Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vintage totally inappropriate, really?

This past Saturday was warm, sunny and felt springlike. I wanted to wear something springy. This dress and sweater were thrifted over the winter months. I find thrifting off season to be very beneficial. Our thrift store sorts their dresses and shirts into long sleeves and short sleeves. So in December, I am looking over the short sleeve dresses because for the most part they go undisturbed until the season hits. I found this little gem, at least I think so. I love the colors and the fit of this garment. On Saturday I had to do some shopping and wore this dress. My husband smiled when he saw me in it. I felt happy too. Then I went to a store and you would have thought I was wearing something totally inappropriate. In a sea of blue jean wearers, I stood out like a sore thumb. There were a lot of stares. I just ignored what was going on around me and did my shopping.  Although it got me thinking, why do we look so much alike with our styles and clothing? I don't know about other people, but for too long I have stayed within the confines of what's acceptable in the fashion world, even to the point of making sure the flare of my pant was in keeping with the time. Really, if you think of it, it's silly!  I found myself wondering about the history of garments. Hundreds of years ago, people wore all kinds of styles of clothing that they loved, with no help from a television or magazine. There must have been a great variety of clothing on the earth.  So often I ask myself, do I have to live with the styles of 2011, or can I live life with what I love?  I will say this, that I don't intent on living all the days of my life with the color blue (jeans) on over half my body, although I have a few pairs of jeans, in general, they don't suit me. What I am stumbling to say is; I am not trying to be different, or find my significances in what I wear, rather it's how I feel on the inside that effects what I want to wear. The way I am wired, I fit somewhere else in the garment timeline. You might too.

Something else I ponder often is this thought, do people really love what they wear?  Maybe they feel like me, struggling with the best they can find at a mall, feeling they are at the mercy of the ideas of the fashion gods. You are in luck, if the mall is carrying clothes that fit your body and in styles you love.  So often I have wanted to take a poll of the general population. It would look like this, if you could wear anything from any time period what would you pick?  Somehow, I don't believe people would chose a big sweatshirt that has some logo plastered on it (although, I understand the need for comfort). No, I believe we want more than just being a bulletin board for someone else's ideas. I think you would hear a variety of things.

 Going back to Saturday's outfit, I have to laugh a little about it, because really, I was wearing a dress from the 60's, only out of style by 40 or so years. Hehe. What's that compared to all of time, but a drop in the bucket. So, today I chose not to fear stepping out, even with the stares at my back. In the end, I love variety in others and in myself. I love it when someone wears something off beat and they look great doing it.  I love the old guy who wears his plaid suit grinning at everyone.  I love the old lady who still wears her winter coat from 1962.  It's unexpected, beautiful and just plain fun! I think it would be a fascinating world to see such variety, right now from where I sit I can only see a sea of blue,  maybe it's different in other places. Thanks for letting me get this out, it's just my opinion and my thoughts.  Leave me your thoughts, in a perfect world, if you could break the "fashion code" what could you see yourself wearing, what would you embrace? What is your chosen styles/eras? What REALLY fits with your unique personality and style?

Have a fabulous vintage day!



  1. I say wear what you like! I love fashions from the 30s to the early 60s, but also bright bold crazy prints and sleek modern grown up looks. So my wardrobe is kind of crazy. I end up wearing jeans a lot, especially in the winter, but I'm working on building my made by me wardrobe!

  2. I try to wear vintage (or vintage inspired) to work every day, but I'm constantly fighting against jeans. It's just so easy and acceptable to wear jeans and a cardigan! I get funny looks when I wear vintage too, but I always smile my biggest smile and I usually get a smile back. ...and for every funny look I get at least two compliments. If I could go on a shopping spree in any time period, it would be 1958 through 1962. I think ladies fashions from those five years are the best ever. I LOVE your yellow dress and pink cardigan and your hairstyle is perfect. Don't let the funny looks discourage you! :)

