Sunday, 14 February 2016

What Vintage means to me.

I suspect this will be quite a rambling post so apologies in advance. Whilst cooking the bolognese part of a spaghetti bolognese for our dinner tonight I was stirring and pondering what Vintage means to me. 
This has been prompted by not only reading a back issue of In Retrospect magazine (yes I was very late to that party! but what a great read it is) and the book I am currently thoroughly enjoying ‘Bang Your Head – The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal by David Konow’ not an obvious link I know, but bear with me!
In the magazine they were discussing whether the 80’s and 90’s should be considered vintage and in the book we have just reached the mid 80’s where metal was becoming huge and outlandish outfits and huge hair were all the rage, and this is where my brain kicked in with it’s thought process
I have made no secret of the fact I was a huge Glam Metal (Hair Metal) fan back in the day like many of my generation on the vintage scene we have come round to vintage via rock, punk or goth.

I was a skint art student who wanted to dress like her favourite bands I couldn’t afford to buy new so I scoured jumble sales and second hand shops. Here I found gold. 
My first purchase was a fabulous turquoise satin 1930’s men’s dressing gown, oh how I wish I still owned it now! 
I regret to say have no idea what happened to it, I suspect it literally got worn to death but like to think of it making a bid for freedom one night, tired of being covered in spilt beer and fag ash, of being knocked around and sweated on in the mosh pit, it was designed for cocktails and cigarette holders and laughs round the piano after all. I like to think it is genteelly living it up somewhere safe from my mistreating clutches. 
Another item was a 1960’s powder blue lace coat that I bought along with it’s matching elegant lace dress in a thrift shop. I loved it, my Mother loathed it, I didn't realise quite how much she loathed it until she admitted many years later to deliberately washing it too hot and shrinking it. 
I haven’t a clue what I did with the matching dress and again I curse myself for my lack of forethought in keeping it safely.
Among the items I still own are a tailcoat and matching waistcoat, (now over 100 years old!) a navy pinstripe waistcoat, various white dress shirts and a drawer of accessories. 
Delicate elbow length black lace gloves and pretty scarves and shawls of differing ages, all of these items went through the ordeal of pubs and clubs, beer, cigarettes, late night chips and drunken staggers or crawls home. Not what they were designed or made for at all!  
Back in the 80’s vintage clothes were in abundance and prices were cheap, I started out buying them because it was all I could afford and ended up loving mixing old and new, studs and bullet belts over Victorian lace was what it was about for many of my friend's at the time. 
With hindsight I think that is why I still happily mix it up now, new and repro with genuine vintage, and why I don’t understand the people who have a cow when they see someone dressed that way rather than top to toe genuine pieces. 
I recall someone getting their knickers in a twist about girls walking into her vintage shop in head to toe high street their outfit hideously completed in her eyes with a gorgeous vintage bag, she refused to serve them. 
I, very politely for me it must be said, pointed out that maybe that person was simply a collector of handbags?
The owner of the store felt the only way to do such a bag justice was to only ever wear the correct era outfit when using it, I disagree, a fabulous outfit from any era, can be finished to perfection with a gorgeous vintage bag, whilst also show off that bag as it deserves to be shown.

I know I’ve mentioned before that even if I did want to dress in true vintage from top to toe my height and girth make it pretty much an impossibility, there weren’t many tall fat women in the 1930’s or 40's and the few that there were didn't wear the kind of frocks I want to wear. I will admit I probably would wear more authentic vintage if I were a teeny tiny but I'm not so there it is.

Yes I love to frock up as much as the next person, but more often than not I’m up to my elbows in a wheelbarrow of compost or cleaning the bath, and frankly jeans and a hoody give me the comfort of movement I require for these tasks,
When I do finally get off my backside I’m very much one for getting stuck in and not worrying if I rip things or cover them in paint or mud.
Also if I’m honest, quite often I simply can't be arsed. I sit here typing now in jeggings and a huge purple jumper. Why? because it’s Sunday, I’m having a lazy day and frankly these were the nearest items to hand when I crawled out of bed this morning. I haven’t even brushed my hair, mind you for some reason I always forget to brush my hair, so that’s not necessarily me being lazy. 

I feel I can express myself more wearing a mix of clothes and eras. I know I would feel horribly stilted and trapped were I to dress one way for the rest of my life. I love clothes and fashion (even if you would never guess it from the shambling mess that types before you!) I love reading the blogs I follow and seeing the writers in the amazing vintage they have found, I kind of admire the ones who are true vintage wearers 24/7 but I know it's not for me.   

