As you can see, I’m so happy about it I actually smiled with my teeth (braces an’ all)! Because it wasn’t just any magazine, it was the amazing Vintage Life – a publication I’m sure a lot of you (who are into retro style at least) will have come across at some point. I couldn’t believe it when they asked me to write for them – in fact, I still can’t. This blog is certainly not the most influential out there, but this article feels like a reward after three years of hard work put in around a full-time job and commuting four hours a day. Three years as of this month, in fact – which makes it even more special that I was featured in the March issue. Happy bloggiversary to me!
When they contacted me, they gave me a few pointers on what they wanted me to cover for a piece titled ‘My Vintage Life’ – obviously, what me and this blog are about was one thing, but they also asked that I write about my love of vintage ‘such as how it began’. I was stumped! I’ve been dressing this way for so long I couldn’t immediately recall how it started… but then it all came back to me – and as I’m not sure how many of you will read the magazine piece, I thought I’d share my story in more detail here too, seeing as it’s at the heart of this blog, after all!
Really, it all started when I’d left university and six months later had somewhat miraculously landed my first job in publishing. Now here’s something you might not know about me: I am incredibly ambitious; I was determined to climb that career ladder as fast as I could. But here’s something else you probably have twigged from the amount of make-up I’m usually buried under – I’m pretty insecure about my appearance. And by most people’s standards I’m pretty shy, so somehow I had to overcome my terror of speaking in front of people – with them all looking at me – me! – to participate in meetings and generally get myself noticed. It didn’t help that back in those days, boy, I looked young. I mean, I still get IDed if I so much as look at a bottle of wine near a shop assistant and I’m nearly eleven years over the legal drinking age now – so you can picture how fresh-faced I was back then! I didn’t quite realise it at first, but the longer I worked the more I was conscious of looking like the graduate I was – I wanted to look more adult and professional and I wanted a style that was more grown-up and feminine than the slightly lost emo one I’d had going on at university. But I’d always dressed a bit ‘alternatively’, so I still didn’t want to look like everyone else. Enter, the pencil skirt…
The pencil skirt was the beginning of an answer to these workplace conundrums as a) they made me look more grown-up and b) I felt good in them because they worked with my shape rather than against it. It hadn’t take long to realise that at 5ft2 it was easy to be swamped by clothes – which only made me look younger! Pencil skirts went hand-in-hand with embracing waist definition and generally creating a more womanly, hourglass shape than I’d had in most clothes before. Unsurprisingly, my love of wiggles was in no small part encouraged by a budding obsession with Marilyn Monroe, along with finding the vintage scene and following bloggers like Ulrika and Candice who offered endless style inspiration, years before I thought of starting my own blog. I discovered some of the amazing repro brands out there through them and general relentless internet window shopping and gradually, elements of vintage fashion began spreading throughout my wardrobe. I’d found something a bit different that worked for me and I was sticking to it!
Now, nearly ten years later, I love creating outfits that are vintage inspired or have a retro twist – usually borrowing inspiration from the 50s which, to me, epitomises femininity and also works the best with my shape. I’ve tried putting this chest in a 60’s shift – it’s more tent than temptress! I more often find myself looking for modern or repro pieces that have stretch for my curves and that also might be less ‘full-on’ than authentic vintage. I don’t feel comfortable in a head-to-toe vintage outfit – I like to pick and choose the bits of vintage fashions that work for me and usually end up with something that’s modern in terms of its component parts, but by putting it all together makes a big cheeky wink at bygone eras. It’s fun, flattering and different. So really, the answer to the question of why do I dress this way? now is: because I can’t imagine any other style suiting me quite so well.