  3. I love this dress, and the way you're wearing it. Clever that the cardi picks out the little bit of pink in the dress print, and I adore your shoes. You know, most of those stares will have been in admiration - for your courage to wear something different, for the fact that you could be bothered to put together a real outfit and for your sheer beauty! Maybe you'll inspire some of those folks to try and dress a bit more creatively! xxx

  4. For starters, this is such a great find! You look lovely in it. I think you must have been getting stares because they were wishing they had a cute dress on, too. :)

    I really enjoyed reading your post today. This is an idea I struggle with as well. I love dressing "vintage" but I don't like sticking out and having attention brought onto me. It feels that I can only have it one way or the other, so I usually let my mood dictate my outfit on any given day. :)

    But the other point of contention I find in my daily wardrobe, is that I'd rather just run out of the house in jeans and a T for a morning coffee, instead of taking the time to dress nicely when I know I'm only going to be outside in the world for 10 minutes. I'm still struggling to find balance, but I find the older I get, the more balance I am finding. :)

    As far as era's go, my first love is the 50's but the 40's are slowing winning me over.

  5. Fab dress! I used to pay attention to the quizzical looks when I wore vintage, now I wear it so much I've been able to ignore them. People just stare when you don't wear the ordinary. Let them. :)

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge
    Pretty Face giveaway

  6. I wear jeans most days in the winter, but I want to try making trousers and winter skirts this year now that I'm more confident with my sewing.
    If I could, I'd wear 50s style full skirted dresses with big petticoats everyday! :) Well, maybe not everyday, but you know what I mean.
    Great post, really got me thinking about what I wear.
    Ashley x

  7. Well I think it looks lovely :)
    But then again, I had a similar experience to yours when I wore one of my handmade (from a vintage pattern) dresses to the mall- I was totally overdressed!

  8. I can totally relate! I love to wear dresses, but few people in my circle of friends wear dresses on a regular basis, and no one wears the full-skirted vintage-style dresses that I like to wear. I often feel out of place and overdressed, but life is too short to wear jeans every day. I also notice that the more I dress up, the more people around me start to dress up. Maybe it will be contagious!

  9. Hmmm, I know exactly what you mean Gina. Sometimes when I'm out and about I'll turn around to J and ask if I have two heads or something because people seem to be staring. How about this for a theory though...the people that stare are so sick of looking at people wearing jeans too. Why would they look when you wear jeans, They see that everywhere. But when they see an inspired outfit, they can't help but look. Not in a "girl you look weird" kinda way, but in a "girl, you look aMAZing" kind of way "and I just wanna spend some time checking out what you've done there so I can copy it at a later date!". I know when I see someone who's outfit catches my eye in a good way, I'll be mentally noting down the details that inspire me, and before I know it I'll probably have been watching them for too long,lol!
    I once got acosted in a nightclub by a rather aggressive/drunk Essex girl who was clearly up for a fight and asked me "what the **** are you staring at?!" (I know,classy girl!)WhenI explained I totally loved her skirt, she was chuffed to bits and nice as pie!
    Think of it not so much as standing out like a sore thumb, more like standing out like a beacon of delicious colour and style in an otherwise "blue" world. Perhaps the people you encountered were not staring at you in a bad way, but more of a "wow" way!
    Love that outfit!!

  10. I say good for you for wearing what you like and makes you feel good! I love the colors in that dress and that pink sweater is perfect to pull the pink from the dress!

  11. What a gorgeous dress--it reminds me of some of those fantastic vintage sheets I've been thrifting lately. ;) You look so pretty in all these photos, Gina!

