|The actual me: I can’t draw a cat eye; I don’t often wear dresses; my car isn’t vintage; I’m covered in dog hair.|
I’ve been into vintage fashion a long time now. I first became interested in it in high school, around 1999, but I didn’t have the guts to actually wear vintage clothing, only to admire those who did.
In college I found Rockabilly, and started wearing Things With Polka Dots. I even dated a guy who wore jean jackets and drove a ’68 Camaro. We had a beautiful, temporal Summer of sunshine and Tiger Army. The relationship with the boy didn’t last, but I did carry on with the vintage love, getting my first sewing machine around 2003 and churning out one substandard skirt, dress, or retro blouse after another. I even had a cardigan from Daddy-O’s with cherry skulls on it, because who didn’t?
Fast forward a decade and here we are. I’ve made scads of vintage dresses, blouses, jackets, coats, skirts, pants, even hats. To say it’s not a true-blue part of me would be a lie. So why don’t I feel comfortable, really myself, in these clothes now?
Since joining Instagram to help spread the word about my new retro shoe shop, Royal Vintage Shoes, I’ve followed and admired hundreds of women from around the world who do vintage really really well. Whether they’re into 1950s pinup or 1930s glam, the hair, the makeup, the never-ending closets of clothing…all are perfect, and constant, and intimidating.
|This is usually how my cat eye eyeliner comes out, and let’s not even attempt a 1940s style lip shape…|
Yes, intimidating! I know that Instagram photos are carefully posed and selected and edited to create the very best image possible, but I still get caught up in the “how is that pin curl set so perfect? How does she afford all these dresses, and where does she put them all?! How come my cat eye never looks this good?”
These women are real, and wonderful, and supportive, and amazing, and skilled. I’m just not one of them, and my trap is that I’m trying to be. I somehow feel that my own personal style of vintage isn’t the right one to attract a large Instagram following. I somehow feel that people don’t want to see awkward selfies of a 30-something woman dressed like Robert Redford in “The Sting.”
|I’m actually not very feminine in real life. Is that okay?|
But in trying to be something other than me, I’m failing on all fronts. What people really don’t want to see is trying-too-hard selfies of a 30-something woman wearing badly drawn eyeliner and a wiggle dress that doesn’t fit – in other words, me trying to be somebody other than just me.
So it’s time to get back in touch with the real me…my inner (and outer) Robert Redford. Trying to be like everyone else will never work. My advice to myself and to all of you is to do YOU really well. That’s unique and interesting and different.
So I’m no pinup, and I ought not to be. And that’s OK.
Do you ever feel this way? Let’s chat in the comments below, or on Facebook.
RosaMarch 2, 2016 at 5:22 PM
Well, from such an amazing costumer this came as a big surprise, I won't lie:-) But I think you have a great point – besides, if one would do it like all those perfect 50s, 60s, 40s ladies, precisely the same thing, albeit perfect, methinks one just wouldn't have much of a chance of ever standing out, creating something unique.
I'm more into Lolita fashion than costuming, but yes, it often does feel disheartening seeing all those Lolis doing it so perfectly, be it Sweet Lolitas, Gothic or Classic or you name it, seeing their overflowing closets full of Japanese brands stuff, perfect makeup, perfect wigs or hairdos… the pressure to be amazing and spend loads and loads of money is about as great as in the costuming world, I suppose.
