Ashley’s blog, Fancy Fine, is a mecca for vintage lovers. Most of her pretty ensembles are composed completely of secondhand pieces, complete with jaunty caps and retro purses. You’ll be charmed by her outfit posts set against Bay Area backdrops, but Ashley’s interests don’t just go ‘clothes’ deep—she’s a karaoke master and a former ballroom dance instructor. You’ll want to sashay across the dance floor in her romantic namesake dress and steal her style by shopping her favorite ModCloth picks. Read on to see how she styled her dress and hear about her favorite books and blogs.
You were a ballroom dance instructor for four years. That is AMAZING. Did you grow up dancing? Were your students adults or children? I want to hear all about it!
My students were mostly teenagers in middle school. It was pretty hilarious because we were expected to take these kids that were navigating the most awkward years of their lives and turn them into gentlemen and ladies. I started dancing at a very young age—ballet, tap dancing, even cheerleading—and once I found ballroom dancing, it clicked. I felt like I was in my element. And it wasn’t just the dancing I loved, I also appreciated the tradition involved. Ballroom dancing taught proper manners and the girls were expected to wear white gloves and proper shoes (in either silver or gold) and dresses had to be a certain length. This was heaven to someone like me, who had always been obsessed with everything vintage! When I moved to San Francisco, I stopped dancing so that I could focus on school, but now I want to get back into it. I’m taking salsa classes now, and I’m beyond excited!
You’re also a master karaoke singer—what’s your favorite tune to belt out? Are there any that you avoid?
A master, haha! I guess after being a karaoke regular at the same bar for eight years… I always sing older songs, probably not surprisingly. I love old country like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. I also sing a lot of ’60s girl group songs by The Crystals, The Marvelettes, and The Shangri-Las. My first karaoke song was “Brand New Key” by Melanie and I still sing it all the time, it’s always a crowdpleaser. At this point in my “karaoke career” I’ve done pretty much every song in every genre that you could possibly imagine. There have been many crazy late nights with my friends! So, I couldn’t really rule out any song; I’m usually game for anything as long as I think I can sing it as least adequately. But in the end, I will always have the most fun singing something like “Why Don’t You Do Right” by Peggy Lee over something modern.
As an avid reader, what are the books on the top of your must-read list?
I’ve been on a biography kick lately. I just read How to be a Movie Star, an Elizabeth Taylor biography that was quite fascinating. The next few books I have lined up to read (always a stack waiting for me) are biographies on Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. I’ve also recently been reading a lot of Raymond Carver and Paul Auster, two of my favorites. As far as my all-time favorite books, I have so many it’s hard to narrow it down. I love The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Independence Day by Richard Ford, and Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. Those are books I could read again and again.
You’ve said you’re 60 or 70 years old at heart. What are some aspects of your personality that make you say that?
It’s partially for taste reasons, such as my taste in music (which includes mostly anything made before 1978) and my taste in clothing (which is usually quite vintage). I do love some modern music and style, and I certainly appreciate all the technology I have access to, but I definitely romanticize the past and my overall aesthetic is influenced by that. But I also feel a bit like a 60-year-old for internal reasons sometimes as well. I find myself adopting a grumpy old man’s “get off my lawn!” mentality sometimes when surrounded by reckless youth. And I’m only 27, so it wasn’t that long ago that I was a youngster myself (and arguably still am), but I feel like I settled into who I was going to be for the rest of my life at a young age. And that person might just be a somewhat eccentrically-dressed 60-year-old with a hoarder’s instinct, a taste for champagne over beer, and a penchant for wearing strange brooches.
What blogs are inspiring you right now?
Oh so many! Anja of Clever Nettle is always a favorite and she’s been taking such beautiful photos lately, it makes me want to jet up to Portland and collaborate with her! I’m also consistently inspired by Ringo, Have a Banana, It Girl, Rag Doll, Foxtail & Fern, Miss Moss, and Cat Party.
What’s the story behind the name of your blog?
I was driving around Oakland a few years ago and saw a fading sign on the side of a building that said “Fancy Fine Cooking” or something like that and I thought the words “Fancy” and “Fine” sounded really nice together so I wrote it down on the back of a receipt in my wallet. When it came time to name my blog, I fortunately remembered that slip of paper!
See all the pieces Ashley styled to go with her namesake dress in her favorite picks!