1940s · 1950s · A-Z of a vintage girl · body confidence · body positivity · Uncategorized

I is for Inspiration: the A-Z of a Vintage Girl in a Modern World

For the first time ever, this post is on a Monday, not a Sunday. But, I’m hoping that as it’s a bank holiday Monday, you’ll let me off. I was at a friend’s wedding, you see, and while it was absolutely spectacular (more to come in a future post), I had naff all signal. We then drove for seven and a half hours yesterday, and I was no good for anything except eating fish & chips out of the paper and watching Inspector Morse (I watch Inspector Morse now. Officially the wrong side of 30 when that happens).

Look at the view from our B&B though:


Moving on…

“I have a suggestion for I in your A-Z!” proclaimed one of my friends earlier in the week (she’s a helpful sort – more on that later), “Ironing! I mean, the amount of ironing it takes for a circle skirt is ridiculous.”

She’s quite right – it is. Which is why I often cheat and stick on a petticoat, hoping everyone will focus on the flouffiness (yes, it’s a word. One that I just invented, but still), and ignore the creases.

But, I had another word in mind for this week, and that is inspiration, partly inspired by guest posting on the gorgeous Pin Up Persuasion blog this week – I’ve read this lady’s blog since I first started getting into vintage and pin up, and she truly is a wonderful, inspirational person to know.

I’m inspired by lots of different things and people, on an almost daily basis. While I’m sure you’d love to hear about the motivational quotes I use to get me through a tricky eyeliner application, in the interests of time, I shall mostly be focusing on fashion inspiration today. While my spiritual home is the 1940s and 1950s, I am drawn to a whole host of different styles and eras. I’ve been known to go out sporting 1940s victory rolls and a snood (or as The Boy calls  it, ‘In your 80s’ – he’s not a fan), a 1950s vintage or reproduction dress, and a pair of rather fabulous reproduction shoes. And I’ll often add in a handbag too (my vintage ones are mostly from vintage fairs or Jools the Vintage Bag Lady, who I’m fairly certain has an Aladdin-style cave of wonder – except with handbags instead of gold and magic lamps – somewhere in her house).

Looking at these photos together, I realise I need to get a new pose. My left hand really, really loves my left hip, doesn’t it?

Now, I’m very lucky that my friends – those with feet firmly in the here and now, and those with a passion for the past – fully embrace my mix of styles, but there are some people who would say that my mix of inspirations means I’m not a proper, true lover of all things vintage, because I’m not dressed head to toe in historically accurate outfits.

This attitude annoys me. If you choose – or perhaps can’t afford – to dress in true vintage head to toe every day (original clothing from some eras is more difficult to come by and correspondingly more expensive), it doesn’t make you any less of a fan of the eras you’re inspired by. Be accurate, mix it up, wear something modern that’s a mere nod to the era – whatever. Do what makes you happy.

And that stands whether you’re a pro at this sort of stuff, or you’re just starting out.

I once overheard someone say ‘Oh, I won’t be going to that event. It’s full of noobs’. That person is a twat, and it took all of my willpower (and The Boy gently guiding me towards something shiny), not to tell them so to their face.

All of us – even those that choose to pretend otherwise – were noobs at some point or another. If you are inspired by something, no matter how inexperienced you are with it, please, just go for it. If it works out, ruddy fantastic, if it doesn’t, then at least you tried. Witness, please, my first attempt at victory rolls:


This was taken at the Glenn Miller Museum, during Twinwood Festival 2012. In the background, you can see a poster of a lady with blonde hair and a low cut black dress. I used to stare at that photo and imagine doing my hair in curls like that, before deciding it would be too hard, so not bothering to try. Then, one day, I thought ‘Sod it’ and started practising. It still doesn’t look exactly like that (my hair’s several inches too long, for a start), but it’s getting there.

On a related note, a lady told me today that she has several vintage-inspired outfits that she’s bought full of excitement, then decided not to wear, because she loses her nerve. Hearing that made me so sad. I can remember feeling that way myself, and if you are that lady – or you feel the same way – please, put the outfit on, look at yourself in the mirror, give yourself a big smile, then walk out the door with your head held high. You look awesome.

Back to the friend I mentioned earlier. She is very wise, and gives very good advice (not least, ‘Iron your dresses’). I believe she gets it from her mum, who I’ll call Mrs Charlie, and who is also very wise and good with the advice. Several years ago, I lived her, what was a pretty tough time. Her mum happened to be visiting one day when I’d decided to put on a dress instead of my usual jeans and hoodie combination (I have a feeling it was for some sort of event). As I walked into the living room, she gave me a good look and said, “You scrub up well. Don’t you worry about anyone else.”

I doubt she remembers saying it, but I’ve kept it with me. If I’m ever having a tough day, whether something silly (see earlier mention of eyeliner struggles) or something more serious, I give myself a little shake, remember what she said, and walk away with my head held high (sometimes metaphorically, sometimes, in the case of the eyeliner, literally, and with a make up wipe in hand).

Inspiration comes in all forms. Whatever you’re into – vintage, repro, a mix of the two, jeans and a hoodie or sparkly hotpants – to paraphrase the great and wonderful Mrs Charlie, you do you. Sod the rest of them.



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