But personally I like the most the Lolis who walk outside of the beaten paths. There is one who combines it with vintage items and never wears wigs because she's got gorgeous loooong hair of her own and another one who heavily uses historical influences in her style, makes most of her clothes using historical costuming methods and also has got a head of gorgeous loooong hair of her own and styles it a la 18th century – both do things in their own unique way and look like Goddesses. The bottomline is, I think you are right – finding yourself, your own voice and own style is just the way to go:-)
And if I may, you look seriously GORGEOUS in that Robert Redford thing. Seriously.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:04 PM
Thank you so much! Being "in costume" is one thing (and I love it), but being in your everyday clothes, we want to feel ourselves. That may not fit the mould, but that's ok, right? Maybe it's better to march to the beats of our own drums 🙂
UnknownMarch 2, 2016 at 5:42 PM
There is nothing wrong with not being a model! I ADORE turn of the century lingerie dresses. I've been collecting them for years. There is no WAY I could ever wear them. Most have an 18 or 20 inch waist that I would never have a chance at. I still love the style, even if I can never wear it. You have to be true to your self. And I agree with the previous comment: you look fantastic in the Redford thing!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:05 PM
I guess we love what we love! That's part of what makes us unique 🙂
Cathy RaymondMarch 2, 2016 at 5:49 PM
Take a closer look at some vintage photographs sometime. (I'm sure you've seen many, and maybe own quite a few.) A lot of those women look far from perfect. So there's no reason *you* need to be 100% perfect to rock vintage! And you rock it beautifully. Even if, like me, you can't draw the best eyeliner lines. 🙂
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:06 PM
That is so true! Sometimes I look at old photos and I think "wow, everyone in the '40s looked amazing." But when that's getting me down, I go look at yearbook photos from the 1920s. Those poor women with so many bad hair styles! But I can totally TOTALLY relate, lol!
AnonymousMarch 2, 2016 at 8:02 PM
If you ask me, you look just perfect as you are. For me, your style is even more inspiring than those 'perfect pin up pictures' because you look real. I can admire beautifully and perfectly styled ladies but it is nothing I can relate to.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:06 PM
Draped in CloudletsMarch 2, 2016 at 8:37 PM
I love Robert Redford. And I also really love your blog and your style for being what it is and for being not another pinup-style blog, of which there are so many (and frankly, this pretty narrow definition of 50s style is a bit cliché and sometimes even boring anyway). I really do love the 50s, like every other girl, but it's still refreshing and great to see other decades covered as well or even better, not just seeing a person wearing costumes but having a truly personal style, as you do. So, what I want to say: keep on going with what you do, it's great 🙂
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:07 PM
I love to follow the pin up blogs. They're a wealth of information and inspiration – I learned how to draw decent eyebrows that way, at least :-). Those women are amazing, truly, and I love them, but I also like the quirky weirdo style blogs, haha. 🙂
JulianaMarch 2, 2016 at 8:43 PM
Excellent post, as usual. First, I think it is better to own your style, and you do that very very well. I get tons of inspiration from your outfit posts and Miss Fisher creations, to say nothing of your historical costuming efforts. The vintage world is not all 1950s pin up girls or Myrna Loy stand-ins. I love your Robert Redford costume, and I really appreciate that you strive for wearable vintage clothing, rather than stuff that looks good for a photo shoot. I think you'll find that in old photos of regular people, they are wearing the sorts of things you show us!! I'm just a mum with four kids, and I can't do the photo-shoot only clothing and I love getting inspiration from people wearing "regular" vintage style clothing. 🙂 Keep on keeping on!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:10 PM
Thank you! One of the reason I love Miss Fisher so much is that she wears pants. I know that's not strictly 1929 (she's supposed to be fashion forward), but she wears 'em and she owns 'em and I feel like we in the modern world can really relate to that, and dress that way too. My goal with the Miss Fisher wardrobe is to make "everyday clothes" rather than a costume. I love costuming and I feel amazing in a big bustle dress or panniers, but what do we wear the rest of the time, y'know? Right now for me it's baggy pants from the men's section and a loose fitting t-shirt. I don't feel great in this, but I feel out of sorts in a nice '40s dress or '30s skirt, like I'm wearing a costume still.
LaurenMarch 2, 2016 at 9:24 PM
I love you. And I dig the "Robert Redford" look. I would totally dig a string of selfies like that 🙂
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 9:29 PM
A couple years ago at Costume College, Monica (of OverAttired) said I was dressed like an awesome little old man, and it was the best compliment ever, lol. Of all the things worn on those days, I was the most "myself" in that, lol.
AnitaMarch 2, 2016 at 9:41 PM
As a lady who drives a vintage car, can I just say… WAIT, THAT IS A LOTUS?! That kicks the socks off of any retro vehicle.
I'm also thrilled to read in the comments I'm not alone in loving your Redford look. If that's an "awkward selfie" then you're doing an excellent job of faking it until you make it. 🙂 And yes I do think it would kill on Instagram.
