Vintage Fashion by Jessica Cangiano
There are lots of Vintage Fashion Blogs out there, and lots of us - wonderful and different girls (and boys) who love vintage and blog about it, we know the fashion history and share our love and experience through our vintage blogs… And it's great, it brings us, vintage fashion fans, together it helps others, and I believe, it makes the world a better please…
There is one girl among us, vintage fans, her name is Jessica Cangiano, whose Chronically Vintage Blog is an outstanding online place of positivity, style, deep historical knowledge, understanding of fashion, and wonderful writing language…
She kindly shared a part of her beautiful vintage visual with us here on Vintage Fashion Club. Please enjoy our 'vintage dialogue' and be inspired…
VFC: Hi Jessica, please introduce yourself.
JC: Hi Alena, thank you very much for your interview invitation, I'm honoured that you wanted to know more about me. My name is Jessica Cangiano, I'm 26 years old and I reside in Toronto, Canada with my darling husband, Tony, and our immensely cute cat, Stella.
I'm been a fan of mid-twentieth century style for literally as back as I can have memories, and have been blogging about this deeply rooted love of mine, on my blog
, since early 2009.
I embrace vintage style in every possible area of my life, but especially express my love of vintage through my wardrobe choices, opting to dress in styles from (or which look as though they could have come from) the 1940s and 50s, my two favourite decades of all time.
VFC: You like vintage fashion, why? This may sound like a stupid question, I know, as it's hard to explain why you like something, but I'm curious to know what is it that you like about vintage?
JC: That's not a stupid question at all. I think it's fascinating to delve into the why someone is passionate about something and am happy you asked me that query. There are at least as many reasons why I love vintage fashion as there are pages in a 1940s Sears catalogue, but three main ones stand out for me.
Firstly, I adore vintage fashion because I am ridiculously enamoured with history in general. From the Tudors to the Victorians, the Ancient Romans to the Beat Generation, if it happened in a time before I came into this world, I'm insatiably interested in it. I'm not sure what sparked this love of the past in me, I just know that's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember (if it's possible to inherently love history, I believe that would apply to me). Wearing vintage fashion is one channel in my life through which I can express my never-ending love of the past.
Next, I cannot get enough of vintage fashion because I'm just about the biggest girly-girly you'll ever meet. While I'm grateful that women today have the freedom to dress however they wish, personally, I strive to always dress very femininely, because I feel that reflects who I am the best.
In my eyes, many of the fashions, hairstyles and make-up looks of the 1940s and 50s were extremely feminine (particularly those after WW2, especially following the launch of Dior's New Look towards the end of the decade) and this draws me to them like a moth to a flame. I often feel like modern styles fall short of capturing the feminine aesthetic that I aspire, yet those from the 40s and 50s do so perfectly.
Thirdly, am a free-spirited soul who has never had the slightest desire to fit into any sort of cookie cutter fashion mold. I've never followed fashion trends and believe that we should each aspire to our own unique style. Mid-20th century fashion allows me to create a look that best represents the womanly styles that I love. It ensures that my closet will not look like my neighbor's (well, unless I lived next door to a fellow vintage-ista, that is - and even then, I'm sure our wardrobes would be comprised of quite unique styles, as vintage pieces have often become one of a kind treasures over the years).
If I wear a 1950s evening dress for a night out with my husband, I know that there is an exceptionally small chance I that I would ever encountering someone else sporting the same frock. This fact is very important to me because I use my wardrobe to help express my individuality and my desire to dress in a way that is all my own.
VFC: I’ve noticed that mostly there are creative artistic people who prefer vintage (compliment to all of us vintage fans). And you are another example: designer, photographer, writer... Why do you think vintage fashion attracts some artistic types of people?
JC: That's a great observation which I too have noticed before. While it can be tricky to give one collective answer for what motivates a whole group of people, I think that one reason why artistic/creative souls are drawn to vintage is because it gives them the freedom to create a look that stands out from the sea of carbon fashion copies that you see today. With vintage fashion you can shop (so to speak) from different decades, mixing the looks you love from each to create a look that is completely your own and highly unique.
