We are big fans of Jessica Kellgren-Fozard here at 1950s Glam. Not only is she a gorgeous curvy redhead who absolutely rocks vintage style fashion (just take a look at some of the photos and videos below and you’ll see what we mean), but she is charming and lovely to boot! She has her finger in a few pies – she’s a TV presenter, model, disability campaigner and video blogs on everything from vintage fashion to sexuality. The videos often feature her wife and two adorable pups, Walter and Tilly. But what’s even more amazing, Jessica does all of this while living with some fairly serious chronic illnesses.
So after following Jessica for a while, we just had to introduce her to you and to find out a bit more about what inspired her to start blogging. And the lovely lady that she is, she very graciously found the time to answer a few questions for us.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to get into blogging and more specifically into vintage fashion?
From a young age I preferred old-fashioned clothes and searching for bargains in charity shops but I didn’t realise my style was classed as ‘vintage’ until a few years ago! I’ve just always worn whatever I like. Having said that, my very stylish grandmother was a big role model and inspiration throughout my childhood. She was my gateway to watching classic Old Hollywood films, listening to swing and jazz music and reading magazines or books from the time period.
I live with a complex disability that affects my nerves, connective tissues, organs and immune system leaving me with chronic pain and fatigue. Being ill as a teenager cemented my style because I spent so much time isolated from anyone else I could experiment with outfit combinations without being seen! I learnt to choose clothes based on what I really love rather than what my friends were wearing. Just as I live my life, I’ll always wear whatever clothes I feel drawn to and don’t give a hoot about any negativity!
I started blogging and vlogging a few years ago when I started working as a TV Presenter at a local station but found the rigid weekly structure didn’t work with my episodic disability. Creating, editing and publishing my own content allows me the flexibility to work when I’m able and take time off if I suddenly faint to the floor.
A large part of what I make is about showing the fun and frivolous side of life with a disability. I’m always open and honest with my followers about how hard it is to be ill all the time but I also want them to learn tips on how to find the fun in their own lives, no matter what hardships they may face. Wearing a pretty dress makes me smile and I’m glad it can do the same for other people.
(eds.) If you’d like to watch Jessica’s excellent speech at the conference, you can find it at the bottom of the page here.
How did you come to choose the 40s and 50s as the decades for your style inspiration? Many readers would no doubt also love to know, do you dress vintage all the time or do you like to mix it up and also dress contemporary?
I’m often asked what my particular ‘decade’ is but rather than abiding by any hard and fast laws I just wear the items I like best. I don’t buy something just because it’s from a period and I also won’t dislike or turn away from a more modern or even older piece. Funnily enough the outfits I put together do look like they’re from the 40s and 50s but it isn’t actually intentional!
Although I do buy items from contemporary shops and mix them with my vintage pieces (a great way to save money!) they always have a retro look to them. I don’t own or wear trousers and I feel very free swishing around in a massive skirt. I feel very self-conscious in ‘modern’ outfits because I don’t feel I look like myself – it’s as if I’m wearing a costume! I love the look of a nipped in waist with a big skirt and fortunately my hourglass figure suits it.
You have a really unique story to tell. Do you feel like you occupy a very specific niche? Or do you feel embraced by several communities?
I definitely feel embraced by several communities. I don’t think you have to have a life experience that is exactly the same as mine to be able to relate to what I have to say and the lessons I have to share. Coming through hardships it’s universal no matter the specifics.
You are genuinely an inspiration and a role model for many people out there but who is your inspiration, who do you look up to and why?
First of that is a kind thing to say, thank you. Part of the reason I started my youtube channel that I felt that when I was younger I had no one to look up to who showed the positive side of living with disabilities. There are many strong women in my family who definitely taught me a lot about resilience, making the best of a bad situation and finding the fun in life. In terms of fashion, my inspirations are the leading ladies of the 40s and 50s but specially Rita Hayworth, Katherine Hepburn and Grace Kelly (They very clearly influence my vintage beauty tutorials)
(eds; did we mention Jessica is a dead ringer for Rita Hayworth? Click on the photo below and check out the supercute sped up video of her Rita Hayworth hair tutorial)
Do you feel pressure to be a poster child of sorts for the various causes and communities you support?
No, I don’t feel pressured to, I like that people can take positive things from just watching me live my life.
We are amazed at how much you manage to achieve given the chronic and unpredictable nature of the illnesses which you have to deal with on a daily basis. Are there any tips or tricks which you use to fit everything in and conserve your energy?
Firstly thank you, I’m really glad it appears that way, I often feel like I spend too much time not creating stuff. My advice would definitely be to squeeze everything you can from all the usable healthy moments! Planning for the future is very important, and having back ups should something go wrong. But also don’t push yourself because then you’ll become too ill to do anything. (This is something I like to say but still a lesson I need to know!). I.e if like me you know you are more useful in the mornings, I make sure to get up early and get as much done in the first three hours. But maybe you have more energy at night? Basically, just listen to your body.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
There are no typical days to be honest, but I do have quite a solid morning routine (I made a video about it here).
My condition is very episodic, I can wake up and be fine for a few hours and suddenly be very ill. Equally I can feel very ill for four days but suddenly wake up and I feel ok. I don’t have the energy to leave the house a lot but fortunately I can create content that works around that.
What makes you smile?
My wife, the dogs, sweet potatoes, comic books and property TV shows, classic films, fluffy petticoats!
You have a beautiful retro style, from hair, make up, through to your wardrobe. Do you have any tips or secrets that you could share with any vintage fashion lovers out there.
Don’t feel like every piece has to be vintage, setting lotion is your friend, don’t use conditioner if you really want vintage hairstyles… and finally subscribe to my youtube channel, because I make a lot of vintage hair and fashion tutorials.
What’s next for Jessica – what will the next 12 months bring and where do you see yourself in the future? Any specific projects you are working on that you’d like to share with us?
One thing that’s got me excited right now is planning for this year’s Vlogmas (Vlogmas is a video each day of December running up to Christmas Day, where I basically vlog about what I am doing each day, but also some Christmas related tutorials from fashion to recipes!).
Next year I have a big project involving travel coming up. I can’t say more yet, but keep an eye on my social media platforms!
In the future I want to grow my channel, do some more modelling jobs and I also really love being an advocate for disability rights so that is something I’d like to get more into. If that wasn’t enough, I would also like to have my first book published.
(eds.) Wow, now that’s one busy year! We’ll be following Jessica and keeping our fingers crossed with all her projects. In the meanwhile, we off to get some of her vintage make up tips.