Even though I know we all suffer from some variety of Imposter Syndrome, it's really comforting to me that you (one of the few historical costumers I bother to follow anymore) has it too.
Keep doing you. You look fabulous.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 10:56 PM
Thank you! I suppose it is Imposter Syndrome. I didn't expect to feel that anymore, but here it is. The "awkward" selfies are the one's where I'm trying to wear a pinup look and look all sexy and stuff and it's just not me…. I didn't post any of those, lol, but my IG (MissRoyalVintage) is full of 'em, lol.
(And yes, that's a Lotus)
JenniMarch 2, 2016 at 9:42 PM
All I know is that photograph of you inspired by Robert Redford is stunning.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 10:56 PM
bauhausfrauMarch 2, 2016 at 9:51 PM
I think it takes some internal fortitude not to get blown by the winds of fashion. It took me a long while to figure out that a lot of things I liked I didn't like ON ME.
I love the Robert Redford look. I'm partial to tweed and leather myself. 😉
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 10:58 PM
Tweed and leather, yes pls! That's a really good point, about loving and appreciating clothing….on other people. Not everything will look good on everyone. It's hard to not want to wear that stuff, but whenever I try and then don't like how I look in it, it kindof diminishes me love of the original style because I feel so acky in it.
Anne ElizabethMarch 2, 2016 at 9:54 PM
I quite like your preferred style! It suits your shape, your hairstyle, and I guess maybe your personality, too. On myself, I prefer ruffles and petticoats and girly or ladylike looks (also have hips that look awful in less fitted styles) and of course I like browsing photos of people with a similar style for inspiration – but I'd totally love more pictures of you with "awesome little old man" outfits! <3
PS: Even as someone with a very femme aesthetic, I suck at hair and make up, too. That shit is hard. And it costs so much. And at the end of the day, you have to take it all off again!
You do you. Wear and show what makes you happy! Your honesty about it is really refreshing.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 10:59 PM
ElizabethMarch 2, 2016 at 9:55 PM
It's better to be true to yourself! I cant wear heels my arches hurt, my eye lids are heavy so, no cat eye, stockings itch me, and I don't want to be squeezed into a wiggle skirt. I'd choose to be Greta Garbo or Katherine Hepburn wearing pants in a flash. Oh to aspire to be Dita von Teese, but it aint gonna happen. Not only do I want to feel comfortable in my clothing, but I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. Rock On in your boy clothes girl!!!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:00 PM
Dita is amazing. Her dedication to her style is incredible and I admire her greatly…but yeah, that ain't gonna be happening on my rectangle-shaped body. Greta and Katherine – that's definitely more me. 🙂
BoPeepMarch 2, 2016 at 10:02 PM
Very well written. Polka dots and cherries are the gateway drug into the world of vintage fashion. Most of us started there, but I believe it is much more fun to morph vintage with home-sewn with thrifted with trendy Stella and Dot jewelry. Keep on keeping on.
PS. I love your Redford look. Reminds me of Garbo and Dietrich.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:02 PM
Huzzah for the home sewn! I recently bought a couple retro dresses from some vintage inspired brands. Neither of them fit well and I didn't feel good (thank goodness they were on sale). I like exploring original vintage fashion with sewing from old patterns (same reason I like exploring historic dress through making), but I tend not to wear what I make as everyday clothing. Those items are still "dress up." It's the everyday clothing I'm confused about – modern clothes don't do it for me. I can't squeeze into women's low-rise jeans and feel even remotely comfortable, so I buy men's jeans or make my own at-waist pants from vintage patterns. That's where the Little Old Man fashion comes in, lol
JeanetteMarch 2, 2016 at 10:16 PM
I've followed you and adored your work since I started my own costume journey. Perhaps my age helps as at 65 years old I'm already past trying to be anything I'm not. But one thing I always try to do is be "me" in that era. What would I have loved? What would I have worn? Most of the time you will actually see me in my silver hair or with silver wig or hairpieces. Even my brown wig which I have to wear for some impressions and colors that I love has gray hair in it. Truly! You are an amazing costumer and an amazing woman – whatever era you happen to be living in that day! Thank you for all your inspiration!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:05 PM
Thank you! You make a really good point about how we choose our historical fashions as well as our everyday clothing. Your style sense runs through both. I'm drawn to tailored outfits – riding habits, or tailor-mades. I like "male" color schemes. I do enjoy a fluffy fluff every once in awhile, but even if it's pink and covered in organza, I still do it my way. 🙂
AnonymousMarch 2, 2016 at 10:19 PM
Hey Duchess, excellent article. I re-enact mostly Victorian these days so although I'm 100% comfortable in it it's just not practical for the school run in the sub tropics. I hear you though, I've always loved the vintage look but have never been able to Rock it and pushing 50 I feel like a fake. Being a full time mum I spend my everyday in some variety of jeans/shorts and tshirt, however I may have just been inspired to rock the "pants" off vintage in mens wear. Keep doing what you do, you can only be one person and that is you, even when you feel nongenuine that's you too own it.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:07 PM
Thank you! Practicality certainly comes into it. In our modern lives we're on the run constantly – we have to have comfortable and practical clothes, even just to ride in cars (which can be horribly uncomfortable in a girdle – you will be well-familiar with driving in a corset and bustle, I'm sure!). If we want to dress vintage but don't have the time or need to be bendable, menswear makes sense, at least to me!
