So continuing on the theme of Tuesday’s post, I’ve been thinking lately about the term “dress up”.
A few weeks ago, someone (and not in a negative way at all- but in a simply curious way) asked me whether I was going somewhere special that day, because I was all “dressed up”. When I had gotten dressed that morning I had chosen a rather casual outfit for the day, since I knew it would be spent mostly at home. I was wearing a t-shirt, a cotton pleated skirt, some sparkly earrings, and flat shoes. This was not an outfit I had taken a great amount of effort on: I had simply grabbed the most comfortable garments I had to wear. However, in the eyes of many people (at least where I live) since I wasn’t wearing jeans and a t-shirt I had to be going somewhere special, and the question threw me off a bit, since I have gotten so used to dressing this way everyday.
The question started me thinking about how my own personal perception of the phrase “dressing up” has changed so much in the past few years, since I started wearing vintage, and how I now view clothing.
When I was in Grade 1, my mom made me a fuchsia satin dress for my birthday, It had a sweetheart neckline, puffed sleeves and a full gathered skirt. Quite simply, it was an amazing dress, and a dream come true for a 6 year old. I wore it that day to school, and many other occasions as well. I’m sure that people smiled at the sight of a little girl at recess, or grocery shopping in a satin pink dress, but I was completely oblivious, and to me it was completely normal. (Really who wouldn’t want to wear a fuchsia satin dress if they had one?) I was lucky that, growing up, my mom sewed for me, as my closet was never lacking in the wonderful clothes she made for me.
Somewhere along the way though, I guess I decided that dresses just got in the way and I entered a season in my life that lasted many years. Jeans and t-shirts were the everyday staples of my wardrobe up until my late teens. I did, however, still love the fashions of yesteryear, and Victorian and Regency fashions were my favourite eras. I loved historical fashion, but I never integrated those styles into my everyday wardrobe so I resigned myself to wearing casual, “modern” styles, and the styles of yesteryear were relegated to “costumes” only.
And then, a few years ago, I discovered Vintage. I’m not really sure how I found it; probably link hopping on sewing blogs until I found a vintage sewing blog, which then led me to the online vintage community.
Finally I felt like I had come home. I had dabbled a bit with vintage sewing before for costumes (as many of the pattern companies were reissuing their vintage patterns) but I had never met anyone who wore those clothes as daily wear. Suddenly I was faced with the idea of wearing those styles. . . everyday. It had never occurred to me that that was possible, but with the discovery of vintage blogs, suddenly a whole world opened to me. It didn’t matter that I didn’t personally know anyone who dressed like that- I knew that there were people out there in the world who did- and I could join them!!
So I embraced vintage. I didn’t start out with gloves and hats and petticoats the first day- it was a gradual shift to where I am at in my style today- where almost every item is, either true vintage, or vintage inspired reproduction, and vintage appropriate (to use a term coined by Jessica).
When I embraced vintage dressing, my outlook on clothing changed as well. Or maybe it just reverted to what I thought when I was six: Clothes are fun, and are a great expression of who you are.
The main thing that I have discovered about dressing in an alternative style (which I definitely think Vintage is) is that it is not dictated by trends the way modern fashion is. It is in fact outside of the trends. (Although you definitely see more “popular” vintage styles- rockabilly, 50’s etc) If you want to wear trousers that is great. If you want to wear dresses that is great too. Wear a pink satin dress to school if you feel like it.
Vintage is as varied as the people who lived before us.
One day you can be Dior’s New Look of the 50’s, the next Rosie the Riveter of the 40’s, and the next a Bright Young Thing of the 20’s. Or maybe you want to be all three at once. Who’s to stop you? You can have absolute freedom to express and create who you want to be. Fashion can reveal so much about the person you are and what you want to portray to the world. And I think that in a society that has become increasingly and extremely casual, vintage lovers stand out; not only for wearing a very different style, but also for the fact that we dress up.
By the term “dress up”, I don’t mean that we are literally wearing dresses, or even wearing dressy fabrics, every day, but that we are putting effort into our fashion choices, and curating a particular “look”. In a society where sometimes people seem to be looking for any excuse to dress down, rather than dress up, I think it is so great that an entire subculture of people has decided to rebel in our own little way, by specifically choosing to be different. We are putting effort into our fashion choices: it could be vintage denim or a velvet cocktail dress- but there is one thing in common: intentionally choosing to express a different and unique style.
So really. I said that dressing up doesn’t refer to costumes, but don’t you think “dressing up” really does after all? I say, Everyday is Dress Up Day- who do you want to be today?