Thoughts on why I wear vintage

In the last few weeks I’ve had too much time on my hands and have gone all deep and meaningful with regards to my feelings on vintage.  So watch out there are a few of these kind of posts coming!
So the all important question- why do I wear vintage?
For me this is a multi-layered question as my desire to wear vintage stems from many sources.
For me this is the defining reason why I wear vintage. I love the fact that something isn’t new and has already lived a life before it comes to you. I am an obsessive researcher, and given the chance I will research ANYTHING (zip manufacturers, fabrics, finishing techniques…anything). A single vintage garment can offer me so many avenues for research, and also so many stories for me to pass on. As someone who is quite shy I always find that your clothes can be a great talking point, and my own, sometimes outrageous vintage choices often provided me with something to talk about.

This little number ended up being a great one to research after i found the original advertisement, you can read about it here
Re-creating lost bonds with the past
For me it has a lot to do with the fact that none of my family every really kept their clothes from the past, and it seems to be a way of recapturing my own family history by acquiring things that link back to their past.
My fathers side of the family have long been involved in the textile trade (see this anecdotal post about my granddad) and my Granddad worked for the tailor Hector Powe  (where he met my Nanna) and also briefly for Frank Usher in the 50s, I think this deep seated bond (and the fact that I never really asked my granddad about this connection before he died) makes me feel a need to recapture my families own past. My Nanna in particular always gets excited when I turn up with my latest vintage finds, especially those from the 40s and 50s when she was a young woman. I love the way too that this seems to jog her memory and then I hear (often hilarious and touching) stories from her younger years.

My wonderful Nanna and her sister in the 1940s
Dressing differently

Aged 7 with mother Tree…i have distinct memories of being DESPERATE for this alphabet print wrap top : )

A typical look for me aged 14…not vintage but this was my kind of random style. I can’t find a full length pic of this outfit but it was a blue and pink stripy polo shirt, white gypsy skirt, TONS of beads and converses. Happy memories.

Another typical look and a very vintage styled dress aged 14

Aged 13 and another of my former favourite dresses. I still have this one somewhere…

When I first started wearing vintage I think the desire to dress differently  was my main reason for getting into it I remember vividly the sneaky trips up to brick lane when I was 14 or 15 to go and visit the vintage shops. My first purchases were all small the odd blouse or dress but I think it was when I was 17 that the desire to wear vintage really kicked in. This was all because of the search for the elusive “may ball” dress. My dress was SENSATIONAL. And I think most of my reason for choosing it was this desire to look different, and not like everyone else.  Over 4 years on it is still one of my most prized possessions (partly due to the memories attached to it from both my may ball and my freshers ball at uni which I also wore it to) and something I would never let go of.

The elusive May Ball dress back in 2008- again no full length pics of the front of it…apologies!

This isn’t a vital part of wearing vintage, but at a time when I am having to sell large chunks of my collection it is something at the forefront of my mind. The sort of vintage I tend to wear (mostly 40s and 50s) is currently hot property and therefore rather than loosing money when I sell my items on after a few wears I often make money. This is something with buying new that cannot be achieved.
In terms of money it is also my LOVE of a bargain. Although I have been known on more than one occasions to squander over £200 on a vintage dress it is more often than not my dresses picked up for pennies which have a great story behind them that I love the most. 

A legendary “pennies” purchase St. Michael Marks and Spencer 1950s skirt purchased for £5 many moons ago.

Final thoughts

But most importantly for me vintage isn’t about pidgeonholing myself into a particular era or trying to religiously recreate a look. Yes, i primarily wear clothes from the 50s but i’m not trying to recreate the past, i’m not a re-enactor and I’m not wearing fancy dress. Vintage for me is a “tool” for creating my desired look. It offers me the chance to express myself in a different way and also i tend to feel much more comfortable in vintage clothes than i do new. 

The key thing i always think about when dressing is to dress in a way that makes YOU feel comfortable. I love vintage, and that is what makes me feel most “me”, vintage is an expression of my own love of history, femininity and textile design, but equally if something new is beautifully cut and designed i can love it just as much!

Outfit worn for my Summer ball last week. 50s dress worn with a Tatty Devine necklace and Zara shoes. Nice mix : )

So, that’s a few thoughts into why I wear vintage. Inspired a lot by Charlotte of Tuppence Hapenny’s  recent blog post which you can read here.

Putting clothes to bed

Sob. There is one thing that makes me ever so sad about working in museums, putting all the objects away! A few weeks ago we took down the Little Black Dress exhibition and I have spent the been putting everything back away into the stores. Most costume can only be left out on display for short periods of time because they can be easily damaged by light and varying heat. Some garments can only be left out for short periods of time because of their weight, and some of the dresses we had on display really displayed how much of a problem this can be.

This beautiful dress is a prime example of a mid twenties flapper dress. The peacock inspired embroidery is simply breathtaking and I am sure the original owner would have looked the bees knees in this dress! The dress has been on display since November (first in Dazzle and then in Little Black dress) and this 7 month stint is as long as the dress can realistically take and will start to show signs of more damage if left out any longer. Here are just a few pics of the dresses beautiful embroidery. I think it has to be one of my favourite pieces in the Hampshire Museums service collection.