DregaeMarch 2, 2016 at 10:22 PM
Drool. Please tell me that is your car!!!!!!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:08 PM
Yes, that is my car 🙂 It was a gift to myself a couple years ago, for sticking with the shoe company and getting it to a point where Chris and I could pay ourselves and not work other jobs.
GinaMarch 2, 2016 at 10:37 PM
Perfectly written Lauren!! I feel the exactly same way. I LOVE seeing pictures of ladies wearing vintage in every day life or following blogs where they do. It would be so fun to do the same thing. The problem is it's not me. I am so beyond low maintenance it's not even funny and to even think about doing all the stuff that I would have to do to achieve the look wears me out! I have two pairs of jeans that I love, three pairs of capris for summer, bright blouses and t-shirts and flip flops…. Throw on and go is my motto… And that's ok cause that's me!! While I do love looking at the pin ups, and appreciate all that goes into what they do, at present it just isn't applicable to my life. Maybe in a few years that will change, but bohemian chic is me right now!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:12 PM
"Bohemian Chic" – I like it! I have huge admiration for the girls who do dress vintage every day. In a way it's the same as the experimental archaeology we do with historic dress – how did women live in their clothing in the 1940s or the 1950s? What social restrictions, technology, current events lead to these styles? etc. I love that stuff! But most of the time, in real life, I'm too dang busy! Women in the '40s, on their way to the munitions factory, felt the same, I think!
Stephanie LynnMarch 2, 2016 at 10:40 PM
I think we all go through that struggle of trying to get that perfect vintage look. Hopefully, we all make it to where you are and accept ourselves for who we are rather than get stuck feeling bad because we're trying to be someone else. I for one have definitely realized some things about myself and what I actually like to wear and look like over the last year or so. And perfectly period vintage is so not me.
I enjoy wearing the same old boring make up every day (and no red lipstick). I hate vintage pants and would much rather bum around in modern jeans and tshirt when I get the urge to wear pants. I like boring old basics and not novelty prints. I don't care to pin curl my hair and I like said hair short. I enjoy wearing glasses even if they don't match the period I'm wearing. And I like to wear 20s fashions.
Who you are is awesome! Rock on with your flashy car driving, historical shoe designing, fabulous costuming, Robert Redford-style self. 🙂
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:14 PM
Thank you! I hear you! I keep making vintage pants, but I'm not sure I really like them. I wear them, but am I actually comfortable in them?
I like red lipstick too, but I hate the upkeep … I just want to eat my bagel and not worry about getting lipstick everywhere, or looking weird in public when I've eaten it all off and just have the lipliner left, hahaha.
Vincent BriggsMarch 2, 2016 at 10:47 PM
You look fantastic in that last picture!
