Thursday, 5 May 2011

Off Topic: Vintage (WARNING: Contains rambling)

This is really just a musing of mine.  I was watching If Walls Could Talk on BBC Four last night, it was quite interesting but I went to bed just after 9:30 as I really was pooped.  But on my way to bed it got me thinking.  Why do most people dress from roughly the 1940's onwards?

I've posed that question wrong I know but hear me out.  People who class themselves vintage profess their undying love to a range of era's.  When I think Vintage, I think 1940s and 1950s.  But, having said that, I have a deep love for things from the 60s and 70s too.  And even the 80s had some touches of genius (Though there were few and far between!) but most people are pretty die hard to their chosen era.

We recently attended some vintage fairs and they were classed as Vintage despite including everything up to the 1980s, which I wouldn't call Vintage but others would.  This whole debate blew up last summer after the inaugural Vintage at Goodwood (which, as we all know is this year twice the price, held at Southbank in London and being called, Vintage by Hemingway, because of course that baldy fool invented Vintage it would seem....)

The debate was, how dare people dressing in afro's class themselves as Vintage?  People were having fun, they weren't being violent, they weren't directly offending you or shitting in your face or anything, so just yknow, chillax, go with the flow and let people enjoy themselves.  At the end of the day, afro's were sort of a part of the 70s as were fluorescent flairs and platforms, the 1970s was like 40 years ago, so yeah, I'd say that's Vintage these days!

My other point (not that any of these points hang together, these are merely a collection of thoughts), Vintage is different to everyone.  One person might think it's the 1940s and not much else, others might think it's the 60s, the 70s or even the 80s.  Just because you've made an effort to be true to your era, doesn't mean others can't mix it up, or get in on the fun in an afro wig in a camper van!

I suppose the question is What is Vintage?  Well, who can say, no one person can define Vintage as it means different things to different people, and that's what makes it great, everyone can get involved.  So really, I might start dressing like I'm from the 1980s (as, quite frankly with this body shape I don't stand a cat in hell's chance of fitting into anything pre-1980s!) and say I'm Vintage and be done with it.  I really might, you watch me!

But, my original musing last night was, you don't see many people dress in everyday gear from the 1920s or even the 1800s.  Is it because before a certain point (20s/30s) everything was still a bit too heavy and corseted for modern people?

This post, like I say, doesn't have a point, I'm not here to piss people off or say people are shit for having different styles or whatever.  I wish we lived in a society where really anything did go, but people are too judgmental and closed minded in this world these days to allow freedom of dress, even when people go out in 1940s dress they get stared at so heaven knows what would happen if someone went out wearing a Victorian dress with a full crinoline/bustle combo!

And there's a lovely girl who works in our student shop and she totally rocks the Victory Rolls and circle skirts, and she does it with aplomb and I fucking applaud her, because all the sheep that go to this uni must stare and snicker and take the piss out of her, but she pulls it off every day.  So it must take balls to dress vintage, balls I clearly don't have.  But then, having some vintage clothing might help! I have two cheap Chinese VoH copies *whisper it, sorry Viv, I cannot afford or fit into one of yours!* but I can't exactly rock up to work in a swing dress and petticoats!

So, anyway, I don't have a point really, what are your thoughts on the whole, What is Vintage? debate?


  1. The closest to Victorian I see are high-gothic wearers: I love their look!

    I find the way that some alt and vintage fashions seem to have 'rules' as much as cliquey mainstream frustrating. That's a costume/hobby and it's fabulous to dress that way: but it does not give one the right to tell other people how to style or wear that particular item.

    I don't dress mainstream (grungy-disco-hippy-with-a-rock-n-roll-twist describes the mess that's my wardrobe), but I hesitate to ascribe a 'tribe' to myself. If I'm wearing 70s jeans and a 40s blouse I might not 'look' as vintage as someone in head to toe VofH, but for me vintage is selected for quality, feel and heritage reasons. Likewise if I use my black circle skirt with a band t-shirt for a rock look one day, is that cross pollenation a problem? Not to my mind.

