Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not at home

Lately I haven't been feeling myself. I know a lot of that definately stems from stress and worry, but there's also been something little niggling away.

Recently I have felt like I'm frumpy and undesirable. It started with a woman I work with saying to me, 'Oh you're carrying Nanna's bag' with a little nasty smirk. While I was wearing my colourful 60s wool wiggle dress, she remarked that she used to have something like it when she was young, but wasn't much fussed on it. She also asked why I was wearing a housewife dress another time.

Only this weekend someone said to me while I admired a cute floral dress with fitted torso and two frills running from shoulder to waist with a tie waist at the back that I dressed 'conservative'. It was insisted that it meant nothing other than that I don't show much skin. The irony is of course that calling me conservative felt like a bit of joke. I'm dressed so completely opposite to my peers, so far from their tank tees, coloured bra straps on show, muffin tops (an accessory all on their own) and tattered jeans (to the ballet) that it seems almost an insult.

That same person, only the weekend before, insisted that my Alice McCall dress was their favorite I had worn because it showed a bit more skin. That dress should make me feel marvellous, fashionable and glam, I admit, just like it did when I wore it to the Coco Avant Chanel premiere last year, but it doesn't suit me at all anymore to the point I am considering selling it.

A few weeks back of course, a male I know said to me, 'It's ok to dress 2010 not 1940 you know' after a speech about how showing some cleavage wouldn't hurt. Aside from, obviously, my long-standing view that not showing your assets is much more attractive (thank you Joan Holloway for holding up this view in the Sterling Cooper office), it made me feel overwhelmingly upset. It shouldn't. The 1940s were a very lovely period for clothing, thank you very much. But ouchies it was all the same. Even my parents get in on the act, criticising my choice in hats, and especially in clothes. Only a fortnight ago, my Dad asked if my Gran was going to get her dress back, and if I hung out with any other grannies.

Suddenly these comments has compacted. The modern dress I felt so uncomfortable in was welcomed, and the clothes that feel like second nature, in fact, like second skin, make people a little derisive. People aren't just criticising the way I dress, they are criticising me, whether they realise it or not.

I will clarify that I don't mind standing out. I don't mind being different, I like it when people say to me, 'That's a nice dress/skirt/shirt/belt etc' and I can feel grateful to say, 'Oh it's vintage. I picked it up on etsy/at this store'. But it seems this theme is cropping up so often that it has really shaken my sense of faith in my own wardrobe and style. I suddenly feel like that awkward teen that knew school mufti day was coming up and knew in an instant that I had no sense of style, and no idea how to look 'good'. I always ended up in random pieces that were hastily bought the day before, with no clue whether they even worked. Lately I feel like things have really taken my joy out of dressing, and what is the point of fashion if you can't enjoy the ritual of dressing?

Anyway, I am sorry to be giving you this spiel, but of everywhere to say this, where more appropriate than here, among friends? I am grateful for the support of my fewmreaders, and the vintage blogging community which reaffirms that it's ok to be different and to be yourself. Hopefully, soon, I will feel like myself again.

Love WTP x

(As a side story, I wore this outfit to a fashion parade a few weeks back. I love the dress the most, who knew a cheapy dress would just keep on being so fabulous and timeless? Dress: SES - Vintage Beaded Necklace: Tresors - 60s silver charm bracelet: Thrifted - Bag: Collette Accessories)


Pretty Little Pictures said...

Wow, I don't quite know what to say other than that I think you are a beautiful and kind person who has an amazing sense of dress.

I was totally the same on mufti day, jeans and t-shirt were the go to.

I'm lucky that I have a supportive fiance who loves the way I dress, but I also get down in the dumps when people stare at me on the street or when I see some blonde bombshell walking down the street rocking the latest trends. When that happens I always feel dowdy and unattractive.

However, I've just started doing a new thing when that does happen. I look for someone on the street who has their own style, who stands out from the crowd and who aren't wearing the latest trends. You'd be surprised at how much that helps and makes you feel better about how you are dressed.

