Why I Wear Vintage

Hello *waves* personal blog time, of sorts. If I had a pound every time I have been asked why I wear vintage rather than sticking to mainstream fashions and trends I wouldn’t be having to eBay half of my wardrobe this summer (actually this is no biggie. I need SPACE) Recently with the round of book interviews, I have given this a bit more thought. I’m getting philosophical in my old age. I’ve summed it up in three main points

No 1 BECAUSE IT MAKES ME HAPPY.

Yes it does. I don’t do this for anyone other than me. 99% of my friends are the same. This is probably why most of us are single (jokes ladies!) On the aesthetic side it can be elegant and lady-like or it can be brash, pop-ish and fun.  It’s always creative. Personally these days I embrace both.  I dress according to my moods. This summer I can’t get enough of my white peg leg 90’s jeans with fluo green and yellow perfume bottle motif, but I will still be dressing as a 50’s beach babe at every opportunity (COME ON SUN!). Shopping is much more of a pleasure, there is ALWAYS the adrenaline buzz that comes with discovery at the right price.  I like wearing clothes that no one else has. It gives me a kick. In the background there is also a community with camaraderie, and a mutual understanding of what makes us tick. It’s like a secret handshake, only really it’s a nod of appreciation instead. People I have met who love their old clothes will always be happy to talk about them to a fellow enthusiast. I have met less than 5 people who were utterly horrendous, boorish snobs.  Vintage is always an investment. High street is rarely. I enjoy the escapism, the fantasy. It pulls me out of lows, enhances the highs. I have always been attractive to ‘different’. My first and longest love was thanks to a masculine and liberal application of eyeliner and silver nail varnish. As a young child I loved dressing up in my mother’s feather trimmed dresses and 80’s body con cast offs. I had a pink fake fur coat and used to wear it with a white swimming costume adorned with a giant gold star I pinched from the Christmas tree (I was 7, and faintly precocious). In my teens I secretly swanned around in my grandmothers 30’s bias cut evening gowns. As far as I can remember extraordinary clothes have always made me feel warm, and oddly safe. This is why I chose to become a personal shopper. Nothing pleases me more than someone else experiencing that tingle. I always try and guide my clients via informed choices, not dictate what they should buy. Otherwise the magic is lost.

No2 BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE PRESSURE (…..and maybe a bit of rebellion)

Here is where I dig out the tiny violin. I spent most of my formative years trying to fit in. I went to 6 schools in 3 countries and the only survival technique was to identify as quickly as possible how to seamlessly blend in with the crowd you wanted to be part off. This meant you got invited to parties and picked at games. If you were in the right group boys paid attention. This may have led to a small nervous breakdown aged 24 when I realised I had continued to do this well into adulthood and had no idea who I was as a person. It was always a competition to see who had managed to infiltrate as much Moschino or Calvin Klein into their school uniform. I remember girls reeling off lists of what designer items they owned like it was some roll call of achievement, and they weren’t even the embassy kids or heiresses (my brother was too busy chatting them up). My mother, having been brought up by ‘Vintage’ gran on a spartan but forward thinking diet of cast offs that were second hand many owners ago, was having none of it. The most I got was Kookai, Caterpillar and Morgan (this was early 90’s France I hasten to add) There is nothing lamer than being made to feel inadequate because of your clothes. Yes, these days I am seduced by designer vintage but if you are buying diffusion brand t-shirts at £70 a pop, at any age, you should really wake up and smell the sweat shop. I still remember those school days with a shudder of horror.

No3 BECAUSE I CAN.