By the same token, depending on your personal tastes, you could just as easily pick a favourite decade (or even year!) and stick to pieces just from that time frame. Even then however, because vintage pieces tend to be sought out and found one at a time, you get to amass a wardrobe that is creatively unlike those of the vast majority of people out there (and one which you've really poured your time and heart into).
I think that many creative people are drawn to the allure of making a world for themselves that is highly individualist and beautiful. One that captures what they love and honours their creative side. In putting together vintage looks, one gets to turn yesteryear clothing into a fashion pallet from which to colour the canvas of their life.
I'm an extremely right-brained person (though I do tend to be highly organized and methodical, characteristics often associated with left brain folks) and have always embraced being creative however I could. I am a professional photographer specializing in commercial and food photography, prop stylist, writer, editor, and jewelery artisan.
I rarely look at being creative as "work" though, as I tend to derive an inordinate amount of happiness from the creative pursuits I engage in. Aside from the aforementioned areas of my life, I really also enjoy doing various crafts, writing poetry, and cooking.
I feel that there is something deeply marvelous that comes from opting to embrace the world of vintage fashion, and I think that for those who have a natural inclination to be artistic in whatever capacity, wearing vintage styles is another way in which they can express their love of being (and dressing) creatively.
VFC: Your interests extend beyond vintage fashions and antiques, into areas like old books, music, and films. What is it that you like about the past?
JC: Wow, I could pretty much turn my answer to this question into a reply the size of a book, but I'll keep it short and give you the Reader's Digest version instead. :-)
I treasure the past because without it, none of us would be here today. While I try never to sugarcoat the history (it can become easy to latch onto the beautiful parts and forget that not everything about the past looked like it came from a 1950s Vogue spread), I do try an embrace the good points about 1940s and 50s society - the valuable, important elements such as manners, civility, community-mindedness, family values, and integrity, which I feel are often all too lacking (or downplayed) in our harried modern world.
The fact that many men have stopped opening doors, pulling out chairs for, and tipping their hats (if they're wearing one at all, that is), to women never ceases to amaze. Just as it baffles me why any woman would want to go out dressed like she's in her undergarments (e.g., miniskirts and belly tops). I'm anything but a prude, nor am I conservative person (I'm actually extremely liberal), yet for me personally, I feel that dressing tastefully and having good manners is of the utmost importance.
I love that in the past people cared about their appearance in a way that many today do not. Folks had pride in their clothes and in looking respectable wherever they went. This didn't necessaries imply that they spent lavishly on their wardrobes, but rather that they took pains to keep the clothing they did own looking good, and that they dressed sophisticatedly and stylishly within their means. I think we've (often) become too blinded in today's age by all the glitz and allure of mass market consumerism and have forgotten to focus on being happy with what we have (and how to make the best out of it).
Men and women used to dress up to go to the movies, gas (petrol) station attendants wore uniforms with hats and ties; women changed outfits throughout the day, often becoming more elegantly dressed as the day wore on. I want to live in a world where such things are still done - a world where people have pride in how they treat one another and in looking respectable at all times, not in the latest mobile phone they've bought.
I know that, sadly, such a world (as a whole) does not exist any more. I can't toss a penny into a wishing well and wake up to a world that looks as though it could have come from a Rita Hayworth film, but I can keep certain elements from this period in time alive in my own life by embracing all things vintage.
VFC: Would you agree that in the past things were better quality, made from purer materials and with higher standards?
JC: Yes, generally speaking, I would agree that things were constructed and produced to a higher standard in the past then they are today. Of course there's always been varying degrees of quality to any category of goods, but in the past many things were made from more durable materials and were often better (and more skillfully) constructed then they are today.
Wood, metal and glass used to make up many every day items that today are often (cheap) plastic. Our society has become one of creating disposable items that can be sold inexpensively. If the handle on a pot were to break today, I think most people who probably buy a new pot, yet in our grandparent's and great-grandparent's day, most folks would have taken that pot to be repaired. Often when people bought things back in the 40s and 50s, they expected them to last for years or even generations. The idea that something could wear out or break and need to be replaced within a matter of months was something of an alien concept (excluding of course those sorts of things like a toothbrush which weren't meant to last a lifetime) that I doubt many would have stood for prior to the 1960s.
