December 28, 2015

Meet Porcelina: Beautiful UK vintage fashionista, lingerie fan and travel lover

Smart, stylish, sweet, and very accomplished, December's interviewee is none other than beloved British vintage blogger Porcelina from the wonderful site Porcelina's World.

A fellow longtime blogger (her blog launched in 2010), I've had the pleasure of knowing Porcelina for years now and am constantly inspired, impressed, and educated by this beautiful lady, who I feel lucky to count as a dear online friend, too.

Much like myself, Porcelina has a wide range of interests, passions and plates in the air, so to speak. She's working on her PhD, adores a huge range of old school styles, delights in photography, is a devoted blogger (and, very thoughtfully, an avid commenter on other peoples' sites, too), is always up for a spot of travel, and never fails to have a kind, encouraging word at the ready. I really respect Porcelina, her vintage lifestyle blog, and the type of kindhearted, well-rounded woman that she is.

Continue reading, to learn more about this awesome British gal, as we talk about the things that keep her busy, bring her joy, and have her hopping in front (and behind) the lens week after enjoyable week on her terrific blog.

First of all Jessica, I must say what a pleasure it is to be interviewed by you!

Thank you so much, sweet lady! On your blog's about page, you share the eloquent line "Life through vintage tinted glasses", which resonates so deeply with me. Could you please, in your own words, describe some of the key ways that this statement currently rings most true for you?

For me, vintage is not just a connection with clothing and hair styles, but with a way of life, with people who've come and gone, with our history, art and culture. Here in the UK, we're particularly lucky that we don't have to look far to find a fragment of history, or in other words "something vintage". If you're shopping on the high street, you can easily find beautiful and affordable vintage style clothing.

Walking through any town, you'll see architecture from a sweeping range of historic eras. Turn on the radio and you'll hear a song that has obviously taken inspiration from early rock 'n roll, blues, soul or swing. I have to say that the glasses aren't rose-tinted. Most ordinary people would have led a hard life far removed from the Hollywood glamour we commonly associate with vintage eras.

So, I have a healthy respect for the past, and think it's very important to understand it so that we can put into context many aspects of our modern society - be it fashion, politics or music. Seeing "life through vintage tinted glasses" has been particularly relevant in the past year, since I've started writing for British magazine "In Retrospect", as I'm always on the look out for a vintage angle to turn into an article!

Was there one particular event that lead you to launch your blog, Porcelina's World, or was blogging something that you'd felt compelled to do for a long time?

I started my blog in early 2010, and had already loved vintage fashion since childhood, watching old films or episodes of Poirot on repeat, and fantasizing about living in that time and being able to dress in such a glamorous manner. Discovering Dita von Teese and a local burlesque scene gave me the realization that you didn't have to actually live in the past to wear clothing from bygone eras.

I then stumbled upon 'blogs', such as Diary of a Vintage Girl, and Chronically Vintage, of course! I immediately felt connected through a common interest. It was wonderful to be able to use blogs to share my excitement over the sweet vintage brooch I'd found for 50p or the Alfred Meakin gravy boat. Starting a blog was just something I did one day, it wasn't particularly planned. I just thought it was something I'd like to do, partly as a creative outlet, and partly as a way to help open other doors of possibility.

What have been some of the biggest surprises about blogging for you?

That I am still going, nearly 6 years later! Blogging has deepened my passion for vintage immensely. I think my blog has changed and developed a lot since the early years. It used to be much more about things I'd bought or wanted to buy, and any outfit photos were taken on a self-timer in my bedroom. Now I have much more of a regular 'outfit post' schedule, thanks to my husband.

He's a keen photographer, and once I got over the cringing embarrassment of having to strike awkward poses while he took seemingly endless photographs, I could see how much of an asset his skills would be to my blog. I quite enjoy the posing now, especially as we usually tie in a shoot to a day trip somewhere beautiful in our local area of the Welsh Valleys. I'm very grateful that my husband loves vintage as much as I do and is so supportive of my blog.

How about some of your favourite elements?