Here is why I may get a bit preachy, I think we should all just shut up and let each other get on with it. Seriously, can we please do that?  Women are being attacked with acid for supposedly being too ‘vain’ and young men are being rounded up and killed in Syria due to the link between western trends and homosexuality. We don’t all have the freedom of choice. We do though, and it’s for exactly this reason that I respect any kind of look. I don’t like bitching about anyone. Each to their own. Recently the facebook page of a well known festival posted a picture of a group of ladies at Aintree with a searing caption. Wouldn’t they look better if they attended their event and wore vintage? Fnarr  fnarr, aren’t we better than everyone else? Well no, actually. This kind of attitude gives vintage a bad name. Quite rightly, it experienced a back lash. You know those Aintree gals? Kudos to them for putting it out there. It may not be to my taste but I respect their decisions. Live and let live. Funnily enough there have long been murmurs that the only difference between that look and a vintage one is a paler foundation and a redder lipstick. Fake eyelashes, fake nails? Tick, tick. Scouse brow? We have been doing that for ages….. probably nicked it off the Cholas and their sharpie pen brows. Ditto to the hipsters, or any kind of music related fashion sub genre. In fact anyone who dresses to please themselves should be left alone.

Is there warrant for critique and mild snobbery? Sometimes. Another badly styled Daily Mail article proclaiming Rihanna to be dressed in a 40’s style when it’s nothing of the sort makes everyone’s teeth grind. I have the utmost respect for those who can pull together a 100% original era specific look and at some events that is de rigour. Vintage may be about dressing fancy but it’s not about fancy dress. Wearing a joke shop afro or stick on ‘tach aint going to cut the mustard anywhere. Those who spend so long getting it just right deserve respect (I certainly do not have the skill or dedication). There is also a need to weed out the opportunists trying to flog Primark as vintage.  Overall I very rarely see this in an unjustified capacity.

There are a million other reasons why people chose this path. I’ve known people who wear vintage for the ecological benefit, because of a fetish or to keep a family connection alive.  Feel free to tell me yours in the comments.

 


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Comments ( 14 )

Love this post, and so interesting to read about your reasons for embracing vintage. It’s strange – while the vintage community can be so open and inclusive, it also seems to provoke huge reactions, which always surprises me. I got engaged in a Twitter conversation about the protest The Chap organised on Savile Row last Monday, because someone was saying ‘there was no need for them to dress up ridiculously’. I, along with a couple of other people, had to explain that no, this was in fact how they mostly dressed on a daily basis, and what was wrong with that?!

I have my own reasons for enjoying vintage – I actually wrote my own post on it a while ago here: http://ameliaflorencesimmons.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/what-does-vintage-mean-to-me/

Amelia commented on Apr 29 12 at 9:23 pm

The one thing that irked my husband about the protest (he Chaps day-to-day) was ‘this SHOULD be a protest about a multinational with bad employee rights renting a street associated with craftsmanship and skill…but the way it’s being sold to the press is “we don’t like jeans and trainers, get orf our land”.’

I am inclined to agree. The most horrid thing about A&F is the way they degrade employees and various other ethical issues- NOT that they sell hoodies.

Perdita commented on Apr 30 12 at 8:22 am

I couldn’t agree more. Agree 100%. I dress as I dress because I like it, and I respect anyone who dresses as THEY like too.

I find the ‘clique’ attitude a bit painful at times. Yes, sometimes I dress in a very distinct period, sometimes I dress in a more modern style, sometimes in between. I must say I’ve found some of the most offensive opinions not against vintage dressers, but from within. Examples such as that Aintree thing… I object utterly to a spiteful minority doing EXACTLY what the ‘populah’ cliques of 90s schooldays did, but for vintage not Moschino and DKNY!

Heheh, I found a red tartan Moschino Cheap&Chic mini skirt in a chazza shop the other week. Bought it for old time sake! 😉

Perdita commented on Apr 30 12 at 7:52 am

Great post. I think you’re absolutely right about just live and let live too, so long as people make an effort and ejoy their look that’s what matters. I love vintage for a variety of reasons. There’s the glamour of course and the fact that vintage clothes seem to flatter my figure better. I also have a hatred of disposable culture, those clothes have lasted maybe 50 or more years already and I like that, and finally, I don’t want to look like a carbon copy of everyone else. X

Louise commented on Apr 30 12 at 8:43 am

Fab post! I think the attack on the Aintree women was low and – well – pretty stupid. I am loathe to think that because *I* dress in the way that particular festival is promoting, that I am perceived as thinking like them. Eugh. Makes my blood boil.

