Something that I hear a lot, especially in conjunction with my Vintage Mafia girlies, is how so many people out there wish they could find some like-minded vintage friends to go out with and misbehave. Or behave, but that’s less fun.
I won’t deny, my friends (by which I mean all the ladies and gents of my acquaintance) have been my lifeline on occasion, and a constant source of warm and fuzzies the rest of the time. I have small pockets of friends from school, college, university and work. All of whom I love dearly but see irregularly. But I’m definitely currently part of a large group of friends, who dress in vintage to varying degrees and these are the ones with whom I spend the vast proportion of my time (and since this is a vintage blog, the ones I’m going to talk about). Much like any group of friends, there are ups and downs, people come in and drift out, contact is made and lost; often picked up again and held fast. The group dynamics change a lot, people move away, meet other people, find new interests or move from the peripheries to the centre. There are those I would go to the ends of the earth for (all the Maf, several other close friends, business partners and sisters from another mister, ‘vintage’ or not), those whose friendship and advice I value immensely and love hanging out with but we see each other less often, and those who are super fun, lovely people whose company I enjoy, but who I simply just don’t know that well. And those who are just not my cup of tea, for one reason and another. But friendship is a funny thing – some people you just mesh with, effortlessly; these are the ones that you never have to worry about. Even if you don’t speak for weeks, months, years, you’ll always have loads to talk about when you finally do. There are some friendships that do require effort, but it’s worth it. And yet more some that despite all the effort, are never going to take off. It’s only experience that tells you when to stop.
I’ve been guilty of many of the cardinal friendship sins in my time. Meeting a boy and disappearing off the radar, particularly. But then, I do tend to fall headlong in love and everything else pales – it’s not a conscious thing. I’m also a bad long-distance friend – when people I’m close to move to the opposite ends of the country, or worse, another country, it proves difficult for me to remain close. I only have myself to blame for this. But making friends isn’t so hard really. I know some people feel it is, but in this age of social networking, it really is a cinch. How do you think I met all the lovely vintage people I know?
Last weekend was lovely Lisa‘s birthday. We had a picnic on London Fields, for which lots of our marvellous mutual friends came (all this alliteration is making me sound like the unbelievably irritating copywriter from Groupon… kill me now), and it got me thinking about how we all met. It’s a combination of random chance and demon networking, and an interesting story to no one but me (probably), but if it can help some of you vintage lone rangers find a friendly soulmate or two, then so much the better.
She’s been a constant source of advice, delight and awesomeness.
Her birthday picnic at the weekend was a day of joy!
I got into vintage entirely on my own. My best friend is very ‘normal’ in terms of fashion and hobbies, and my boyfriend at the time was going away from his rockabilly phase, into a more trendy one, listening to electro and suchlike (disclaimer: I like electro…now!). I was heading further back in time and obsessing over vintage and victory rolled hairdos. I found the Fedora Lounge and the What Katie Did forum, and was captivated by the people I ‘met’ on there. This led to friendships on Facebook, real life meetups in London, opportunities and more meetings, snowballing eventually into the group of friends and lifestyle (not to mention career) that I have now. And it all started with a Google! The internet is a hugely powerful tool to make new connections, whether you’re after friends or love (I’m going to write a bit about online dating as a vintage girl soon, too). Once the connections are made, friendships can begin!
Naomi was the stylist and I the model. I’ve always been much bigger than her.
I appreciate that if you live in a small town and there are literally no like-minded people in your area, then it’s always going to be difficult to make real-life friends. But I love chatting to people in different areas and countries, and these virtual friendships have often led to real encounters, like the time the New York Fedora Loungers took me on an amazing night out, or when I went to Phoenix in Arizona and hung out with Lolita Haze; or when we welcomed Darhling to London where she’d come on holiday from Sweden. She now lives here, so we must have done something right! But if you’re in an area where you know there are others like you, ya freak, then what’s the best way to get in on the action?
Joining forums dedicated to your passion is a good start. Then you can network and chat about your interests. This applies to anything – not just vintage!
Get involved! Just as quiet people find it hard to make friends, so if you simply lurk and say nothing, you won’t be invited into friendship groups. Online you’ve got no excuses, shyness doesn’t count!
Be brave and go out there. If your new acquaintances are publicly organising a night out, then ask and go along. If they haven’t specifically invited you, it’s probably because they didn’t think you wanted to come (or expected willing people to express interest), not for any other deliberate reason. Just ask!
Use blogs, Twitter and Facebook to make friends. You know if they write a blog you read and love that you have the same interests! I know so many ladies through blogging and Twitter now, it’s absolutely brilliant. And it always breaks the ice in real life! “Oh you’re so-and-so from whatchamacallit aren’t you?” “Why yes I am, and you’re thingy from whatsit!” This happens a lot at events now.
We then met again on a Fedora Lounge event, I think… Hannah and Fay are both former FLers.
“Let’s look smug while the short ones look sad,” Hannah said. It was only a partial success.
In real life
The best thing to do is to find awesome events, convince a friend to get in the spirit for one night and go along. Or, if you’re really brave, then go by yourself. The night the VM formed, Bethan tweeted me and asked if she could join me for a trip to the Candlelight Club. She’d only met me once before, and none of the rest of the girls. But we swapped numbers, she came, we had an amazing night and the rest is history. Jeni and Bethan now live together!
I went to the Chap Olympiad for the first time in 2009, completely by myself. I only knew a few people who were there a little bit, from seeing and chatting to them at events. They definitely weren’t actual ‘friends’ by that point. But I went, I had a blast, and now I count some of those folks among my closest friends. AND, I write for the Chap now. If I hadn’t mustered the courage that day and gone, then things could have been totally different.
Take up a hobby or class – swing dancing is a perfect one. You don’t even need a partner, and you’ll meet tonnes of people. It matters not a jot if you have no rhythm, trust me.
Go to vintage fairs, galleries, festivals. You never know when you’ll meet a hot boy or a future friend. If you’re there, then stands to reason people as totally awesome as you might also be! I met Shona Heyday because I bought a pair of trousers off her at a Jukebox fair… now we’re fast friends and business partners!
So those are my tips for making vintage friends, for what they’re worth. They worked for me, so that’s the main endorsement! I only hope I get to meet more of the amazing ladies and gents I chat with online. Make sure you do say hello if you see me or any familiar face at events. And (do excuse the plug, but) if you’re a vintage fan in London, then do consider coming to our Vintage Mafia event next month – The Ric-Rac Club, brackets Let’s Misbehave, close brackets. We’re just in the process of confirming all the details before we can give it an almighty plug, but we’re pitching it more as a vintage social rather than the usual dance-centric affairs that are so common in this old town! We’re planning some solo dance demonstrations, fun and games, and, more importantly, some amusing giveaways featuring booze, so you can acquire that dutch courage if you need it. Come along and make some new friends.
See you on or offline soon!