In July, I opened my email and found an email from the Canadian magazine “alive”, asking whether they could interview me for an article about vintage fashion, and “turning old into new”. Of course I was interested! Get me talking about vintage and responsible fashion, and I can talk your ear off 😉 The interview, titled “Vintage Revives Fashion”, finally came out in this month’s issue. It was such a long wait and the funny thing is that enough time has passed, I only vaguely remember saying all of the things I was quoted on- well at least that way the article was all new to me too!
It’s a very good write up, and I hope that the article will get some more people thinking about ways to be sustainable in their fashion choices. Who knows, maybe some more people will catch the vintage bug too! You can find it here in case you are interested in reading it!
The majority of vintage wearers have, in their lifetime of wearing vintage, experienced various reactions from members of the general public. Sometimes these reactions can be simply genuine curiosity at an obviously different fashion choice, and sometimes, unfortunately, it can be negative. Probably one of the most universally asked questions, is “Are you wearing a costume?” or something to that effect. In my case (several years ago) it was, “So you are dressed like this . . . why?” – implying that there had to be some kind of external reason as to why I was wearing that 1950’s hat, fur collar, wool coat and high heeled pumps.
My answer: “Because I like it.”
Many people seem to think that anyone who dresses outside of the societal norm, simply must be wearing a costume. Someone wouldn’t be wearing a hat and gloves and a dress like, for real, would they?
I’ve been thinking about this lately, and trying to figure out my thoughts about it. I would suggest that, while I don’t really like the term “costume”, to some extent, anyone who dresses outside of the mainstream, is in fact putting on some sort of specific persona. It is easy to dress in the fashions of the day (look in every store and you’ll find some kind of iteration of the trends) but it is a conscious choice to dress differently than every one else. Whether you are wearing vintage style, goth, rockabilly or any other alternative style, you are saying something about yourself to those who see you.
So what is the difference between dressing in a so called “alternative style” or wearing a costume anyways?
After much thought (OK actually not that much thought, but some discussion with my mom!), I think it all comes down to your reason for wearing it.
How we choose to dress, tells a story about us. Your clothes can tell people, “I’m a rebel”, “I want to blend in”, “I want to be different” or even simply “I like old stuff”.
If someone were to look at me, they might not be surprised to learn that I also like classic novels, painting, antique furniture and old houses. My clothing has given them a glimpse into what kind of person I am; or at least the image that I want to present to the world.
Choosing to dress differently does raise questions, though, and like I said the most common one is, why are you wearing a costume?
A costume is something that is worn for a specific purpose, for a specific time and place, and it is not worn, usually, outside of that event. It is not a reflection of the person who wears it, because the person who is wearing it, has put on a mask, either literally or figuratively.
Wearing vintage, or another alternative style, though, is a lifestyle. At least it is for me, and many others. The decision to wear vintage style, as your “regular” clothes changes it from being a costume that you put on only at certain times, to being an expression of your own style personality. You don’t have to wear vintage 24/7 either, in order for it to not be a costume for you. While it might be a putting on of a persona, it is also a reflection of your own style and personality. To those people who question you, it is a costume to them, because they can’t imagine themselves wearing it; it is foreign and uncommon. To many people it is unheard of that these could be your “real” and “normal” clothes. (But, what is normal anyways?)
When I, and many others, wear vintage styles we are not just trying to be different. There are plenty of styles I could wear that would achieve the same purpose, but would definitely not be “me”. Wearing Steampunk is probably very fun- but it’s not something I would personally choose to do!
And you know what? I sometimes put together an outfit which I think looks great in my head, and doesn’t really come out that way when I wear it. Something is just not right with it, and so it does end up feeling a bit like a costume. This outfit here is one example of an outfit that came out as just too much. To me personally, I would like to stress. Even though others might think, “that’s so you- it’s got a vintage touch, pearls and a hat”- to me, this was a costume.
