I’ve always loved vintage inspired attire. The old Hollywood stars looked glamorous and beautiful and I wanted to be like them. I’d see the occasional pictures of women from decades past and wanted to know their secrets. Now it’s a mainstream style and a bit of a cliche but there has always something magical about it. When I was at university I finally got the chance to explore what it was like to dress vintage. I pounced on a tube of red lipstick and layered it on with delight.
I soon made the rookie mistake of trying to overload on the style. Much like Japanese lolitas when they start out, I got over enthusiastic and piled it on. It overwhelmed me and people thought it looked dated and bizarre. In hindsight for a lot of my outfits, they were right.
A few years later I was deep in depression and unemployed. I had lost my love for a lot of things and repro vintage and vintage were on that list. I had to sell almost all of my collection and kept only the first item I ever bought, the Hell Bunny May Day dress which will leave my wardrobe over my dead body. I wanted to love each piece the way I loved that dress and I didn’t. Each piece I got I wore and really liked and I enjoyed styling them but I didn’t love any of them as much as I loved this dress. I was upset to have to sell and at such low prices but in the end when I did, I didn’t look back for long. I didn’t feel as bereft as I thought I would at selling off my vintage aesthetic. I was sad to let it go but needed a break from the consumption and over dressing and other people’s opinions. And while I started off loving it, I ended up feeling like it was a costume and was it really me? I just didn’t know who I was. I started experimenting with different styles much later than everyone else and uni was my gateway to a whole other world of fashion so there have been a lot of hits and misses over the years.
I put vintage and repro vintage on the backburner for about a year and a half and when the urge to wear more than the red lipstick had reared its head, I was still at a loss at how I’d get back into it. Stumbling upon Pinterest, I discovered more street style pictures and instead of looking at film stars, I was drawn more to the ordinary woman in the photo. The appeal of vintage came back in full force. There is a causal elegance that is attainable and adaptable to modern life.
I looked back into my favourite shops like Collectif, Hell Bunny and the marketplace of Topvintage and found that the things that used to appeal to me, didn’t anymore. I still coveted the pencil skirts but remembered how uncomfortable they made me and how restrictive they felt. I love the silhouette but not the feel of being a stiff stuffed sausage. I didn’t feel the need to own all of the pretty dresses anymore. I love them and admire them but I just don’t need them all and when I do add a new dress to my wardrobe it feels a lot more thought out. When I wear one I love it much more than if it were my everyday attire. I started looking at trousers instead for a more casual look. Bootcut jeans and polka dot trousers became my favourites. I’d wanted a pair of polka dot trousers for a long time and finally got to make a pair in a sewing class. For skirts I went back to the swing skirts which I much preferred. Retro vintage skirts are always too long for me so I learned how to hem so I could alter any hem that might land in my wardrobe to make it fit better and make it look less dated. I’ve never bought a repro vintage skirt since then as I did learn how to make my own swing skirts and so far these have been my retro additions. I’ve also learned how to mix and match modern clothes to retro inspired ones which I’ll do a separate post on. I’m comfortable and happy with my wardrobe and have finally found the core style I feel best in.