Chubstr Crush features profiles of and conversations with women who inspire us. VintageOrTacky is a wildly popular makeup and plus-size fashion blog and YouTube channel hosted by Cora Alvillar. Cora gave us the scoop on making a career out of sharing makeup tips on the internet, what it means to be Vintage Or Tacky, and how she developed her unique personal style.
How did you get started as a makeup artist?
When we moved to the Bay Area I decided I was going to work at the MAC Berkeley store someday. I’d been doing makeup for friends for years, and I had my YouTube channel for a couple years at that point. I went in baby steps. I started out working at Sephora, which gave me the opportunity to finally work on an endless combination of facial structures, skin types and tones at a moment’s notice. The first time I had to do winged liner on someone I had a silent panic attack- but I ended up nailing it. I gained enough confidence in my skills so I took a shot at working for MAC and got that job. Working there was a whole other ball game; it’s a rapid fire or selling, constant makeup applications, amazing training, and an overall fun work environment.
Customers started hiring me to do their makeup outside of the store and one day a woman came in who was going to host her own HGTV show. Her name was also Cora- talk about meant to be! I ended up being her makeup artist for the show, which was a big break for me. Eventually it was snowballing and I kept having to turn down work because I had to work at the store. At the same time, my YouTube channel started taking off, and it was crazy – I basically had 3 jobs and was running myself into the ground. In Jan 2012, I decided to quit MAC in order to pursue YouTube full time and take makeup jobs on the side and it’s been going great. My goal was to work at MAC- I just didn’t know how much further it would take me.
Have you always been into fashion and style?
Growing up, my mom would do these photoshoots – we’d do makeup, I’d wear jewelry, costumes, and I’d be a little model for a few hours. As a teen, I became obsessed with second hand stores, and would wear weird stuff like a floor length taffeta skirt with a fitted Einstein tee.
But I also wore a lot of oversized jeans and tee’s because finding cute teen clothes in a size 16 was like searching for the holy grail. The options are so much better now! I think everyone’s style improves with age and knowing yourself better, but mine has also benefitted from all of the options I have now versus even 5 years ago.
What trends are you obsessed with right now?
I feel like right now there’s so much variety. I like to mix it up, and you have the freedom to do that. You can get amazing lipsticks in a rainbow of colors, and colorful hair is everywhere. You can get your jeans skinny, wide leg, bootcut, mom, or boyfriend and all are “on trend”. While we’ve lost the je ne sais quoi of a specific unifying aesthetic like say, the 1960’s, what we have instead is an opportunity to make choices based on personal style preferences. I think that’s the best thing about the current moment in fashion.
You must spend a lot of time alone just talking to a camera. Yet when I watch your videos, it’s like one of my pals is hanging out with me! How did you get comfortable enough in your process to let your on-camera personality shine through?
I try to imagine I’m just telling a friend this stuff. I’ve done it so long, and I know that helps with being comfortable. If you go back to some of my older videos I’m pretty awkward.
The name VintageOrTacky is so memorable and fun! How did you come up with that? What is it about vintage (and tacky!) that resonates with you?
When I was 16-18 I worked at a second hand store with a great group of people. In that environment you meet all kinds of characters, and see so much cool weird, old stuff. I became obsessed with vintage fashion and kooky tacky housewares. On Sundays the boss was gone and the store was slow, so we’d try on clothes. My coworkers and I would say “Is this Vintage, Retro, or Tacky?”.
Your signature sign off for all your videos is, “Be vintage or tacky, just be yourself.” As a tastemaker, why do want to emphasize that sentiment?
Typically speaking, those two things are at odds: Vintage implying that something is classic, classy and generally received positively. On the flip side, tacky means cheap, in poor taste, loud, obnoxious. I feel like that pretty much sums me up, I love antiques, vintage style and old stuff, but I’m not one to turn down an obnoxious hot pink lip, while also rocking hot pink hair, and a yellow dress. But the real point is about not labeling yourself. These two ideas might seem that they are at odds- but let’s see what happens when they coexist. I found this little charm in my mom’s coin purse: “Be your own kind of beautiful.” I love that saying. It says perhaps more clearly and succinctly what I’ve been saying for years. So I’m adopting it for the end of my videos as the new outro.
I gravitated towards your videos because it feels good to have a fellow plus-size woman showing me how to get my beauty on. Do you find that it’s important (in your opinion and to your followers) to have someone out there representing diversity of size when it comes to makeup and vintage style?
Absolutely. It shows that you don’t have to be a certain body type to look beautiful. Seeing yourself represented in others is vitally important to your self esteem and feeling of belonging. I also like to share where I get stuff, because knowing where to shop for plus sizes is immensely helpful. I deeply wish there had been someone like me [around] when I was younger, I think it would have helped me discover my own style, rather than settling for what I could find locally.
We sometimes get to see your handsome husband dressed up with you on your social posts. Does he let you play dress up with his style or does he cultivate his own vibe?
It’s a bit of both. We’ve been together since we were teenagers, so we’ve both had quite a style evolution over the years. I’ve certainly suggested things, and guided him to things I think would work for him, but he’s not a doll – he has his own ideas of what he likes and finds comfortable. He’s getting more into fashion and has really embraced getting dressed up since we bought him a fabulous grey suit last year. I’ve actually had to say, “That’s too dressy dude, WEAR JEANS!”
What’s next for VintageOrTacky? You’ve hinted at a fun new project in some of your latest videos. Can you tell us at all what’s coming up?
My channel has always been about makeup first, fashion second. While I still love makeup, these days my passion is clothing and personal style, so I could see the focus shifting. I feel like I do so much good in that area and my audience really responds to it. By sharing my personal style, I’m able to help people with their self esteem and show a gal where to get similar stuff to boost her confidence.
What are your long-term goals for VintageOrTacky?
My dream would be to have my own fashion line, get into modeling, or maybe create my own makeup line. I studied fashion design in high school, so it might be good to flex those muscles again.