February 23, 2015

No, I Wasn't Born in the Wrong Time Period

One experiences all kinds of comments when wearing a vintage look out and about in the modern world. Some people say nice things, some people say awkward things, and then there are some people who look like they want to say something but then think better of it. The best comments I ever receive are from older people who tell me my hat reminds them of their mother, or that they like my brooch. The worst are when people say things like "women were so much classier then weren't they?" and the dreaded "You belong in another era!".

Listen, women were not classier in the past, when people say that all I can think of is how slut shamming that statement is for modern women. I certainly don't think of myself as classier than other women just because I wear a midi skirt instead of a mini. 

And of course I wasn't "born in the wrong era", I find this current era sexist (and racist, and anti-intellectual...) enough thanks, I can't imagine living in the 1950's! I also really like having seamed tights instead of having to wear a garter belt, I like that I don't have to wear a hat and gloves every time I leave the house, and that I can wear a dress one day then jeans the next. I love that I have the freedom to wear a 50's dress with 1920's hair if I'd like to. For me, one of the best parts about vintage style is playing with different eras and finding a mix that feels most me.

Would I like to live in any other time but now? Of course not! I like modern painkillers, online shopping, netflix, and I adore the internet! In fact, the only thing I like about the past is the design. I love vintage clothes yes, but vintage gender roles? no thanks. Thanks to vintage Sears catalog pages, I would like to spend a few hours shopping in the past, never more than that!

There is this firm nostalgia in America for the 1950's, the idyllic post war period of affluence and peace. Except that we tend to forget all of the terrible parts of the 1950's, like segregation (and McCarthyism, and polio, and no air conditioning). Some days, though I may look like I just stepped out of a time machine, I would never never actually want to go back!

Its funny how similar two comments could be, "you look like you're from another era!" now that is a compliment for a vintage wearer, "you belong in another era!" no that's weird. 

Do you guys ever worry people equate your love of vintage fashion with an outdated state of mind? What are the weirdest comments people have made to you while wearing vintage?


  1. I have heard that all my life. The "Don't you wish you lived/belong in another time" comment. It's not new and it's still weird. Will always be weird. I always reply that I'm perfectly happy to vote, keep my own earnings, have credit in my own name and my own passport. Can choose what kind of life I want to lead, have a career (or not) and am HAPPY to have modern medicine (don't get me started on the role modern birth control has made to the lives of women). Dabbling in the aesthetics and artistry of the past is a wonderful hobby, but happily it is the past.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you have said! It really is such an odd comment.

  2. It's interesting, you know, I've received comments akin to that I look like I'm from another era, but not that I belonged in one (though I have been called an old soul many times, which I agree with). I wonder, is that perhaps something Canadians aren't apt to say to a stranger? I've had and heard all sorts of comments though that spanned from tear inducingly sweet to skin crawling sexist/misogynistic/bigoted though, but just take them in as much stride as I can.

    I never, ever turn my back on the less than stellar parts of the past and am the first to acknowledge and readily engage in a discussion about them. Sure, I wear 1940s garb frequently, but what strangers don't know is that I've also extensively studied WW2 since I was a child and can (humbly) go head-to-head with any holocaust expert in world on that subject. I don't pretend that the past was some kind of marvelous land of rainbows and novelty print circle skirts, where everything was a bed of roses. Far from it! But with the bad, also came the good and the admirable and the positive (our grandparents and great-grandparents weren't called the Greatest Generation for nothing), sometimes that would lead to even greater positive changes, and it those things that I hold up and celebrate when I sport old school styles, not a single one of the negatives.

    Thank you for raising this excellent subject, Bianca. It's always one I'm happy to see discussed in our circle.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. "marvelous land of rainbows and novelty print circle skirts" is such an excellent mental image!

      Its just something I think about every so often, my style has evolved to be ever more vintage looking, and working in a retail shop where I interact with many people at the registers I get a lot of comments. Mostly they are super nice, its just the weird ones stand out!

      I too love studying history, but I wouldn't say I am an expert on any particular era...yet!

  3. It is interesting that some people make comments like that. I feel that I admire some other aspects of the lifestyle of previous decades too, but I am certainly aware of the downsides. I wonder whether some of it is the oppression of modern technology that makes people particularly nostalgic for pre-computer days? That's certainly how I feel, despite how much I love the internet!

    I have to share my favourite comment, even though it was from wearing Victorian costume, not a vintage outfit, but it is a classic. I was in my 1890s outfit at my grandmother's house (of the same era) and one of her other guests saw me at the end of a dimly lit corridor, and though I was a ghost! Best compliment ever.

    1. In some ways I think I may be too young to see technology as oppressive, I have always had a cell phone, and a computer. I literally can't imagine my life without them! Perhaps I missed out on a simpler age, but I am too attached to the internet. That said, I definitely see how smart phones can be irritating, funny enough I am often the only one at our families dinner table who isn't looking a phone!

      That's pretty great that you looked authentic enough to cause someone a fright! Job well done :)


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