I have dresses (which were ready-wear in their day, not designer couture or anything like that) hanging in my closet right now from the 1950s that have held up better over 60 years than (modern) t-shirts and pajamas I bought last year. Garments were often sewed with a degree of care and quality back then which one does not readily find on the mass market these days. I love this about vintage pieces and it's one of the reasons why I buy them. Assuming a vintage piece is in good shape (or that I can mend it and bring it up to snuff) when I purchase it, I know that with a bit of TLC (and proper handling and storage) over the years, that garment is likely to exist for at least another 50 years - if not longer!
VFC: Have you found like-minded friends, learned new things, or achieved anything else through your blog?
JC: Prior to starting my own vintage themed blog, I had been reading those of other vintage loving folks for at least a couple of years, yet I hadn't "reached out" and become friends with any of these like minded individuals. Once I started blogging, I began to visit other vintage blogs quite frequently and to leave comments on such sites when I did. Through these comments (and in some cases through emails) and the back-and-forth relationships that have sprung out of some of them, I have had the pleasure and delight of making a few fantastic online friends who share my love of vintage.
I've learned scores through reading other vintage blogs (it's amazing to see the topics that each vintage blogger chooses to write about; some people are enamoured solely with yesteryear fashion, others with home decor. Some love to deliver great history lessons, whereas others are all about vintage sewing projects, no two vintage bloggers are exactly alike and I love that about this community of creative individuals), from interesting historical facts to depression era recipes, handy hairstyling tips to decoding how vintage stockings were sized.
I'm thankful for my fellow vintage bloggers and love what a kind, friendly community we are. I consider everyone who reads my blog to be a friend, and honestly have to say that Chronically Vintage wouldn't be the great site it is today if not for the support, understanding, and camaraderie I've received from fellow vintage enthusiasts.
Many times individuals who are wild about vintage can feel like a fish out of water in the modern world (I sometimes felt this way when I was growing up, as I started wearing vintage in my teen years, but no longer feel like that these days, instead I lovingly embrace that my look sets me apart), yet when you discoverer that there are lots of other vintage enthusiasts like yourself out there you suddenly feel like you've "come home" (so to speak).
VFC: You've mentioned in your blog that you have chronic health problems, however (the name) ‘Chronically Vintage’ itself says a lot about the upbeat, optimistic attitude you have towards your life. Could you elaborate on how you manage to successfully run a blog, given that you're only able to work on it a limited amount of time?
JC: First of all, thank you very much for the sweet words. I've always tried to be a glass half full kind of gal, and am really touched to know that you think I have a sunny, optimistic outlook on life.
While I try to keep the focus of my blog on vintage related topics, sometimes it does become necessary for me to mention my health. I've been severally chronically ill with multiple conditions for several years now. My health has a massive impact on just about every element of my life, yet I've tried diligently to never let it completely rule my life and certainly to never fully define who I am.
Part of the reason why I started blogging about a non-medical related topic was to allow myself a fun little corner of the web where I could focus my thoughts on something joyful, fascinating, fun, and exciting (vintage!). Chronically Vintage has proven to be a very cathartic outlet for me, and during those periods when, due to my health, I've had to choice but to take a short (often unexpected/sudden) break from blogging, I've missed it dearly.
This point actually makes me a happy though, because if I didn't miss it - or if I felt like taking a break was akin to a huge sigh of relief, that would indicate to me that blogging (about vintage) wasn't making me very happy anymore and/or that keeping up my blog was feeling like work instead of pleasure.
This past year my health has been particularly bad. I've been in and out of the hospital, had surgery, and sometimes had to take little breaks from blogging, but never once through it all have I woken up truly felt like I wanted to throw in the (blogging) towel. Whereas I used to post more frequently, much as I wish I still could, I know that doing so just isn't feasible for me right now. Thusly I've cut myself some slack and now try to post once or twice a week. If I can manage to do more than that, great. If not - if let's say I can only get up a couple new posts a month - that's absolutely fine as well. My blog isn't a job, it's a creative outlet and something that I do from the heart, and ultimately at the end of the day, what's important is that decreases, instead of increases, the stress in my life.
VFC: What does your vintage blog actually mean to you?
JC: To me Chronically Vintage is akin to an online scrapbook in which I record vintage related facts, stories, and images (as well as my thoughts about such things), that are of interest to me. By the same token though, not every post that I write is strictly about a vintage related topic. Sometimes I write about my life or other interests of mine and tie my love of vintage into such posts with one or more old school images - just as I try to weave vintage style into my everyday life.
