Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Incorporating Vintage Styles into Your Wardrobe

In sewing terms, vintage is defined as materials over twenty years old - not a fine wine, as Google helpfully suggests. I'm sure that a lot of you, like me, spend much of your day on Pinterest swooning over fit and flare dresses of the fifties or fringe trims of the twenties - in many ways so much more elegant than the fast fashion we see on the high street today. However, whilst there are some out there who dress in these beautiful styles on a regular basis, many people don't feel comfortable wearing full-on vintage attire in their everyday lives. 

As a student reading History at university (specifically Welsh History but the same sentiment applies!), I feel a strong connection with the clothes of bygone ages. If you're lucky enough to chance upon a thirties skirt at a vintage fair, imagine the person who owned it when it was brand new. It's survived a World War! That original sixties shift dress your grandma has tucked away in her attic was around when the Beatles were performing. The stories vintage clothes hold are something that could and should be delved into and treasured.
If your reason for not choosing to sew with vintage patterns is that the styles are not practical enough for your everyday wear, think about how you could change the design to suit your needs. Shorten the skirt or decrease its volume, remove the shoulder pads, add or take off sleeves, don't bother wearing a petticoat underneath. Bringing vintage designs forward into the modern world, whether they are original or reproduction, helps us to connect with our past and preserve the rich history our ancestors helped to create and were a part of.
Furthermore, if creating a vintage garment from scratch is not your forte, you may want to consider up-cycling or refashioning instead. Search through stalls at vintage fairs or charity shops for unique treasures. The long, eighties skirt you've just discovered may, of course, suit you perfectly. However, just like I feel with an increased skirt length, you may feel it looks a little frumpy. But wait! Before you put it back, consider its potential. Would it look much better if you simply reduced the length and re-hemmed it? With the addition of some straps, could it be transformed into a chic dress? In our ever increasing consumerist society, it is becoming more important than ever to look back at older materials and give them a new purpose, rather than discarding them for the sake of something brand new. If a vintage garment isn't for you, don't dismiss it - change it. That's the beauty of sewing! We can do exactly what we want with the materials to hand to create exactly the look we want.
Finally, another simple way to get in touch with your vintage side is to not make it the focus of your outfit. If you are in love with the fifties look, why don't you start out with a touch of red lipstick and a headscarf? For a forties appearance try incorporating collared blouses with fitted or pleated skirts into your regular look. It doesn't take much to look retro inspired and as you practice bringing different styles into your wardrobe, your confidence to wear vintage fashions will grow until it becomes second nature.
Our past should be valued, not forgotten. Vintage styles are a primary way for home sewers to keep in touch with their own personal heritage as well as to flex their skills and create looks that are different to those we see on the high street. By using what has been left to us by past generations, we connect with others throughout history and are able to give new life to garments and materials that would otherwise be replaced by unnecessary new products which don't have the beautiful back story all vintage clothes and patterns come with. Together, we can preserve this past and bring it forward to give it a new use in the modern day.

No comments:

Post a Comment