As an authentic vintage hopeful, the goal of my dressing vintage isn’t to look the part of a particular fashion or style aesthetic. “Vintage,” to me (as the term is so personal and subjective), does not mean pin-up, retro, rockabilly, or even vintage-inspired, though at the moment I often come closer to the latter than anything.
(As a side note, I plan on writing a blog post on the difference between these aesthetics in the near future.)
Rather, my intention is to take a solid step back in time: I try my darndest to wear authentic vintage styles and sport an authentic vintage beauty look because of my intense admiration for the years past. Obviously that includes wearing dresses or shoes in 1950s style, for example, but occasionally it comprises an embodiment of the vintage mindset. While I certainly don’t have any desire for a time when women were considered secondary to men, when their employment opportunities were scarce and underpaid, or when a woman in higher education was a rather rare thing, there are many aspects of vintage female life that could be desirable – and relevant – for our modern times.
I’ve always admired the elegance and social grace of the years past. For this moment, however, I’m not considering that kind of quality, ones that signify a well-dressed or well-bred woman more than anything else. Instead, I’m talking about how women in the past, when push came to shove, were not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty – both metaphorically and literally. During World War II, life became extremely tough for entire populations regardless of gender or age. With rationing and a severe lack of resources and manpower came a push to actively and inventively participate in bettering one’s own life and, in turn, the outcome of society as a whole.
Women were vital to the war effort, both across seas and on the home front. In an instant, the stereotypical female role was turned on its head – women worked in military, agriculture, industry, and business positions, to name only a few. Society, and women in particular, adapted to the new requirements demanded by their country in war, and together they excelled.
My particular favorite image is that of the Land Girl in the Women’s Land Army: civilian organizations created to encourage women to take up vacancies in vital agricultural jobs after men went off to war. Present in Britain since World War I, and later created in other Allied countries such as the United States and Australia, women were directly responsible for the sustenance of their country – an inspiring and powerful thought.
On a similar thread, women at home were encouraged whenever possible to start their own Victory Gardens – to grow their own food, and therefore take some of the burden off of the government to provide when its resources were desperately low and to supplement when ration points got low.
Women could have simultaneously worked vacant jobs, raised their children, and personally provided food for themselves and their family, on top of maintaining a 1940s aesthetic – certainly more time-consuming than the modern day ponytail-and-yoga-pants ensemble that many wear during busy times. As noted in D-Day, women “became proficient cooks and housekeepers, managed the finances, learned to fix the car, worked in a defense plant, and wrote letters to their soldier husbands that were consistently upbeat.” That’s a hell of a lot of daily responsibility, but they succeeded with flying colors and looked good doing it. It’s women like these that are most inspiring to keep on goin’ strong when life gives you lemons: roll up your sleeves and hand squeeze those lemons into some sweet (and authentic!) lemonade.
My lemon at the moment is an exceptionally difficult statistics class required in order for me to graduate after four years of college. Only one more class and I get my degree – though that sounds much easier than it is in reality. I’ve found my motivation fading as the material accelerates and I struggle to understand the increasingly complicated concepts: a common theme, I’m sure, but one that I wasn’t familiar with while studying topics I adored in my major of choice. Combine that with the fact that I haven’t formally worked on math for five years, and the challenge is quite evident.
I’ve been chastising myself for not updating Instagram or this blog, for failing to take outfit photos, for going back on my intentions and my promises for future content – when in reality, like those 1940s women, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. My nails, usually extremely manicured and red-tipped, are currently in an embarrassingly short, chipped state. When I let those go, you really know how tough things are on my own “home front.”
On this blog, I devoted a day to posting eBay finds for y’all and another for showcasing a new me-made garment each week. This week, I’ve failed at both of those, and it’s not the first time. Failure is not something I’m accustomed to, and it’s not something I’m proud of. I’ve come to realize, however, that sometimes it isn’t possible to do everything. In quintessential forties attitude, I must make do and mend.
Women were encouraged to refashion or repair their old, worn clothing rather than buying (or in my case, sewing) completely new garments. I’ve interpreted that to mean that while I may not be able to realistically sew a brand new clothing item each week, I can find inventive ways to repurpose or mix-and-match what I already have. I’d love a larger vintage wardrobe, but right now, it just ain’t gonna happen. Little money and little time are certainly a formidable combination.
I guess this is my way of explaining away my absence in the social media realm lately. When I do post, I’m sure it will be of clothing or outfits that I’ve already showcased before – but that’s okay. The type of blog that features “hauls” or posts frequent professional photoshoots of expensive reproduction brands is exactly what I was reacting to when I created The Homemade Pinup, after all. The Homemade Pinup was, in essence, my answer to what can arguably be considered a commodity-driven, instant gratification, disposable view of fashion.
My intention is not to say that women who have blogs like that are wrong – for all I know, they have likely worked extremely hard for the money to purchase these beauties – but their image is not one I’m familiar with on a personal level. So my goal has always been to be completely real and realistic – to show others out there that there are people like you who don’t or can’t purchase pricy brands or who are unable to get a new dress every week (or even every other week, or every month!). Despite that, a vintage aesthetic is entirely possible and is made even more authentic for the struggle. Just like our foremothers, all it requires of us is a little inventiveness and a lot of grit.
What do you do to maintain your vintage ideals when the going gets tough? I intend to keep up my vintage hair and makeup aesthetic, while finding new ways to incorporate the well-loved but still lovely pieces in my wardrobe. I’d love to hear your suggestions and thoughts – Lord knows I could use all the help I can get! Let’s think of it as the Women’s Fashion Army 😉
Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup || General of the #WomensFashionArmy
P.S. Hashtag that. Seriously. I think I would die of happiness if we made that a thing!