I look at this outfit, and I know that I was playing dress up. (Which I was; we just wanted to experiment with taking photos in this location, so I grabbed a few things and threw them on) I would never wear this outfit in real life; the twill trousers are far too casual to be wearing with this hat and blouse, and the hat doesn’t go with anything. If I were to tweak this into an actual outfit, I would pair the blouse with navy blue wool trousers or a skirt, my camel coloured blazer to coordinate with the hat, and I would probably take off the long strings of pearls replacing them with a single strand. That’s just me. Someone else might wear this, and they’d love it!
Ultimately, each person must decide for themselves what the line is between “different” and “costume”. Fashion is supposed to be fun, so if you feel like wearing a costume out and about, there’s no one stopping you! Sometimes you just want to dress up! But, if you are trying to determine whether something is clothing for you or whether it’s a costume, here are some questions you could ask yourself:
Do you feel more confident wearing this outfit?
Are you constantly thinking about what people are thinking about your outfit? I’m not talking about shyness, and sometimes feeling a little awkward because you look different. I mean: are you completely uncomfortable because all you can think about is what other people are thinking of your outfit?
Are you absorbed with your outfit and fussing with it constantly? Aka- you don’t actually feel comfortable wearing it. Once you put on an outfit, you should not be preoccupied with it, if it’s just clothes.
Is it an expression of things that you like? Or are you wearing it simply because it’s “vintage”, but not because you actually like it?
Are you just waiting for the moment you can get home and change into something else?
Are you drawn to a certain era or style, but this outfit is just too much? For example, someone might wear 1920’s styles, but they might not dress completely like a flapper with a headband, pearls, fringed dress and all.
Do you enjoy wearing this? Is it fun for you? Is it the right expression of your personality? For the same reason I wouldn’t dress goth, you might not want to dress a certain way either.
Well, I hope that these thoughts may have helped you to think through what defines costume vs. style for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this- have you ever been asked if you were wearing a costume?
What do you think is the difference between wearing a costume or just regular clothes?
Well it’s been a busy month. October, I mean, not November. We’re only 5 days into November. Well, it’s been busy too, actually now that I think about it. . . Anyways, I am finding myself sitting in front of this computer screen, again, trying to write this blog post that has taken me far too long to write. And I have been reflecting on how the changing circumstances in my life have changed my presence here on the internet, and how I have been neglecting this little blog. (Being a responsible adult is cutting into my creative time. Seriously, why so many dishes?!?) So, just some point form thoughts, bits of updates on things, and some links to blog posts, or articles that I found interesting.
These flowers were given to me as a housewarming gift from my sister at the end of September. I just threw the last of them out last week- I couldn’t believe that the cut flowers lasted 4 weeks!
Part of my busyness in October was because I was preparing for an exhibit that I have up for the month of November, at a local library. It’s not really an “exhibit” as it doesn’t have a single theme or inspiration, as it is comprised of anything I had ready to show, which was a mixture of photography and watercolour. I have a few pictures of that display, here on my studio instagram. It was a bit difficult to take the photos, because of the poor lighting, but at least I got a few!
I haven’t been very good at keeping up with my studio and shop lately, but I was able to set aside some time this weekend to plan and prep some things for that, and I’m going to (hopefully) be better at keeping up! I have some new pieces in the works, and if you’d like to stay updated on what I am doing art-wise, I would love it if you follow me over at my instagram @theartyologist_studio!
This little quiz that Mariam of the Petite Bijou shared in her instagram story the other day is fun. It’s only three questions, but I took the quiz and was pleasantly surprised by the results. I have been trying to create a more defined and cohesive wardrobe, as I’ve talked about before, so finding out which colours look best on me, was rather helpful. I got: “Rich, earthy shades of red, orange, yellow, green, and brown, peach, coral, and red violet, warm grays (mushroom, taupe) and off-whites, periwinkle and teal”. Well, most of those just happen to be colours that I am drawn to anyways! Did you take the quiz? What colours did you get?
