Jen, known online as A Vintage Vanity, is all about gutsy, bold but elegant fashion and beauty. As if her fuschia hair wasn't enough for me to dare you to divert your attention from her channel, her chic hair tutorials and fun 'unboxing' episodes easily make her likeable and admirable for her vibrant persona and carefree confidence. Tune in for my interview with A Vintage Vanity.
Introduce yourself.I’m Jennifer, a vintage lifestyle beauty guru on YouTube! I’ve had a longtime love affair with the style and beauty of the 40s and 50s so I finally threw away trying to fit into the modern style and wholeheartedly embraced my inner vintage dame! My channel features hair tutorials, DIY projects, sewing, and vlogging though it’s become so much more…a supportive and stylish community of ladies and gents.
Describe your personal style.
If I like it, I’ll wear it! Petticoats, circle skirts, cardigans, bright colors, prints, hair flowers. My style draws heavily on the full skirts of the 1950s, but I love to mix it up with modern styles or throw in some padded shoulders for a dash of 1940s. I love the feminine feel of vintage styles, it just feels right, in fact that’s how I feel about one’s personal style…it should feel right to you! Trying to fit into styles/trends that you’re not drawn to is like wearing someone else’s skin…uncomfortable and a wee bit gory! One of my favorite phrases is from my literary bible “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” when the heroine is looking at the women in her life she equates them to thin invisible steel, which is how I think of my style soft and feminine on the outside with an inner layer of thin steel…strong and unbreakable, the beauty of being a woman.
What influenced you to start vlogging on YouTube?
I’ve been on YouTube for a little over 2 years. I actually started blogging (which has been grossly neglected though hopefully to be reborn in the near future) as a way to work out my long neglected writing muscle. This coincided with the time I was really embracing my vintage life so the blog started reflecting the changes I was making. I wanted to be able to share with one of my best friends (who lives out of state) the styles I was doing so I made my first youtube video, never expecting to fall in love with it. Which is how I ended up with the user name that I have. Once I made that first video there was no going back, I loved being able to “teach” people the styles I was creating and before I knew it an amazing community grew up around sharing something that I loved.
For me inspiration comes in many forms. I look to old movies, classic Hollywood actresses, old photos of every day people, and designers like Givenchy, Edith Head, Coco Chanel, Dior, along with modern designers for fashion inspiration. I also gobble up all the fashion reality shows like M&Ms. For hairspiration many of the same provides me with ideas as well as vintage styling books and modern pin-ups. For a jolt of creativity it comes from stranger places such as abandoned buildings and photographs of strangers. I love to try and imagine the lives that were lived, how they loved, and what was their passion. I do the same thing when I purchase a vintage piece, you know there was a story behind it because the owner cherished it enough to save it throughout the years, wearing a piece of vintage clothing is like honoring someone’s beloved memories. I’m also continually inspired by other YouTubers and bloggers as well, their style and creativity keep me striving to move things forward.
Who is your style icon?
I adore Ginger Rogers. Whenever I’m stumped for a new hairstyle I always scroll through pictures of her, her style was ever changing and always stunning, from finger waves, loose curls, to elaborate updos. I lean more towards 1940s hairstyles mainly because of the fabulous amount of curls that were running rampant about that time, which is why Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner rank high on my list of icons, their curls and waves were so sultry they could steam up a camera lens. I love a good tease which is why I can’t leave the styles of the 50s and 60s behind, Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day rocked amazing volume along with sexpots like Brigitte Bardot.
What is your go-to hairstyle?
My go to for quick vintage glamour is always any type of victory roll, they are signature of the 1940s and never fail to make me feel sassy! They are so versatile…you can style them very low to the scalp for a more subtle look or really tease them up so you get great height and volume, they work whether or not you have bangs and look great on everyone! If I’m trying to get out the door in the quickest way possible I grab a sheer scarf and tie it around my hair, roll my bangs up, pull up the rest of the hair in a ponytail and either just pin up my curls or tease the heck out of my hair and roll it for a beehive feel.
I have an internal mute button for negative comments or weird stares, so everything has been wonderful. Seriously though, I tend to get the sweetest comments from strangers who will make it a point to stop me and tell me how much they enjoy my look. Some of the best are little girls who will stare wide-eyed, mouth open, and in awe tell their Mother that “that lady has princess hair!” Others will stop to tell me how lovely they think my look is and that it adds a little brightness to their day (though my hair is so bright pink that it will indeed brighten any dark room). What I love best though is when my style sparks a memory for someone and they tell me about the person whom I remind them of.
What is the most positive comment someone has said on one of your videos?
I honestly have the best viewers, they are continually leaving the most amazing comments! They inspire me to try something new, suggesting new products, and overall being awesome! Since you’re making me pick, my favorite comments always begin “You’ve inspired me to…”. The fact that this little YouTube channel that I’ve started has motivated someone somewhere to do something that they love, (I’m going to get sappy here) brings tears to my eyes and fills me with happiness. There is no better feeling. Not too long ago I did a video that was near and dear to my heart “8 Tips for Working on your Self Confidence”, all of us to some extent struggle with our confidence…I’ll admit to not having mastered it myself! I wanted to find a way to give them the support they were giving me, return the confidence that their comments gave me so I created the video and I received the most amazing feedback. From very personal responses to how it helped them with their struggle to a simple “I needed this”.
What is your favorite thing to do in your past time?
When I’m not filming videos or trolling a local vintage fair I can be found stalking the beautiful city of Chicago. I’m a big Chicago history nerd, growing up with amazing stories of this very racy, slightly crazy, and often times downright weird city, so I’m constantly visiting different places and trying to walk in the footsteps of the past. Which helps with one of my other jobs as a tour guide for Weird Chicago, I love taking people throughout the city and telling the spooky, odd, and creepy history of my stomping grounds. One of the pastimes of the 50s that I love to partake in is the cocktail party with the addition of board games, favorites of which are anything in the horror genre and sci-fi!
Foam rollers are the love of my life! Using them with an overnight wet set produces fabulous curls that will last for days! My teasing brush is used on a daily basis, making backcombing/teasing a snap and works wonderfully at smoothing out the hair. My Denman brush is a new addition to my vanity but it does an amazing job at brushing out a curl set, which is key to achieving a fabulous vintage do! I’m constantly trying different styling products but the ones I reach for the most are Vintage Glam’s Thermal Freeze Spray (every gal needs a hairspray they can count on), Curly Sexy Hair’s Curl Crème works wonders as a setting lotion producing smooth curls that have staying power, and Kenra’s Platinum Grooming Pomade 4 really helps to add shine and smooth down any stray hairs without weighing down my hair or making it look greasy!
What is something that every young lady should know how to do these days?
Short and simple: I think every young lady needs to know how to give and receive a compliment, sew a button, change a tire, dance like a fool, laugh with every muscle in her body, and be true to herself.
What are your plans for 2014?
I’m planning on launching my website, continuing to offer new and more fabulous hair tutorials every Thursday, more DIY projects on Sundays with beauty products, home decor and clothing, and of course even more unboxings, beauty reviews, look-books, and vlogs! Things this year are going to be better than ever and we’ll dive even more into vintage styles! It's all about creativity and pushing the channel to new limits and exploring fun ways to present the information. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to launch a line of skirts and styling products…who knows what the future will bring...I'll keep dreaming big!