How Wearing Vintage Changed Me

Vintage Laundry Pin Up

I have never been particularly domestic. I was lucky enough to marry someone who is more than happy to cook for us and do a lot of the chores that bore me to death (that being said, I am sure they bore him too). I used to have a philosophy with clothes. If they couldn’t survive the washer and dryer, it wasn’t meant to be and until I started TAFE this year I couldn’t really iron. I had a tendency to either iron in more creases or burn/melt clothing. When I was working hubby used to iron my shirts for me. We also survived just fine in three houses (before this one) that had no clothes line as we always used our dryer.

I was also terribly unhappy in my own appearance. Like so many other women (who have been bombarded with a lifetime of media that tells us exactly how we should look) I had very low self-esteem. Bullying at high school led me to dress like everyone else for fear of having even more attention drawn to myself. I tried fake tanning (as with real sun I just turn bright red, peel and then end up pale again), I lived in jeans and t-shirts, I fried my hair trying to make it straight and I was miserable.

Oh how things have changed. At the moment I have a line full of vintage dresses that have been handwashed (on a clothes line that isn’t covered in spider webs), and when they are dry I will be ironing them. Some of them need mending so I will hand sew what I can, and set up the machine tomorrow to do the rest. I am learning what each fabric needs. I no longer have shrunken knits – as I handwash all my woollen knits and then lay them flat to dry. I am learning how different fabrics need to be treated. I am learning things that a few decades ago every woman knew. I love my clothes so much and I want them to last as long as possible.

But it wasn’t just becoming more domesticated. What started with one pencil skirt has turned into a wardrobe of beautiful things that make me happy when I wear them. I never felt “me” in jeans and a t-shirt. Not only do I feel fabulous when I walk out the door in a beautiful vintage dress, fully fashioned stockings and a fabulous hat – I feel like I am saying I am perfectly happy just how I am. I am no longer trying to hide. I dress for me. For how it makes me feel. It gave me confidence. I get compliments all the time and it also taught me to accept them. To thank people instead of responding by pointing out all my flaws.

One of the hardest things I had to deal with was the difference between my bust/hip measurements. The mega boobs made it almost impossible to find clothes that fit me properly. Vintage (at least in the eras I am interested in) is cut differently. If I find something that fits my boobs, it almost always fits perfectly in the waist. For so long I hated my body as my mega boobs not only made shopping harder, but they drew unwanted attention. I hated my body so much.

Today things are different. I feel more confidence in myself. I am not afraid of people noticing me. I have learnt how to look after clothing properly. I have become passionate about living more minimally (with the exception of my ever growing collection of hats…). When I get dressed I am always happy with how I look. I no longer hate my body (which has led to me lovingly caring for it instead of trying to starve it and torture it into submission).

So ladies, how has wearing vintage changed you?

Miss Fairchild xoxo

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42 Responses to How Wearing Vintage Changed Me

  1. nessbow says:

    I love this post. I’ve honestly never thought about how wearing vintage has changed me. I suppose that, like you mentioned, it’s given me more appreciation of the care that needs to be invested in making special items last. I’ve also learned a huge amount about the political and social backgrounds of many of the styles and clothes that I love, because I’ve done a lot of research into the eras and movements that inspire me the most.

    I think that wearing vintage has also made me feel more confident and sexy. While it’s true that I feel sexy in other types of clothes, there’s nothing quite like a pencil skirt and a cute sweater to make me feel like a total bombshell!

    I can’t even imagine you in jeans! You just look so at home and happy in vintage. The day my mother met you, she couldn’t stop going on and on about how fantastic your outfit was!

    • I agree totally – there is something about a pencil skirt and a fitted sweater that just makes me feel like a bombshell…even though so much of me is covered.

      Awwww…thank your mum for me!

  2. I love this post, I’m so happy for you confidence is so hard to find. I wish more women could learn to be happy with their bodies. You look fabulous in all your beautiful clothes!
    I love vintage because it is not just clothing. It’s a collection and a hobby that can be enjoyed in everything you do, be it buying it, wearing it, taking care of it and sharing it.
    I agree with you about the fit, vintage clothing fits me much better than modern clothing.
    I don’t think wearing vintage has changed me, but I know it makes me feel happy, feminine and elegant, especially after my two babies changed my body so much.

