Saturday, 14 April 2012

Day dreamer

Hi all, so I thought I'd start a post about a popular question. However, plain text is a little boring right? So I added some sneak peaks of what I've bought for Berlin. I know its ages away, but a girl can dream whilst she writes her dissertations. Arrrrgh.

So a few days ago on Fazbook, a magazine asked 

'What has made vintage so popular?' 

I enjoyed reading some fabulous answers and also looking at ones that made me want to scream a little bit. Some answers talked about the 'glamour' of the eras of the past and the way people presented themselves. Valid point, I think. It makes me really happy to see gents in their (very) late lives walking around in suits and shiny brogues. On the other side of the coin others said that people now days have 'no pride or dignity' walking around in their everyday clothes. This one was a real head scratcher for me. What? Does a lady wearing stockings and lipstick have more dignity than another wearing jeans? Am I more dignified in my twenties dress than I am in my Ramones T-shirt? Some claimed that clothing today has no 'class'. I hate that phrasing, but hell if I could afford some Miu Miu it would as sure as hell be mine. 

Other people commented on gender boundaries 'when ladies were ladies'. So I am more of a woman if I'm in a dress? I'm sorry what? I still clarify myself as a woman.

 1930s unworn Teddy - eBay 

Others commented on nostalgia and I think this is probably one of the aspects which has made vintage so popular. I think the most popular eras that seems to be harking back to is the forties to fifties. This is when we 'made do and mend'ed and this is when Britain was very proud of itself (for good reason)! We tend to remember the good parts of this era such as community spirit, Elvis and polite manners. Do I think that it was a better era to live in? NO! Rationing? Air raids? The constricting social roles of women with 72 hours (1950s average) of house work? My feet are firmly in 2012.   

1920s dress - eBay 

Others offered answers of money issues. But is the price of a forties dress always cheaper than the high street alternative? I'm not so sure. In my mind it's worth more but is it cheaper? Maybe five years ago. 

Sneak peak of the Swimwear SimplyBeach kindly sent us.

Nostalgia is not a new thing much like most vintage wearers know. There were resurges of twenties fashions in the sixties and thirties fashions in the seventies and forties fashions in the eighties. I have a feeling that twenties will get a lot more fashionable after the release of The Great Gatsby. As far as I know, its never been this popular. 
1940s house dress - Beyond Retro

I guess I can only guess at it myself. Perhaps street style is really influencing fashion houses? Mix that with flattering lines which are often more forgiving than the 2012 silhouette add some novelty and the idea that 'classics' are not a fashion fad. I have mixed feelings about the popularity of vintage. Selfishly, I don't want the clothes I like to get unaffordable, I don't want the resources to run out but I also love sharing a passion with others. We often get emails saying 'You've inspired me to wear what I want' and thats an amazing feeling!

My beloved Berlin reading.

However vintage style seems to be going to strength to strength so is it here to stay? Or is vintage/retro going to put to shame in another year? 

I'd love to hear your opinions. 

Aimee xx   


  1. vintage clothes are pretty and unique. Who wants to look like the new Gap ad? Not me

  2. I have always loved and worn the same looks (prob the eras I love that suit my body shape best), '50s and '60s, since I was a little girl. Thank God for the internet because now I can get my hands on true vintage pieces with the click of my mouse (I do online shopping at work, I have a mouse there).

    I guess the answer to the original question is: It isn't more popular now, it is simply easier to get now and there are more vintage replica items available for those who are just trying out a look. It's my late-night theory, anyway. :D

  3. Brilliant post Aimee! I think it is probably here to stay. At least for the people who have choosen Vintage for ethical reasons. I think as a society we are realising that we have become a very wasteful 'throw away' culture and people see vintage as a way of recycling. It has become very fashionable and I too for selfish reasons hope it's not going to make it unaffordable. Like all trends, particular era's will go in and out of fashion but I think the 'vintage fashion love' as a whole is here to stay.