    I usually stand out as well--I'm chronically overdressed (but that sometimes is a good way to break the ice and make a joke at parties! ;) At least for me, who tends to be a bit shy anyway...). At this point I don't really mind or think about it anymore--unless it's blazingly obvious (someone makes a point to comment, etc.). I definitely feel more comfortable with how I dress than when I wear what is considered standard fashion fare for the average American (jeans, tshirt, flip flops in my region). I think too I've always had eccentric leanings in regards to my dress, but it wasn't until I was an adult and started making more fashion choices based on dressing to please myself, that I actually embraced it. ;)

    I've always wondered what motivates people to make the fashion choices they do? I've always been extremely conscious about the message clothes can convey to others, and it's an area that I've studied quite a bit about. But the flipside--people who don't feel quite as interested in these things--I've always been curious abotu. What motivates the choices? Reading your comment about people wearing tshirts with brands enblazoned across the front, I was struck by this though: Do most people even *care* whether they are a walking billboard for a brand and essentially giving away free ad space to a company that will most likely see financial rewards from this form of advertising? Does it even occur? I can't even think of the last time I wore something with a prominent brand name. And not to be snobbish about it--I don't mean it in a "holier than thou" way. I just hate the idea of letting other groups of people profit from me wearing their products. Perhaps I'm just odd like that?

    Anyway, interesting thoughts! :) Thanks for sharing them, Gina!

  12. PLEASE grant permission for me to guest-post this on my blog, Kelley Highway!

    I am 50 years old and FINALLY got this a few years ago at 40. Well, I mean TEN years ago! What was the result? I ditched every piece of BLACK I owned. I ALWAYS hated how black made the lovely me look. In other words, I NEVER liked how black made the lovely me look. At 40 I made the decision to choose... I chose to wear what I felt lovely in, not thinking, "So-and-so is going to think this outfit looks good on me."

    At 50, I'm INTO color! I'm INTO texture! I'm into beauty! On my graying, redheaded, size 14P on top and 14 below-frame, I love how I feel in browns, rusts, avocados and other greens, mustards, corals and teals... and any other color that resembles baby puke. I gave myself permissions to be ME!

    I'm into wearing what I feel pretty in because God made me beautiful. I stopped looking at all my flaws and deciding to love me and dress me in what pleases God and my hubby and me. God doesn't make junk!

    And young lady, I'm sooooo grateful you "got it" at an early age! This post is transparently RIGHT ON! Thank you x 18 for sharing this! I feel so blessed to have read this today.

    Confession: When I first read the title, and then saw your first photo on this post, I thought, "Wha'?" and then "She looks aDORable in that!" blurted out of my mouth. Not, "I love her outfit" but "She looks positively radiant!" You are as beautiful as you feel.


    P.S. With that pink sweater, girl, you added FROSTING to your cupcake!

    IT'S DEFinitely YOUR IDEAL!

  13. My mama says that if people stare at you when you are "over-dressed" it is only because they assume you are going someplace much more interesting immediately afterwards. Let them.

    As far as what time and period I would like to wear, I have always felt that the most beautiful outfit that compliments every woman's figure is the sari. But as I have no connection whatever with the Indian subcontinent I think I would look silly and "costume-y" if I tried to wear one.

  14. I really like your dress, it looks good on you and very season appropriate, but I get it if people stare as what you are wearing is probably what most others would only wear to a party...Or at least that's what people assume when I'm dressed up, I've been asked several times what the occasion is/where I'm going. It's pretty sad I think, that people are now so lazy that parties are the only occasion for when we get dressed up. Or are we just so uninterested in fashion with too much else on our minds to care about what we wear?

    I don't know, but I have those lazy days pretty often too, when it's easier to just throw on a pair of jeans than to pick out a matching outfit just to go grocery shopping. On the other hand I'd like there to be a few more everyday-but still 40's-60's in style- clothes in my closet so that I'd be able to look good, be comfy and lazy all at the same time. Still something to work on in that never ending wardrobe project of mine...

    Keep up dressing the way you like though, maybe we can inspire others to dare to be different? Because I know that there's people out there who want to! And besides, what's the worst that could happen? :)

  15. I try to wear something classic that I feel pretty and confident in. I don't know if it's just me being oblivious, but I never really notice stares when I wear my outfits. I tend to mostly wear skirts and dresses, and only wear pants if I'm just REALLY feeling jeans that day, or they're similar to Katherine Hepburn's. I tend to like the '30s to the '50s, but I mix and match and put together what I find aesthetically pleasing.

