Jessica focuses on vintage fashion which is interesting not only in itself but as a place we can go to borrow stylish accents for our modern wardrobes. For example, two years ago I started wearing seamed stockings after learning about them from Jessica's blog. Wearing them instead of modern hosiery is easy to do and adds notable panache to one's outfit.
Jessica's presentations on past fashion are replete with fascinating history. They teach us about the culture of earlier times and women's lives back then. I love Jessica's blog because it engages us in many ways including as food for intellectual curiosity. I hope you enjoy this inaugural interview with Jessica.
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- What first inspired you to wear vintage?
You know, it's interesting but there wasn't one exact experience that inspired me to start wearing vintage. For as far back as I have memories, I've been incredibly fascinated by the past, very much including the fashion element side of things. My paternal grandma loves to tell a story that I think highlights this point wonderfully. When I was a wee girl of two or three years old, I would take her family photo albums down off of the shelf and, instead of tearing out photos or colouring on them as many kids might be apt to do, I would sit there entranced, studying each image with reverence and asking my grandma as many questions as I could about the black-and-white faces staring up at me.
As I grew (a little) older, I was naturally drawn to studying the past, be it through books, movies, museums, speaking to elders in my life, or simply observing the world around me for historical elements. Though I greatly enjoyed (and still do) history in general, I've always felt especially pulled towards the Victorian era to the early 1960s, with an emphasis on the 1930s, '40s and '50s.
I was born in 1984, so in the late '80s and early '90s, less than fifty years had passed since the 1950s wrapped up and the influence of that decade (and the ones right before it) was still more prevalent in everyday life and I'm so grateful for that fact. By the age of about nine or ten, I'd vowed to myself that, based on my love of the past, when I grew up, I would wear the styles of the decades that I held nearest and dearest to my heart, even though I had no idea then that there were actually adults in the present day who wore old school styles.
Hop ahead to when I was 15 years old. I started earning some of my own money and couldn't hit the thrift stores fast enough. Back then, at the end of the '90s/start of the '00s, mid-century vintage clothing was still quite easy to find -- often for a total song -- at many vintage stores, flea markets, swap meets, yard sales and such and thus the seeds of my vintage wardrobe were planted.
More than sixteen years later, my closet is a fabulously fun mix of genuine mid-century vintage, 1980s does 1940s and '50s pieces, vintage reproduction, and vintage inspired garb -- with a little bit of goth thrown into the mix, as I'm a dyed-in-the-wool goth girl at heart, too. It's a continually-evolving part of my life and something that brings me an unending amount of joy.
- Why does vintage fashion interest you so much?
Excellent question! There was a particular blend of elegance, femininity, exquisite tailoring and sweetness that run through 1940s and '50s styles that speaks to my soul. Though these elements haven't entirely vanished from the modern fashion world, they're rarely seen -- let alone on a large scale -- to the same degree. I feel compelled to integrate such things into my style and since I'm head-over-heels crazy about the past, wearing vintage fashions is just a natural choice.
I also love that vintage gives one the chance to express their individuality is such a beautiful, creative, versatile way. Wearing yesteryear styles has also had the added benefit of helping to grow my confidence and self-esteem, two things that have not always been strong suits for me.
- How can we entice others to try vintage styles?
I've never set out to convert, so to speak, folks to vintage as I'm a big advocate of wearing whatever one desires, but if a person feels a calling to vintage and isn't sure how to dip their toes into the water, I suggest they think about what sorts of garments they wear and feel most comfortable in present. Are there similar vintage styles that could be swapped in for them? If so, give a couple a try, perhaps worn with some beautiful vintage jewelry or a great mid-century purse and see how you feel. Does that sort of outfit excite you? Are you comfortable in it? How do others respond to your attire? When you wear vintage (or vintage-looking) garments, do you feel like you've "come home" (a/k/a found your sartorial voice)? How is your confidence affected by such? Do you feel like you want to keep going and expand to more vintage styles?