    If it encourages people to feel more comfortable in themselves and helps them express their individuality then that is fantastic. I have always loved vintage because of my Gran, she has always collected Antiques and has given me 'precious' items and family hand me downs ever since I was a little girl. So for me I guess it is mainly sentimental. As I have got older, like many others, it has become a way for me to find clothes that suit my unconventional figure and ever since I was young people have said I have a very 'old fashioned' face. When your a 15 year old ska punk lover the 'old fasioned' face thing doesn't fill you with the greatest confidence. ;)
    Vintage makes me feel beautiful and I feel like I have found an aesthetic that suits me both inside and out. It's lovely that you are inspiring people to be themselves, if more people can start to feel that inner confidence through wearing vintage then that is amazing and something very special.

  4. I really love this post - how you're talking about the opinions on vintage and why it is popular. Also I really like how you mention how much better the world is for women today as opposed to the vintage era's, I feel that sometimes it is hard to be a fashion lover (an essentially very 'girly' past time) and still stand by feminist ideals and strive for equality, without the enjoyment of all things pretty taking away from that!

    I have loved Vintage clothing since I was thirteen and it is sad in the selfish way of it becoming less affordable..espeically as my gran an mum got rid of loads of there amazing things when i was still little!I think you got lot's of the reasons why, for me it's: the individuality of a piece, it feels so much more valuable that it's a special one off, and I love that clothes have had a past life, there's a nice connection there. And also there was so much beauty in clothes of the past as they needed to last for longer and were often a not such a regular occurrence as they are today!

    Love you blog, love this post - thanks very much in general, and for the inspiration of perfectly mixing vintage style into modern life!

    Kate x

    (and my very new, needing improving blog:

    1. Thanks for your comment! I was thinking of writing a vintage + feminism post. Me and Harriett are really active feminism and as much as this is a 'creative' blog, it seems that a post would provoke some more discussion! xx

    2. That sounds great to me, my sister has really got me into feminism and I think it's great to have more young women talking about it and taking away from the 'man haters' and just generally poor view of feminism today - all that I want to aim for in feminism and any other such 'ism' is equality, it is not a competition between races or sexes - every person should start from an equal place and gain or lose due to their individual qualities, not anything else!

      Kate x

    3. You're so right Kate! Feminism is all about equality. Its a shame people don't understand feminism/ are not informed. Women that the think they're better than men obviously missed the point! x

  5. Lots of very valid points there. I have had an obsession with Vintage since a very young age. I like history and, naturally, the clothes are a part of it. When I am dressed in Vintage I am *wearing* history. I imagine the person who wore the garment before me, their life and even death. It's totally a form of escapism for me - I get to be imaginative and creative. Clothes do not define who I am, but they certainly are a tool for my self expression.

    1. 'Clothes do not define who I am, but they certainly are a tool for my self expression.' What an eloquent comment! I intend on quoting that! x

    2. Thank you! Kisses from Canada! xx

  6. ...oh and yes, I believe that Vintage is here to stay. At least, we will have a new sub-culture that will keep Vintage in demand.

  7. I love vintage styles for a completely different reason. Each era tends to have an idealized body shape that clothing is designed for and my shape is closer to the idealized shape of the 1950s than the one for the 2010s. I wish I could look like a sophisticated adult in skinny jeans and a sweater like someone women can, but I end up looking sloppy. Vintage silhouettes just tend to be more flattering for me so I end up looking more put together.

  8. I couldn't agree with you more about head scratching at the assumption that current fashions are ugly/have no class. To me, this reactive reasoning does vintage style a dis-service...because it's saying the vintage style is OK surrounded by crap, not (as I find it) unique, fun and stylish holding its own amongst other valid fashions. These comments also sometimes leak into woman-hate, suggesting essentially that women who don't wear vintage are in some way trashy...erm, your clothes define you? That's an attitude best left in the past IMHO. Orange, eyeliner and spanx or ghost-white, red lips and's the woman's behaviour which we should judge her on.

