Vintage Star: Miss Victory Violet

Miss Victory Violet, image by Elizabeth J Photography.

If you follow vintage-inspired fashion you’ve no doubt heard of Miss Victory Violet, the Auckland based pin up blogger who has become a star of the vintage scene thanks to her winsome style and ever-growing fanbase. Her real name is Ella Webster and she’s a talented hairdresser by trade with a passion for all things retro, especially the fashion and beauty looks of the 1940s and 1950s. With a current Instagram following of 122,000+ and a further 38,300+ on Facebook, Ella’s impeccable style and charming personality has captivated the imaginations of people all over the world and her successful self-titled blog Miss Victory Violet gives her followers a behind-the scenes look into her wardrobe and life.

She won the crown at the Miss Pin Up New Zealand pageant in 2014, going on to win Miss Viva Las Vegas in Las Vegas in 2015 at the world’s biggest rockabilly festival which is a huge achievement, this week she returns to The Very Vintage Day Out on Saturday at Alexandra Park, where she will be a judge for Miss Pin Up New Zealand 2016. We caught up with Ella to find out more about her pin up look, how she finds being an Instagram star and what her vintage styling and body confidence tips are.

How did you first get involved in pin up style and what made you start a blog?
I had always loved full swing skirts and vintage style clothing but didn’t even consider the possibility of wearing the style daily. When I was in hair school, I loved vintage hairstyles and would search the internet for hours looking for images and inspiration. Through those image searches I found Pin Up Girl Clothing, a USA-based vintage inspired clothing company and all of a sudden I had this epiphany that I could buy new clothes in the pin up style and wear them daily! I did a order with enough things to get 5 outfits for a week at work and never looked back. It’s now a complete passion and obsession.

I created my blog after I started getting more followers on Instagram and therefore lots of questions about my hair/makeup or how a item of clothing fitted. I wanted a place where I could expand on everything I posted on Instagram but also give myself a creative outlet. The joke now is that the blog is my ‘second job’ which, really, it is!

What has the response been like from your readers and the vintage/pin up industry for your blog and social media?
The response has always been really positive and encouraging. Sure, there’s the odd troll but luckily I don’t seem to get them too often. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities come up within the pin up fashion industry like getting to model for Pin Up Girl Clothing in LA last year and also being invited to go up to Newcastle in the UK to meet and shoot with Glamour Bunny Clothing.

How would you describe your personal style and how you represent it on your blog and social media?
I would describe my personal style as bright, positive and feminine. I don’t wear a lot of black and love to pair unlikely colours together. I really enjoy posting up daily outfit which keeps me constantly thinking of new ways to style a certain item of clothing so nothing is too repetitive. I also post weekly reviews on my blog with professional photos (usually by Elizabeth J Photography) which are always fun to put together as I really create a theme for the photoshoot. I’ve loved finding new amazing locations around Auckland and am always subconsciously keeping a eye out when I’m in a new area.

You won Miss Pinup New Zealand in 2014, Miss Viva Las Vegas in 2015 and this year you’re back as a judge for Miss Pinup New Zealand 2016, what are your tips for people who want to embrace the pin up look?
There are no rules. You can wear purely original vintage or purely reproduction or a mix of both. You can wear a 1950s dress with a 1940s hairstyle and a 1920s dark lipstick if that’s what makes you happy. The most important thing about the pinup style is that it’s all about how it makes the wearer feel. It’s incredibly liberating stepping out of the mainstream box into a style that embraces all body shapes and sizes so just have fun with it! Your style will probably evolve from when you first start out (I know mine has!) and that’s ok too.

Images by Elizabeth J Photography.

Being a personal style blogger requires getting your photo taken regularly for outfit posts and filming tutorials for YouTube, how have you found this and what do you feel when you look back at your earliest posts now?
It’s always really interesting looking back through my old OOTD posts, I can really see how my style has evolved and become a little more cohesive. I love doing my daily OOTD, it’s always fun to get dressed up and make an effort- I love putting together a whole look! I find filming tutorials really stressful, hence why I don’t haven’t done too many! The setup for filming tutorials is always hard and I’m not very good at editing videos so I prefer to do step by step pictorials, although I would like to get better with video tutorials as I’m always asked to do more!