I think the vintage community is amazing, and I value being part of it. People have been incredibly welcoming, helpful, non-snobby and genuinely down-to-earth. I've learnt so much about vintage clothing, antiques and history, and about the places where people live. I've forged friendships with fellow vintage-lovers not just in the UK, but across the world, and that has been a truly wonderful bonus to blogging. I think blogging opens up your work and friendship circles in a different way to other social networking.

I've had some amazing opportunities through blogging, visiting some fabulous exhibitions, parties and venues, but for me, one of the most wonderful things is still that someone out there on the other side of the world is actually interested in what I bought in the car boot sale for £1 this week.

You have an absolutely fantastic sense of style and are keen on sporting looks from a wide array of decades (each of which look sensational on you, I should add). In general, are is one or more decades in particular that you feel most strongly about?

Thank you! It started with the 1930s, absolutely. My mother loves old Hollywood films, particularly screwball comedies, and growing up I would sit and watch black and white films with her on rainy Sundays. This then led to a Poirot obsession in my teens and twenties. I find my budget and lifestyle restricts me more with 1930s and 1920s styles, so I end up wearing more styles inspired by the 1940s through to the 1970s.

I think I've become much more open-minded about different decades and what they have to offer - for example, I wasn't a big fan of British 1960's styles such as those which Twiggy epitomized, but I've grown to love some of the 1960's American styles as portrayed in Mad Men. There's so much to take from each era, even if on the surface the major trends don't appeal. I find that my appreciation of different eras is cyclical, and I might turn away from 1940s styles only to fall back in love with them a few months later.

Do you enjoy dressing "vintage fusion" style, that is to say, mixing elements from different decades and/or vintage (or repro) + new items together in the same ensemble?

At first, the idea of mixing decades horrified me! I was a bit of a purist, or at least an idealist. Now, I love mixing my decades. On a Sunday at home I might wear some reproduction 1940's swing trousers with a 1970's style top, and 1950's style shoes.

It's a lot of fun to try and get an item from one era to 'go' with something so distinctly from another. It's rare that I dress from head to toe in one era, perhaps only for special occasions or if I'm attending an event that relates to a specific era. I don't have as much wearable true vintage in my wardrobe these days aside from accessories, and so most days I'm likely to be wearing repro or high-street "look-a-likes" with some true vintage touches like brooches. And red lippy of course!

From any era, what are some of your favourite types of accessories?

Gloves were my first vintage accessory obsession. I tend to only wear them in the colder months now, but a white pair in summer with a pretty frock looks very sweet, and you can't beat evening gloves with a gown for drama.

Brooches are another other weakness, especially novelty ones. I am not fussy about era, and buy modern brooches as well as vintage ones. Finally, when the weather allows I love parasols. My mother has inherited a Victorian one in black silk with ivory handle. It's incredibly beautiful. I hope to use it in a photo shoot one day (very carefully!).

How about (fabric) patterns?

I've always been drawn to bold prints such as spots, stripes and checks. I like some florals, if they're colourful and bold enough, which usually means tropical or oriental prints rather than English country garden florals. I adore novelty prints, and have a number of items with dogs and birds on. What would I like to wear but don't? Pucci prints are something I admire on others but don't feel they suit me personally.

Like myself, you're a passionate reader and periodically share book reviews on your blog. What are your favourite types of books?

Classic crime novels written or set in the 1930s and 1940s are entertaining, easy to read, and usually involve glamour, country estates, and diabolical motives. What more could you want? I also enjoy historical fiction, by classic authors such as Daphne Du Maurier, and modern writers such as Lisa Jewell and Amor Towles. In stark contrast, my other favourite genre is probably Science Fiction and Fantasy. I love authors such as John Wyndham and Robin Hobb. I am currently re-reading Ursula Le Guin's 'The Left Hand of Darkness', which I have been afraid to re-read because it was so good the first time.

Do you enjoy collecting and/or reading actual vintage books, too?

I have a small collection of vintage books, but they're more the falling-apart and mottled kind than antique and valuable! The collection includes a few old Agatha Christie books that my husband bought me as presents. I also have film annuals, and trashy doctor-nurse romances from the early 1960s that you can't read without becoming a bit more of a feminist.

A while back you moved into a wonderful looking early 20th century home that you and your husband have been renovating and revamping. When you were house shopping, did you specifically look for an older home or was it just a fortunate happenstance that you acquired the one that you did?