    Wear what you like and what you feel best in. Who cares if others stare. I agree that they could've just been staring in admiration...wondering where you got that dress. Or they could've been Debbie Downer's thinking you were completely over dressed. Who knows and who cares. Maybe it'll inspire others to try the same.

  16. I think there is something to be said about finding clothing that is appropriate and fits you - beyond that, it should be limit-less. For example, I have seen lots of cute 1930's "house" dresses that I would love to sew up. But I know that it wouldn't be appropriate for work (business professional), or going for 3 hour walks (my favorite past-time with my hubby), and I just don't see myself wearing it while scrubbing floors and folding laundry. So sadly, it wouldn't fit into my life, even though I admire the style.

    However, there are also quite a few patterns from the 30s - 60s that I would love to sew up because with the right fabric, they would be perfect for work. While there are others that would be considered too "dressy" in modern society for running errands, but as long as it is appropriate (ie, not an evening gown or something) there is nothing wrong with wearing it while out and about.

  17. I love that dress and it looks so nice on you, and the hair-do, too!

    I know what you mean about being made to feel like you are wearing something inappropriate. I love to wear dresses and have a closet full of them. I live in farm country in the upper midwest, though, where all the women wear jeans and mannish clothing. Wearing ANY kind of a dress at all turns heads, let alone something vintage.

    I am usually the only lady who wears a dress to church. Maybe only one other lady does. All the ladies, even the ones in their 80's, wear pants. Not that it matters if you wear pants to church, of course, the important thing is that you come. But for me, I like to have at least one place where I can dress up, you know.

    I did wear a vintage hat once or twice, and that really got stares at church. I don't like to feel like I'm being eccentric, so I probably won't wear them any more.

    It is very sad that we have this Chairman Mao unisex look with the ubiquitous blue color. I, too, would love to see variety. I have some vintage dresses from the 80's and 90's -- those long flowing flowered ones and I can get away with wearing those to church and not getting stared at.

  18. (sorry to be posting as Anonymous, but blogger won't let me sign in!)

    That is such a lovely, happy outfit. Doesn't seem overdressed at all to me. Then again, living in London as I do, there is probably a much greater variety in what people wear at any one time. I wear 50s dresses & cardies any day of the week, even to collect the kids from school or go to the shops. And if I saw you dressed like that, I'd probably look at you, thinking what a nice combination and taking mental notes!


  19. Gina,

    I actually like your dress with the yellow flowers and pink sweater. It's much more attractive and pretty than blue jeans. :)

    I have a few :gasp: jeans in my closet too, but I am sick and tired of wearing them, so I don't.They are just "taking-up space" in my closet. They are the most BORING and uncomfortable piece of clothing ever, ugh! Don't know why I used to love them so much!

    Most of the clothes in the mall are not to my liking either. I think that's why I end-up wearing the same clothes over and over again. I can never find what I like, and some things don't fit right, and some clothing is just over-priced. Ugh!

    It really pays to know how to sew, I suppose, but when you don't know how (like me) I guess you're stuck with what's in the "trendy market." :( Ugh!

    -L. Rose

  20. I think you look stunning! But I agree, it can be disconcerting and make you feel self conscious when you go out and are more dressed up than everyone else in their denim uniforms. I find I get more funny looks when I wear my hair vintage than when I wear vintage clothes. I wear dresses most of the time because I find them most comfortable and also its so much easier to pick one item to wear than have to arrange a top and a bottom! Go for it I reckon, life is too short to not be an individual, who wants to be like everyone else..? not me!

  21. Getting weird looks is something I am totally accustomed to. But the more I study fashion and the more I try to find the right balance for me,
    I realize that many of us just don't want to take time to look good.

    It takes a great deal of work to put an outfit together, especially one that actually fits :)

    You looked great! And I know that you are not going to mind the looks...you are different - end of story :)

    Mrs. M.

