As you read this, I’m firmly ensconced on a beach in Fiji, cocktail in hand! In an effort to be uber organized (and, let’s be honest, an effort to not even glance at my computer for a full week and a half to truly enjoy said cocktails), I scheduled a post or two for while I’m away. This was an outfit from a few weeks ago, where I had a joyous run in with one of those rare folks who doesn’t understand why someone would choose to wear clothing that is (and I quote) “used”.
Don’t get me wrong, she was all smiles and admiration when she took in my dress at first glance as we both waited to feed the hungry pay-to-park machine. When she asked me where I got it and I informed her proudly it was vintage, she sort of scrunched up her nose and said, “Oh, you mean it’s been worn before? Like used?” I’m normally not very quick-witted, but managed to smile and say, ‘Yep. And she came with her very own past for free!”
Now, I know that some people are opposed to shopping in op shops or vintage stores. I’ve seen people shudder at the thought of slipping their feet into shoes where another foot had dared slip. I’ve heard comments on how they “don’t do used.” Hmph. Well, not only is it more sustainable and kinder to the environment, I personally love the idea that garments come with a story – a history of their past lives and the adventures the woman had who wore them before me. Some people look at vintage and see nothing but old clothes, but I see adventure and intrigue and the wisdom of experience. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder…
What we do see depends mainly on what we look for….
In the same field the farmer will notice the crop,
the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers,
artists the colouring,
sportmen the cover for the game.
Though we may all look at the same things,
it does not all follow that we should see them.
I think one of the most amazing thing about vintage is that two people can stare at it and see entirely different things. That uni-student may look and see nothing but age, a used shell. I look at this beautiful dress and see nothing but history, her stories. I wonder about the woman who wore this floral print stunner …was she on a first date? Wearing it to a dinner held in her honor? Or like me, did she embrace the simple fact of dressing up and wore it with pride as she skipped off to work? We’ll never know – but I love to wonder…
Without getting up too high on my soapbox, I admittedly get a bit frustrated by the disposable culture we currently live in. Where the current generation thinks nothing of buying a $5 t-shirt, irrespective of the wage of the person who made it, the conditions of the factory it was stitched together in, or the fact that it will likely fall apart after one wear. The phrase, “Oh well, I’ll just get another one,” is all too commonplace, without an eye towards the future and what will be left for the next generation.
I feel pride knowing that I’m shopping green and preserving a piece of history. That there is very likely only one or two of this stunning dress out there and she has been entrusted to me; it makes me hold her all the more gently to ensure she is passed with care to the next woman who will become part of her story. The fact that this dress has survived for 60+ years, makes her not only beautiful, but pretty hardcore. She knows that she’s one of a kind. That she’s a survivor. I can see her winking at me from my closet in the morning saying, “They don’t have to ‘get me’ – I’m just glad you do.” Maybe that’s why vintage resonates with me so. Because as I slip her on in the morning, swipe a bit of red across my lips, and march on past those scrunched up noses in a parade of “new,” it give me strength to say,
You don’t have to get me. You just have to let me do my thing.
Dress: Ruby Fayes Vintage (similar modern or vintage here, here & here)
Handbag: Vintage (similar here & here)
Belt: Modern Millie Vintage (similar here & here)
Necklace: Gift (similar here & here)
Shoes: Melissa Shoes (also sold here)