, as we're emerging from the cold weather, fleece-lined tights!! Couldn’t have made it through this winter without them...
Your hair is seriously gorgeous and always styled so cutely/beautifully. Any hair care and/or styling tips that you'd like to pass along?
That you can make your hair do almost anything with some gentle backcombing for volume and several kirby grips (bobby pins) that match your hair colour! Most of my styles are the result of pinning bits of hair where I want them to lay and don’t require much more skill than that. I am absolutely hopeless at curling my hair, so I basically avoid what I can’t do, rather than doing a poor job! If I want to achieve a particular up-do I’ll watch various YouTube videos and then borrow bits probably from several of them to create the look I want (which is usually a simpler version, because I’m quite lazy and impatient!).
In your beauty arsenal at present, what are some of your favourite products?
I've recently discovered the joy of face powder - a bit late to the game, but this is now an essential tool in the battle to keep my oily face matte! I use Mac's Studio Fix and I love the way the subtle colour smooths out small flaws in my skin. It also sets my foundation so that it doesn't crease on my eyelids, which is a great bonus. This won’t be news to most of the female population who have been using powders for years..! I'm also a recent convert to Benefit's Cha Cha Benetint - their pink shades are a bit too cool toned for me, but this one goes on bright orange and somehow miraculously dries to a pinky coral and works wonders with my colouring. It also stays on all day, which is a bonus!
Any beauty cheapies that you can't recommend highly enough?
I've got a post ready to go on exactly this subject in the very near future and will reveal more there!:)
Your blog does a wonderful job of covering various fashion, beauty and lifestyle topics. What are your favourite kinds of posts (in general) to pen? If there anything you'd like to write about, or about more frequently, but that you haven't yet?
At the moment I still find simple outfit posts the most rewarding - they're the most time-consuming too, but the finished posts can be so satisfying because of this, when they finally come together. Generally I don't think I've experimented that much with different types of content - so my feeling is there's probably lots of topics out there I haven't tackled yet that I'd enjoy, but I just don’t know it yet! I haven't written about home decor before, but would like to once I feel more comfortable I know what I'm doing - and I'm hoping to buy my first home this year, so this will work better when I've got my own place to put my stamp on. :)
Do you have any long term goals for your blog that you can share with us?
My main goal is to see what happens - in the past six months I've seen a big increase in my following and I'm honestly so thrilled that the hard work is paying off and readers seem to like what I’m doing. I’d love to work with more brands - which is something I’ve only started doing this year and has been great so far. Other than that, although it can be kind of taboo for bloggers to admit to, I do hope one day to generate some sort of income from it. I'm under no illusion I'll be eating caviar in the Maldives any day soon, but if it could help supplement my shopping habit I'd be delighted!
When not working or blogging, what might we find you doing?
Well, vast amounts of online clothes shopping is probably almost a given, so aside from that one of my main hobbies is reading, which is pretty much what led me to a day-job in book publishing - I've got a particular fondness for dystopian fiction (think A Brave New World etc), which probably makes me quite morbid in my spare time! And although I’m currently renting my house, I've begun buying bits and pieces I can take with me to a new home - I’m enjoying hunting down and adding mid-century modern style homeware to my living room and dining room currently.
Can you tell us what your perfect day pertaining to vintage might look like?
It would definitely involve dancing! I would absolutely love to learn how to jive. A little while ago I interviewed on another blog and mentioned that one of my secret passions is the Just Dance video games - but really, this is just an extension of a love of dance generally that I’d love to build on properly some day (I’ve done various lessons through the years, but not very consistently due to long commutes).
So, I’d probably learn how to do a jive routine and work up an appetite that could only be satisfied by a huge cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake in a 50s-style diner… And then I’d drive around in an open top Mustang while the sun beats down on me, probably to the nearest drive-in… At this point I realize I’m describing the day in the life of a character from Grease - but that wouldn't be so bad (as long as I’m not expected to join in a chorus of Summer Lovin’ as I can’t sing to save my life)!
(Jessica's note) You can also connect with Cici on the following social media sites:
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Thank you again immensely for this great interview, CiCi, and for being the lovely, engaging, beautiful person (inside and out) that you are. It was an honour and pleasure getting to interview you this month.
For the second post in this new series, which will appear here in April, we'll be interviewing another awesome lady from the UK - but that's the only hint you'll get from me. You will just have to tune in for that post to see who I sit down and chat with next! :)