  22. I am NOT a jeans fan, either. And I always feel like my fashion tastes have confused my small town peers. Moving to the city really seemed to validate my sense of style: there really are folks out in the world who share our aesthetic. And by the way, that dress is killer cute! Great find!

  23. I totally agree, l don't think enough people care about their appearance these days. No one should stare, but lve had it here before too, l think we all have. Like you, l ignore it. I am rocking a vintage summer dress today!

  24. Wow you sure got the comments on this one. I especially enjoyed Kelley the 50 year old saying she is glad you 'got it' early on in life. You stand out girl because you are so beautiful. When people stare stand up straight and be proud you are not looking like they do!! I lived 60 years in California before moving to Alaska and I notice that Midwestern people are a bit on the conservative side. I hope I don't get into trouble saying this but they are very conforming if you know what I mean, that is why they all look the same. You are NOT following them and I love it!! Keep it up!

  25. You always look so pretty in anything you wear, I think that some of the people will be staring because you are pretty and they don't see beauty everyday!
    Twenty years ago I used to make all of my own clothes (I am just starting dressmaking again) and the only time people stared at me was when I was wearing something handmade, I know it was because my clothes were always ahead of what everyone else could buy in the shops, Vogue patterns always had something that little bit different.
    If I could wear anything it would be in agreement with Ashley's comment, full skirted 50's style with lots of petticoats and little white lace gloves and pretty shoes and a bag to match!
    I am just finishing my first dress after such a long break from sewing, it is a blue and white dress, the bodice is blue and the skirt has big blue and white flowers on it, I am a little nervous of wearing it for the firt time because it makes such a statement but I think my confidence will improve when I wear more pretty dresses that I have made myself. I am sure there will be stares when I wear it, but I know it is because I am not wearing blue jeans like everyone else!

    I love checking out your blog to see what gorgeous things you have made.

  26. You look lovely. We live in a society that is way underdressed and not much care is paid to one's appearance. I find it refreshing when someone goes to the trouble to look nice. I think it a courtesy not to be an eyesore and to provide something nice to look at. If enough of us did that, maybe it would catch on and more would join in.

  27. Hi Gina,
    I think your dress is lovely, and you look lovely in it. I feel similarly about clothes to how you do, but I think it sometimes works against me :) I do LOVE my blue jeans- I am just so comfortable in them, working, running around, getting dirty or cooking. I want to wear more dresses and skirts, but I end up reverting to my comfy jeans :) And, I find a pair or two I like and wear them all of the time! The other stuff I really like to wear is unusual thrifted items or thing I sewed. I have often gotten trouble from friends and family about some of the odd-ish or outdated stuff, but to me it is more about how I feel in something and less about how it looks, beyond being presentable. I feel special in a blouse I sewed knowing how hard I worked on it- or even a thrifted hand sewn garment, knowing how much someone else loved it. What helps is to be oblivious to what other people think :) You are beautiful- just keep being you and doing what makes you happy.

  28. hmm,, nIce dress U wear.. it Looks So suitable With U..

  29. I loved your post. You inspired me to go ahead and wear the top I just finished sewing up out of a yellow & green floral sheet. I love the way sheets feel on my skin & I loved the pattern. As of noon today I've gotten a few crazy glances but no one has said a word about my shirt and I FEEL Great! Thank you keep up the posting I love to read yours!

  30. Great post. I know that exact feeling of what you are describing. Whenever I walk around town in my 1940s workwear outfits or more feminine 1950s dresses I really don't care what people think, but as soon as I go back home to the small town where I grew up I feel quite uncomfortable wearing my vintage/retro clothes. I know that people stare, talk and probably think I'm weird and unfashionable (even if they are all bluejeans and t-shirts them selves) and I feel a bit offended by it. But still, I've decided to not change my style depending if I'm in the city or back at my parents place, because frankly, my wardrobe are a 100% vintage/retro by now and so am I ;)
    But to answer your question, if I could choose ANY style, I'd probably go wearing high waist 40s slacks and a comfy 1920s blouse or something ;)

  31. This is such an interesting post and discussion (I'm a little late to the party).

    It can be hard to walk the line between what you find comfortable and 'right' for you and not worrying about stares from other people. I've always been a self-conscious person so I've always assumed people are staring at me disapprovingly for one thing or another, and that started years and years ago before there was much "different" in the way I expressed myself, so at this point I don't really worry about it.

