Monday, June 11, 2012

What's a Vintage Lifestyle?

A vintage-wearing friend was recently offered a feature in a well-known magazine - but only if she pretended to have a "1940s lifestyle". Besides the obvious consideration that practically no-one (certainly no-one I know) lives without the modern conveniences of 21st century life - little things like, you know, the INTERWEB, telly, mobile phones, credit cards, microwaves and so on and so forth - it always irritates me that peoples of the so-called vintage subculture are only deemed sufficiently interesting if they dedicate themselves to a single, specific decade.

And what does a "vintage lifestyle" even mean anyway? Decorating your home to fit with your 'chosen' era? Living on rations? Spending hours a day scrubbing floors? Baking fruit scones? Sewing your own clothes? Getting a weekly 'set' at the hairdresser? Growing your own veg? Or perhaps smoking 20 a day and listening out for the air raid siren?




Ways to make potatoes more interesting, 1947

I mean, I've always described my blog and myself as being about "vintage lifestyle", but by that I just mean wearing vintage clothing or a retro look on a daily basis. I make some of my clothes, yes, but not beacuse it's "vintage" to sew - I sew because it makes more styles accessible to me! I also decorate my home with a bunch of old stuff - not in an attempt to recreate the past (the TV in the corner kind of precludes that, anyway), but because those things appeal to me.

This attitude from the magazine in question annoyed me because it shows a complete misunderstanding of the vintage subculture. We all have our own reasons for wearing vintage, and many of us consider that vintage is a lifestyle choice (i.e. not reserved for weekends or events), but the attitude that you have to have a full, decade-specific lifestyle in order to be considered valid is just ridiculous.

21 comments:

  1. Agree fully..I think it's a question of semantics in a way, noone really 'lives' a 'vintage' lifestyle now, you can't..or you won't thrive at all..it's more just a term to express fashion and interests...

    Seems like this magazine were missing the point slightly?

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  2. It's the "only if she pretended" part I don't understand. But it's as you say, a complete 1940s lifestyle in 2012 can only be 'authentically' lived so far no matter how enamoured we are with aspects of the era.

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  3. To me living the vintage lifestyle is living adding the style, grace, beauty, and traditions of the past with the modern conveniences of today. Its dressing and decorating with vintage glamour and appeal. Its about living with equal rights of today with elegance of the past. To me its about having the best of two worlds.

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  4. Well said, how, exactly was she going to lay on the blitz?

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  5. I'm enjoying a first visit to your blog and know that there is much to be enjoyed.

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  6. Well, I for one regularly march up and down on strike shouting anti-Tory slogans with my fellow public workers. Oh wait, no, it's not a re-enactment of the 70s, that's 2012, haha!

    But I do quite like Black Forest Gateaux and Chicken Kievs.

    I can't stand the expectation (not just from the media but also some vintage fans) that wearing an old frock means you 'should' act like Miss World 1950-something.

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  7. That's the media for you, looking for someone to exploit and lie about as usual. One of the reasons I don't like these magazines etc.

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  8. I'm with Amy. Surely we look back in order to learn for the future while not pretending that we don't actually live in it! There is much to be said for the glamour, style and pride in oneself that the women of yesteryear had, and that's why I wear vintage & repro vintage. But who wants to be doing their laundry with a mangle? Making cakes with powdered eggs and fearing for their lives everytime the sirens went off?!?! Not me!

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  9. Great post! I agree, for me vintage livestyle means vintage clothing (or vintage inspired looks) and decorating your home with an old vibe. I like reading your posts, by the way!

    -Sara
    Ladylike Delicacy

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  10. having lived through the 50's onwards I can tell you what your mother's and grandmother's also know - people have always wanted labour saving mod cons. The only one I know of that was resisted (I never knew why) was the dishwasher. I had one in 1980 and as soon as anyone knew I got so much stick!

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    1. My mum-in-law, who is 92, always says that no one has changed women´s lives as much as the person who invented the washing machine and the dishwasher. When she bakes old-style bread she still uses the modern oven a bit like an old woodfire one, though, sliding cakes in and out on a big paddlething made out of wood. She recently taught me and now I get to keep the tradition alive. Neither of us lives 1920´s lives, though.

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  11. Hear, hear! I couldn't agree more with every point you made. One's life does not need to like Hollywood movie set from a period film for someone to qualify as living a vintage lifestyle. I adore the past, wear vintage the overwhelming majority of the time, and collect various yesteryear objects, but also I'm grateful many modern conveniences and enjoy experiencing the world of today as much as that of yesterday.

    Excellent post, Charlotte, thank you for writing it and putting into words what I think so many of have long felt.

    ♥ Jessica

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  12. I was so glad to see someone else think this up and say it aloud.

    How I see it is, all these decades already happened. Why not take advantage of the fact that we live in a century where you can:

    listen to Fats Dominos, wear a sixties mod dress, wear your hair in a twenties bob, and talk on facebook about the latest things to happen-- in this era, and previous as well.

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  13. I totally agree with you, that's ridiculous that they wanted her to pretend to have that lifestyle, it's nuts! I don't think I would have liked to have lived as a woman 50 years ago, I'd much rather live now with all the technology we have, freedom and be able to indulge in the gorgeous clothes of yesteryears! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk

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  14. I live a vintage lifestyle in the same sense as you - dress in 40's and 50's mainly because I love the glamour and elegance, I furnish my home with "old stuff" because again I prefer it to the badly made modern furniture, and because I like to have something that is unique and unlikely to see on the highstreet.

    But I don't want to re-live the hardship, rationing and disrimination that existed then (my mother who live through the 50's tols me so many stories), and as a blogger like yourself and business woman I couldn't survive or make any money if I dedicated myself to a true vintage life style without my laptop and mobile phone so as all of the comments have agreed - embrace the good bits of a vintage life and leave the rest behind in past. Th magazine should have thought about that and surely it would have been a more intersting article to show how the two worlds can live in harmony?

    www.fabulousmissk.blogspot.com

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  15. What did your friend say? Did she try to explain, or did she just tell them to get stuffed?

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    1. She basically told them to get stuffed.

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  16. They can pry the internet out of my cold, dead hands!

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  17. I saw an article a few years ago where a “housewife” (seriously, a fully-gown, able-bodied, unemployed-by-choice woman with no children) talked about how she lived a “vintage lifestyle” (i.e., spent her entire life on self-grooming and waiting hand and foot on her husband). It made my gorge rise, but now I wonder if there was an ounce of truth in it. Probably just made up to get a rise out of gullible people like me.

    --Juniper

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