Vintage When the Going Gets Tough

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.)

Ruffled Rambler Advance 5563

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.

Victory Job

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.

WASP Pilots Women Working

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.

Land Army63_24_3a

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.

Plant a Victory GardenCanning

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!

14 thoughts on “Vintage When the Going Gets Tough

  1. I love this whole notion! I can relate to the feeling of wanting to be able to update your blog, but having real life get in the way. And I love the way you’ve put it into context! While my focus is not entirely on wearing vintage, I also want to show my readers something “real and realistic,” just like you said. And I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing the same garments over again! That is how real people wear their clothes, isn’t it? If anything, I enjoy seeing the different ways that the same dress or skirt can be styled. I will totally join your army 🙂


    • “Real life” can be frustrating, can’t it? I’m glad you appreciated my post. I also love seeing how people can change the look of the same garment from outfit to outfit! I’m happy to have you in my “army” 😉


  2. There’s one hard and fast fashion rule I live by: always get dressed for breakfast. I find that pyjamas seem to encourage laziness in me and the best way to deal with that is to get out of the robe and jammies and into something a little classy.

    Good luck with your statistics class! I hope it doesn’t keep you away from the things you enjoy too much longer.


    • GREAT rule, Katie! I do enjoy my first cup of tea in the morning in my nightgown, but I always try to get upstairs quickly after to make myself ready for the day. If I’m dressed nicely, like you said, I feel guilty sitting around 😉 Thank you for your comment!


  3. Well said! I am reading a book called Fashion on the Ration and it’s really inspiring. It has made me try and be more inventive with what I have already and that includes using up my stash of fabrics! Great photos too – thanks for sharing them. 🙂


  4. Love this post. for me this encapsulates what vintage is about. Fr me it’s not just a fashion style, but a mindset. It’s why I called my blog Kaitlyn’s Simply Vintage. I want to embody that make do and mend attitude. It doesn’t mean I dress in perfect reproduction or expensive outfits. It means I use what I have to make a life I want to live.
    Best of luck with the statistics


    • That is exactly my thinking, Kaitlyn. Make do and mend wasn’t only useful then, during the rationing, but I believe it’s just as important and relevant nowadays (or should be!). Thank you so much for your comment.


  5. Extremely well put. I too find it a bit hard to relate to women who seem to have an endless supply of new vintage-inspired clothing they post. It’s all very beautiful, but speaks to a sort of consumerism that I got into vintage to try to avoid. Good luck with your refashioning and your statistics.


  6. Really loved this post and all the pitures. I wish you the best of luck for graduating (I will graduate next year as well). And I really think you make the very best of what you have, your outfits are always inspiring. I don’t really mind, if things aren’t 100 % authentic (obviously lots of print I love are not), but that you put your heart into it, stay real & realistic, and I really think the make do and mend is more “authentic vintage” than dressing 100 % in vintage goods (though it would be great, too).


    • Thanks, Kathi! It’s looking like I won’t be finished with school for some months now (I made a hard decision to attempt to withdraw from this course, and take a different one in the fall… my first “drop” in my four years of college >,<), but I feel better despite that. Thank you very much, I really appreciate your kind words. I completely agree that making do with what we have can be even more vintage than the vintage garments themselves!


  7. I couldn’t agree with you more about us women who love the look and feel of our vintage lives and wardrobes who just aren’t able to spend ungodly amounts of money on the newest pinup girl dress or the best bakelite bangle or brooch. Sure, I’d love to be able to splurge every now and then but what has always really attracted me to the vintage aesthetic has been the mind set behind it. For me, I have created my vintage(ish) wardrobe completely from thrift store hunting and making it myself. My life and finances just aren’t conducive t/> all those amazing vintage reproduction companies, and that is ok. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they are there and I’m happy for those who can afford it but it just isn’t me. I’m perfectly happy to sew my own skirts and knit my own sweaters and get creative to make my own novelty brooches.

    Cherry Darling, She Knits in Pearls


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