And there is no reason to ever wear super feminine things if you aren't comfortable in them. (I tried when I first got into costuming and it did not agree with me at all) Plus, lots of women back then liked to dress in more "boyish" styles. Just look at Amelia Earhart!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:15 PM
Amelia Earhart is one of my heroes. I adore her. I read her biography "East to the Dawn" and it was such a huge inspiration to pursue whatever we're interested in – flying planes, racing cars, whatever it is. She even had her own clothing line!
charlotteMarch 2, 2016 at 11:00 PM
Thank you so much for your sense of humor! I think we all need this reminder every now and then (and I'm 51). I'm so glad to see women coming to terms with themselves (and me, too!), and loving it. You're absolutely right. I admire you and your business!
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:15 PM
UnknownMarch 2, 2016 at 11:09 PM
I 100% feel that way. It's why I gravitate towards sites like Modcloth and not actual vintage – it feels less like I'm wearing a costume. I'm also hopeless at the cat eye. You look great in that photo, and I'm super jealous of your leather jacket, BTW.
Lauren StowellMarch 2, 2016 at 11:18 PM
I agree with you about vintage or retro stuff feeling like a costume. I like to dress up, but not all the time. Sometimes I want to be dressed-down but still feel like I look nice. Other times I want to be invisible.
Get yourself a leather jacket or two! I consider it a wardrobe staple – whenever I'm feeling crappy I put that jacket on and breath in that leather smell and instantly feel better. It reminds me of all the good things that had happened and were happening when I got the jacket. 🙂
NatashaMarch 2, 2016 at 11:36 PM
I love everything you make and model. It's very inspiring. I'm no pin up either, and I don't want to be or need to be. Keep doing what you're doing.
-Loyal instagram follower and fellow 30-something
Lauren StowellMarch 3, 2016 at 1:22 AM
Heather ParishMarch 2, 2016 at 11:57 PM
Instagram is my happy place, but I cultivate it highly. I like things that show a real mood, feeling or perspective. Photos of people naturally existing in their costumes interest me. Selfies that illustrate their current mood interest me. Excessively posed items, less so.
I'm also the designated "costume photographer" for my costuming friends and I try to gear the shoots toward catching them doing something very much in character. Their costume designs always capture a latent aspect of their own personalities and my favorite photos are when I capture the costume and that latent personality trait at the same time.
Either way, it always seems to be about allowing ourselves to be free and spontaneous with the best parts of our natures – in costume or out.
Lauren StowellMarch 3, 2016 at 1:23 AM
Free and spontaneous – I like that. Telling a story makes so much more sense. I've been getting caught up in trying to look alluring…or something….I think just being natural or goofy or weird would probably be better. 🙂
CassidyMarch 3, 2016 at 1:21 AM
For what it's worth, I think you look amazing in all your pictures, however you're dressed.
Lauren StowellMarch 3, 2016 at 1:24 AM
The Laced AngelMarch 3, 2016 at 1:25 AM
HELL YES THIS.
Brava for having the guts to be honest about your thoughts and feelings on this in public.
I dig your Redford look, and you were fab in your "little old man" clothes at CoCo. Your sweater vests and newsboy hats are awesome. I love your personal style; it's unique, comfy, and it's YOU.
Still jealous about your eyebrow game though. You need to teach me.
Lauren StowellMarch 3, 2016 at 1:32 AM
Lol, eyebrows and nothing else! At least I've got THAT sorted. I'll show you at Coco – don't know why I didn't when you were up here last.
AnonymousMarch 3, 2016 at 1:37 AM
as you say, we need to be who we are. I have come to realize I was born a hundred years too late. modern clothes are okay, and i am always comfortable in the century I am portraying at the time, but I truly love the 19th and early 20th century. if I could wear 1870's natural form, or Edwardian day dresses and corsets to work, I would. unfortunately, I have no one to dress me, and driving in a corset sucks. as for you, your Robert redford look utterly suits you. 🙂
UnknownMarch 3, 2016 at 1:53 AM
So you don't prefer the 50's blonde bombshell look. You can always be a teddy girl! There are always people that waltz to their own tune..in every generation.Keep dancing!
RachelleMarch 3, 2016 at 2:39 AM
I know what you mean, I never feel quite "me" in a 50's skirt with the full petticoat under it, I love the look and I have one skirt and one petticoat and occasionally i'll give it another whirl (mainly for the twirl effect), but each time I feel like it's a costume. I actually feel more comfortable in 1775 panniers and 1810's apron front gown than I do in 1950's teen chick. I could possibly do the wiggle look, but even that is more polished looking than I can pull off easily nowadays.
