The more I learn about vintage, the more I hesitate to mix my eras. When you’re starting out, everything makes one big ol’ midcentury stew. The finer you tune, the less you’d be caught dead wearing victory rolls with a petticoat. It’s only natural, right?
But here’s the thing: living history doesn’t work that way.
I get why a lot of reenactors and vintage lovers insist on accuracy to a T. It’s backlash against a present that all too often doesn’t care about the past. Getting salty over antebellum hem depth is a battle cry: this knowledge is worth preserving. When it comes to material history, to the unsung songs of every workaday object, we should all know where we came from. I believe that matters.
I also believe that history is dynamic. I believe that the best way to do it justice. is to reckon with the people behind the platonic ideals. That means looking beyond advertisements and fashion plates and into the way women actually interpreted trends. Was the bob a juggernaut of 1920s fashion? Yes. Did literally every woman have one? Of course not.
Even though my dress and my hat were made probably a decade apart, who’s to say my 1955 counterpart didn’t inherit her mother’s dress? Our vintage style icons are only icons in the first place because they had the means to stay current. Out in the world, real people scraped and mended and wore their wartime dresses for as long as they would fit. The 21st-century didn’t invent personal style. Everyone everywhere has put their own spin on it. Seeking that essence might be “inauthentic”, but it’s much closer to the spirit than the letter.
Dress: ’40s vintage, thrifted
Hat: ’50s vintage, Barge Canal Market
Collar: ’50s vintage, The Getup Vintage
Purse: vintage, Christmas gift from Mom
Everything else: thrifted