    As for vintage's lasting appeal- I reckon it will change. At the moment it's very mid century floral/pattern based; when I first started wearing old/retro, the vogue was for 60s. So vintage itself has been part of my life for almost 20 years- but the fashions within vintage shops/markets/fairs have changed. Actually, I have been told by some of the 'vintage = classy/stockings/lippy' brigade, rudely, at a well known vintage festival on the South Bank that what I wear ISN'T vintage because it's not always conventionally pretty and is from the 60s-70s. It's 60s-70s sportswear, mini dresses, clashing psychadelic prints and all the idealism and fun that goes with it. And guess what? I am a classic hour glass figure, I have red hair, I could suit 50s... but bar formal events it's not what I like. I feel more confident and relaxed being bright/brash than pretty/classy.

    1. PS. I mean change in style, not disappear...who knows which era will be in vogue next? I think tha past has timeless appeal.

  9. Ooh, I know what you mean about the comments that make you want to scream. I recently read a post on an American blog about why people wear vintage clothing, and half the comments were "women were classier back then, today they dress like whores and have no shame!" Do people actually believe that?

  10. Very thought provoking, most of which I nodded along with. I slightly disagree with you here on the 'when ladies were ladies' comment, however. In my mind there's a difference between being a woman and being labelled as a lady. So when you say 'am I more of a woman if...?', unless you are a hermaphrodite, I don't really think there's a sliding scale there. But in terms of being a "lady" as I have been brought up to think of it, there is. Maybe that's just the way I see it from the oldies.

    I can't believe I just used the word 'hermaphrodite' when talking about vintage.

    1. I guess thats a clarification of lady. I believe that gender isn't fixed but I don't think I explained this well enough. I think I shall definitely write a post on gender and feminism + vintage.

  11. Hi Aimee,
    Personally I wear historical garments (either second hand or things I've made myself, or "repro") because I have always been interested in period costume: this has led me to study costume at degree level. There are loads of girls on my course, and similar, who love period dress SO MUCH because we have this idealised view of the past, that everyone dressed immaculately all the time and wore beautiful clothes every day. Actually this isn't the case: it was the rich elite who could a) afford the clothes, and, b) didn't have to work or do anything of a practical nature, meaning that they thus would actually be able to wear these clothes. Also the highly stylised image of life that Hollywood [studio] cinema of the 1920s-1960s gives an inaccurate view of what everyday life was like (there's a fantastic quote in the essay 'the hollywood star system' in 'glamour' by Stephen Grundle which - I paraphrase, I must stress - talks about how this cinema gives a rosy view of a life where skirts were never wrinkled, hair was immaculately coiffured at all time, and stockings never run). Actually, in the past, people were still people and they got messy, broke things, made an effort or didn't make an effort with their clothes, and also not everyone was stylish in the past - just as now!

    There have been revivals in period dress in every decade, and broadly speaking certain trends come and go incessantly: military/nautical, oriental/african, grecian, and historical. In 1810s England there was a trend for Tudor styles!

    My considered though not completely formed opinion for the current trend for 'vintage' (a designer once informed me that to costume designers [like myself] call it "period costume"; fashion stylists call it "vintage clothing" - which is after all a rather vague description) is indeed the nostalgia factor. For the past few years Britain has been in the down in the dumps, in terms of the economy, and people are feeling very jaded with politics. Have you noticed how society in general is OBSESSED with WWII at the moment? (I literally can't count the number of student films are being set during WWII at uni this year, it's so many) Not just any period, but specifically wartime 1940s. And of course it is remembered in glowing light, a time when the UK still [just about] had its empire (I think that this point is really important) and came out on top. Suddenly the forties is associated with seamed stockings, swing dancing, and red lippy; not rationing, single mothers, broken homes, poverty.

    And what the hell is up with all these Union Jacks? Personally my mum and aunt, whose parents immigrated to the UK from Malaysia in the 1950s and 60s, were children in east London in the 1970s when the union jack meant the National Front and nothing else. I've inherited my mum's (justified) abhorrence for the flag, yet suddenly the nationalism and patriotism it represents is meaning something completely different and everyone's forgotten about the horrors of the NF. (not glamorous or domestic enough perhaps?)