We knew we didn't want a new build, and in the United Kingdom buying an older property is the norm. (Because I like facts and figures, I looked up the statistics and found out that over 70% of the UK housing stock is older than 1958. Of those homes, 20% are at least 100 years old!) I visualized my husband and I buying a Victorian property, as we had been living in Victorian terraces while we were renting, so it was quite a surprise when we found our 1935 house. It was even more of a surprise to me that it wasn't located in the city where we were living, but in a semi-rural location in a former mining community.

I can't say it was love at first sight, because it was just so different to what I'd imagined, but it ticked all the boxes and was under budget, and it only took one more viewing for me to realize that it was "the one". There was a bird of prey circling the house as the mist rolled down the valley, and I took it as a sign! Since moving into our house, I've found a new appreciation for the architecture and interiors of the 1930s, and I've read everything about them that I can lay my hands on.

Are you going for a "time warp" sort of look with your decor, or is it a more diverse mix of pieces from various decades and design styles?

It's definitely not a time warp, but the decor and furnishings have to compliment the building. I had to abandon ideas of sleek Deco minimalism, and my husband his notions of more rustic decor. We are lucky to have some original features, such as parquet flooring. None of the original 1930s fireplaces were in the house, but rather than track down a reclaimed fireplace for our lounge, we decided to install a woodburner on a big slate hearth.

We are in Wales after all, and we have to recognize our location in how we approach our interiors as well as serving the house. Not all 1930s decor appeals to me to be honest - some of the colour combinations were actually a little garish, such as yellow with green in the hallway, and pink with blue in the bedroom. A world away from the Farrow and Ball of the modern generation!

We still have many rooms to decorate but it's a labour of love, and we want to grow into the house rather than having it all done quickly and then realizing that's not how we want it. There's also a question of budget, so lots of our furnishing are acquired little by little from car boot sales, charity shops and skips!

The most difficult decorating issue so far has been what pictures to hang on the walls. I have very feminine pictures of Marlene Dietrich or 1920s fashion plates, and my husband has Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jack Kerouac. We did find a vintage fiesta poster on honeymoon in Seville, and that's up on the wall, so it's a start.

Any firsthand advice for those who may be looking to purchase a vintage home themselves?

Purchasing a home has to be a decision of both head and heart. It's easy with a vintage home in particular to fall in love with its quirky charm, but it has to be functional and structurally sound too! There's a certain responsibility to preserve original features, on top of the inevitable work that will need doing, and so that has to be factored into budgets on top of the price of the house itself.

I think realistically appraising how much work needs to be done, how much it will cost, and how long it will take, are all very pertinent things to think about before taking the plunge. Find a really good surveyor, who specializes in older or historic properties. Some surveyors who deal mainly with newer properties get a bit overly-dramatic about all of the potential dangers in older properties (Asbestos! Lead!!) and might scare you off from what could be a wonderful home.

You live in the UK, which has one of the most thriving vintage scenes in the world. Have you had a chance to take part in and/or visit a lot of vintage related events in your area and/or further afield in the country? Is there one in particular that has really stood out for you? And if so, why?

Last year we attended a 1940s weekend at the Black Country Living Museum in the Midlands. The whole museum was taken over by re-enactors, and there were regular air raids! Despite some inclement weather it was a lot of fun, great value and I'd go again in a heartbeat. The people were so lovely, and really keen for you to join in, no matter if you were dressed up or not. It felt very inclusive and I'm sure has helped some folks start their journey into the vintage world. There is always something vintage-related going on in most corners of the UK, and I can't wait to go to more events! Next year we're off to the Goodwood Revival for the first time, which I am very excited about.

Speaking of further afield, you adore traveling and treat us to some great getaway posts on your blog, both from the UK and elsewhere, such as your beautiful recent honeymoon. What are some of your favourite places that you've ever visited?

The United States holds a lot of memories. My husband being a singer-songwriter, we went on a musical pilgrimage across Tennessee, visiting Graceland, Sun Studio, Stax, The Grand Old Opry and other musical landmarks. It was the trip of a lifetime! Otherwise, I really think the UK has some amazing places that we return to again and again, such as the West Wales coast. We have a lot of natural beauty on our doorstep.