Your blog has grown to be New Zealand’s most visible and successful pinup inspired blog, what do you attribute your success to and was there a turning point that you realised things were going to blow up in terms of scale?
You know what, sometimes I think about this and wonder what it was. To be honest, I don’t really know exactly but I think it was a combination of starting my OOTD posts 3 years ago, winning Miss Pinup New Zealand in 2014, then starting the blog and creating more content. I have always done and posted what I love, what makes me happy and have never had a goal or vision of what being ‘successful’ looked like, so any achievement has been wonderful to me as it’s not been something I’ve necessarily worked towards or expected.

One of the less than pleasant aspects of becoming successful means you’re likely to get criticism, especially on the internet, how have you dealt with criticism directed at you and your blog?
I consider myself so lucky, I only get the odd troll comment here and there, hardly anything in comparison to friends with blogs who get hounded all the time. When I do get some sort of negative comment, I try to not take it to heart although of course some days that’s easier than others. When I think about what kind of person could leave a nasty, horrible comment, I feel sad for them. I feel sad because they are probably lonely, unhappy and perhaps even don’t have people close that show them love. But, most times when I’ve tried to engage with someone like that, they just can’t get past their hatred for whatever reason so I usually just delete the comment and block them. The nicest thing to come out of it all is that I will always have followers jump to my defence as soon as anyone writes something negative which makes the situation a little easier to deal with.

You have such a huge following on Instagram, how often do you post on it a day and what are your tips for people who want to reach more people with their posts?
It really varies! Mostly it’s around 4-7 posts a day consisting of my OOTD, general day-to-day life and photoshoots. My tip for reaching more people would be to really tap into the hashtags in your niche and become active within your community.

What have been the highlights of your pin up journey so far and do you have a favourite moment that stands out above the rest?
Oh now that’s hard! I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one moment as there have been so many amazing ones. But winning Miss Pinup New Zealand 2014 was a real achievement for me. From going from watching it the previous two years,  (and the first year thinking ‘there is no way I could get up on stage and do that’) to mustering the courage to enter and ultimately win, it was wonderful. Then to go and win the international pinup competition at the world’s largest rockabilly event in Las Vegas – that was the cherry on top! Embracing the pin up style has meant a huge amount of personal growth that I never expected.

Left image by Elizabeth J Photography, right image by Tony McKay Photography.

Body confidence and self love are topics you have discussed on your blog, how did you come to the place of self acceptance and love that you currently have?
When I found the pin up style, that really was the a pivotal moment for me. I’d spent about 6 months focusing on being positive with my body after some really hard times and then when I got my first order from Pin Up Girl Clothing it was like a epiphany. So much of my hatred and self-loathing towards my body stemmed from not fitting into the mainstream mould and so to have these pieces of clothing that fitted my curves and made me feel incredible comfortable in my own skin was revolutionary. It’s still something I have to be conscious of now though, I think when you go through anything like a eating disorder, fragments of those feelings can stay deep within you the rest of your life so I’m constantly aware and don’t allow myself any negative thoughts.

What are your tips for people who want to grow their confidence and acceptance of themselves?
Everyone is different so these are not solutions that will solve everything but these are my basic tips:
– Find out who you are and be yourself. So often a lack of acceptance is because you are trying to be something or someone you are not.
– Stop with the negative dialogue. Don’t allow those hate-fueled tirades in front of the mirror to even enter your brain. Don’t berate yourself for enjoying a dinner out with friends and having cake for dessert.
– Fake it till you make it. Tell yourself you are beautiful and perfect and just the way you should be in front of the mirror. Even if you don’t believe it at first, soon enough you’ll hopefully start to see past the negativity.
– Look at who you are following on social media and if it’s not a positive feed, cull the bad and start following people with a good message that you can relate to.
– Finally, do something you love! Even better if it’s something active! I started swing dancing when I was still coming out of my ‘bad place’ and I think that gave me a new found love and respect for my body.

Where do you see yourself heading from here and do you have any goals you’re working to achieve in future?
My biggest goal right now is just to see the world! I absolutely love to travel and thankfully my husband has caught the travel bug too, so we are hoping to explore more of Europe in the coming year. I don’t have any specific goals for ‘Miss Victory Violet’, I never have… Come what may, I’m sure it will take me on more adventures! I guess the ultimate dream would be for somehow my love of travel and the blog would come together.

Images as credited, supplied by Miss Victory Violet.

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