I love your Robert Redford look, you look comfortable in it and I think that's key.
I want to try 1940's at some point, the more tailored look without being overtly sensual might suit me a little better.
HolliMarch 3, 2016 at 5:37 AM
I wear a lot of 50s/early 60s vintage, but I've never felt comfortable doing the head-to-toe pinup thing: can't walk in heels, rarely wear makeup, and even if I somehow get it perfect it still feels like a costume. So instead I wear flats and a cardigan with my shirtwaist dress, pin on a bunch of weird brooches, and aim for 'junior librarian at Hogwarts' which I am much, much better-suited to and more comfortable in.
Sara ÖTMarch 3, 2016 at 6:09 AM
Well written and brave of you to write it! I think it is very sad that there are so much pressure of how you "should look" even in all those alternative styles. vintage or lolita or synth or androgynous-qeer, there seems to be so many norms to follow even in all those styles when the thing is to NOT follow main fashion ideals. I think becoming aware of the pressure to "look right", as you did, is an important step in dealing with those pressures. Keep it up being yourself!
AnonymousMarch 3, 2016 at 9:57 AM
Hi, just wanted to put my two cents into the discussion. First of all, I'm a dancer taken in by historic dance and I stumbled onto you blog when I was researching historical costumes for a performance. Let me tell you that your musings are quite familiar for me. Nowadays historical dancers are divided into two categories: those who want to do it perfectly accurate and those who want to do it their own way. You wouldn't believe how much time is wasted on deciding which approach is better and how incendiary a comment: "I dance without a corset" can be. Personally, I came to the conclusion it's impossible to dance as they did it in the "good old days" of the nostalgia, like the perfect crowd are trying to do. Our bodies are different, our quality of movement is different. Why reject the craft you spent a lot of time learning? (Most historical dancers come from classical ballet, like me and I'm not about to give up on the years of training because someone thinks my turn-out is too big). And sure you can stick yourself inside a period-perfect dress and put on a period-perfect wig and make-up, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will help you give a good performance. An inspiring teacher once told me you need to be comfortable with what you're trying to be. If you prefer to dance a sarabande wearing a plain skirt and a leotard, and point your feet, it's fine.
I'm a proud owner of two pairs of your beautiful shoes and I found skinny jeans and Seaburys go very well together. I had people ask me, if I was going to a wedding and be surprised to hear "no, it's just what I wear".
My view is, stick to what you want to do, life's too short not to. And you totally rock the Redford style!
AmorisMarch 3, 2016 at 11:50 AM
Lauren, I think you look beautiful in whatever you wear. I love you in big historical dresses and I love you when you look like Miss Fisher's friend Dr MacMillan (who is awesome, and so are you, so I don't see the problem!). Of course everyone would like to be sensual and feminine in pretty dresses sometimes, and to some people that comes naturally, but that doesn't mean that a woman in pants isn't attractive (I mean, her 'cross-dressing' was what made Marlene Dietrich such a sex symbol!). I think you are very attractive and can definitely see you as a pin-up, and you don't need a wiggle dress for that. Attractiveness and sensuality are not so much a matter of clothes but of confidence and charisma. If you feel good in your clothes, you will look good. Your face is pretty already- you don't need a cat-eye (but if you want one because you like it, practice makes perfect. There are tons of youtube tutorials dedicated to make-up, and with good reason! Everyone struggles. All the perfect cat-eyes and pincurls on instagram are the result of countless failed attempts.)
Long story short: you are pretty, and you don't have to try to be anything else than you are!
jennylafleurMarch 3, 2016 at 1:53 PM
Thanks for a really wonderful blog post! I feel those feels! As much as I love vintage style I've always struggled to make it my everyday look. The hair and makeup is comfortable for me, the clothes not so much. Not because I don't love it because it doesn't always feel like me. So I tend to end up with an odd mishmash of victory rolls and maxi dresses. Thanks for the reminder that it's okay not to be the perfect pinup all the time and more than that it's best to be 100% oneself, whatever that looks like.