What are three that you'd love to see, but haven't yet visited?

I would love to return to California. I last went as a sulky teen. Now, I'd stay aboard the Queen Mary, go to a dinner dance at the Cicada Club, and stroll around a vintage flea market. I would also love to visit more of Europe - Italy and France in particular, as I've shockingly never been to either!

What were some of the ways that you involved vintage in your wedding?

Vintage ended up as a thread running through the whole day as it is a common interest for us, but I didn't intentionally impose a rigid theme. My dress was 1930s inspired, and I carried an oversized rose bouquet as a nod to the Glamelia trend of the 1940s. We invited guests to dress up in their "vintage finery" with an assurance that they couldn't overdress, and it was heartwarming how much effort people made. One male friend even had a 1920s haircut especially! Our reception was held in a 1908 church hall, and that couldn't have been more perfect.

I tried to add lots of vintage touches, with each female guest receiving a vintage brooch that I had collected over the year leading up to the wedding. The cake was in a Deco style, as was all the stationery, and my Mum did a nice display of vintage family wedding photographs. Music throughout the whole day was a mix of Elvis, big band, rockabilly and soul, with live performances and a DJ. It was rockin'!

You're a huge fan of vintage lingerie, did that factor into either, or both, events for you in any way?

Finding lingerie to wear under my wedding dress was one of the biggest headaches of the whole wedding planning! It's very difficult to find garments that work with the more fluid 1930's style wedding dresses, as most modern wedding dresses seem to have boned and strapless bodices.

Finding underwear to work under a low backed, sheer silk, gown is much, much harder. Lots of people said "just go without!" but I could see that going horribly wrong. In the end, I sewed bra cups into my dress myself, and after what seemed like an endless search, I finally found a pair of French knickers from What Katie Did that didn't show through my dress too badly. On my honeymoon I took my little 1920s inspired cropped cami top and shorts, which are a silk mix and lovely and cool in hot weather.

When not blogging, reading, traveling, or working, what are some of your key interests?

It's a simple life really. We do lots of home cooking, mainly low-carb, healthy meals, washed down with some good red wines. I do love trying out recipes from all over the world, and particularly love Moroccan and Lebanese food. I have been practicing yoga for many years but I still try and be stylish in my workout gear, and seek out good quality yoga brands rather than wearing old t-shirts and baggy sweatpants. Creativity is very important in our household. If I had more time I would like to write more short stories and poetry, paint, play music, sew, but I have to prioritize other things at the moment. There aren't enough hours in the day to be honest (so true!!!).

Is there anything about yourself that you'd be comfortable sharing, that your readers might not know about you?

My day job isn't very vintage. I'm an academic, with a background in Health Psychology. I used to deliver Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to patients with anxiety and depression, which I did for years and very much enjoyed. I'm in a pure research role now at a university, looking at the mental health of doctors. I am also doing a PhD, so I will be Dr Porcelina in a few years!

As we head towards 2016, how would you describe your current style?

I very much dress according to my mood and find different eras present women (in particular) in very different ways, so I try to think "who do I want to be today?". Most recently, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has been quite inspirational, and I have been adding a few kimono jackets and beaded necklaces to my collection, though I'm not going as far as to have a pearl-handled revolver in my handbag.

And last, but certainly not least, do you have any exciting plans - be they travel, work, home renovation, blogging, or otherwise related - that you can share with all of us?

I am going to take on the challenge of being behind the camera a little more! My husband is launching a new album in 2016, so it will be his turn to pose, along with guitars and banjos I imagine. I've helped out with the photography and artwork ideas for his previous albums, and it's a lot of fun. With the new album there will possibly be some more travel opportunities, but they can be very last minute so we'll have to wait and see! 

One place I am definitely going is Greece, as I am attending a conference for work. It's the first time I've ever had the opportunity to travel abroad for work, so I am thrilled. Aside from that, the home improvements will gently continue in the background, and we'll just be enjoying newly married life.

