August 14, 2009

I'm the girl in the big dress

I was free from work this afternoon and I walked into town to buy tea and check out the second hand book store. Nothing worth mentioning really, if I hadn't done so looking like this.

Now, it was a different story. Elderly couples pointed me out to each other with their eyes (older people tend to be more polite). Fashionista's in their early twenties (wearing low cut skinny jeans or zouave trousers themselves) pointed, giggled or looked away disdainfully. Little girls stared openly and in awe.

I'm not particularly self-conscious about wearing this dress. I made it last summer, I've worn it several times, I meant for it to look a bit like a fifties dress and most important, I like it and I like how I look in it. This means I'm not going to be put off by the way people react to the sight of me in this dress.
I choose not to wear the usual young urban 'uniform' of jeans and a trendy t-shirt variaty, so I already know I may get some strange looks. What's interesting here is what people will react, and how.
In my experience (I've had a bit of a history in trying out different looks, and I'm still going strong) little girls will love anything which looks quintessentially girly. So full skirted fifties frocks are bound to be a hit, but so are long skirted romanti-goth do's. Young, trendily dressed women will often dislike just about anything which seriously breaks their dresscode.
Other reactions tend to be more random. Today, the elderly couples may have recognized the silhouet, and wondered about it. Approvingly or disapprovingly, I do not know.

Following Burdastyle and some sewing/fashion blogs, I have seen plenty of vintage style dresses made by other people. I'm wondering: Do you wear those out a lot? Do you get the looks? And what do you think of that?


  1. Me again, I like your blog. Yes, I wear the vintage clothes too. Yes, it freaks out 90% of the population--especially the hip crowd ! I think they are secretly envious of the looks you are getting. Older people tend to be more accepting and it frequently is a conversation-starter with them because it is a visceral reminder of another time. Once I was fixing a car in a Rosie the Riveter outfit and a woman stopped her car and came and told me about her life during WWII. When wearing the "dress code" that doesn't happen. You look great!

  2. Hi there- found this post via another friend on LiveJournal. I've made several dresses using re-published vintage patterns, and I always get compliments when I wear them. One I made is made of a pretty green/dark grey wool crepe and the pattern is from 1949. I always feel incredibly elegant when I wear it and people are very complimentary because it fits well and is unique. It sticks out so much (but always in a positive way!), being different from what most people wear. That said, I live in Portland, Oregon, and in some of the artsy parts of town you can see plenty of people wearing a mishmash of vintage and modern.

  3. I wear a lot of vintage, mostly early-seventies Gunne Sax and things of that nature, so quite different from what one usually sees. I've only ever gotten compliments, though I'm not sure how many people react to my clothes- I have bright pink hair and get a lot of looks for that. I also live in Portland, though, and I'm a student at Reed, which is the fashion climate of Portland multiplied by about a million.

  4. Go visit London, all the lovely young things are wearing this full-skirted style with heels, and don't worry about young people looking at you. They could be very well saying, "Look, I want a dress like that!"

  5. You should always believe that people stare at you because they like the way you look (if not, who cares, it makes you feel better anyway!), and I'm SURE in that dress that's why they stare at you, it's absolutely gorgeous!
    I wonder where you live, if it's in a small town or a city, I live in Stockholm and although it sometimes annoys me how similarily we dress here (me too) I'm sure that that kind of style would not attract negative attention from trendy people here, rather the opposite. Keep it up and be proud!
    (btw, I'm Ichigogirl at Burdastyle, I've seen you great work there too).

  6. I put my face right up to the computer screen to try to figure out WHAT was so unusual about this dress that would make people react. I think it looks cute and feminine and professional. Right now, a retro 60s television show called "Mad Men" is extremely popular in the U.S. and so this style would be right on trend.

  7. I work as a funeral director, where we are expected to dress very formally, very dull. Suit skirts and shells in black, grey, navy . . . you get the idea.
    But that gets so *boring*, and I'm short, so I need help if I'm going to be easily identified in a crowd (necessary since I'm the person there in charge of everything). So I wear a lot of vintage-inspired frocks. Nothing flashy, muted colors, modest neck- and hemlines, but . . . pretty. Feminine. Sometimes with petticoats.
    Other funeral directors give me major side-eye, but the people I work with? They *love* it. I've had several elderly ladies bring me in clothes they've kept since the forties and fifties, and many many compliments along the lines of, "it's so *nice* to see a lady dress like a lady." (Now the sexism implicit in that comment, and in my need to present an attractive feminine appearance in the first place, is another can of worms.)
    Really, in my experience, if it's made well, fits well, and doesn't expose anything people should be paying you to see, you can sail through even events where you're expected to be extremely "respectable" graciously, and leave a very positive impression.