Vintage Expert | Jessica at Chronically Vintage
Aug 8, 2014 | by Becky Oeltjenbruns
Here at Cause A Frockus we love connecting you with kindred spirits. Our latest vintage expert is definitely an amazing example of that uplifting enthusiasm. The lovely Jessica with Chronically Vintage is a source of constant inspiration for us – whether it’s her amazing personal style, her passion for preserving retro, or her colossal vintage knowledge.
We know you’ll adore her energy and, lucky for us all, she’s now applied her keen eye to a personally curated Etsy shop. Join us as we learn more about our most recent addition to our list of vintage experts.
Penticton, British Columbia
“I’ve been wearing vintage clothing since I was 15, and as I just turned 30 this July, that’s half my lifetime now. My interest in vintage stretches further back than that though, in fact, hand on my heart, there isn’t a time when I wasn’t passionately enamored with the past. From the history to the way people dressed to the work ethic and civic pride of the mid-twentieth century, I truly fell in love with everything about the 1930s – 1950s as a youngster and my passion for it has continued to snowball ever since.”
Jessica offers a wide range of vintage treasures at her Etsy shop: jewelry, hats, handbags, gloves, men’s accessories, and ephemera. She is excited to announce that clothing is now also part of the collection! So whatever your fancy, chances are you’ll find it at Chronically Vintage!
Share with us what guests can expect when shopping at Chronically Vintage.
Chronically Vintage prides itself on providing top-notch customer care from someone who is incredibly passionate about vintage. Here you’ll find honest and detailed product descriptions, fair prices, frequent new listings, a wide range of vintage clothes, hats, handbags, gloves, jewelry, other accessories, and ephemera spanning the Victorian era right on up to the 1980s. (There is a particular emphasis on mid-century items, as those are both nearest and dearest to my own heart and also among the most sought after in the vintage marketplace). Clients can rest easy as each transaction is secure and purchases are thoughtfully and professionally packaged (including a handwritten note with each order).
What inspires your amazing personal style?
I’m a very visual person and honestly believe that inspiration can come from just about everything I see, as well as experience, learn about, eat, listen to – you name it! There are of course some sources though that particularly inspire me and these include real world photographs of women from the 1930s, 40s and 50s (as I feel I can personally relate to them better than I can famous celebrities of the day, though I certainly enjoy looking at the stunning ensembles that vintage starlets wore, too), vintage fashion and lifestyle magazines, my fellow vintage bloggers/wearers, and some unexpected sources, such as vintage movie posters and calendar art, which I chatted about in greater detail in this post from last year.
What’s your top advice for people just starting to embrace vintage style?
To those just getting started and/or further establishing their own vintage look, I say don’t be afraid to try wearing whatever your heart is telling you to sport. Though one can certainly adopt a vintage purist take on yesteryear styling if so desired, and some certainly do, you are ultimately free to mix and match styles, decades, repro and genuine vintage, old and new, whatever your heart desires! One of the most appealing elements of vintage fashion is that we get to avail of the looks of the past we hold most dear and utilize old and new fashions alike to create our own versions of them.
Let’s talk about hats! What do you look for when collecting vintage hats?
Generally speaking, I’m looking for pre-1960s hats that are in good to excellent or even NOS (new old stock/dead stock) condition. Netting that’s seen better days is quite common with vintage hats, so that will rarely stop me from buying one (it can either be removed, trimmed to remove a damaged edge, or tucked up on top as part of the decorative crown elements, depending on the style of the hat). The same goes for very small conditional issues such as a few missing silk flower petals, a feather that’s a little lackluster, or a slightly warped shape, but typically, when it comes to the hats I sell, I do want them to be in very good shape and for my customers to be able to wear them right off the bat.
Are there certain red flags when it comes to repairing or cleaning retro hats?
I adore vintage hats and own many (40+ and counting!) myself, but I’m not a milliner by any means and don’t profess to be, so I would rarely purchase a severely damaged or stained vintage hat unless I was confident that I knew how to fix it with the skills I currently have. Some stains can be lifted or lightened, depending on the fabric/materials used. For certain materials like straw and raffia, I’m fond of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (though I’m always certain to test them on the inside of the hat in an inconspicuous area, just to make sure it isn’t going to damage that particular topper).