  3. Alex says:

    I could have written this post. I was bullied a little in school (lol…I went through a phase of copying my girlfriends and one night at a school disco wore an ugly white early 90’s dress, my bestfriend wore an almost IDENTICAL dress and my bully walked up to me & told me I was ugly in ‘that’ dress and then complimented my bestfriend…WTF..idjit). Anyway…it took me a long time to go…you know what f*ck what other people think, I am tired of trying to fit in and being so uncomfortable. I dress vintage and holy cow…the compliments!!!! I average at least 1 a week, from strangers and it feels fantastic.

    I get excited about my dresses and yeah..I HANDWASH!!!! I am learning to sew so I can make some vintage styled clothing and I couldn’t be happier.

    I also started with pencil skirts that I would wear to work and cropped cardigans – acceptable office attire and now I am a stay at home mum I go nuts and to be quite honest I don’t think I could dumb down my style to try and fit in. This is how I am, I am happy and I get a kick out of choosing my outfit for the day and what hairstyle will work with my clothing (or vice versa).

    • ((((((hugs)))))) It is such a feeling of empowerment to step out of the shadows and dress purely for your own self indulgence and to feel fabulous. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us 😀

  4. I always love your outfits, hair and hats! Though I definitely need to be more disciplined with hand washing!

  5. Sigh! Lovely! Vintage has taught me some really important stuff:

    1. Just because I’m Asian, I don’t have to adopt the rockabilly/punk vintage look – I can stay with the genuine ladylike look and feel great 🙂
    2. All sizes are indeed okay – vintage clothing don’t really work like modern sizing so as long as you’re willing to do some measurements you’ll be fine.
    3. Vintage has taught me how to sew! Unbelievable! I can now make my own clothes and have ridiculous number of vintage patterns.
    4. Vintage is fun. Dressing up is fun. Dressing up is for yourself – make yourself feel great and ignore what others think.

  6. Awesome post Jess! I’m so glad that wearing vintage had allowed you to feel more comfortable and “you”.. It’s funny, I actually have a note in my phone to remind me to write a post on this exact subject! I think I’m going to have to do that because otherwise I’ll end up writing you an essay on the subject!

    Wearing vintage and also clothes I’ve sewn myself has definitely helped me with a lot of my body issues. It also makes me feel interesting.. Whenever I get it into my head that I’m a big ol’ bore (one of my big silly mental tricks I like to stress myself out with.. Ugh) I do my hair, put on a vintage outfit and go for a walk.. People have very funny reactions to seeing someone make that kind of effort, I love seeing their faces and occasionally talking to them about it!

    • Oh yay – I can’t wait to read your blog post on the subject. Reading everyone’s comments on this post has just made me so happy. Thanks so much for sharing beautiful.

  7. Hannah says:

    I am so glad vintage has given you the confidence you deserve. You are awesome!

  8. Matilda says:

    This is lovely to read, I am really happy for you! With the risk of writing way too much, I am now going to tell you how wearing vintage changed me… Hm, long story short – I was never really girly, I was bullied in school so my confidence was like not extisting & I’ve always had a very flat chest, so needless to say I have never really felt good-looking or like a woman. BUT when I started wearing more old style a la 50-60’s (especially when I do my hair too) I really feel like I look good & sexy. & when I wear it I feel like a woman! It’s a lovely feeling to have. I don’t wear vintage every day, but when I do… I feel like a confident woman.

  9. I love this! I started wearing vintage a year ago when my therapist encouraged me to dress up because it would help with my self-image. I realized I love vintage clothes and so I started changing over my wardrobe. The two big effects have been 1) feeling beautiful, which leads to feeling confident and happy, and 2) not caring what other people think. You have to really get used to staring, comments, and even criticism when you wear vintage outfits and it’s been good for me to learn to not give a shit about it.

  10. Teresa says:

    Wonderful post Jess and it’s so interesting to see how everyone, including myself, feels wearing vintage has given them more self confidence.

    I was a complete grungy jeans wearer in high school. It was a lot of the style (and music) at the time but it was also an outfit that let me hide. I love how vintage has led me into a world where I am more comfortable with my style (which has evolved over time).