And if you are in a situation where someone has made a nasty comment to you, just remember all of your favourite vintage bloggers and imagine what they would do in a similar situation. I find that helps alot too - pretending you are one of them :)

Not sure I helped much at all, but looking forward to dinner soon :)


janiece said...

What a rude bunch! The irony is that *they* are the conservative ones, as they can’t think outside the square and are confronted by anything different.

As a big fan of nanna things (clothes, accessories, furniture, homewares etc etc) I have had those comments too over the years. I guess it has made me a bit paranoid at times, but one trick was to always mix it up with something a bit funky and edgy (which obviously only works if one is not a 100% vintage purist).

I think you always look gorgeous, and about as far from frumpy as it gets. When has boobs not hanging out = frumpy? That’s a twisted way of thinking.

I think that Pretty Little Pictures’s strategy of thinking of/looking out for other individual types with strong senses of style (and even looking at their pics – maybe save some on your phone for such crises) would help for sure. Also, congratulate yourself that you actually stand out from the crowd and are not another unimaginative sheep.

Keep looking fabulous and true to yourself – don’t let the ignoramuses win!

Sam said...

Oh my! Where do I begin? First of all, not only are these people totally out of line (Hey - why don't we all comment on their sense of - non existent - "style"?) they are also exceptionally rude. I too am a "demure" (?) dresser. I wear shin length skirts always and don't show cleavage. I used to get a bit of grief about not wearing pants until one day I said "Look, I don't wear them OK? Why don't you bully someone else?" It immediately stopped. These people are bullies in my opinion and you should treat them as such. Particularly that man! Although, it's possible he fancies you too and is trying to be flirty/ personal but it just comes off as oafish and offensive.

You are to be treasured and nutured Ellen! Your sense of style and flare is like a beacon of light amongst the murky waters of current fashion! Thesedays, everything is either shapeless and grey or too tight, tarty and short. Seriously, you need to forget about them and their rudeness - you are a gem! XOXO

Louise said...

Haven't these people heard the classic saying 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.' I think Aussies in particular are afraid of people who dress a bit differently. Things are changing, but young guys tend to want a girl that dresses just like their mates girlfriends do, and all the girls want to be one of those on the arms of those boys. Sad, but true. Just be sure that there are millions of people out there who are delighted by the way you dress and your individual style. And most importantly, one of those people is you.

lauren said...

Oh Ellen, this post made me so sad. And also quite angry. I wish we could talk about this in person, but I just want to tell you that you should hold fast to your personal style no matter what weird feedback comes at you. People are naturally threatened by "otherness" in general and their comments about you only serve to reflect their own insecurities. You are gorgeous and infinitely classy with amazing taste all around.

I have been wearing vintage since I was 15 and caught my fair share of flack, but I can honestly say that it's only fortified my individuality and made me love my personal style moreso.

You've got it all right and put any comments to the contrary right out of your mind, seriously.

♡ Lauren

Shallow Mallow said...

Yuch. Is it just me or is it always the blandest women of all time giving these sort of backhanders/only joking comments?

I must admit I am rather bitchy when I get these. I just put on the faintest of smiles and look them up and down like I am all high and mighty LOL If you don't mind being as mean as them, trust me this one will do to their confidence what they're aiming to do to yours.

My Mom can be funny like this. She always enjoyed dressing me up as a kid and as I grew up she started to encourage me to wear low cut blouses and super mini skirts. *roll eyes* I keep on telling her I am just not comfortable but by her reckoning if you have the body you must show it. Blargh. Her weapon of choice is the "oh you look so young today, your clothes make you look old" comment. Why thanks Mom. I am so sorry I don't dress like I am your fashion doll.

The thing is "chastity" has little to do with it for me. There is nothing wrong with showing a bit of flesh IMO only it 's not for me. I wonder whether people assume I must be judging them because my concept of fashion is so radically different to theirs? Maybe that 's why they get in there first. Hmmm..

Anyway - you look lovely. Leave the scores of boring Miss & Mr Average to conform with current trends. It 's not like there 's a shortage of interchangeable looks all around us. The style that comes naturally for you looks GREAT. So don't cast off your second skin ;)

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