I’ve always liked old things “ but I never really had a choice. On Saturday mornings when I was little, my Dad and I would go for breakfast, listen to oldies, and drive around while I heard all about what it was like growing up in our town during the ˜60s and ˜70s.
During the day, if I wasn’t at school, I’d hang out with my Nana, and she’d rent us movies like All About Eve and Roman Holiday, and I’d go through her records while playing dress-up inspired by Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music.
I didn’t have Rollerblades, I had roller skates, and on ˜50s and ˜60s day at school, I brought my Beach Boys tapes with pride, because it was finally my time to shine (it wasn’t “ but whatever; I was wearing peddle-pushers like a damn grown up.)
However, youth is a fickle thing. One minute you’re bragging about owning the Now and Then soundtrack, and the next your parents don’t understand why you’re blasting Xzibit in an attempt to be cool. Old was lame. Pre-internet — and online communities — you liked what was in and, particularly in smaller towns, you’d be ostracized for asking whoever was driving to switch from Ludacris to Fleetwood Mac (though kudos to my friend Erica who once drove us home from the bar and would only play Simon and Garfunkel.)
But wouldn’t you know, the older you get, the less the opinions of anyone who isn’t a best friend or family member matter. My best friends from home and I always championed our individual likes and tastes, but it was when I met one of my now-best pals in university that I was encouraged to like what I liked and to stop caring so much about what was in, cool, or anything other than my personal taste.
Enter: thrift and vintage shopping.
It was a spring day, and Judith “ my aforementioned friend “ and I would rather have fallen into a well and be rescued by a dog than go to class and miss out on the sun and balmy three-degree temperatures. So clearly, we did what any self-respecting 20-something-year-old best friends would do: we skipped school, we got Big Gulps (LIKE IN REALITY BITES), and we went to Value Village. A milestone for me, since days before, I probably would have preferred death to wearing someone else’s used clothes.
But alas, there is a difference between used and vintage. For one, vintage has to be at least 20 years old, and it usually isn’t a Hooters t-shirt with stains on it from 2006. Two, sure, they’ve all been worn, but that’s why washing machines exist. So get over it, me, because things were about to change.
And thus it began. Over time, as opposed to merely the styles, the clothes’ history was what I began to fall in love with. On days after someone had clearly donated their entire wardrobe to a thrift store, you can actually chart eras and piece together over-romanticized (or maybe not) history of who the person was and where they wore their dresses. You can compare fabrics, styles, zippers, and treat every day like a costume party depending on your mood, and if you want to dress up, the option was there.
For me, wearing vintage signifies the first time I’ve been in love with clothes. I’ve always loved shopping, I’ve always loved buying things, and I’ve always loved putting together outfits, but it wasn’t until I was treasure hunting over the last few years did I begin to feel a sense of pride about what I was wearing. I finally feel like myself “ which is ironic considering 99% of the time I’m pieces out of somebody else’s wardrobe.
Wearing what you love is important. And while you may not like vintage the way I do, the lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t stifle what you like, or you’ll never really feel like yourself. So don’t. If you want to deck yourself head-to-toe in rockabilly, do it; if you want to dress like a Boardwalk Empire extra, you go, girl. Just don’t let anyone else set your style mandate. Your clothes are an extension of who you are, and as soon as you wear what you want, what makes you happy, and most importantly, what makes you feel more like yourself “ your most confident self “ the more you’ll be in love with getting dressed every day.
As Drake says, you do you. And if you do love vintage and don’t know where to start, grab a friend, grab some Big Gulps, and try on everything you’re even remotely attracted to. At the very least, you’ll laugh a lot, and realize what you don’t like “ which, after trying on a mid ˜70s dress yesterday, I can say is equally important.
[Photo: “Audrey in Rome” Exhibition for the 50th Anniversary of the Film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” | PRPhotos]