Hello my dears! I am so excited to be bringing this interview to you all today, as it features one of the sweetest vintage bloggers and Etsy shop owners I know: Jessica Cangiano of Chronically Vintage! Jessica shares so many similar passions with the three of us at the BFS studio, from her love of vintage handicrafts to her admiration of New Look style suits. I know you all will enjoy getting to know her and finding out what inspires the ever so lovely and impeccably stylish Jessica C. So without further ado…
We are so excited to interview you for our blog! Before we begin the rest of the interview, would you mind introducing yourself to those of our followers who aren’t familiar with you and your lovely blog: Chronically Vintage?
I’m delighted to be here, ladies, thank you each so much for the honour and pleasure of this wonderful interview.
Certainly! I’m Jessica Cangiano, a 31 year old professional vintage fashion + lifestyle blogger and Etsy vintage shop owner from beautiful Penticton, British Columbia Canada. I’ve been happily married to my Italian born soul mate, Tony, for nearly 11.5 years now and together we’re “parents” to Annie, a super (and super energetic) three year old American Bulldog (half lab, half American bulldog), and Stella, a precious little 7.5 year old grey tabby cat.
I’ve loved vintage my whole life, have been wearing it since I was about 15 years old, blogging about it for nearly seven years now, and selling it on Etsy since May 2014.
When not up to my 1950s style eyebrows in vintage related happenings, you can often find me spending time with my husband, family and/or pets, taking photos, reading, crafting (cross stitch, paper crafting, and jewelry making are particular favourites), spending time outdoors, visiting museums and galleries, writing snail mail letters, or whipping up something delicious in the kitchen.
What sparked your interest in, and love for, vintage fashion?
Interestingly, there wasn’t one particular event or experience that lit a fire in my soul for vintage. If such is possible, I genuinely believe that I was born with a love of the past. Even as a very small child (2 – 3 years old) I was inexplicably drawn to anything pertaining to history, very much including old photographs, and have continued to grow this passionate interest of mine throughout my whole life.
By the time I was about 9 – 10 years old, even though I had no idea (yet) that other people out there were already doing so (albeit less folks back in those days of the early 1990s), I vowed to myself that when I grew up, I would wear the sorts of vintage fashions that I was already massively in love with and happily I kept that vow, beginning to don 1940s and 50s looks in my early teen years.
I’ve always been intensely drawn to the beauty, integrity, femininity, and elegance of vintage fashion and feel a greater connection with it than I do most modern styles, so I think that has been a key element for me in terms of why I love sporting it so much.
You started your blog, Chronically Vintage, back in 2009, what has it been like watching the online vintage community grow since that time?
It’s been a wild, and very enjoyable, ride for sure! I was not the first vintage blog on the scene by any means, but I am one of the few early vintage blogs that are still going strong several years after they began. Back in those days, there were some bloggers who soared to notoriety quite quickly (and for good reason, don’t get me wrong) and who became household names for those in our subculture. Relatively few of them are still activity blogging, so watching them come and go, has been very interesting. Some of these people are popular micro/social media bloggers now, others have moved on from vintage entirely.
In general, there are far fewer vintage (and rockabilly) traditional style bloggers than there once were, but in a way this has helped to really make those of us who are still here (or who have joined our ranks more recently) all the more close knit and supportive of one another. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of this wonderful group of ladies (and a much smaller number of chaps) and have gained so much through vintage blogging and the many friends that have enriched my life thanks to it.
If you could go back in time to a certain era and place in the past, where would you go, and who would you want to meet?
Love this question! I’d go back in time to the Klondike gold rush of the late 1890s and meet one of my sets of maternal great-grandparents who went north in the name of gold (my great-grandpa was from the States, my great-grandmother from Quebec). My maternal grandma, their youngest daughter, has been sharing stories of her youth spent in the Yukon (she was born there in 1930) and about her parents time there with me my whole life and though I haven’t yet set foot in the Land of the Midnight sun (doing so is one of my life goals) myself, I’ve long felt an incredibly powerful connection to the arctic and to its famous gold rush. Thus I’d definitely love to see it in person and to meet these two people that loved the Yukon so much, they stayed and raised a family there long after gold fever had died down for most.