Thus endeth my Sunday ramble, I'm off to do the washing up. Time and Fairy Liquid wait for no woman.


  1. Personal choice, innit?! There are no rules, only personal preferences, and what's the point in being sniffy about someone else's choices about what they wear? Like you, I started wearing vintage in my teens when it was easy to find and cheap to buy, but I still do OK really - I bet my vintage wardrobe cost less than if I tried to replicate it with repro brands or high street clothes. But we all come to our sartorial choices from our own perspective, and do what works for us. Keep collecting the handbags, Gisela! Xxx

  2. I think people's other judgements are absolute piffle. I probably used to be quite judgemental myself but these days have come around to quite the laissez-faire attitude. Like you I get struggle to get vintage to fit because of my stature (have always done better with American stuff, I wonder if that's because of their Germanic-African-American history?). My husband started buying vintage in the '80s when it was cheap as chips, but for me it was the burlesque scene that got me into vintage, via French Knickers! I think you have a wonderful handbag collection. How far are you from Bath?? Thinking of a meet-up there in April xx

  3. It was very interesting to read your account of how you got into vintage clothing. I have very little vintage clothing because I've only recently started looking around for it. And that has been because I've been inspired by reading a range of blogs.

    I shop mainly in charity shops although I do buy new clothes as well, and if I found something vintage I would wear it other modern things. It would be nice to be able to dress top to toe in vintage items but I don't think it's de rigeur - although clearly your vintage shop lady would disagree with me.

    It's wear what you feel good in and like in my opinion.

  4. I couldn't agree more and that vintage shop owner sounds like an appalling up-her-own-bum snob to me! If you're happy wearing head to toe vintage then fine, but it's not always appropriate at every time and for every career. I always mix things up and will continue to do so.

  5. There are so many different routes to vintage, it's sill when people only focus on clothes. My husband's aunt and uncle own vintage cars, including a gorgeous Austin Seven. They may never have any other vintage in their lives, but as far as I'm concerned, anyone who can strip down and clean that engine and put it back in tip-top condition should be welcome at any vintage gathering, regardless of clothing. Likewise someone with a massive interest in music but not much else - should they be disbarred from things because their love of an era is not 'visible'.

    Though if the 80s and 90s are considered vintage, the amount of authentic vintage I own has probably just increased by 30%... I still have things like my 1995 graduation dress, shoes and bag stashed away.

  6. Yup, its all down to personal choice. I've been buying vintage since I was old enough to walk, not because i want to recreate the past but because I love things with a history and happily I can still find it cheap and plentifully today.
    I'd love to refuse to serve some people who visit my stall, namely the ones who want one of my glorious psychedelic catsuits and maxi dresses "for a fancy dress party", unfortunately I'm not rich enough to afford that luxury and if they've got the cash then I have to hand the gear over.
    Have you seen any of Deutschland 83? If anything makes 1980s style look good then it's that show! xxx

  7. Darn Sarf, vintage is not only hard to come by but bloody expensive generally, so although I wear a few bits I have to mix it up. I wasn't into it in the 80's tho'..back then I was channeling Alexis Carrington! Ha! x

  8. Hail, sister in metal! I'll have to check out the David Konow book. We're from similar 'vintage' backgrounds and my clothes were also trashed from nights out pubbing and clubbing! I remember wearing a pair of 1930s velvet lounge pants to a Cathedral gig back in the day and some oik walking up to me and asking me to "swing my pants" like Trev and Simon - remember them?!

    I love to mix my eras, but also have to dress practically too for work and gardening. Flouncing onto a construction site in a maxi dress is asking for serious trouble/piss-taking!! xx

  9. Great post today lovely. You know my out take on Vintage having met up a few times. Vintage to me though is about loving and remembering and breathing new life. I do wear vintage clothes but not every day anymore my life has changed a bit and I like to dress in what makes me feel good and what is practical to do a job I am doing. I have to say that I don't think of 80s as vintage not yet anyway give it a few more years yet :-) dee x

  10. Indeedy-all personal choice. I too started wearing vintage (or secondhand clothes as they were called then) because I was broke, new clothes weren't cheap and charity shops/jumbles were bursting with great stuff. And beacuse I didn't like Eighties fashion when I was there!I also inherited clothes from my gran, mum and even my grandad.
    I don't wear vintage to work-my work wardrobe comes from the Screwfix catalogue!
    Wear what makes ya feel good I

  11. I don't understand this whole vintage hierarchy thing. A great frock is a great frock. So wear what you want to and don't worry about it I reckon. Some eighties stuff was just fabulous. I think you and I had the same powder blue jumpsuit? God I loved it so much! Xxxx