On my Instagram account I often receive messages and comments relating to people’s confidence, or rather lack of it. Many followers are starting out in the vintage world and unsure how to cope with other people’s reactions.
I’ve been wearing vintage/repro on and off for 13 years – and 24/7 for the last two. So I’m pretty comfortable and confident with it because I know I feel better and am happier in it than modern Muggle clothing. Over the years I’ve had my fair share of rude stares and derogatory comments which are far outweighed by the positive looks and compliments. Mind you I’m pretty straight talking and not one to be bullied so any idiots tend to regret trying to force their opinions upon me🤫😁.
My mother says I’ve always gone my own way with my clothing and used to despair of my passion for neatness and co-ordination. I recall she once discovered a huge selection of neatly folded carrier bags in my wardrobe when I was about 11 years old. She was staggered when I said I kept them for the pretty colours to go with my outfits as I didn’t have any money for lots of bags. (She thought it was odd but my step-father became convinced I was going to become a homeless bag lady!) I digress but my point is that whilst I am strong willed enough to never have been swayed by what others think of my dress, it took me a long time to realise that not everyone has the strength or confidence to be who they want to be.
I know there are many of you just starting out on your journey. Lacking in confidence or nervous about how people will react – even having to deal with negativity from those closest to you. You worry about looking “over the top” and being embarrassed, especially if you’re the only one in vintage dress.
The only advice I can give is to start with something you really love. It may be that circle skirt without a billowing petticoat under it, or just a fitted 50s top with your modern jeans. If you love it embrace that feeling because you know it makes you happy.
Hold your head up, shoulders back and spray on a touch of your favourite perfume. Focus on how good you feel and how you like what you see in the mirror. Hold that feeling and let it be a source of warmth for you. As your confidence grows you can add that full blown petticoat or that hat or corsage or those fabulous sparkly shoes.
Start to build your outfits, have a jeans outfit, a swing skirt set, a wiggle dress. Try wearing beautiful dresses and accessories for just a few hours to dinners out, the cinema or a lunch with girlfriends. Soon you’ll find that you love being you – not a poor imitation of others. You’ll feel happier because you’re more comfortable and feel more like you. Yes you may get stared at but you’ll also find people will use it as an excuse to come up and talk to you, complimenting you on your look. Eventually you will find yourself moving to wearing your vintage all day long without caring what others think.
It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people talk about how those nearest and dearest to them tell them they shouldn’t be wearing vintage, that it’s not how a grown woman should dress, that they are dressed like that clearly only to gain attention, that they make others feel uncomfortable.
In my opinion that is emotional blackmail, not to mention controlling. Unless you’re dancing naked down the street or literally about to reveal all if you breathe too deeply (both of which flout the actual indecency laws of most countries!) then no one but you needs to be concerned with what you wear. After all you’re not forcing your opinion on anyone else, asking them to dress how you want them to – so why let someone dictate your clothes and how you should feel, to you.
My beloved husband has absolutely no interest in the 50s except to enjoy live music. He also has no interest in vintage clothing or modern day clothing either. He just wants to be comfortable and will wear knee-length shorts and flip flops for 3/4s of the year. He often asks me if I mind what he’s wearing when we’re about to go out and I’m dressed to the nines and he’s not. I always say the same thing – if you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing then I don’t care (although you might want to think about jeans as it’s freezing out there!)
Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to see him in vintage turn up jeans and an Hawaiian shirt, but it’s not him, he’s not a doll, and I don’t dress him up. By the same token I wear what I want, when I want – which he’s also supportive of (but really doesn’t like my high waisted jeans and trousers – tough!).
I do recall when a really good friend was getting married last year and although I didn’t want to I felt compelled to asked her if she’d like me to try and find something more toned down as it was her big day. (I think as a full day guest at a wedding it’s the one and only occasion I’d do this because all attention needs to be focused on the bride.) I could have hugged her when she said “Absolutely not – I’m expecting you to wear one of your beautiful big dresses and looking forward to seeing what you’ll wear”.
It made me realise that the more you dress as you want to, the more your friends and family and literally everyone else just associates that as you and your thing. If you need support there are many events and so many Facebook groups and insta accounts you can follow where people will encourage you and arrange meet ups.
Where I live I’m the odd one out and instantly recognisable in my village as the “vintage lady”. By going to events I’m amongst like-minded and similar dressed people and have made some wonderful friends.
The support you’ll gain from the groups and events can help with your confidence and also provide helpful advice on everything from foundation garments to the best pen for winged eyeliner 😄.
I’m not writing this to preach – far from it. I do my own thing because I’m strong enough and old enough to be me but I know that’s not the same for everyone. But these days it’s vintage fashion not vintage values. That means all are welcome to the world of vintage fashion and your choices respected and that can help you as you muddle through the Muggle world 😄