Most of us in the vintage scene have a dedication to being as stylish as we can, but the pursuit of style seems to have fallen by the wayside in much of modern society. Yes, most people have at least a passing acquaintance with fashion, but that's not the same thing as style (indeed, in the case of certain fashions, one might conjecture the opposite): In the words of Coco Chanel, "fashions fade; style is eternal".
The inherent style and glamour in a lot of vintage clothing forms part of its appeal to many people. All Chichester looks forward to Goodwood Revival every year, because it gives them an opportunity to put on nice clothes, and see others do the same. But why can't everyone wear nice clothes all the time? Why must skirts and hats and high heels and hairstyles be reserved for special occasions? Why isn't stylishness a mainstream pursuit?
It could certainly be argued that caring about one's appearance is shallow, meaningless. What difference does it make if the average Jane on the street is spilling over the top of her jeans, or wobbling around in an ill-fitting bra under a shapeless tracksuit, or dressed in precisely the most unflattering combination of leggings and midriff tunic? Who am I to judge? Surely inner beauty and intelligence and kindness and integrity are more important than clothes, mere drapery, so what does it matter? Is style really important?
In the greater scheme of things no, style does not matter. It's not going to solve world hunger or win a war. Or is it? During World War II the government recognised the importance of looking good for morale, when they elected to spare from the rigours of fabric rationing both hats and narrow materials such as ribbon and lace, that ladies would still have access to some element of glamour. Of course, it's not possible to know how much difference the availability of half a yard of lace actually had on the country's morale. What is certain is that morale is of great importance: there's a reason for the concerted campaigns on either side designed specifically to target morale, both of troops and of civilians.
Self-presentation and morale are entwined: If you look good, you feel good, and feeling stylish and put-together makes you look even better. You stand straighter, and walk with confidence.
So when the call goes up for a "return to traditional values", let's not make it about the so-called "traditional family values" (what are they, anyway? A submissive wife fetching her husband's slippers while the children are caned if they incorrectly recite their Latin declensions?). Let's advocate a return to Style, to pride in one's appearance, to a world where it's normal for ladies to wear a frock to the supermarket and a hat to the park. Because what we wear is a form of self-expression whether you put thought into it or not, and making an effort with your appearance tells the world at large that you care enough about it to do so.
And the world notices, and respects you in turn. Style garners respect; respect leads to courtesy. Wouldn't we like to live in a more courteous society?
I say - Mr Cameron? I have a solution for your "Broken Britain"...