How do you store vintage hats?
I store my own personal vintage hat collection in three main ways: one is a dedicated hat wall in a small upstairs bedroom (I use white, round tipped metal hooks bought from a local hardware store) and am certain to only hang hats from it that won’t warp from a dangled, albeit it quite flush with the wall, setting like this. The others are stored in acid free tissue paper lined boxes that I saved from when I bought a few packs of flocked hangers in early 2012. They’re shape is a bit like a much taller pizza box and they’re fabulous for platter, wide brimmed, and more delicate styles. And last, but not least, I use some of my hats as decor pieces on shelves in various rooms among vintage books, knickknacks, photo frames and the like. When it comes to the hats for my shop, they’re all in either (again, acid free tissue paper lined) vintage hat boxes or sturdy modern plastic storage totes.
Do you always need a hat pin when wearing retro hats?
Not at all! I adore hat pins, but not every style of hat warrants them by any means (some styles, such as cloche hats, do a very good job of staying put on their own). Many, especially from the very late 30s and on into the 40s, have elastic straps intended (usually) to be worn on the back of the head and they’ll usually hold the hat in place just as well as a hat pin. Likewise, hats from various mid-century decades often had (usually two) small plastic hair combs attached to the inside and for some folks (depending on your hair type, head size, the style of the hat, etc), these will do the trick and hold it in place, too. That said, it is always a good idea if you’re a fan of vintage hats to own at least one small to medium and one larger sized hat pin in nice, neutral shades (black, cream, gold, etc) that can be worn with a plethora of different hat styles.
What do you look for as you are curating gloves for your shop?
With gloves, I’m very selective because they’re often not terribly easy to fix, especially if we’re talking about certain types of set in stains, big holes (that aren’t on seams), missing fingers (yes, I’ve seen this – it always makes me wonder what happened to them!), lots of moth nibbles or other substantial problems.
I look for little to no staining or foxing (brown spotting akin to that often seen on old paper), sturdy seams, beading or other detailing that’s still intact (if applicable), leather or suede that’s still supple (if they’re made from these materials), minimal amount of pulling on the fabric, and even color between both gloves (sometimes you’ll find a pair and though they’re original mates, one is darker than the other for whatever reason). I try to source a range of sizes, too, for ladies with petite, average, and larger and/or longer sized hands and I always try to remember to include a link on each of my glove listings to this post, in case my customers aren’t sure what size vintage gloves they wear.
How do you store vintage gloves?
In separate areas of the house, I store my personal glove collection and those for the shop in divided fabric storage containers that were designed with socks or small lingerie items in mind. They’re soft (so they’re not apt to catch on the gloves’ fabric), very affordable, easy to stack, and you can get a lot of pairs in each. I shared this method of glove store in this post back in 2012 (and yes, should anyone be wondering, my glove collection has grown a bit more since then, I think I personally own in the range of 90+ pairs of gloves at this point).
We really enjoy your retro recipe features. What are your go-to selections when you host a party?
Cooking and the culinary arts is one of my biggest passions in life, so I really like to serve a wide range of foods, eat with the seasons, and go all out for holidays and special events. That said, some of my go-to dishes for dinner parties are my maternal grandfather’s beef stroganoff, my paternal grandma’s hamburger pie, homemade pizza and lasagna (my husband is a native son of Italy, so there’s often a Mediterranean flare to our meals), pasta salads, extra fluffy mashed potatoes, a great roast chicken or turkey, hearty soups and stews in the colder months, big bowls of caramel corn (again, a treasured family recipe), trifle in the summer and apple crisp or pumpkin pie in the winter. I always like to make extra when I host a dinner party or family get-together meal and send my guests home with their leftovers of their favorites so that they don’t have to cook for two nights in a row.
For our readers: have any questions for our latest vintage expert? Sound off in the comments!