Sunday, 5 December 2010
Born in the wrong era? A vintage rant.
I am a tad (read hellishly) hungover and so I apologise for the rant but this blog is about something that really bugs me. What is it that causes me such rage? It is when perfectly intelligent, reasonable, adult women state that they were "born in the wrong era." So many vintage aficionados seem to do this and it is something I'm seeing mentioned more and more. Personally I find this sort of comment incredibly naive and shortsighted.
I suppose it depends on what attracts you to vintage in the first place. For me, and I think most of my vintage loving friends, half of the fun is in the looking different. It isn't just about liking a particular era for its aesthetic, it is also about standing out. Many of us have come from the goth, skate or punk scenes and this is an extension of the enjoyment we always had in dressing differently. A more grown up take on it I think.
Let's think about this then. If this is something you enjoy about wearing vintage, well, if you were actually living in the 40's you wouldn't stand out. You would look just like everybody else. Not so much fun then, perhaps?
Also, if you were living in those "times gone by" you would not have as much opportunity to actually find a way of looking different. We are lucky in that these modern times, in the first world countries in which we live, we have the freedom to express ourselves through our clothing more or less without fear of attack or being ostracised from society (a notable exception being the case of Sophie Lancaster, a terrible story, truly shocking).
Back in the "Golden Era" only the very rich and thus charmingly eccentric were really allowed the luxury of being visibly different, the average girl on the street would need to confirm to societal norms which were quite restrictive, if she didn't want to be the target of damaging negative gossip.
We also live in times of plenty in comparison to the 30's or 40's where we would not be able to afford our vast wardrobes of finery - how well would any of us, with our eBay and Etsy addictions, really cope with clothing being rationed. Only 48 coupons a year, 11 for a single dress, 2 for a pair of stockings.
Is it because you want to be a housewife? Seriously, no one is stopping you. You don't need to go back to the 50's to have that life if you want it. Feminism gave us the CHOICE to do what we want whether that is becoming a fire woman or baking cakes and cleaning house.
If your hankering for the past lies elsewhere, in the politics of the era perhaps, then that concerns me even more. Do we really want to go back to times of racial segregation and child labour?
We live in great times really; of anaesthetic, running water, central heating, effective contraception, freedom of speech and the internet! I am happy to be living now and not in the 30's during the depression, not in the 40's during the war. Hurrah for 2010 (though it has been a hard year) and for 2011 to come.
What are your thoughts? Would you really want to live back in your favoured era and why?