This post by Bianca of The Closet Historian is a great one, about blogging and how she grew and then shrank her blog. This is something I have struggled with along the way too, with my own blog. Trying to stay true to what I want to share, but also trying to juggle what people want to read. And not getting too obsessed with the numbers. If you have a blog, do you struggle with “the numbers” too?
I have been feeling a bit discombobulated lately, and I haven’t been doing many outfit photos lately or even any blogging. Since moving, I have had a hard time coordinating with my sister to do photos. That and it’s basically winter now, and so it gets dark so early. But, I am trying to get back in the swing of things, and post regularly again! I have some ideas for posts, so now I just have to do them.
This article about smartphones was completely eye opening. If you have 10 minutes, read this article. Seriously, do it. While I would not consider myself to be as addicted to my smartphone, as they talk about in the article, I do notice myself sometimes getting a little too attached to it, and am taking steps to reduce my screen time. (Hard to do when your job and your hobbies all involve computers!) Anyways, it is a great article, so I would definitely recommend it! Do you struggle with smartphone addiction- what do you do to reduce your time spent on your phone?
Fashion Revolution recently released a podcast about “Who Made My Clothes”. I actually have not found the time to listen to it yet, and I am planning to this week. If you’d also like to listen to it, you can find it here. UPDATE: I just listened to the podcast today, and it was a really great investigation into the garment industry. It kind of does a whole overview, then focusing on specific issues, and also gives some great examples of how we can enact change in the industry. I would definitely recommend listening to it! There are 3 episodes of about 25 minutes each.
Is it seriously only 50 days left until Christmas?!?! Not that I’m trying to jump things, but I am getting ready to do a couple of Christmas craft shows this month and next, and the Christmas season is just rushing at me! It’s a lot of work involved, doing Christmas sales, but it’s a lot of fun too, as I do them with my sister.
So, that’s a bit of what I have been up to, and I think that’s all I have to share for now. I hope you have had a lovely and relaxing weekend, and that this next week is a good one for you too!
So, I was going to write this whole post about changing style, and how your style evolves with your circumstances and how my style is going through a bit of change lately… but I am just having no luck with any of that, and as this post was originally planned for yesterday, how about I just skip all that, and show you some pictures instead?
The story behind these photos is that I wanted to do some photos by this brick wall, because this store, which is over 100 years old is closing. It was a family business and no one wanted to run it any more, so they made the decision to close the store. I don’t know what is going to happen to the building, and whether the sign will be painted over. I hope that the sign will be left up, for historical interest, but in the event that it is painted over- I wanted to get some photos first! I have been wanting to get these photos for the past month, but nothing was working. And then on Sunday, I wore my green cape to church, and my new hat, and I kidnapped my sister and made her come and take some pictures- and everything just worked out perfectly.
Sorry there are so many photos- I had a hard time choosing what to share! I’m pretty amazed that we got these photos, actually, since this is the first time I have done such a public photo shoot, and I was a bit nervous about it. Usually we are in the middle of a field, or we find a quiet corner, where no one is around, but for these, we were on the corner of an intersection, and vehicles were driving by and people walking by and wondering why on earth there was a crazy person running about, dressed in a cape and hat, with their own personal photographer! I was glad it was a Sunday afternoon, though, as it was fairly quiet compared to a weekday. 🙂
As far as the outfit goes- this is pretty representative of what I am leaning towards lately for colour schemes and styles- earth tones, 40s inspired, and a bit more pared down, or on the practical side. As for outfit details- I made the cape last winter out of thrifted wool, the hat was a wonderful thrift find this summer, the dress is a secondhand Indian tunic which I turned into a shift dress. (I am not sure if the proper term is Kameez or Kurti- does anyone know?) I love the pattern of the fabric, but it is 100% polyester, which is a killer to wear, hence why I only wear it in the cooler months! And my purse, is the same old trusty one I purchased a few months ago from Top Vintage. So, I guess that is all I have to say about this- I said I had nothing to say, and here I am at 500 words already. 😉
Have you ever done a public photoshoot- or do you try to find out of the way corners, like me? What outfit choices are you feeling drawn to for Fall?