Vintage Clothing in the Modern World
Everything becomes vintage eventually. We have already had a (thankfully) small 1980s revival, and there’s sure to be a time when we’ll be wearing our Global Hypercolor t-shirts and Nike Air Jordans again, just for the hell of it. There are however, some fashions that have stood the test of time and are still popular today; vintage clothing is very much here to stay.
There are charity shops and thrift stores on pretty much every high street nowadays. You used to be able to find many pieces of vintage clothing in these places, but now the clever businesspeople have realised the huge popularity of corsets and bodices amongst others and have created their own little ‘boutique’ stores selling all sorts of Victorian clothing and accessories. If you are on a budget, it can be sometimes wise to steer clear of these shops, or at least ‘shop around’ so that if you do want to buy something you make sure you’re getting it for a good price.
You may still be able to find bits and pieces in good old charity stores and car boot sales. You may be lucky and find some matching tops and skirts, or at least something that comes close. Here are some examples of things that you can pick up in order to achieve a ‘modern’ vintage look.
Burlesque is a very popular genre nowadays thanks to the films ‘Moulin Rouge’ and (more obviously) ‘Burlesque’. The performer Dita von Teese has also given a whole new generation of women – and men – inspiration to bring out their inner tease by dressing up in all manner of revealing outfits. You can find many of the things you need to create your own costume without breaking the bank. You might even have something at home to start you off; maybe a pair of stockings that you’ve never worn, or those heels that you’ve never had the guts to go out in. Vintage stores and charity shops will no doubt have what you’re looking for; look at some photos of burlesque performers for inspiration. A well-fitted corset is the most important thing for that burlesque look so take care to find one the right size. And don’t forget to accessorize; hats, gloves and costume jewellery can all help make your costume a little more unique and a lot more you.
Other popular genres that utilise clothes and fashions from yesteryear are Rockabilly and Steampunk. Neither is as popular as burlesque, but they certainly do have large followings. Rockabilly fashion dates back to 1950s America where the hair was big and the skirts were bigger. There is no strict dress code for the rockabilly, for the women especially. A fitted shirt and a cardigan above the waist were just as popular as something a little more daring like a corset or bodice. Below the belt was a little more pedestrian; big, flouncy skirts to show off when dancing at the local club.
The same goes for steampunk; similar in time period to burlesque (think early Victorian), this style of dress also incorporates bodices and corsets and many other accessories from the time, such as timepieces, parasols and costume jewellery.
It is easy to replicate some of these fashions – try and find some photos of your ideal costume and scour the shops (and the internet!) for what you’re looking for and you may be surprised that you won’t spend as much as you thought.
Ben Gallivan is a big follower of vintage fashions and is often found rooting around in the bargain bins for that special garment. He writes for Corsets AU, a distributor specialising in burlesque and waist training corsets.