Obviously, dressing and looking as I do (and the various incarnations of different alternative styles I’ve sported over the years) shows that looking unusual and drawing others’ attention is not something I have a problem with. And while I’m most definitely not an attention seeker in any way (it’s a by-product of dressing differently rather than a goal in and of itself), I do like belonging to a subculture. That vintage is no longer a subculture is a longer discussion for a different day, but I do find that by wearing vintage it’s easy to stand apart, even from your peers. The chances of seeing another girl in your dress is minimal, to absolute zero when it comes to home-made garments, and I love that! I do, however, as you all know wear repro nearly every day. As do most of my friends. The small pool of brands out there makes it more likely that you’ll see someone else in the same top or dress as you if you go to a vintage event wearing repro or high street finds. This is why adding style signatures and putting your own spin on things that set you apart are so important.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes a person stylish. I love bright colours, loud jewellery and patterns; and am good at colour coordinating, but I don’t possess the style nous of, say, the Bright Young Twins. These painfully gorgeous and upsettingly young things have that uncanny ability to put Edwardian blouses with Primark trousers, adding belts, jewellery and other accessories to make an outfit that is utterly unique. Add to this the dedication, eye and sheer LUCK to find original millinery pieces, showgirl costumes and suchlike, and their wardrobes are the stuff of dreams. I love them, and am also hugely envious, can you tell?
I’ve known a fair few ladies throughout the years who have this style sixth sense, and an alarming array of accessories that can be used to create these one-off looks. It’s something you either have, or don’t have, I think. I don’t really have it, much as I’d like to.
I do have my own style signatures, though. Not unique to me of course – what is, these days? Though my blog and general existence I’ve probably inspired people to adopt certain things, but I wasn’t the one who dreamed them up in the first place anyway, so it doesn’t matter at all. But rather than just putting on an outfit that’s easy, safe or straight out of a magazine page or catwalk, everyone should put their own spin on it. A change is as good as a rest, after all!
I love bangles. You know this! I like to wear a giant stack of them at the same time. Lots of girls do, of course, and a lot of my girlfriends even have the same ones; but the chances of you wearing the exact same combination at the same time are slim. Combined with different earrings, handbags, shoes and cardigans, even samey outfits can look different.
Some of my friends always seem to have on a different, fabulous coat, a signature hairstyle that no one else could master, a penchant for outrageous shoes that no one else would or could wear, a very precise look that differs from the popular vintage ones out there, but which suits the wearer down to an absolute T. So despite knowing a huge number of dedicated vintage gals and despite the fact that literally every time the Vintage Mafia get together, at least two or more of us will be in the same Heyday trousers, the same Freddies jeans or the same Rocket Originals shoes, I hardly ever wind up feeling like I’m wearing the same, or looking the same as anyone else.
In all seriousness, modern fashion and its conformity baffles me. I’ve heard mothers of teenagers (both sexes) say their kids would rather die than stand out, and if you’ve ever seen a gaggle of trendy 15 year old girls together, it’s hard to tell where the first skinny jean, Ugh boot and long tousled hair stops, and the next begins. Alternative fashion among 6th form age kids is also absolutely massive now compared to how it was when I was 17, so even they look quite similar to me these days. Showing my age in one sentence, there! But while there’s probably no such thing as a unique look in itself any more, I encourage everyone to put their unique spin on an outfit. And upon your life generally. If you can stand out in how you look, you can make waves in anything in life, believe me.