Thursday, 26 August 2010

Get out of my nostalgic world - confessions of a retro snob?

I'd have this lot as vintage door dragons....

One of my nicest vintage friends has been getting some flak, undeservedly, for producing a measured personal account of her experience working at a certain recent purportedly vintage festival. Now I didn’t attend said festival and this post is not about it, I reserve judgement and maybe I’ll go next time. I do have something to say however about a comment, unfounded, concerning vintage ‘snobbery’.

I am coming out as a vintage snob. I am not the kind of person who believes in absolute authenticity. Good luck to you if your entire outfit was hand sewn by prisoners of war using needles fashioned from downed Messerschmidts. Quite probably you look great. But so does the girl wearing the Next vintagey dress and new look shoes that look just the same as yours. So it’s not a ‘purist’ snobbery.

Nor is it that kind of ‘I have been doing this for years’ snobbery. That shows commitment true, but not superiority. Someone who has just got into it all is a joy. The more the merrier. And if they decide next year they prefer the 80’s? It matters not and they may sell their dresses, hopefully to me, for next to nothing. So it’s not a ‘lets bash the newbie’ snobbery.

I don’t have that ‘but that isn’t period style!’ attitude. If people have gone to town, dressed up in their favourite things and are looking forward to an event, superb. It doesn’t matter if it is a contemporary minimal cocktail dress. If someone has gone for their own version of fancy pants and they feel good: great. Bring on the sequin dresses and halston inspired silky jumpsuits. Glamour is, as Gordon Gekko should have said, good. So I’m not a ‘period’ snob.

So what is my snobbery? Simply that I really really don’t want jeans, trainers, T shirts and fancy dress in my face at a vintage event. I really don’t give a monkeys if it is elitist, they can just piss off. Why the invective? Well I wear my nice little dress and go somewhere that has a retro style and elegance that appeals to the romantic in me (please see my recent post onTthe Far Pavilion Party to see what I mean). I am surrounded by lovely people who have made an effort, no matter how simple and can imagine myself somewhere wonderful. Then a group of twats wander in t shirts and crappy festival fashion and ruin it. They appear and spoil the feel for others whilst enjoying it themselves without contributing or taking part. Selfish gits.

Is it so bloody difficult to make a slight concession? Fancy dress is the worst. You spend your time having fun, collecting and enjoying music and an era then some pillock walks in a nylon wig. Would they turn up at a reggae festival and black up? No, because it is offensive. I’ll repeat it offensive. There are plenty of lovely events which make a virtue of costumes and fantasy to go to, such as The Secret Garden Party. So why come and annoy me, I'm old enough and grumpy enought as it is.

These girls are obviously hiding their Topshop togs......

Whilst for many fashion is the thing, and yes as a vintage chapette an element of wearing your best is the dressing up and showing off. But there is a difference between that and being local colour for a load of gormless festies or trendy revellers. I don’t like finding I have been invited to provide a nice vintage image for others, unless I am being paid or rewarded for doing it. If you go to a fete to demonstrate jive dancing fine, if you go to a social vintage event you are a participator not a decoration. Don't forget we get quite a lot of abuse for our vintage inclinations on a daily basis, declared 'vintage' events are our safe relaxing harbour, our fun. I can go to any All Bar One on a Saturday night and mix with Ugg boots and distressed t-shirts. I don’t go to vintage events to provide entertainment for the normals. They can go out and hire a dvd of the Great Gatsby from Blockbusters.

I’ll be nice to anyone who is nice to me and sympathetic to anyone who turns up in…shudders…trainers by accident. Similarly those who blunder in but are nice are, well, simply nice. But there is not reason why I should be expected to have my enjoyment compromised in order to be accessible to others.

So there I am, outed as a ‘snob’, or am I?

Intelligent comments welcome.


Paul G said...

Hear hear!

Sandra @ said...

I agree, to a point. When I go to the vintage expos, I usually wear leggings and a vintage inspired top for the ease of trying things on. have I pissed you off? ; )

Gina said...

Thanks for this - I feared derision as a newbie, albeit part time indulger of vintage things. I see now that the 'snobbery' is not directed at people such as me :-)

Retro Chick said...

See, now I don't see any of what you just said as "vintage snobbery"

Undoubtedly there is such a thing as vintage snobbery, but it's not what you describe.

I was at Vintage and in the evening I was discussing with a friend and my husband the fancy dress element, and we also came to the conclusion that it was a little insulting.

I try to think that if you buy your ticket you dress how you want, but it does bug me.

Katie Chutzpah said...

I too am a snob. I'm out and proud. I hate it when someone like the girl who accosted me on Saturday night at 'Far Pavillions' (when I was wearing a vintage Schiaparelli pink sari skirt, original '50's beaded top and extremely expensive Gina gold heels) says, "Where did you get your outfit?" Me; deadpan: "My wardrobe. It's rather large." I love bon mots. Another great column, Minna.

Fleur de Guerre said...

Great post as ever Minn! I think the crux of it is that anyone can do exactly as they please, but we just don't want to spend our spare, social, drinking time with people who just don't get it. More of a snobbery about the company we keep and the events we frequent. Like I said in my post, that's why I don't go to sports games etc.

Anushka said...