  11. The Quirky Quaintrelle says:

    Yet another inspirational post, Jess! I’ve only recently started indulging in vintage and rockabilly style, and each time I dress this way I feel incredibly feminine and empowered. I appreciate the positive reactions I get from people but most importantly, I love the way *I* feel about me. Brand new, wonderfully esteem building feelings. And it’s thanks to gorgeous bloggers like you that I’ve had the courage to give this a go. Thank you xo

  12. This post is so marvelous, dear Jess. I too find that vintage clothing has changed, and improved my life in many ways. For starters, wearing it gives me most confidence (self-esteem and self-confidence are two things I’ve struggled with my whole life) than 99% of modern clothing can even begin to, because I love it more, and in turn, because I love it, I feel more confident when I wear it.

    Sporting vintage also indulges my passion for dressing up – something that means all the more to me when I’m not able to leave the house everyday (or sometimes, even every month) because of my health. Dressing up, sporting vintage, and taking time to think about my outfits (planning them in advance, selecting on my accessories for each look, etc) helps me think less about my health and brings me such joy. I see every vintage outfit I’m able to sport as a way of telling my health that it hasn’t won completely (which is how I’ve always felt about vintage blogging, too).

    ♥ Jessica

  13. Trish Hunter says:

    What a great post Jess!! So glad you feel this way!! What a great feeling. It’s really changed your life! it did the same for me. Everyone who discovers the love of vintage are the luckiest people in the world. Xx

  14. urban hounds says:

    I absolutely love this post. With your discussion of your body issues you sum up every thing I love about vintage. I admit Im still not very domestic, though I love to cook and confession I cant iron, still. Im so scared of burning or melting I bought a steamer and I do a lot of dry cleaning. I have to figure out how to hand wash now though as I have so many gloves. I never really liked my own appearnce much either. I loved vintage clothes but was a bit shy to wear them. Then when I turned 35 this year I decided life is to short not to wear exactly what you love and I dress in vintage every day. I feel much happier with my appearance and more confident. Now I wear an outlandish hat no problem.

    kate the old fashioned way

  15. deb Clark says:

    Love all the comments, and though I wasn’t bullied at school, I did not have much confidence (braces, bad skin, short hair and long, mother made uniforms) and did want to conform and be ‘in’ – I really didn’t do vintage. It took me until 40 to dress for myself, and some days I still think twice before wearing vintage.
    I have always been a bit OCD when it comes to laundry – I used to colour co-ordinate the pegs to the clothes – and I love the satisfaction of ironing a hand washed, line dried dress. I started with vintage through necessity (and being a greenie) at thrift shops. Now that I work and and five kids, most of my dresses are easy care poly or rayon, some vintage, some thrifted, some new. I am better groomed that I used to be – nice dresses need makeup and hair done – which I do every morning, even if I am at home – It’s hot here so most days the hair is up in a french roll with some flowers tucked in. I usually get compliments for this, which is nice, though I do it for myself.
    I throw on shorts and a tshirt to do the gardening or walk the dogs, but it doesn’t feel me anymore. I am aiming to make some vintage style shorts and playsuits for summer – and I need some more hats! (have you done a hat tutorial?)
    Anyway, lots of babble – really vintage has changed me in how I am a mother – I want my kids to be free to wear what ever they want, what ever colour combination they want, and what ever makes them feel good. We usually get their clothes at the op -shop, so they can experiment, chop them up and re-fashion etc.
    ♥ Deb

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story lovely.

      Our girls love op shopping and given how quickly they go through clothes I am very glad about it! But I love that they can experiment this way (instead of with fast fashion which just hurts everyone).

  16. Jennifer says:

    This is such a great post, you’ve given me so much food for thought. It’s been awesome to see this transition on you, I feel like I’ve watched you turn into a much happier person as you turned into a vintage fashionista. It’s amazing how by dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable can affect you in so many ways.

    Figuring out my own style is a never-ending journey for me. Sometimes I look at people like you who have such a defined sense of style and I get a bit jealous, but I’m far too changeable to stick to one thing! I wear vintage dresses, t-shirts and jeans, blazers and pencil skirts, basically everything under the sun. But it makes me happy and that’s what’s most important!

    Much love to you xx

    • Awwww thank you lovely. It is nice to hear from someone who has “known” me for a lot longer than this blog has been around.

      Wear whatever makes you happy is my mantra – and if your “style” changes daily that’s awesome.

  17. Harlow says:

    Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I wasn’t happy with myself either because I looked at todays clothes and felt that I had to have a flat up and down boy body to fit in. Every time I tried the clothes that were “in” they just looked bad on my body because they weren’t flattering at all! These days I walk past those clothes at the shops and shudder! I discovered vintage through blogs (mainly Super Kawaii Mama’s blog) and although I don’t wear actual vintage, I am so happy to have the option of wearing vintage reproduction. I’ve never been happier!