Leiflynn JefferyMarch 3, 2016 at 3:23 PM
Oh Lauran, I strive to look like you. You are my pin up doll. The eras you portray look perfect to me, I love your dresses, hats, coats. They are amazing you are my inspiration. Thanks for leading the way, I am trying to get my act together to follow. Your admirer from Saskatchewan, Canada.
RowennaMarch 3, 2016 at 4:13 PM
I find the whole question of vintage aesthetic really interesting, and that the "pin-up look" has really come to mean "vintage" for a lot of people. Yet that particular "look" is only one historical reality, and a highly historicized and polished one to boot. When we say vintage, do we mean historical (which includes but isn't limited to the pin-up ideal), or do we mean an edited, crafted, polished version of historical? Either is fine–but neither is wrong!
I've always been more interested in two other facets–what ordinary, non-aesthetically-polished people wore, and how to incorporate the elements of their wardrobes that I like into my everyday clothes. When I think about historically accurate looks, like Jeanette I often think "what would the 'me of 1930 have worn?'" Yet I often feel, when I make a dress that's a little more functional housedress than sexy pinup, or aim for a historical silhouette that's far from bombshell, that I'm "failing" the vintage aesthetic–even if I know better.
AnonymousMarch 4, 2016 at 1:21 AM
AnonymousMarch 4, 2016 at 3:40 PM
"When we say vintage, do we mean historical (which includes but isn't limited to the pin-up ideal), or do we mean an edited, crafted, polished version of historical?"
THIS! I will always prefer an authentic vintage piece over a modern "rockabilly" dress. Vintage-inspired is an aesthetic all its own, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I really like the way you think about it: "what would the me of 1930 have worn?"
dragon_7March 3, 2016 at 4:20 PM
I'm normally content to follow your marvellously entertaining and informative blog, but this post struck such a cord with me that I feel I would like to add my two-pence worth.
Ever since I could choose my own clothes, I have plagued with the same amorphous feeling you describe of dressing up in my own clothes, and not being comfortable with my image. None of the available looks (goth, emo or chav, being a girl of the 90's and 00's in north wales. 'Vintage' as a style was unheard of, here until I started uni) felt right, and I was singled out, sneered at and had hurtful comments made about those I felt comfortable in (a mix of Victorian and 70's style, I now realise – band t-shirts, flares, leather, shiny buttons and frock coats for best. I dress like my Dad, from back in the day!). So it's sometimes hard for me to accept that something I had to fight for is now accepted, and my coats and t-shirts are now desirable items. My most complimented every-day coats were once unwanted theatre costumes!
So wear whatever you feel comfortable in and makes you feel awesome, whatever anyone else might say. They just haven't caught up with you yet!
JudithMarch 3, 2016 at 5:08 PM
I enjoy your blog and costuming work even though I do not do any type of historical costuming myself. I think you should wear whatever makes you feel like you are being your best self, not someone else's.
Also, a huge shout out for the car and for the success of your company. It's wonderful to see someone making a go of it who, like the old slogan on concrete company trucks, "found a need and filled it". Unfortunately, I do not need any snazzy retro shoes for my lifestyle but am making an attempt to get my shoe-loving sister to buy.
KurosakuranboMarch 3, 2016 at 5:12 PM
I´m a little old grumpy man – That´s my style! I tried dresses, florals and diamonds – Hey I event went rockabilly for while but I have decided that 2016 is the year to embrace my inner old and grumpy man.
And I´m 30 something too 😉 I say go for it!
CateMarch 4, 2016 at 10:13 AM
I love the way you dress and I'm a huge fan of girls stealing from the boys looks. I have my very own collection of ties and am in the process of making the perfect plus fours. I even turned up on my first day of college in a man's three piece suit. (I got a lot of weird looks, even though it was fashion college!). However, I will admit I feel more me in a skirt, although I do wear wide leg trousers on lazy days when I just can't be bothered. (Skirts take the added time of figuring out what tights or stockings to wear and sometimes that's just too much effort!).
Having read your post it just screams of what everyone should aspire to. Never try and be someone your not, people will always see through it. Find out who you are and celebrate that. Full stop. People will respond in a much more positive way.
