It’s not just depictions of fashion in films, television and magazines that influence people’s vintage style. Never underestimate the influence that strong female characters from your favourite novels can have over your daily reinvention.
Romanticised and idolised by readers everywhere, The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan is regarded as one of the greatest heroines of twentieth century literature. Holly Golightly, adapted for the screen beyond recognition from her creation by Truman Capote in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is far from perfect, and yet she is hailed as a goddess due to her elusive and alluring nature.
Why do characters such as these twentieth century literary icons captivate us so intently? Besides their obviously killer wardrobes, they choose to recreate themselves from pieces of their past into something different that’s often experimental but always a definitive escape. Our lives may not mirror theirs, our reasons for wanting to become someone else may not be quite as dramatic or literary, but the desire to transform, if only for a short period of time, can be found in everyone.
Just as much as reading a good book is a part of everyday life, so is waking up each day and deciding who you want to be. We’re lucky that we get the opportunity to reinvent ourselves every single day. We can wake up, put on some high-waisted trousers and style some victory rolls in our hair and feel like we stepped out of the 1940s. We can go to the high street and find ‘50s inspired dresses for a family wedding or ‘20s inspired flapper dresses for office parties. Which is not to say vintage is absolute - it’s not a case of whether you are either 'vintage' or not - there are a multitude of outlets that have enabled dressing up to not just be dressing up. Why save your best for special occasions? You should feel your best every day, so wear what makes you happy and dress to the nines whenever you can. Websites such as ASOS allow the user to search by decade; type in 1970s into the search bar and you’re rewarded with a plethora of items that are just a click away. The beauty lies in the subtle influences to eras gone by. You can add them to your everyday look, or you can go all out.
The fact is you can choose to find inspiration and implicate it in any way you wish, and that is the beauty, aesthetically and otherwise, of vintage finds. Each item you wear adds a little story to your own, brings a piece of history to the present, and reminds you of the background of the item of clothing during your daily life. All of these things are part of the persona you are creating every day when you get dressed. What’s available to us on the high street, in vintage shops, on eBay - wherever we choose to shop - allows people to either allude to the past, or to fully recreate it. The literary heroines that influence us not only infiltrate our wardrobes, but also inspire us to try something new in our everyday lives.
Of course, the other argument that constantly crops up is how do we define what a vintage piece of clothing is: do we have to find a dress from the ‘20s to actually feel like Daisy Buchanan? It’s a discussion that I often have with my friends about how to best distinguish between second-hand, vintage-inspired and vintage. My day to day outfits normally consist of 1940s trousers and high-waisted skirts (vintage), paired with old T-shirts I've inherited from my dad and younger brother (vintage), charity shop jewellery (vintage) and my grandma's handbags (vintage). But is it that easy to achieve a vintage look? The T-shirts from my dad and brother are from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and therefore vintage by default, but realistically they probably fall into the second-hand category as they were generously donated to me (ahem, I stole them) after they stopped wearing them. And yet, the argument is null and void. The trick is to translate vintage however you want. Old clothing, in whatever shape and from whatever decade, can be interpreted however you wish. Survey the clothes available and use them to your advantage; it shouldn’t feel like hard work. Red lipstick alone instantly feels '40s, and a slick of eyeliner lets you have a Twiggy moment. You can build your vintage inspired look from whatever base you want. It's never been easier to infuse vintage into your everyday life, and it’s never been clearer that you can wear what you want to wear and therefore be exactly who you want to be.