    • I felt the same. I was just too curvy (even at a size 10) to wear modern clothes.

      As long as you are happy with what you wear that is all that matters (also I am not a “purist” vintage repro, vintage inspired, vintage, second hand ect is all welcome on my blog).

  18. Helga says:

    This is one of the best posts ever!
    I love your story,and have loved reading everyone elses! It seems such a wonderfully simple thing, how dressing more beautifully can make one feel a whole lot better about oneself, but clearly, it has been quite a transition for many.
    As for me, well, I was wearing vintage in my late teens, when I got into Goth, and was into 60’s and 70’s hostess frocks, albeit only in black! But I never thought of it as “wearing vintage”! I’ve worn vintage ever since, and still never really thought about it was “wearing vintage”! I just like old clothes! I don’t mind new ones, (only bought secondhand) but I find old ones fit me better-like you, I have the mega boob issue!
    Luckily, I’ve never really been unhappy with myself, or my body (apart from the huge booboids; I got a lot of shit at school over those) and somehow I was oblivious to peer sneers…not sure how that happened, but I am thankful. I certainly get my share of smart arse remarks for just looking different, but I can generally ignore them! I’ve experimented with a gazillion different looks over the years, and mix my eras like a loon, but I’m happy! I love the ever expanding community, and have met more like minded people since I’ve been blogging than ever before, and that has given me a lot more confidence, which was waning a bit as I was (am) getting older….I think that’s what the current subculture (if it IS indeed that?!) of wearing vintage has done for me.
    Would love to see your hat collection….I have a rather extensive one and I have NO IDEA how that happened.

  19. lovely post! thanks.
    i wear vintage kind of my whole life … hippie style in the early 90s, later 60s mod fashion … then during my university era, i mixed vintage with pieces from ‘today’, later i played around with my ‘hate years’, the 80s … but i always was in love with the 50s because of the wide skirts and the tiny waists … denim pants from high street shops don’t fit me. there is a difference of 30 cm between my wide hips and my tiny waist. so i always wore a lot of flared skirts and dresses, because it fitted much better. i always adored the fashion from the 50s. …
    in my early bloggerette years i never dared to wear those old old pieces from the 40s-early 60s in daily life till i spent 4 months at home with a broken foot, not knowing if it ever would heal again properly. in this time i started buying more and more super vintage dresses … and when i went back to work i wore them, every day, not waiting for a special occasion. every day you’re healthy is a special occasion!
    wearing super vintage changed my washing habits: i spent hours sitting in front of my washing machine, just to find out if the old pieces had survived the hand wash or wool wash program. i ruined more pieces by washing them in the bath tub by hand, than washing them gently and cold in the machine.

    • Thanks so much lovely for sharing your story.

      I think I would definitely use the washing machine more if we didn’t have such an old clunker. It has shredded through numerous delicates wash bags….pretty sure it would kill the actual clothes 😦

  20. Beth Muir says:

    ❤ This post fills me with so much vintage love.

    I don't stick to a particular era, and also mix a heap of second-hand modern clothes into my look. I have a love affair with vogue fashion, and always felt kind of raw that i couldn't have the nice clothes in the magazine with my budget, or that the cheap fast fashion take on trends didn't suit me. Studying styling gave me more knowledge about the influence of past eras, and a better understanding of quality. I started hunting on ebay to get second hand designer pieces, which evolved into hunting down vintage pieces. I have everything from the 40s to now in my wardrobe.

    I've pretty much always been good at washing in ironing (I actually don't iron anymore unless the man needs a shirt, which is never. I have a steamer. J'adore), but the amount i do it has changed, as obviously when you invest in quality clothes you take more time to look after them.

    Like you I have had some serious self esteem issues in the past, but vintage clothes make me feel glamourous even at my heaviest weight yet, and I love that i don't have to 'size up' to accomodate my girls. I am also learning to machine sew, and trying to learn to make lace! I never used to care much about fabric composition, but now I almost look at the composition tag before I look at the garment properly! I love that I can buy and shop as much as I want and not feel guilty, as almost everything I buy is second-hand (and the rest tends to be from local designers).

    Anyway, I shared this on my stores Facebook page. Thank you for sharing and making my night!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story here (and for sharing it on your facebook!). It has been such a wonderful experience reading everyone’s vintage stories.

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