    I feel most comfortable in vintage or vintage-inspired clothes, though this doesn't mean I dress up a lot, because I don't. I tend to dress in more casual vintage styles. I do wear jeans and slacks quite frequently but they are high-waisted and more of a 40s and 50s look. Just because I'm into vintage doesn't mean I feel the need to wear a dress or skirt and heels all the time. So for quick jaunts I still look vintage, but I'm likely wearing something like high-waisted jeans, a tucked in blouse and saddle shoes, Keds or wedge sandals. But I know a lot of girls who are into vintage are much fancier in their styles, so that might not be something that their wardrobe would allow them to go. However my vintage wardrobe is much more suited for errands and picnics than it is dances and fancy dinners, honestly. LOL

    And one last thing, on the subject of being comfortable: the other day we went to help a friend paint her apartment, so of course I didn't want to get any of my vintage or vintage-inspired clothes covered in paint. I wore normal modern jeans and a tank top, and I can't tell you how strange I felt all day!! Granted I was really glad to be wearing it since I did splash paint on myself, but I felt weird in those clothes and not like myself. It's very interesting how your opinion can change over time!

  32. Seriously adorable dress, and you look beautiful! People are weird aren't they?? I know if I wear even a dress or skirt out and about on the weekend I draw stares, but often it's the good kind. Men open doors and smile, older gentlemen especially will tip their head or speak. I feel better in more feminine things, although sometimes I resort to jeans too. Usually this is because I don't have what I want in my closet though. I'm trying to remedy that with my sewing machine! (RTW just won't work for me, and vintage in my size is IMPOSSIBLE to find.)

  33. That dress is incredibly lovely!

    I had similar thoughts at the beginning of May, when the temperatures rose enough to wear cute skirts and dresses but still almost every girl and woman I saw on the streets was wearing jeans. I vowed to not wear jeans for the entire month of May, and I didn't (except for a couple of hours, when I totally forgot about it). Honestly, my style is a bit quirky sometimes, but I live in Berlin, where nobody even throws you a glance when you dress "different" - although at this point in my life, I probably wouldn't care anymore if they would. :) I want my style to make *me* happy, and it does.

  34. Hi, I just found your blog by following a Closing The Gaps link on someone else's blog. I am adding you to my Google Reader!

    I live in a big city, so there is a pretty big variety of styles. It takes a rather crazy outfit to make people actually stare. :) But having said that, I do know what you mean about so many people being super-casual. In the neighborhood where I work, it's not uncommon to see grown women running errands in pajama pants. Ugh. I also see a lot of the dreaded oversized tee shirts, cargo shorts, and flip flops. These are not flattering to anyone! But everyone has a right to their own style, or lack thereof. ;)

  35. Great post! I skip between decades depending on my mood. I might dress totally modern one day with tight skinny jeans, high wedge sandals and a tank top from Forever 21 and the next day I might wear a dress I made from a 40's housewife dress pattern. I think if someone looks in my closet they might think I was crazy. But I wear a lot of color usually and I have always been stared at since I was a 13 year old punk rocker in Hollywood. Who wants to be a boring person no one notices?Yay to you and those people probably just don't get how cool you are! Or they are wondering why you aren't in Paris.

  36. Hello there,

    I just found your blog and I just fell in love with it. I really love this dress especially with the pink sweater. Pink and Yellow are my favorite colors and they make me so happy. I love to see women wearing feminine clothing. You look absolutely beautiful in this outfit.

    Blessings to you,

    Amy Jo