Who is your biggest role model?
My mother, hands down. She has had to overcome some really incredible adversity in her life, is no stranger to heartache, and has always stayed true to herself no matter how much life heaped on her shoulders. She’s strong, brave, graceful, beautiful, smart, creative, passionate, devoted to her family, caring, generous, and a fabulous person to go thrift store shopping with, to boot! 🙂 I cherish my mom with all my heart and know that I am a better person because I’m her daughter.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Ooohhh, hard call! I haven’t been to that many far off places so far in my life, but I have done a fair bit of traveling throughout Canada (and a little bit in Europe, too), especially here in my home province of British Columbia. Definitely one of my favourite places to visit in BC is the capital city of Victoria, which is located on Vancouver Island. It’s a gorgeous city on the Pacific Ocean that is rich with history and that still houses a good deal of Victorian and early 20th century homes and other buildings. I feel a real closeness with this city and would happily move there, if the opportunity arose to do so.
How do you add a ray of sunshine to your life on an otherwise overcast day?
There are so many fun, meaningful ways to do this. I’ve always been a very optimistic, upbeat, positive person, so finding the silver lining or making the best of a difficult situation tends to come quite naturally to me. That said, we all have especially challenging times in our lives and when faced with such, I know that spending time in nature will always, without fail, help to sooth my soul and revive my spirit, so I make a beeline for the great outdoors, pronto! 🙂
Now getting on to the topic of your lovely Etsy shop, also known as Chronically Vintage, how do you chose items for your shop? Do you have certain criteria for what you are looking to put on the virtual “shelves” of your store?
In general when sourcing items for my Etsy shop, I’m looking for pieces that are still in fairly good to excellent shape for their age, that are items I sense (or know from past sales) are apt to sell well based on the likes and trends of the vintage fashion community, that are attractive (to my eyes at least), and which speak in a really lovely way to the era that they hail from.
As well, there are certain types and styles of vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories that tend to sell well and that have been popular in the vintage world for a long time now, such as those made from Bakelite and celluloid, that feature WW2 related themes, animal or flower related pieces, or art deco items that are always big hits, so I try to make a point to find and stock a good selection of those (and others that do well, too), whenever possible.
What is your favorite item in the shop currently?
As a general rule, I don’t list anything that I don’t like and appreciate myself, even if it’s not in keeping with my own personal style, and so I flat out adore most of the items in my shop. That said, I utterly love this stunning 1940s soutache beaded pink party dress. I literally remember gasping aloud when I found it (which, interestingly, happened while on a trip to Victoria). Love at first sight all the way! It’s such a well constructed, highly intricate garment that sings with the spirit of the forties – plus it’s pink, which is my all-time favourite colour.
To use a phrase that I have heard you use before, what is your “unicorn” item that you are searching for to add to your vintage wardrobe?
A genuine late 1940s or early 1950s Dior New Look skirt suit in my size at a yard sale price. I know, I really am more apt to see cute little piggies fly past my window than have that happen, but hey, a vintage loving gal can always dream. 🙂
What is your favorite era?
Hands down the 1940s and 50s, and in particular, the ten year span from 1947 – 1957. That said, I enjoy and appreciate all periods in time and have long been very drawn to the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras as well – plus, I have a major soft spot for the decade that gave me life, the 1980s.
What sort of items get you most excited when you are searching for inventory for your shop?
Excellent question! I love it when I find pieces that are not easy to come by around my small town Canadian parts, such as Bakelite, as well as those that I know are perennial favourites in the vintage collecting/wearing world. Especially old pieces (anything over 100 years old) make my eyes beam big time, too. Plus, as a major animal lover, I just adore anything pet or wild critter related.
Huge thanks again, lovely ladies!
Thank you so much Jessica for participating in this lovely interview! You are such a dear. And to all of you out there reading this, take a stop by Jessica’s blog, Chronically Vintage before you go. Also, take a gander at Jessica’s Etsy shop as well! She is having a 25% off sale for Valentine’s Day, so you might be able to find that special something for a bargain of a price.
Where would you want to travel if you could go back in time?
What is your favorite item from the Chronically Vintage Etsy shop?
Brigid, the Middle Sister and Singer