Friday, August 20, 2010

Vintage Origins

This week Nylon Magazine asked the question of whether people bought vintage clothing specifically because they loved the shared experience of the history of a piece or if they bought pieces because they were cool.

I've loved vintage clothing since I was a child.
The youngest of seven children, including four older sisters, I didn't get new clothes and instead wore their hand-me-downs while mum sewed or knitted items to fill in the gaps. 
The result?  Dire muddy colours, scratchy fabrics, grey knee-high socks and Bata Bullets (sneakers).
I rest my case here ...

I saw my grown-up sisters' closets as one giant dressing up box and frequently raided their gear to inject some glamour into my life while they were at work.
Flitting through the sheep paddock in a pair of 70s brown lace-up knee boots and cape a la' Wonder Woman was unforgettable!!
Especially if I'd forgotten to remove any traces of chook or sheep poo before surreptitiously returning offending items to their place:).  Oops!!

I started to learn sewing at age seven but it was at about 14 when I thought "Stuff it, I'll not wear this hideous gear mum's making for me, I'll make my own clothes!"
I'm sure mum's efforts were kindly meant but 14-year-old girls are impossible to please and I think she was relieved to hand the reins over to me.
Being the tail-ender of the family I spent much of my time in the company of older female relatives who indulged my ravenous appetite for soft, sensuous fabrics.

Many of these grandmothers, aunts, sisters and cousins and their sundry acquaintances didn't mind me gently touching and smelling the delicate and precious silks, velvets and wools and even the odd fur hanging in their closets.
I learnt at an early age how to handle aged fabrics and accessories which when combined with the glamour of Saturday afternoon 1940s movies on TV,  I ended up developing a deep and abiding devotion to fashion history. 

As a collector of clothing from various 20th century eras I've settled on wearing only natural fibres which has meant the 60s and 70s have taken a back seat in recent times.
The Brisbane climate is temperate and it's impossible to comfortably wear vintage man-made fibres.
As for style, I did go through a stage of head-to-toe vintage (any era!).
However something didn't feel quite right until it dawned on me that in head-to-toe vintage,  I was telling someone else’s story and literally walking around in someone else’s shoes/life. 
Now I prefer a look that I consider less "costumey", by mixing up vintage eras and modern pieces together. 
It seems to be a style that has also caught on for many and I think it has something to do with individuals wanting to tell their own life story, not somebody else's.
For now, I'm happy with that.
I'm back in the paddock, fancy-free, running around in a mix-up of bits and pieces, with some that once belonged to someone else.
Now I'm creating a story that's just my own.

So do share please!
What are the origins of your vintage fashion desires?
Why do you wear vintage?

Hail the next generation of vintage fashion lovers! (my seven-year-old)


  1. Oh my gosh! Love have great style...and your seven-year-old is totally a budding fashionista! Great blog. Welcome to IFB and thanks for joining the newbie group! I hope you'll visit me on my blog. I am totally following yours. Love your vintage heart :)

  2. Hi, followed you over from Vix's blog! You have great personal style and I'm looking forward to exploring your blog and receiving new posts.

    Someone once asked me if I had an affinity for anything in particular. I said "old things!" meaning anything vintage. I live in a 1930s house that has a lot of original features and I love it.

    I'm not sure where my interest in fashion came from (though it got buried for awhile) but it has always been with me.


  3. Beautiful post. I do share your love for vintage, and so do my daughters...Why???Perphaphs for the uniqueness of each item. I do mix and match with high Street fashion as well.
    Lovely blog I shall keep an eye from now on!!!
    Sacramento from AndalucĂ­a (South of Spain)

  4. I do love vintage, because I don't want to look like everybody else. That and it's easier to discover your own style while surrounded by hundreds of different items and you're allowed to only pick what you like.

