How practical is the vintage look?

Frances Bell 9 February 2014

After watching the ADC’s production of Blue Stockings, I wanted to lay my hands on the nearest pair of bloomers I could find. Unfortunately, Topshop aren’t really into petticoats right now, and corsets are pretty hard to come by outside of Agent Provocateur. Naturally, I’m overlooking the impracticalities of both garments.

Regardless of what those ‘kitsch’ magazines might tell you, the closest one can usually get to an affordable ‘vintage find’ is a quick rummage in Oxfam – not through an abundance of glorious 1950s cocktail dresses and fur stoles, but a smattering of absurd 80s disco gear and suspiciously fragrant cardigans.

There is an art to composing a fashionably retro ensemble, and part of it is compromise: a pair of 1940s butter-smooth leather gloves here, a slightly oversized tweed jacket (thoroughly de-mothballed, mind you) there, a spot of lace or – if you’re brave – corduroy every now and then, and you’ll achieve a certain je ne sais quoi. Attempt to don them all at once, and you might look as though you’ve been assaulted by a (particularly tasteful) jumble sale.

As romantic as the concept of dressing head-to-toe in vintage attire might seem, it is (sadly) deemed somewhat impractical in the 21st century, but I’ll always have the greatest admiration for those who have the confidence to do so anyway.