My blog is a way for me to discover new corners of the past, connect with others who share my passion for vintage, and to happily do one of my favourite things in the universe: write about something I love!
VFC: Do you have a business that's related to vintage fashion?
JC: No, at this stage in my life I do not have a business that is solely focused on something pertaining vintage (fashion or otherwise), though I do try to weave my love of vintage into as many professional and personal corners of my life as I possibly can. If the opportunity to start up a vintage fashion related business every presented itself, I jump at it in a heartbeat!
VFC: In your blog you mention that your favourite vintage decades are 30s through to the 50s, what styles do you like from these years and why?
JC: There are so, so many beautiful looks from these decades that I swoon over and try to fill my wardrobe with (much as I admire the styles of the 1930s, most of them do not work very well on my short, curvy figure, so I don't usually wear pieces/styles from that decade), but if I had to narrow down my list to just a few key fashion elements they would be: full/circle skirts, petticoats/crinolines, femininely cut dresses of all sorts (especially those circa 1948-1957), fitted cardigans and shrugs, delicate "day wear" hats, gloves (for day-to-day wear, as a fashion accessory, not simply as means to keep my hands warm), pearl jewelry, seamed stockings, high heels in 40s and 50 styles, deep red lipstick (Mac's Russian Red is my go-to shade), cat's eye/winged (black) eyeliner, pin curls (my hair in naturally very fine and bone straight, so getting it to hold a curl for longer than five seconds can be a challenge, but pin-curls and generous dose of hairspray can usually do the trick), and (simply for their ravishing beauty) 1950s wedding dresses.
I love and commonly strive to dress as in a way that gives me a very feminine silhouette (I was blessed with a natural hourglass figure which makes this easier to do), so I tend to veer towards looks from the later 1940s (after the war years, though I do love and appreciate the earnest, pretty looks that women donned during those difficult years and sometimes sport such styles myself) all the way through to the end of the 1950s, as the "womanly figure" was very much in vogue during those years (thanks in no small part to widespread use of figure whittling foundation garments!).
VFC: Vintage clothing is often second-hand, what do you think about the idea of wearing clothes that someone else had worn before?
JC: I absolutely love it! When I was a little girl I started going to garage sales and flea markets with my mom, which helped me to become very comfortable with secondhand/used pieces of all sorts from a young age. By my early teen years I was scouring my (small) hometown's secondhand shops on my school lunch breaks and the weekends, buying up pleated 1950s plaid skirts and adorable vintage sweater sets for absolute bargains. Once I struck out on my own and was in complete control of my wardrobe, I began to buy as much of my clothing from vintage and secondhand shops as I could afford to do so. These days I do a fair bit of my vintage shopping online, but still relish the chance to hunt for vintage clothes in person any chance I can get.
I always launder (and do any necessary repairs to) any vintage piece I bring home, and believe that there's next to no difference between wearing used clothing and sleeping in a hotel bed or eating at restaurant that reuses it's china and cutlery (bedsheets and spoons in such places are often used by hundred or even thousands of different people over time, where as a secondhand garment has usually only had one or a small number of previous users).
Buying secondhand clothing allows me to create a mini museum of my own in my closet, to preserve actual pieces of the past, and to ensure that I'm keeping a handful of beautiful old school garments alive. I couldn't imagine not filling my wardrobe with secondhand pieces, every one of which I love and cherish.
VFC: What is your favorite item from your retro wardrobe and jewellery box?
JC: My two favourite vintages pieces are a black 1950s full (circle) skirt with a gorgeous pink rose pattern on it, and a black and white 1950s floral print cotton day dress. Sensitive skin and a nickel allergy have prevented me from buying many actual vintage jewelry pieces, but of those that I do have, my favourite is a small silver toned vintage pin (brooch) in the shape of a delicate long stemmed rose (as you can gather from my selections, I rather fancy pieces with a floral theme to them!). Another top favourite is a simple, yet chic, black and red felt hat from the late 40s/early 50s.
It is Jessica Cangiano, charming and beautiful, for Vintage Fashion Club and for all of you who love gorgeous retro fashion.
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