LandGirl1980 commented on Apr 30 12 at 11:06 am

Wonderful post! It would be a wonderful step forward if everyone could respect those that are dressing outside of the norm, or even just teetering on the edge

Shona van Beers commented on Apr 30 12 at 11:36 am

Nice post! I – along with everyone else on the vintage scene – often get asked the question, but there’s no real answer other than “just because I do”. Everyone dresses the way they like to look – some put more consideration into how they want to look than others, but basically everyone chooses to wear the clothes that appeal to them.

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha’penny

Charlotte commented on Apr 30 12 at 12:30 pm

I find vintage clothes tend to be better cut, with things like darts and shaped seams rather than relying on a jersey fabric to stretch to shape, and the cloth is usually better quality. Several times I’ve looked in modern shops and been put off by the flimsy fabric. Also I like skirts longer than are currently fashionable, waists on the waist and so on.

That said, I’ll wear modern stuff if/when I find things I like.

Mim commented on Apr 30 12 at 1:38 pm

To go off at a tangent.
I have actually been put off ‘Vintage’ events by internal snobbery that I have experienced within the vintage scene. As has my sister who got mocked for wearing a repro dress at a 50’s event. You know what? she had bravely gone there on her own after a nasty break-up with someone who crushed her self esteem and left in tears because of a couple of sour faced pusses who seemed to think you could only join in the fun if you had an ‘original’ dress. I could have slapped them on her behalf.

Thanks to blogging I’m glad to have found some wonderful, friendly vintage loving people who don’t seem to care if I’m not in vintage from head to toe at all times.It has restored my faith.

Miss Magpie commented on Apr 30 12 at 3:21 pm

Would love you to write a little something for our site! This post is spot on. My only problem alas is that I am nearly 6 ft and vintage just don’t fit.i long for a waisted full skirted summer dress but not a chance. Waists up under my arms usually. Hampers one rather. But i love the idea! And the quirkiness of dressing for ones pleasure.

Sylvia commented on May 01 12 at 10:35 pm

Wonderful article, and I wholeheartedly agree on all points. They are just clothes, we all like to wear them differently and some of us simply don’t care about them at all – and that is fine. I spend most days in jeans, baggy t-shirt and slippers, but at the same time I love getting dressed up to see my friends. I don’t see why anyone else should care either way xx

Penny Dreadful Vintage commented on May 02 12 at 7:55 pm

Couldn’t agree with you more Naomi, thank you for such an honest and wonderfully written article. As a newcomer to the whole vintage scene, I had absolutely no idea that this sort of snobbery and such like even went on, and it’s completely shocked me. I was originally drawn to everything vintage through my love of music and films from those eras, and as a result I’ve come to fall in love with the styles too. So in my day to day dress now, I try to recreate those styles and silhouettes that I’ve come to love, but unfortunately I can’t always afford to go out and buy authentic vintage items so I try to choose modern day pieces that have been inspired by the 40’s and 50’s. Does this make me a fraud? I hope not and I most definitely don’t try to pass off anything I’ve bought from primark as vintage! I just love the fashions from yesteryear and enjoy taking my inspiration from them 🙂 Sorry for the rambling I just wanted to voice my opinions 🙂 Live and let live I say!
Jenny oxo

Jennifer Lawrence commented on May 05 12 at 11:06 am

You always look great Naomi. Though when you mentioned 1950s beach babes it made me think of Psycho Beach Party… have you seen that movie? EPIC costumes.

Here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA_G2Ts8xmo

Hope to see you soon!

x

Juno Says Hello commented on May 07 12 at 3:11 pm

Hello Naomi!

I haven’t commented on your blog before, but I would really like to on this post. I’ve worn vintage since my late teens (I’m in my early twenties now) and people have never ceased to ask “why?”. Mostly, I think it’s ridiculous that strangers and people I barely know think it somehow needs justification. Interestingly enough, the people closest to me have never pushed the question; it seems natural to them that I should dress this way.

It seems that to most people it is unfathomable why anyone would do anything to make themselves visually stand out in a crowd. But why not?

Maria commented on May 11 12 at 10:43 pm

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