    I nearly wrote my dissertation on this exact topic; but instead wrote about drag queens, Divine and John Waters. So apologies for writing so much!

    Have a ball in Berlin! I'm so envious. We've [me+boy friend] been planning to go there in September for absolutely ages, and there's still ages to wait! I hope to get some ideas for where to go from you :)

    Best wishes,

    Anushka xx

  12. I think vintage is certainly in fashion at the moment and that will pass, but there is a big community of long term vintage lovers that isn't going anywhere.

    When I was young vintage styles caught my eye because my mum and grandmother wore an eclectic range of vintage as I was growing up and I used to watch a lot of old movies which were inspired me but these days I can't get past how many options I have with vintage clothing and home-wares. I have decades worth of styles to chose from instead of having to adhere to the 'fashionable' ideas of a few choice designers in the current trend. As such I wear and decorate my house with beautiful things ranging from 1920s-1970s and it feels so much more 'me' as a result!

  13. I know what you mean at wanting to scream at certain opinions! I dislike the slight air of snobbery that can come in when saying vintage is 'classier' than today's fashions etc. And as you hinted at nostalgia can be a dangerous thing - looking at the past as though it were this magical place where everyone was classy and polite, etc., when think about what it was like for people of colour when segregation was still in place in the US (& other places) or when you could be arrested for being gay or so so many other things I can't even think of right now.

    Of course it's not perfect today and there is still a lot of oppression to overcome but looking at the past critically doesn't negate being able to love other aspects of the 40s or 50s or whenever.

    This is something I think about a LOT (both why is it popular and how I can reconcile a love of the past with wanting to be progressive in my thoughts/actions) but I just don't write about it much as I'm not someone who likes to...provoke conversations that might be a bit...controversial?

    I really didn't answer why I think vintage is popular, did I? I think nostalgia plays a big part in it...and, like you, I'd love to selfishly keep all the clothes affordable for me (I feel very much like, whilst not wanting to step on sellers' toes because they have to pay their bills, eat, etc. that vintage is starting to become something for 'people who have money' rather than for those who have less disposable income and want to be stylish...) but I know that's a very selfish point of view.

    I shall stop rambling now but I love seeing more discussions like this and want there to be more and more (without having to start them myself...not just yet anyway!)

    -Andi x

  14. I think it has just become very en vogue because many Hollywood stylists and of course British and others have been mixing vintage with designer items to dress
    stars for sometime now. This trickles down to the magazines. The likes of Kate Moss have made it hip and cool.

    Also, I think people are starting to think more about where they are buying their products from, a lot of high street clothing use sweatshops and some consumers want to avoid shopping in those places.

    Not to mention, that if a piece of clothing managed to last 40 years you are encouraged to buy it as you know it is a well made item, that you can wear and treasure forever.

    I myself started wearing vintage when I was about 16, I purchased two vintage dresses from Camden at £15 a pop, now I dread to think of the prices. I cannot afford to go in Topshop and buy a tea dress for £55, that is why I go on eBay and look at vintage. I love the nostalgia, the quality, the cut and how it makes me feel. It is rather upsetting to see how pricey things are getting, but I think there is enough vintage for everyone to join in the fun surely?

  15. Just recently started following your blog and I'm now a big fan! I appreciate that you pointed out that nostalgia for a certain type of aesthetic doesn't necessarily mean nostalgia for a time period in its entirety! And also how harmful and irritating it is when people feel the need to judge women on their clothing choices. Even if they are trying to compliment vintage clothing wearers, the language they are using is sexist and classist.

    I think vintage clothing is often just better made than a lot of clothes now. And as a craftsman myself, I appreciate the handmade lace or the trimmings or the beautifully finished seams, even if the piece is falling apart. I feel a connection to the person who made the piece of clothing as well as the person who owned it and wore it.