Connect with Porcelina on the following sites:

Good Reads

Meet the past interviewees, up until this month, who have taken part in this delightful ongoing post series:

February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon |July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain | August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily

♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you for a flat out stellar interview, Porcelina. You are such a delightful, elegant, highly talented person and I feel honoured to know and get a chance to share in the communal act of blogging with you.

On last month's interview post, a lovely commenter said something that sparked an idea in me. Going forward from this point, I will be linking to all past interview posts that have appeared up until that point in time. That way if you're new to the series or might have missed an entry here and there, you can easily catch up. I really appreciate this idea and want to thank that reader again for their great suggestion.

Next up, at present it looks like we'll be staying put in the good, ol' British Isles and chatting with another uber stylish lady who recently relocated there from the other side of the world. She's another well known name in our circle and I'm sure you'll adore hearing from her, too.

As 2015 quickly nears its end, I want to take a moment to wholeheartedly thank every one of the fantastic folks around the world who took part in this year's exciting Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger interview series, as well as all those of who commented on, shared, and even blogged about these delightful posts. One of my favourite things is bringing members of our community together (further) and I feel honoured to be able to do just that here each month through these reoccurring posts.

I have tons of awesome interviews lined up for 2016 already and can hardly wait to bring you in-depth chats with more of the folks who help make the online vintage world the truly beautiful, welcoming, and flat out fun place that is.

Here's to the next year of vintage blogger interviews and beyond!!!


  1. Yey, I love Porcelina, great choice!!

    1. Same here! She's cool, chic and posts on such an engaging array of topics. Her blog has been a favourite of mine since the moment I discovered it years ago now and will, I'm sure, always continue to be.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment, dear gal. Have a terrific Tuesday!

      ♥ Jessica

  2. I adore Porcelina and I loved learning more about her! I somehow hadn't realised she started blogging all the way back in 2010, that's impressive. She is one super creative, kind, amazing woman and your wonderful interview really helps to show that off Jessica. Can't wait to read the next and I have a strong feeling I know who it is! xx

    1. It really is impressive for sure and also hit home for me just how quickly the years roll by. I was fortunate to discover (or perhaps she found my site first, I can't really recall at this point :)) to Porcelina's blog early on its life and have been a devoted fan ever since. I just love of friendly, diverse (a topic range), and relatable - not to mention inspirational - it is.

      Big hugs & many thanks for your wonderfully nice comment!

      ♥ Jessica

  3. I so admire you ladies who have the drive to wear these beautiful clothes instead of the sweatpants I can often be found in (or worse - pjs). Very cool. I want to start reading Agatha Christie novels! I don't know why but the whole Agatha Christie thing totally ties in with the vintage clothes you ladies wear!

    1. It definitely does, I agree - ditto for the adventures of both Miss Fisher and Poirot. :) I think that you'll really enjoy Agatha Christie's novels. They're engaging, fun, and not overly frightening - especially by 21st century standards - in the slightest.

      Thank you very much for your great comment. Have a beautiful last week of the year!

      ♥ Jessica

  4. Cute wedding photo :)
    Maria V.

    1. Very much so! Her whole wedding and honeymoon was so stylish and beautiful looking.

      Thank you very much for your comment. Have a great New Year's week!
      ♥ Jessica

  5. Wonderful interview, Jessica. The questions were very well-done, and Porcelina did a fantastic job of putting together such thoughtful answers. Both of you ladies are wonderful inspirations; keep up the good work!

    1. Didn't she though? I really felt like there was such a natural, enjoyable tone to her responses with absolutely mirrors the friendly, inviting nature of her blog.

      Big hugs & many thanks for your splendidly nice comment,
      ♥ Jessica

  6. Hello Jessica, thanks for making known to us more and blogs and, above all, the blogger interesting, passionate and creative!
    I understand that it is fortunate to have him as a friend Porcelina, these photos are fantastic and the interview shows a very intelligent woman, with real passions and entrenched in their life. I know how lucky they are in the UK, they have a wonderful vintage world around!

    1. It is my absolute pleasure!!! So much of the thanks goes to the interviewees of this series, who are such a true joy to chat with. Everyone that I've involved with this series so far has been a dream to interview and get to know better and I feel so fortunate to be able to do so and share the end results with all of you here.

