Blog mission: Vintage for the real world

I was raised on old movies, fishing shows and country music. Thank goodness only one of them took.

Years of old movies and 1950s television fostered my love of vintage styles. One of my first purchases was a beautiful late-1940s tweed suit. At a reasonable $80, that glorious tweed was a better quality than anything I could have afforded new.

It was my only suit, and I wore it to the interview for what ended up being my first job out of college.

I was tall and painfully thin then. Five feet 9½ inches, to be precise, and probably less than 125 pounds. My waistline was maybe 27 inches at most. Make no mistake, I was technically underweight, thus I could actually find a lot of vintage pieces that fit.

So vintage fit my style, my body and my budget 20 years ago. But that’s no longer quite the case.

Vintage still fits my style, but prices have increased significantly for what are basically used clothes, and my waistline — well let’s just say it’s no longer 27 inches.

So where does that leave my affinity for vintage fashion?

I entered the mom years with more pressing things to think about than vintage. Like trying to find tall size maternity pants that were suitable to wear for my middle-management job. No easy task, let me assure you. Once the expando-pants were no longer necessary, practical clothes that were easy wash and wear became paramount.

But the kids are older now and quite a bit less likely to spit up on me as I head to work. And I have found my way back to vintage, but not the vintage of my slender youth. I’m not terribly interested in clothes that don’t fit well, and I’ve never been particularly interested in maintaining a full vintage look.

Fleur de Guerre of Diary of a Vintage Girl did a wonderful post on dressing against the flow that includes advice on how to start small with a vintage look. Starting small and ending medium is about the right mix for me. It plays out like this:

  1. Buy new clothing and shoes with a reference to vintage styles.
  2. Mix in modern pieces that play well with other eras.
  3. Wear hats as appropriate.
  4. Sew vintage styles from genuine or reproduction vintage patterns.

The first three are well in hand and have been for years, but the fourth is what will bring it all together. There’s a spot where vintage style, clothing that is practical for daily life, and garments that fit overlap. Sitting at the center of that Venn diagram of fashion is my sewing machine. And that’s where this blog comes in.

My mission is to use sewing to explore vintage styles are practical for the real world.

Right now I’m working on a couple of reproduction patterns. On the way to my house from What I Found Vintage Patterns are a couple of 1940s dress patterns that are not remotely my size. My plan for fall is to make my own tweed suit from a 1940s reproduction pattern.

Expanding my sewing skills in pursuit of styles from the movies and TV shows I was raised on is much more appealing to me at this point of my life than going through racks of clothes or tons of Etsy pages in a disheartening search for something that will fit and flatter my figure.

It’s not pure vintage, but it’s my vintage. And it’s fun to be back.

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