Thursday, 28 April 2011

Points don't make prizes

Am I vintage enough? Are you vintage enough? I sometimes ponder the former, never the latter – whoever you are, that's probably good enough for me (religious and political extremists excepted). Anyway, this post is prompted by Fleur de Guerre's blog post yesterday where she revealed some anonymous commenter had dinged her for not being vintage enough. All I could think of was that because she is so well-known, someone less well-known but rigidly wearing only period clothing all the time is jealous of the attention Fleur gets, which is a bit pathetic really. As anyone who maintains a blog knows, it takes time and effort, and maintaining a diary blog packed with interesting activities is serious work. Perhaps if the anonymous poster put in as much hard work and dedication into a blog, he or she would see more people appreciating their wonderful wardrobe.

The other thing it's made me think about is using clothing for points scoring. I freely admit to being plus-size; part of my reason for this is that all too often vintageland seems focussed on being thin, and just as women now are able to enjoy vintage and do things like work after marriage, take out a loan without a man's signature, control their own fertility and so on, I reckon we should be able to step off the diet and body loathing treadmill if we choose. I admit, I probably could get thin, which is why I don't spend all my time moaning, 'But why is there so little authentic vintage clothing for meeeeee?' (Although if Tara Starlet would start making things in an 18 I would be one very happy robot!) However, not everyone can reduce their weight or height in order to fit into authentic vintage, and there are a great many people with non-typical bodies that limit their choices of authentic vintage. Should a girl who wears splints for cerebral palsy be thrown out of vintageland for not wearing enough of the real clothing? How about a little person? Or someone who has had an amputation? Vintage isn't just for the thin and typically bodied, or the pretty, or the young. It can be for us all, and if some of us are limited to repro, that shouldn't make us second-class citizens.

People also express their vintage in different ways. Mr R has an aunt and an uncle who are serious vintage car nuts. Their oldest is an Austin Seven, and I believe they've even machined spare parts when authentic ones have been unavailable. Are they into vintage? YES! Even if they do drive the Austin wearing fleeces. We all love different aspects of it, and all those loves help keep the whole thing alive for everyone, from silent film fans running an annual festival to dedicated seamstresses making repro clothing to trad jazz bands.

My point? It's not a game of points. You don't have to wear the 'right' clothing in order to rack up enough points to love vintage, or to be able to share it with others. Who wants to spend their life in a uniform defined by others? You are fabulous just the way you are, and I hope you allow others to be their own sort of fabulous too.

7 comments :

  1. That last paragraph just reminded my why I blog. Thank you.

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  2. BRAVO!!! Awesome post Mim!

    I own very little "real" vintage, but I study the era I love (40's) and take my inspiration from things I find in charity shops. I am what is commenly known as "plus size" (or "real" as the Beard refers to it) so I find the same issues. Women were, on the whole, smaller back then. It's just the way it was.

    I suppliment my lack of vintage clothing with jewellery and an abundance of homewares. I take pride in my appearance and try to look era worthy when I can. Some days I get it wrong, others its mediocre. But I am happy with the way I dress. And thats all the counts to me.

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  3. :) I'm really glad everyone who commented liked the post. To be honest, I've yet to have a bad experience - perhaps I'm too far beneath the notice of the snobs! - but it does seem to happen to other people, and that's sad. The world is crummy enough at times as it is.

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  4. My sentiments exactly! Very well said, Mim. Like LandGirl1980, I don't own many vintage items of clothing at all, but the 1930s to 50s is very much my era of historical textile study. The things that I do collect are a lot of books and textiles, but not necessarily garments. Like you I'm larger, but could slim :) Equally, my style isn't to dress in vintage clothing very often. Mainly it is knitwear.

    Everyone's enjoyment of vintage is different. Thanks for writing such a good post to highlight this.

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