      Tons of hugs & many thanks for your beautiful comment,
      ♥ Jessica

  7. Dear Jessica, thank you once again for including me in this fabulous series of interviews! It was a lot of fun taking part, and you obviously took a lot of care over the questions. Thanks also for taking the time to put in links to things like the Black Country Living Museum. I really do hope you've actually managed to have a few days off for some festive celebrations?! Best wishes for the New Year!! xx

    1. You are wholeheartedly welcome, my dear friend. Huge thanks again for a positively awesome interview and for being the lovely, friendly, inspiring soul that you are.

      Exceedingly little rest, but I have been enjoying the holiday season immensely and getting in a lot of quality time with family, which is a special joy unto itself for sure. With a bit of luck, come about mid-January, my schedule and our daily life should have slowed down a bit again and hopefully I can get some much (much!) needed rest then. Time will tell!

      Huge hugs & the very happiest of New Year's wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

  8. Replies
    1. You are as sweet as a candy cane, dear gal. Thank you very much for the wonderfully nice compliment. If you'd ever like to be interviewed as part of this series, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. I still have a couple of spots available for 2016 and would love to have one of them go to you.

      Many hugs & joyful tail end of December wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

  9. Happy New Year to you, Jessica! I'm thankful to have discovered you this year, and look forward to enjoying your posts going forward. Thank you for the intro to Porcelina!

    1. Super happy New Year's wishes to you and your family as well, Sheila. I've loved connecting with you throughout 2015 as well and gleefully look forward to continuing to do so the coming year.

      Here's to a fun, fabulous and very fashionable 2016 on both our ends!

      ♥ Jessica

  10. What a great interview! It's so inspiring and great to learn more about bloggers! Have a Happy New Years!

    1. Thank you very much, lovely Amanda. I completely agree and am so happy that this series gives me the chance to introduce or a further a person's knowledge of, as the case may be, some of our fellow bloggers.

      If you'd ever like to take part yourself, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. I still have a couple of slots open for 2016's interviews and would be tickled pink to chat with you.

      Big hugs & blissful New Year's wishes!
      ♥ Jessica

  11. I love Porcelina's blog, this was such a great read! I have really enjoyed this series of interviews x

    1. That's awesome to hear, sweet dear. Thank you very much! By all means, if you'd ever like to take part in this fun interview series, please zip an email my way and we can certainly plan to make that happen.

      Thank you as well, immensely so, for each and every one of your terrific, supportive, beautiful blog comments this year. I always adore hearing from you and really look forward to sharing in another exciting year of vintage fashion blogging together.

      Have a magnificent New Year!
      ♥ Jessica

  12. Such a great interview. I love Porcelina's blog. It's great to learn more about her from this interview. Such an eloquent and well thought person!

    1. She really is both of those things, I couldn't agree more and feel so honoured that she contacted me to take part in this series.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment. Have a splendid, fun filled New Year's celebration!

      ♥ Jessica

  13. I only discovered Porcelina's blog a few months ago so I have enjoyed learning more about her. You have written a great set of interesting questions and it also felt like listening to a lovely chat between the two of you.

    1. How wonderful that you discovered Porcelina's site in 2015. It's such a dynamic, fun filled, inspiring vintage lifestyle blog. I adore that she writes on a range of topics, from books to travel, too, on top of all of the vintage awesomeness that she shares with us.

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment. I hope that the first week of 2016 is off to a great start for you guys!

      Tons of hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview with Porcelina! Like your blog, hers is one that I very much enjoy visiting; her posts are always so thoughtful and well written and she is always so kind to stop over a visit my humble ramblings as well.
    So lovely to get to know her a little more here and see some of her best looks all together like this.
    Truly a marvelous series these interviews are! Thank you, Jessica!

    1. You're ever so kind, Randi, thank you very much. I absolutely agree that Porcelina's posts are well written and thoughtful. I also sincerely appreciate that she writes not only about fashion (which is awesome of course), but on a broad range of other subjects as well. I appreciate that sense of diversity in a blog and enjoy that we never know what topic she might treat us to next.

      Many thanks again & have a beautiful start of January!
      ♥ Jessica

  15. Great and these are all such good choices and very beautiful.