Ground Zero Dressing…
I’ve been wearing vintage clothing since I was “just a slip of a girl” – and was that girl who wore her Mum’s shoes, from back in the day, along with a fabulous op-shop find to lectures with the other students in jeans and t-shirts. I think my love of such clothing came from the times when I would watch old, classic movies with my Dad and be blown away by the beautiful and glamourous women in them – also I had a couple of uber-glamourous aunts which may have also have been a large factor!!
It definitely set me apart, but being a touch on the spectrum and having a tough Scottish mother who brought me up strongly not to worry about what others thought meant that I ignored that side-eye then, much as I do now …
When I ventured into my career in Education I would often be queried about my clothing, and my appearance in general tended to be a point of some discussion amongst both the student, staff and later parent, bodies.
I found myself being a strong female role model for those who wanted to exercise their creative bent through their clothing or looks in general, and looking back, I feel that it contributed to so many of the positive relationships I was able to cultivate throughout my career – even though my training was in English and History rather than art or textiles!!
Tips On How To Look Authentic – as in authentic for you!! 🧐🤗🥰
The most important thing to have is a bit of attitude – the confidence to wear what you love and what feels good on you! It doesn’t matter if the whole world is wearing blue jeans, a striped t-shirt and a blazer – there’s no reason why you can’t slip on a fabby fifties or forties dress and some heels … as long as it is what you want to do!!
I wear jeans and contemporary clothing a lot of the time, but I also wear retro, vintage and pre-loved clothing because I feel good in it – and trust me, people have a sixth sense and can feel your confidence and joy in wearing alternate fashions! If you wear the groovy clothing of years gone by and it doesn’t sit well with you after all, you can always stop wearing it or tone it down.
I have to say that my outfits – although they do get some strange glances as we live in a tiny Australian backwater – generally are well received and are often excellent conversation starters as people are keen to find out more!
Another thing to remember if you’re worried about your clothing looking costumey is that you don’t need to put together a retro outfit in its entirety – you can wear elements of a period that you favour, like the shoes or shoe-style, a skirt, a jacket or accessories like gloves, sunglasses, brooches, lingerie and hats. Also, really isn’t all clothing costume anyway? A lot of people wear what everyone else is wearing to “blend in” and their outfits are their costume of choice. Life is too short to not find joy where you can – and if wearing clothing from a past time makes you happy then grab it with both hands!!
All of the things that I wear I have generally collected over many years although this early eighties dress does a forties style is a new pre-loved vintage purchase. I have never worn this colour, generally sticking to vibrant jewel colours or black, but I couldn’t resist the beautiful pleating in the skirt and the sweet neck and waist tie and I was pleasantly surprised that the colour suits me so well!!
I felt comfortable to really pile on the whole bit for this look – the first time we’ve been out for lunch since early March and added my tan fishnet stockings, leather gloves, retro-style heels in a similar sage colour, big sunnies and a scarf and faux fur jacket for when the breeze came up as we are in the middle of winter here in sunny Australia. The outfit was more forties than eighties and that’s what I was going for so I was happy.
I don’t do my hair in the forties or fifties styles – mainly because I wear extensions ( I’ve had no end of trouble getting my hair back in condition following the breast cancer but I remain ever hopeful) and I generally find it a bit tricky, to be honest, but I do stick to the red lipstick.
It’s important to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, which is why I often get my retro dresses altered so that they feel, and look, perfect on my shape now. In the end, it’s hard not to look a little like you’ve been playing dressing-ups in your Mum’s wardrobe, but when it’s all said and done that’s ok isn’t it? Isn’t fashion a bit of fun? I mean if you’re in a conservative corporate environment, maybe not, but there’s always your weekends!
And for your education, in relation to the Black Lives Matter campaign in Australia:
Thank you for joining me in my little corner of the web and I’d love to hear what you think about the notion of costume and so on in the comments below!