If the answers to such questions are positive for you, then I suggest you continue to add more vintage (and/or vintage reproduction) pieces to your closet. You will likely start to find you're pulled towards one or more particular decades (say, the 1930s and 1940s, or just the 1960s) more than others (at least at this stage in your life) and will naturally hunt for pieces from or that look the part of those years. Have fun with wearing vintage and enjoy the fact that everyone's wardrobe is a constantly evolving thing, meaning that as more time passes, your style may change. Chances are you will still be drawn to at least some of the vintage elements that spoke to you initially.
- When did you start paying attention to the clothes you wear?
July 10, 1984! :D I'm just teasing, as that was the day I was born. I like to think such was the case, but chances are it was a little bit later. I know that by kindergarten, I was in love with fashion and really pushed to be allowed to dress myself as early as possible. I've always been incredibly fascinated by clothing and the role that one's wardrobe choices can have in their life, far beyond the actual garments themselves. While vintage fashion is at the heart of most of my own looks, I adore style in general and both study historical fashions from the dawn of civilization right onward, as well as modern trends, styles and happenings in the clothing world.
- Do you enjoy thinking about fashion?
Massively so! Fashion is so much more than what we wear. It is rife with cultural influences, personal choices, and emotion. In both the context of my own wardrobe and the world in general, I think about fashion and try to learn as much about it as I can. One could never know everything there is to know about style, or sport every outfit under the sun -- not by a long shot! -- so the fact that this is a well of knowledge that can always be extracted from helps to cement fashion's place not only in my own life but for society as a whole.
- What styles appeal to you?
In general, I am drawn to looks that are classic, elegant, feminine, beautiful, creative and fun. I love a hit of whimsy in my wardrobe and never shy away from such. No matter what I'm wearing, be it vintage or otherwise, I like to look put together and strive to create looks that channel the past, while also letting my own stylistic voice shine through.
- What role do clothes play for you?
For me clothing is an incredible source of happiness and no where is that more true than with vintage fashions. I feel like I come all the more alive in them. They help to bolster my confidence (I'm naturally incredibly shy and self-conscious), are a great way for me to share my love of the past with the world while also providing a wonderful counterpoint to some of the more negative/stressful aspects of my life, such as many severe chronic illnesses I've been battling since my late teen years.
Clothing is a form of art. Even if one can't paint, sing, dance, or sculpt to save their life, most of us have the ability to use our wardrobes as our own personal canvas. We can play it safe, be wildly experimental, dabble in a certain style today and another the next, use clothing as a shield of sorts or, conversely, let it express our inner selves in a way that may otherwise not be possible. I've experienced all of those things and many more through my own fashion choices and love that in the process, what I've worn has, at times, helped me grown, mature, and widen my outlooks on the world, too.
- Are clothes a means for self-expression?
Very much so! Even in today's (thankfully) often more progressive, diverse world, clothing still remains one of the hands down best ways to instantly express yourself to those around you - as well as to reconfirm to yourself your own tastes, beliefs and/or desires. It's wise advice not to judge a book by its cover but the simple fact of the matter is that we, as humans, are hardwired to do so and how we dress is like the cover on the book of our lives, so what we choose to say to the world with our fashion leanings is definitely a powerful form of self-expression.
For some, it may also be a form of personal freedom, independence, rebellion and/or growth as well, and those potentially life changing benefits of fashion really cannot be overstated.
- Are clothes camouflage to avoid being seen?
I think that fashion can easily be either (or neither), depending on the person, their life, their history, their struggles, and their needs.
I've never personally (on a conscious level at least) used clothing to hide from the world. Being an intensely shy person though, the fact that my vintage fashion choices often draw attention to me is not usually something that I see as a benefit of dressing the way I do but I have made peace with it over the years and rarely get flustered these days when folks approach me to compliment or otherwise talk about my attire.
I do fully acknowledge that making the distinct fashion choices that I do definitely causes me to stand out -- especially in a small Canadian town -- and ultimately, even as a shy person, I rather love that. Why, I've always wondered, would anyone opt to look like the masses when we have the ability to create our own fabulously unique sense of style, be it vintage, goth, punk, futuristic, fantasy inspired, or anything else our hearts desire?
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Thank you Jessica for speaking with us. The rest of you should go visit her blog!