|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.