  5. Jenna - thanks so much, you're a sweetie! My daughter definitely likes the tilt of a vintage hat or five!
    Bonnie - thanks for stopping by, I hope to see you here again too! I'll pop over for a visit - yes I think I just love old things too - houses, art, movies, design, all of it!
    Sacramento - so lovely that your daughters share your passion for vintage. Hopefully you can share bits and pieces? Thanks for your kind words.
    Miss Sofie - I can't do the carbon copy look either - at least I hope not:D!

  6. Your daugher is adorable! And interesting question about the origins of vintage desires. I think I took to vintage at first (in my early 'teens) because it was different, sometimes free, and attractive: striking fabrics, eyecatching shapes.

    My parents never indulged me much with current fashions -- I wore a lot of hand-me-downs, matronly catalogue stuff, and inexpensive chain retailer items -- so vintage was an inexpensive way I could look striking. Like, "I don't care about your Guess? jeans and Hypercolor shirts...I'm wearing this awesome c. 1972 corduroy vest from my dad's closet!"

    Now I'm interested in vintage because it is (still) eyecatchingly different, and the craftsmanship can be so much better than what's at the mall or coming from catalogues today.

  7. This is such a great question!

    My teenage years were filled with many hours of sullenly shaking my head at the racks of clothing in the mall every time my mother took me for back-to-school clothes. (I was a proto-headbanger back then and if it wasn't black, studded, or patched, it wouldn't do.)

    Once I hit the age when I could start working, I was off like a shot to run off and buy my own clothes...except they were so expensive at the mall, and everyone else had them. Where was the fun in that? The day I found the bus route to the local Goodwill was the day I started to love clothes, instead of inwardly scowling every time I had to pull yet another pastel sweater over my head. I plopped down $2 (about fifteen minutes' pay at my cashier job) for a soft, studded black leather motorcycle vest from the late 70s, slapped a metal band's back patch on it, and away I went. I've always harbored a love for the anachronistic!

    Your daughter looks positively thrilled to be wrapped up in vintage furs, looks like the next generation of thrifters will have serious competition for the goods on the racks!!

  8. Great blog! I grew up in Australia but in Perth which during the 80's must have been even more sartorially challenged then Adelaide!
    I think Australia's relatively short history of European settlement results in a fascination with all that pre-dated that time. We look to Europe in awe of its history.
    As a teenager and young woman I loved watching period costume films and TV series from Europe. I probably developed my fascination for Victorian and Edwardian clothing from that.
    I would trawl local second hand and charity shops because it was the only way to get cheap interesting clothing that you could make your own. My favourite shop was a second hand shop called Memory Lane which stocked amazing things but the vintage was all ex-theatre costumes rather than the real deal - they were still gorgeous though. I remember seeing silk dinner scarves, crochet backed leather driving gloves, a red velvet cape, riding boots and jodphurs and wondered which glittering beings had lives that got to wear such beautiful things.
    So wearing vintage then served as an escape from the mundane reality of surburban life and pretend I was one of those people! I still love it and always wonder who owned it before me but I try to wear it as you do now, in a way that makes it my own.

  9. Loved your post! I wear vintage because it feels as if every little detail of the outfit tells its own story, which always adds "meaning" to random colourful piles of clothes...

  10. Loved your Links a la Mode on IFB
    Love your blog , lets become fashionable blogger friends , lets follow each other.

    Maybe you'll be interested in the FENDI GIVEAWAY I'm having on my blog.

  11. I also have a past of wearing hand-me-downs, though they came from my mother and grandmother (I'm the oldest child, but the budget for clothing was non-existent in my family). And I also learnt to sew when I was unhappy with the clothing available to me! Coincidentally I posted about this today...


  12. Crazy! I just emailed you and almost asked you this question -- then discovered this post! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Growing up without a lot of money tends to either make one appreciate thrift stores or hate them. I've always loved them because the items within were never the bland stuff you saw in stores -- and I could afford it! Bonus if I found something that was vintage as it was always more interesting and better made.

    My tastes are a mix of hippie-goth-raver (teenager in the 90's!) and I still love that stuff to this day. My fashions seem to go with whatever kind of music I'm listening to at the moment.


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