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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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.