Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Getting to Know: Brittany from Va-Voom Vintage

With vintage and retro styles at the peak of a resurgence in popular culture, and with so many fashion blogs to follow, it can be hard to know where to start.  Brittany at Va-Voom Vintage has a distinct voice among many vintage bloggers, and her blog is a wonderful source of content for ones just starting out in vintage or those who have been collecting it for years.  She is a seamstress, a stylish housewife, and is always eager to both learn and teach about vintage fashion and lifestyles.  She graciously took the time out of her busy life to talk to me a little about her inspirations, the amazing women in her family's history, and her plans for the next year.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk!  First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I'm Brittany, I'm 30 and I'm a housewife and mom from the suburbs of St Louis. I'm raising my little boy, Rhys, and my girl, Olivia, in a little 1930s house near the Missouri River. I wear vintage style clothes almost every day and I love to sew, garden and do crafty things. 

How did you originally discover vintage clothing?
 My first vintage piece was a lavender winter coat from the 1960s. I bought it at a shop in the city while I was shopping with my aunt. I didn't start wearing vintage full-time until I was much older. After my daughter was born and I became a housewife, my grandma and I were talking about what housewives were like when she was a girl. The things they did, the things they wore and how they lived. I had been sitting around in pajamas, basically all day, which is no way for a girl to live! I decided to try to do things the old fashioned way. My husband drove me to the city one afternoon and I bought my first few vintage hats and dresses. I looked for comfortable things that I could wear while I was home cleaning house and taking care of my 3 month old baby girl. Once I realized how easy and comfortable it was to wear vintage, I started wearing it every day. I started my blog within weeks, to document my love of vintage fashion. 

Were you influenced by any particular classic films or icons?
          I get a ton of hair and accessory inspiration from old movies. I think Betty Grable is my #1 hair style icon.  I love her iconic poodle curls, perfectly placed victory rolls- oh and she's a Missouri girl too! I love to recreate looks from old films and get inspiration for my sewing projects. I often sit and watch old movies and just watch the background extras! There are so many fantastic outfits and hairstyles that have been overlooked but they're there, just past the starlets! 

(Click below for more!)

How did you start adding vintage items into your daily wardrobe?  Was it a gradual process, or did you just make the decision one day and go for it?
         It started with those first few original vintage pieces, then I began sewing and thrifting as much as I could find. It seems like it happened overnight. I remember the day that I finally had enough vintage and vintage style pieces that I gathered up a few trash bags and filled them with all of my jeans and tee shirts to donate. That was the last time I really wore anything modern, about 5 years ago! Every once in a while, I find myself drawn to a modern garment and honestly, if I like it, I'll wear it too.  I think its easy to feel like "Oh, I can't wear that, it's not vintage enough" and that's a bummer so if I love it, I'll wear it. 

How did you learn how to sew?
         When I was a kid, my mom sewed all of my Halloween costumes. I always wanted to learn to sew so I could make my own clothes! My grandma and great grandma would take me to the fabric store and help me choose a pattern within my skill level and fabric and they walked me through a few patterns and showed me how to operate the machine.  Looking back, I really can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have a sewing machine or sewing basket in my room. My daughter is 5 and she has to have her own sewing basket so she can make these teeny tiny pillows for her dolls.  I think her great grandma is getting her a kids sewing machine of her own for Christmas this year and I am so excited for her!  When you learn to sew, your fashion possibilities are truly endless!

        Are you influenced by any specific women in your family history?
        Most definitely! I feel very lucky to have a rich family history that has been passed down through the generations. There's so many amazing stories and old photos of my ancestors but the woman that all of the ladies in my family look up to is my great, great, great, great grandma, Myra Carter Vaughn. 

Myra (far right)
        She was a pioneer and lived in Missouri during the Civil War. We have a whole book about her written by my Great Great Grandma with newspaper clippings and ancient photographs detailing her life and the community's great appreciation for her strengths and talents.  Myra raised 11 children, she sewed wedding clothes for every man in the county for decades and apparently, was the first woman in the county to have carpets in her home, because she made them herself, of course.  When the governor came to town to visit in 1886, it was Myra that stole the show as she entertained him with her intelligence and fascinating conversation. 

