I often think about being born in another era; it’s easy to idolise the glamour of the 20s and 30s, the elegance of the 40s, the dreamy silhouettes of the 50s, the sweet shifts of the 60s… It makes me drool! I’m nostalgic for the days before mass-produced clothes in made-up sizes. Last week I bought something two dresses – one in a size 10, the other a size 16 – and one was a ‘close fit’ (as my mother put it) and the other is roomy. No prizes for guessing which was which!
I’m not much for modern trends. Leggings-bum is strictly for lazy Saturdays after a game of hockey or for cleaning the house. Call me old-fashioned but leggings on their own do not constitute an outfit. And while we’re at it, fringing makes me uncomfortable. Trainer-heels make me gag. Ripped jeans are just not for me.
Loving vintage clothing doesn’t equate agreement with everything else we’ve, rightly, left behind. Moving on from girdles is right for some people. Moving away from traditionally gendered clothes is right. Moving away from skinny jeans and t-shirts with prints of places I’ve never been is right for me. I feel more me in a floral dress than boyfriend cut jeans, and that’s ok.
Just because I feel amazing in 50’s housewife get-ups doesn’t mean I’m nostalgic for all-male breadwinners or a 2.4 kids lifestyle. But beautiful clothes make me smile. The act of dressing up is a rush for me, true, but so does going to vote, earning my wages with hard work and talking about mental illness openly.
If my relationship with the 21st century had a Facebook status it would be ‘it’s complicated’. I don’t idealise the 40s as a Golden Era, but it would be divine to go to a dance to meet people and have a face-to-face romance. The slow ways are sometimes the best. Dating apps and websites give me the no feeling. We learn to be impatient and it makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, I love the immediacy of talking to friends online, I love catch-up TV, I love taking selfies but instant gratification only lasts so long. How connected are we really? There are nostalgic movements and groups all over now because we miss human contact and the old ways. It’s not because they were perfect, but at least it was more real.
Maybe, then, it’s not the 21st century I feel disconnected from, but other people and myself. I can’t be unborn or sent back in time, but I can switch off, read more books, live slower. It’s become more difficult, but nothing’s impossible. Not in this day and age.