One of the defining characteristics of our post-modern age is that there really are no definitions. Eclecticism is the name of the game. Identities are similar: you can be a heavy metal fan who dresses in the finest Savile Row suits (or next best rip-off versions) or a tattooed gender-bending civil servant. Of course, there are still labels people attach to certain movements and hobbies, and the vintage ‘scene’ is no different to this.
Some of this is perpetuated by vintage bloggers, the perfectly coiffed 1940s and 50s babes who step outside their homes each day looking like they belong on a period film set. These people are wonderful to read about and I salute their incredible styling skills, which in three years of being into vintage I’ve totally failed to match. They make my Instagram newsfeed a more imaginative, escapist place, and I love to see their outfits. However, its not for me.
Here’s a bunch of things associated with the vintage scene that I also won’t be adopting:
Practice makes perfect, they say. I’m not sure how many hours are required before this most basic of vintage hair styles can be mastered. Applying pungent setting lotion, shaping curls into perfect o’s, pinning them to my (by now unpleasantly sticky) scalp, a fitful night’s sleep and what feels like 2 hours of brushing my frizzy barnet is a thankless job.
I achieved a measure of success using foam rollers at last year’s Chap Olympiad, but not before emptying half a bottle of Bumble & Bumble frizz tamer onto my hair. And a night spent sleeping on the tiny patch of my head not covered in rollers was not a happy one.
Cath Kidston Kitsch
Chintz isn’t exclusively vintage, but it is a horrible by-product of nostalgia that seems to infect tea rooms and gift shops across the land. One of the biggest perpetrators of this is Cath Kidston, the hideous floral homeware brand. According to the most recent sales figures I could find from 2012-2013, the brand sells £105m worth of ‘heritage’ styled products, and has seen sales grow 53% internationally. How great it would be if we rejected this contrived femininity and opted to kit our homes out in elegant art deco or oriental prints.
See also: cupcakes, gin in teacups
1950s Style Harmony Groups
I’m not sure what it is about these groups that bugs me. I like a lot of electro swing, and many people see that as the ugly modern stepchild of big band music. However, I can’t help wincing whenever I see a female doo wop or harmony group at an event or clothing fair.
Perhaps its the combination of matching tea dresses (perhaps even Cath Kidston-inspired!) and saccharine vocals that doesn’t work for me, or it could be the weirdness of watching identikit women perform a girly song. Either way, I’d take a Kinks cover band over one of these groups any day. Or a Janis Joplin tribute act, anyone?