The best thing about Myra was, she was tough as nails and didn't allow her status as a woman get in her way and she sure didn't back down from authority. As the story goes, she was living on a farm with her sister and daughters during the Civil War. Missouri was right in the middle of the divide so she had soldiers from both sides of the battlefield stay at her farm for food and shelter from time to time. One morning, after playing hostess to a group of soldiers, she woke up to find her horses were stolen! She couldn't run the farm without them and the men in the family were all at war. so she went to town on foot and found the man in charge. No one knows what she said but she came home with her horses that afternoon.  

         What encouraged you to begin blogging, and how did you determine what kind of content you wanted to share?

I had been reading other blogs for only about a year before I started my own. It started with costume blogs because I have always loved historical fashion. After having Olivia, I really needed something just for myself so I started my blog as a creative outlet and way to connect with people who shared my interests. At first, I shared my outfits and research into vintage fashion but over time, as I figured out what I liked, I started sharing a lot of hair tutorials and tips for people like me, who really didn't know where to start. When I started blogging, most vintage blogs were full of outfits and vintage finds but I really wanted to share more how-to content to help other vintage enthusiasts out.

         You have so many great guides on your website, like your page on Vintage Style for Beginners and your articles on dressing like a femme fatale.  Was there any particular subject that you just knew you had to write about?  Were there any tutorials or posts that you struggled with writing? 

        The Building a Vintage Wardrobe Series was a must-write for me. I never had a guide on what to look for, how to find it and how to dress for a certain era so I had to hunt that information down on my own and it took a long time and a lot of trial and error. I wanted to write a very basic guide to get new vintage enthusiasts started. It's been such a work in progress, I'm still writing it!

The most difficult post was my bullet bra tutorial. At the time that I wrote it, no one else was making bullet bras (except for repro companies like What Katie Did) and there were no patterns so I had to work that one out without any guidance which was tricky. Also, since bra sizing is so crazy and complicated, explaining how to size yourself and grade the pattern was difficult. I haven't had any emails telling me it was a disaster so I guess it turned out alright!  The best thing about tutorials is seeing all of the finished products from my readers and that one really had some great finished bras! I'm hoping to release the bullet bra pattern in a larger size this fall or winter and share a better video of the cup stitching but another blogging struggle that I have is videos! 

You’re a blogger that’s very family oriented, and your readers can certainly tell that you really enjoy being a housewife and spending time with your kids.  What sort of message do you hope to send to other women bloggers that may have families or who work at home?
         Having a busy schedule, whether through work or kids (or both) doesn't mean that you can't feel beautiful or glamorous and put together.  You have to take care of yourself so you can be the best version of yourself.  That's something I try to encourage in others and  also remind myself of every day. 

Any big plans for 2016, either in the blogosphere or otherwise?
Definitely get back to more outfits and more blogging in general! With my daughter starting school this fall, it's been weird to adjust to having one kid at home again but I'm looking forward to spending school days between playtime blogging more. I'm having a lot of fun writing ebooks right now, as an extension of my blog.  I'm working on a retro holiday craft ebook right now called Kistchmas Crafting with Va-Voom Vintage and I have some great ideas for another ebook in 2016! I took a step away from blogging this spring and now that life is settling down, I just want to write and craft -all- of the things!

You can find Brittany at www.VaVoomVintage.net, on Instagram and Twitter @VaVoomVintage, or at Facebook.com/VaVoomVintage


  1. Stellar interview! I've been activity following Brittany since the earliest days of her delightful blog's life and really enjoyed getting to know her even better here through your great questions. Thank you both for a thoroughly enjoyable interview post.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! She's really sweet and it was great to talk to her.

  2. Awesome interview! Your mom and pop have to be proud your progress. I just know they are. 👍


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