saucer hats & authenticity

curlylambix

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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2 Comments

  1. I completely hear what you’re saying. Vintage dress, vintage hat no matter the era of the two, worn together – I’m guilty of that in my early days. That is why I find vintage photographs – of real people – more important to pay attention to than ads of the time period, if a period perfect look is what one is going for.

    Living history, within the context of an event or museum, is entirely different from day-to-day living. With that type of situation, you are attempting to be as exact as possible regarding a specific moment in time in order to teach, and often that manner of dress is only worn for that moment within the event or that time at the museum, and not worn to the grocery store.

    There are of course the “time warp” people, who literally tailor every part of their life to live in the past, and will go to the lengths to select a more specific time period in which to exist.

    Then there is the flip side to vintage fashion, and one I am falling more into, which is developing a personal style using vintage, an area where era does not matter as much. Simply wear what you like.

    xoxo
    -Janey

  2. Yes, I agree! I think that the modern tendency is actually to recreate hte more magazine-type looks of the day, while if you look at actual street style photos many women were wearing 30’s and 40’s styles in the 50’s still. The super full petticoats of the “popular” 50’s looks were not necessarily the thing that EVERYONE always wore. My favorite style photo has only one real trend of the 50’s, and that’s novelty print. In everything else, she’s not wearing a petticoat, she has almost a pixie cut, she’s wearing shower sandals… and I love it.

    Just like we remix eras now, I’m sure they remixed items from different eras then.

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