I personally started my vintage journey in the 1950s (I still have my Daddy-Os cardigan, pink with kittens on it!) because it was accessible and that's what everyone else was doing but it wasn't until I sat down and said to myself 'hey, be brave, do what you love' that I felt like I'd found my style. Now I have completely immersed myself in the 1930s and I feel hell of a lot happier.
My last thought, "You go, girl!"
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niddetissusMarch 4, 2016 at 1:26 PM
Oh my god, I feel ya! I prefer to wear "masculine" style clothing most of the time – great tailoring is a joy! If I bring out the heels and dresses, etc., it's to play dress-up. 😉 You are rocking the RR look – keep inspiring us all!
AnonymousMarch 4, 2016 at 3:38 PM
I think a lot of vintage ladies get caught up in one particular era, not realizing that there's more to vintage than one specific pinup aesthetic. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it's more of a caricature than a reflection of what women of old actually wore day to day. I myself prefer practical day dresses to straight-up wiggle-dress glamour, so I definitely feel this!
NicoleMarch 5, 2016 at 2:59 AM
I feel the same way sometimes- it's easy to get caught up in the comparison, but each of us is unique. I think sometimes we think vintage has to look a certain way, but really vintage is just as varied as the people who lived before us.
Also, I totally get the struggle with the hair, cat eyeliner and wiggle dresses. As much as I love the look, I can't be bothered to wear it every day- it's just so much work!!! I have found that a lot of 1940's looks are relatively easy to wear day to day as they are so unfussy- because of the war influence.
I would love to see more of your "non pinup" looks- and I have definitely enjoyed your "Miss Fisher" inspired looks lately- I hope you keep adding to those.
UnknownMarch 7, 2016 at 2:39 PM
"Counter culture" dress is intended for people to express themselves. If we have to look exactly like the role models of that culture then it has become exactly like what we say we dislike about common culture…conformity. I say, wear what you like, how you like it. As long as I don't end up on one of those mean mocking "People of Walmart" posts, I'm okay.
AnonymousMarch 8, 2016 at 2:14 AM
Oh oh oh I feel like this all the time! I know that my lack of flashy dresses and perfect hair every day won't gain me a huge following. Sometimes I'm irritated that the girl in absurdly bright 80s does 50s skirts labeling herself as 50s pinup is getting so much attention, or the one who puts petticoats under skirts not big enough to accommodate them, or or or.. But I've come to accept that authenticity is important to ME, even if others don't see it or care about it. And that's okay! The people who admire you will stick around no matter what you wear. And those who know what's really vintage will be able to recognize it. Quality, not quantity, right? 🙂 I love your androgynous style! I always want to share vintage pics I see of gals in hats and trousers and flat brogues with you!
UnknownMarch 16, 2016 at 7:35 AM
All very good points to note!!! Looking forward to seeing what is in the baggies!
Lavender and TwillMarch 21, 2016 at 5:02 AM
I'm dreadfully late to the discussion, but I can't make a comment as I really felt you on this topic. I *am* girly, and I adore my petticoats, eyeliner and pincurls, but even then I still feel like I'm not getting it right half of the time, or that I'd let people down if I did *gasp* wear a pair of skinny jeans instead of a shirt waist!
But reading this, I think you've made an excellent point ~ as have many others in the comments that you don't have to let yourself feel the pressure to conform to the accepted vintage look unless you enjoy it. It's about finding what you feel comfortable in! Thank you for sharing your thoughts ~ it's definitely given me somethings to consider. ❤
bonita of Lavender & Twill
Lavender and TwillMarch 21, 2016 at 5:02 AM
*can't not make a comment… 😉
BethApril 30, 2016 at 6:33 PM
Recently I went through my wardrobe and got rid of anything I didn't feel joy with (on the Japanese Mari Kondo bandwagon). The only categories in which I didn't get rid of anything were sweaters and pants (including 4 pairs of Wearing History trousers). Looking at my closet I had to sigh at the 30's style skirts I got rid of, the ones I never felt like myself in, thinking about how I was never going to be the vintage style icon I always wanted to be.
And then I saw your photo above, the Robert Redford you, and it totally clicked. I can DO that! I just need to start wearing more vests! I love vests! And leather! I've always wanted a leather jacket!
So thank you. You have put into words something I have been conflicted about for ages, but just couldn't quite reconcile.