I agree - I think that the only kind of snobbery you profess to display is of a similar vein to the snobbery affected by haughy maitres d' at post and exclusive restaurants. (Or so I imagine. I've never been to one...). I feel that vintage snobbery is indeed snobbery about authenticity and period-correctness (which as a costume designer I feel is very important - but that's just my opinion and I know hundreds who disagree!!) - which isn't really possible anyway - or about going the whole goat. Something to think on I suppose.

India said...

Nope you are most certainly not a vintage snob, rename as "vintage appreciator"  The dress code makes the event and is really nice when the majority comply, but it doesn’t matter if a small collective dress in their normal garb they usually enjoy the event and get involved to the same level.

Carys said...

Just found your blog, you are such a brilliant writer! I will always refer to non-vintage wearers as 'normals' from now on. I don't get that bothered by 'normals' at vintage events, but I do find it quite difficult to understand why you would attend a vintage event if you have no interest in vintage clothes. I also know what you mean about feeling like some sort of novelty, I often do.
From Carys of La Ville Inconnue

Dimplesandcherrycheeks said...

Thank you for writing this. It is always great to be in the company of likeminds..

Anonymous said...

I didn't go to VAG because there was no 1920's element to it, I was really disappointed about that but if it meant me being spared joke shop flapper dresses, feather boas & dodgy wigs.....I'm relieved!!!

Plus I've been glued to the reviews afterwards and watched whats happened on Fleurs blog and think it all stinks, her account sounded pretty fair to me.

I digress! I guess that makes me a snob as well!

Mim said...

Do you find there are levels of tolerance for people who don't dress vintage, though? I went to a small-scale public event (a local garden centre was hosting it) for the first time last week, and didn't dress vintage because I wasn't sure if it was the done thing for random strangers to show up, I'd been ill and had a funeral that week, and wasn't sure whether it was worse to wear a vintage-style dress than modern dress in case people thought I was 'watering things down'. As it was, everyone was so lovely I am now determined to go to similar things AND dress the part, but a hostile reaction would've made me afraid to go to anything more 'hardcore'.

(That said, if I had gone to an event like the big band dance the previous night, I'd have dressed the part without question. The dress code for that felt more clear-cut.)

Perhaps it would help if vintage events put a small note on dress on the posters or tickets, even if it's just 'Period dress not essential but preferred.'

RedlegsinSoho said...

I think Mim makes a good point, sometimes organisers do not pointedly request an effort.

Glad to have received such thoughtful responses. x

Retro Chick said...

Vintage at Goodwood actually DID request people make an effort, I think that's what was so disappointing, how many people have no idea what "an effort" entails!

I don't really mind if people ask me where I got things, or say they like my hair, it's always nice to get complimented. Especially if you've made an effort! You're right, you don't want to feel like unpaid entertainment for a crowd of tracksuit clad gawpers though!

Miss Matilda said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, very interesting and certainly made me think!

I'm afraid I am a hair snob, there I said it!! But, it really doesn't matter, so long as the individual is enjoying whatever it is they do.

I suffered this recently in a charity shop, a lot of idiots (chaps) buying costumes for whatever, one of them nudges the other and says, wow I wish I bought my camera. Looking in my direction. I wasn't half miffed!!

Does that make then non vintage snobs hahahaha! xx

Straight Talking Mama! said...

Great post, what a hideous tight rope we need to tread eh? I don't think I'm a vintage snob and I don't think you are either, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be surrounded by like minded people.

I could say much more but I'll just end up ranting about being entitled to be ourselves and our mutual friend being allowed to express their own opinion, grrrr!

If I have spelt anything wrong I apologise, I have been drinking far too much wine in an entirely vintage fashion ;o)

Ms H said...

Splendid blog my dear. I do not consider myself a vintage snob. I don't look down on those who 'perhaps' might not be as accurate so long as they gave it a jolly good go and entered into the spirit of the event to which they have attended. But, like you, I have to draw the line somewhere - standards should be upheld afterall. Of course, you looked simply stunning at the Far Pavilions and I would expect nothing less. Much love, Ms H

Anonymous said...

Well said! I smiled all the way through reading it, especially the bluntness. I'm not sure on where I stand on the exact definition of Vintage Snobbery but my feelings were exctly the same attending a Mod Northern Soul night a while back & seeing people in pairs of Nikes!?! Were they going to jog to the toilet? Or out to the smoking area? That's the only reason I can think of why they would've them to such an event.
Anyway, enjoy reading it I did & will be sure to catch up on your older posts as soon as!

vintagedoortodoor said...

Oh, as a fair newbie & hardly tech savvy at present, I wasn't signed in to my Google account & didn't realise the above would come up as Anonymous. So the above is from moi!


Foodycat said...

It's hardly snobbery to want to be a private person in nice clothes rather than a side show attraction! If they want you to be part of the entertainment they could at least give a discount on your ticket.

Lou Johnson said...

What a load of rubbish. You've taken the beauty of vintage and all the ideals attached to it and completely destroyed it. I do and always have loved vintage, I happen to despise topshop and all it stands for but I would NEVER think so much of myself as to look down my nose at someone else for wearing high street clothes to a vintage event.

As for providing entertainment for the 'normals' (what the actual fuck?!) you've got to be pretty bloody stupid to take offence at people looking at you when you dress this way - as much as hardcore 'goths' are well aware that their going to get the odd look when they go out in public, they understand that the lifestyle they've chosen comes with attention. That's a part of the package when you take on a lifestyle choice like this and to complain about it is simply pathetic.

I could go on, but I'm so cross I can barely type. Get.Over.Yourself.


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