  16. "People were classier back then" or "people today have no dignity" are extremely unfortunate ways of expressing oneself. "I am uncomfortable with contemporary fashion" might be, in my opinion, a better way of making the same point.

    Short skirts, low necklines, and strapless have always been exceptions in my wardrobe. Usually they have been an uncomfortable part of trying to be sexy as a teenager or give a nod to fashion. I make clothes from mostly vintage patterns because they have sleeves, are at least knee-length, and don't show tonnes of cleavage. I want to wear flattering clothes that emphasise my good features without showing my skin.

    I remember walking around in Sweden right before we moved, though, and noticing how every single woman I saw in my small town showed lots of leg, shoulder and cleavage, usually all three at the same time. That's their prerogative and we shouldn't put them down by calling ourselves "classier" or saying that they lack "dignity". From experience, though, I can tell you that I am personally uncomfortable with the kind of attention I get dressed like that, and I feel "classier" (that doesn't mean that I actually am, though) when I wear well-fitting but more modest clothing, because that's what I pick up from other people and how they look at me and how they treat me.

  17. The taste for vintage has been constant, even Marie Antoinette dressed up as a Shepherdess from an earlier decade. I clearly recall the late 1920's being massively popular in the early 80's due to ITV's Brideshead Revisited adaptation. The 70's were obsessed with Victorian as was the sixties and the fifties looked to the Regency and the Georgians.
    I suspect that there are various factors which draw people towards vintage and that on past experience, in about four years most of the people we see enjoying it will have moved on,including some of the most messianic out there adopters. Those I know that still dress in the past having done so for 20 or 30 years are drawn in by a profound affection for the design, literature, film and music of an era. That doesn't change and binds people to different styles. Someone who loves rock n' roll will always display that tendency visually as will someone in love with forties history, thirties film and cabaret. But there is no moral judgement there, trends are life.
    However there is more sexism around now than any time since the late seventies and all this moral shit about clothes, ladies, manners and grooming is absolute bollocks. Your average orange wag is assiduously well groomed. I find vintage can be subversive, if you kick the cupcakes, girliness and simpering baking outta da window. xxx

  18. I have always worn old and, or, unusual clothing, I just love the styles from certain periods...Paul Poiret and Dior's New Look for instance....It depends on what mood I'm in on the day what era I want to be in, sounds mad but I know what I mean! I like the theatricality of a lot of it, too. I don't wear jeans anymore, which I liked with fancy waistcoats and blouses, because I have put on weight so don't feel comfortable in them anymore, I stick to skirts and dresses. Because I have a big bust I tend to find that a lot of older dresses don't fit me, so I tend to collect things like hats, gloves and scarves etc. I tend to look for stuff that suggests different eras or that just pleases me to look at. Almost everything I buy is second hand. Apart from shoes, not that I have anything against them, just have a wide foot so I'm always on the hunt for period styles that will fit me. My gripe, apart from the price hike, frequently for stuff that is not in the least worth it, are the people who happily destroy something very old and precious by cutting it to bits or the like. That makes me very ill tempered indeed! Or who get snotty about "real" vintage as opposed to repro or just trying to recreate the flavour of something as best one can. I'm seriously interested in history and I like to think about the women who might have worn those garments before me. I think those of us who are interested in that aspect will always love it, the rest will hop off the bandwagon soon enough. Hopefully taking their damned cup cakes with them! Don't get me wrong, I bake, I like cake, I was taught to do it and to cook but I cannot bear the ghastly tweeness of this, it's like a rash everywhere one looks. I even hate the word cupcake, it makes me say very rude words indeed. It's dragged into every area of faux vintage that exists.
    And yes, Redlegs, there is more sexism around, it's really foul, too.

