To be honest, I blame blogs. Or rather the 'anonymous' comments I sometimes see, and the blogs I stumble over by hitting 'next blog' at the top of the blogspot page then scuttle away from (note to self: for nice and/or sane blogs, use fellow bloggers' follow-lists, never 'Blogspot next blog').
|80s t-shirt. Channel the rage...|
I'm talking about how, since mid-last-year, I clock someone wearing vintage, designer or alternative and immediately introduce myself with '...I'm mixed style with an interest in thrifting.' Why? Well, in case they think I'm a part-timer, a charlatan or an inexperienced newbie trying to pass myself off as...
...what exactly? A member of some club or secret society? I dunno. The rules don't seem to be written down anywhere and even the literal poster-girl of vintage, Fleur of Diary Of A Vintage Girl, got nasty, spiteful comments from cowardly, anonymous self-proclaimed guardians of 'proper' vintage. Now, I'm using vintage as an example here- I've experienced almost exactly the same with various 'scenes' (indie, alt, hipster etc')- it's just t'interweb seems to have really fuelled it. And another disclaimer: none of you lovely folk who tweet, follow etc' do this so I'm preaching to the choir really, but I just need to vent.
I love clothing. I love it for the look, for the quality, for associations with places, music and a period in history. This incorporates vintage (or 'retro' as my 60s/70s stuff was known in the 90s, before it got trendy), vintage-repro, modern-looking and alt all mushed up together. I think it works. Snog Marry Avoid (my most hated TV show) might disagree, but eff em, I've got the first two nailed and people who 'avoid' me usually do so cuz I've fixed them with my Paddington-Bear-Hard-Stare.
I also know (for an ameteur) my clothing pretty well- part of my MA involved costume, I've read up on 20th century dress and first started rummaging for vintage over 15 years ago in smelly flea markets (no charmingly shabby-chic vintage boutiques then) going to the library and reading these paper things with pages to research ages and care. Which brings me onto my first real bugbear that I just have to get off my chest:
1) Not a purist? Must be new to it, inexpert and frightened.
I've seen the whole 'Newbie, mixed/repro, purist' thing many times online: and once in a magazine- classic 'buy more to make yourself feel cleverer'. It just isn't true. There are all sorts of factors involved: I have a certain style which leans towards the 60s and 70s, with elements of modern urban and rock/indie. And North London princess. That's my style, I'm not frightened of any of it, but I cross-shop to get my style. There are all sorts of reasons- style, size, practicality or otherwise- why other fantastically stylish people don't follow the above chronology either. It's enormously patronising and seems to exist soley to create some kind of pecking order and/or get people to buy more.
2) How dare vintage be in fashion! All sorts of teenage mainstreamers are wearing prom dresses!
There are some irritating side-effects to vintage style being in fashion, which I had not fully noticed before the whole 70s thing got its turn. Mainly mislabelling on Ebay (but let's face it, there have always been dodgy shops on Ebay), very tatty and cheap repro that disappoints (but really I should check the seams etc', c'mon- we all know how to shop) and turning up to a party in the same dress. There are also advantages: quality boutiques everywhere, far less off comments from conventional types, you can find shoes/handbags that 'go' on the high streets and mucho repro... from handmade to Matalan. I don't remember all that back in the day, I remember rummage-bins at the back of Magdeline St Oxfam and spending more on laundry powder to get the smell out than the clothes themselves.
It's when it leaks over into 'how daare they wear something from Matalan that looks a bit like something we wear, they're not one of us!' that it all gets a bit silly. Reminds me of my student days, when I toddled off to buy my vintage offa Camden Market and saw all the metal kids - hey, I was one too in my day- who showed they were truly unique and against those cliquey b*tches by - erm, wearing the same labels and forming rally tight cliques-within-cliques. And becoming enraged if anyone else wore black denim.
Leave teenagers to have a bit of fun with fashion- if you don't like high street repro, don't buy it! How many of us did 80s-does-50s, 90s-does-Mod-revival back in the day? When people get irate about the 'wrong kind of person' buying vintage it makes me wonder, do they love the clothes (which, to me is the main thing), or love the exclusivity or dare I say it... cliquey side? In which case, the issue is not with others wearing that but with something deeper within them, perhaps.
My motivation for thrifting and much of my vintage buying is ethical (the same reason I adore modern fashion from Ebay and charity shops), for cut (shortarse with small waist = old stuff fits!), to save money on designer items and, yes, so I won't be wearing the same as another person. Or at least, not exactly the same. But princess or not, I don't require anyone to submit a CV and references to wear similar to me if they want. But then again, I'm not 'proper' or purist, so meh.
3) All people who don't wear vintage/alt are bland, chavvy or whatever...
I was going to blandly say 'two wrongs don't make a right' but instead I'm going to be a bit firmer: unless everyone, everyone the commenter knows and likes is non mainstream they should be more specific or they're insulting their mum/sister/friend etc'. If they mean 'those teenagers that laughed at me are...' then say so. Don't generalise. Because yeah, bored, daft teenagers might giggle at oddbod dressers like me, but that's them being an annoying teenager- moreover often the kind of teenager who has nothing better to do than sit at a bus-stop (quite a sad state for them really) not the way they dress. [NB. additionally, I must say that not all teenagers are silly/annoying. People of all ages are just people: most are decent folk]. Yeah ignorant people might wear sportswear - but how many pleasant busy people do also? Just don't stereotype. At the end of the day that scruff in Sainsburys might be wearing flats, comfy trackies and hair in a messy ponytail because she's a nurse come off a 14 hour night shift. Just remember many nasty anonymous comments were probably typed by someone very well dressed indeed; does that make the rest of us snobs? Of course not.
I remember thinking 'mainstream fashion is for idiots, so anyone wearing it is one' back in the day. A kind of natural 'revenge' in my mind for the mean kids at school. But - maybe because I mix up my style, I've heard comments about people wearing things I owned (minding their own business, not sneering or even noticing the alt folk outside the rock pub) and it upset me. I'd comment that I owned that skirt - it would all get a bit quiet and awkward. But the comments stopped. meh. Just venting.
Glad I got that all off my chest. Comment away, agree, disagree, whatever. :)