    Perhaps the 'rules' are a backlash now semi-40s/50s-vintage has become fashionable (a bit like the old school gothic v high street emo thing). People judge: they don't know I evolved the jumbled up style over my life rather than this season cuz Vogue told me to!

  2. Well said! And you're right, it is just a backlash. And even some of the most die-hard vintage fashionista's have serious fashion skeletons in their closet.....

  3. And why cant madam turn up to work in a circle skirt and petticoat?!!! Let's do it!!!! Most of the girls where I work are in mini skirts and see through tops!

  4. Yeah, that's true I suppose, I just don't have the confidence. I once turned up in red lipstick and although no one really batted an eyelid, I still felt well out of place! Pathetic really.

  5. Wikipedia: "Generally speaking, clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 1980s is considered vintage."

    Personally I am a little more relaxed about these things because I think it is subjective. Depending on when you were born, if you weren't born during that era or at a push were a child when it was the era in question, I think maybe it's vintage, with the more recent vintage being considered retro. SO, for me, as I was born in the 1980's, the 80s is retro to me. The seventies though (early seventies cos I am a 1980's baby) is getting into vintage territory.

    And none of us are getting any earlier either, so a much as we try and fight it, eventually the 80s are going to be vintage for someone!!

    And you know what ruins it all for me, and probably you... People getting all holier than thou about dates and times... Who cares at the end of the day... and we all gotta start somewhere.

  6. Also I forgot to say if it is from a previous era, then I reckon its vintage enough.

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  8. Well, I favour 30's and early 40's as the lines suit me. I also have a fab 70's maxi dress, some floaty 70's stuff and 80's cotton frocks.

    I look like a tit in circle skirts and 60's stuff. I couldn't wear the fashions of today as I look equally tit like....

    I don't care how anyone wears their 2nd hand clothes, or from what era at whatever function they please, but what I can't stand are the self proclaimed fonts of knowledge, who actally know very little, titting on about authentic this and authentic that. I wish they'd all knob off....

  9. I agree with you. Nice post. I run a vintage shop and I think the people that just wear 40s or any said era look more fancy dress than people who wear whatever they like to create a look that suits them. They are more interesting and they are the best customers to have in the shop, they are more daring and they don't overlook great items just because it was made only 18 years ago they have more fun with fashion which it should be. Some wearers give themselves too many boundaries and rules and often end up not looking that stylish and more theatrical. Lucinda Dead Mans Glory

  10. Loving the knob off Miss Matilda! V Funny

  11. All very interesting i have to say! I am forever thinking about this topic as i work in museums but i am a big wearer of vintage clothing so its the always should it be worn should it be preserved case.

    Most of the reason why people don't tend to wear garments from pre 1930 has a lot to do with fabric and simply, fabric doesn't survive that long, it often deteriororates through poor storage etc. Alot has changed in terms of hygiene too, we now have the joy that is deoderant, but this wasn't introduced until the 1940's before this you often find that garments were badly damaged by perspiration and you often see that underarms are rotten in earlier clothes.

    Some treatments which were used on fabrics also mean that few survive for example you rarely see silk garments from the 1890's or belle epoque period, this is becuase the silk was weighted which unfortunately caused it to shatter (they weighted it to give it the russle)

    And possibly the most important reasons for people not wearing older garments is simply the fact that our body shapes have changed. Peoples waists especially used to be so much smaller. People were shorter and yes generally overall the body of our forebears 120 years ago is very different to what it is now.

    I'll probs reply to this again in more detail later, but i have a train to catch (to Sutton funnily enough, as i see you live in Worcester park)

    Thanks for getting me thinking!

  12. Liz: What a star, you've answered my question, that's really insightful, why on earth did I not think of any of that!!

    Miss M: You're a bloody legend and you know it. That's a lot of tits!

    Lucinda: Thanks for dropping by, it's lovely to have more input to this piece. I think I've heard of your shop...


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