  19. 'I like the theatricality of a lot of it' me too! I think my next post shall talk a lot about this. xx

  20. I personally wear vintage because I grew up watching only old movies. That was the style I thought was really the prettiest. I didn't get up the courage to wear a lot of it until I was in college though, I always thought I would be judged, not a lot of my boyfriends liked it and the people I was around seemed to think it odd. Then I met my lovely hubby and he adored whatever I wanted to dress like and gave me the confidence to dress however I wished. It has really empowered me, and I love dressing however I want.
    I think it's sad that I have heard some women say dressing in a feminine way or a vintage way somehow is not a feminist thing to do. I think the whole point of feminism, as stated several times above, is that we get to decide what we want to do/how we want to dress. And that we are all perfectly equal. And I'm proud that my hubs is the one who got me on the road to dressing how I want and not caring what other people think. Lovely article!


    1. It sounds like you've caught your self a winner there Emma! xx

  21. Brillant post!
    Vintage certainly seems to have become a subculture,but I didn't realise that for the longest time.I remember in the 80's, when I was a Goth in Sydney(back then it was about history and art and was beautiful,rather than then hardcore thing it has become in the last decade or so)there were lots of rockabillys around, and that was probably a whole other thing going on that I just didn't realise at the time.Antoher example of how every generation has a fascination with the past,I guess.
    I don't have much idea on just how popular it is nowadays to be into vintage, just what I see on the internet;in my little town it isn't huge.
    Personally, I just like old shit,always have, and I'm a cheap arse, AND I feel it's ethical.It helps that I grew up with a mother born in 1929 who had me watching old movies with her all the time.She had some great stories and memories;a ballroom in Brisbane called Cloudland that had a cushioned floor,getting stockings from American soldiers stationed in Brisbane during WWII...not many pics, though,sadly.


  22. Super lovely blog!


  23. Great post! I agree with your points, and vintage is indeed nothing new. Fashion has always been inspired by previous styles, sometimes just from previous year, and sometimes from the previous century.
    One thing I've been pondering lately: how much does current trends affect those who wear vintage/vintage-inspired? I don't shop new clothes, I'm rarely in such stores, I don't buy fashion magazines or in any way try to "stay in tune". But I find it doubtful that my current obsession with 50s blouses with grown-on sleeves, is completly unrelated to the fact that H&M mostly carry grown-on sleeves this spring! Or that when a slim silhouette is fashionalbe, the vintage sewing community sews wiggle skirts. Etc, etc.
    Maybe fashion is always evolving, getting inspiration from the past, and maybe we all are affected by it, no matter how much we strive to be independent from the fashion industry. Just a thought!

    Sorry, I digressed a bit... But I agree with you that it's sad when people feel the need to justify their style by trashing other's. Wear what you want, be proud and comfortable in the style you have, and leave to others to decide what they feel great in.

  24. Fashion was just so much better back in the good old days.

    / Avy

  25. Really interesting post. I would probably say that the vintage thing is cyclical - the style of the day is always inspired by decades past. Designers need to draw inspiration from somewhere. I also have a theory (probably a strange/unpopular one) that fear is a motivation: the world is a big scary place, the future is frightening for a lot of people. The past is safe because it has already happened so no wonder people want to keep it alive, not just in clothing but in the way they decorate their homes, the music they listen to, they way they lives their lives in general. So much more comfortable to be in the cold modern world with a cosy blanket of nostalgia.

  26. "However vintage style seems to be going to strength to strength so is it here to stay?"

    Yes, it is. Vintage is here to stay since they are timeless, and being timeless is the essence why a certain clothing is called vintage. Anyway, those wardrobes today, will eventually in the future will become also the vintage of the next generation. So, vintage for me is here to stay. :)

    Cathy@embroidery digitizing

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  28. I think the simplest reason for me is that it's a matter of aesthetics. Why only take influence from the now when there's so many decades of aesthetically interesting and wonderful clothes. I like movies from the 1920s through to now, music from the 20s through to now, and similarly clothes from all decades have their merits, but also their downsides, my mind is cast back to the 90s revival. There were some god awful fashions I remember as a teenager that people aren't bringing back. Baggy jeans, Eclipse, skiing type coats, fat skate trainers... the list goes on, so even for the more hip vintage wearers bringing back the 90s it is a matter of aesthetics as they are picking what they like out of a decade.