Thursday, February 2, 2012

Changing and rearranging yourself

I've finally got around to finishing this post on my personal style that a few of you expressed interest in reading about here. At first I wasn't sure how to structure the post so I decided to start with, well, the start (or thereabouts). Oh, and the title is from one of my favourite lines from Georgy Girl by The Seekers: Don't be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself. 

When I had a 1940s themed party for my 21st birthday I made the conscious effort to start dressing in a 40s/50s style each day and it's that style that I've been documenting here for the past two and a half years. But, before my 21st, I had already started to experiment with these styles, inspired by the LiveJournal community vintagehair amongst other things.

Jan 26th 2006
{Taken at beginning of 2006. This was the dress that I wore to my year 12 formal in 2004.}

Since my 21st (in 2007) I suppose I've refined this look and got to a point where I'm comfortable with knowing what my style is and can explain it quite easily if I had to. There are, naturally, many ways to wear vintage clothes and I enjoy seeing the ways in which others incorporate vintage pieces into their outfits, but as anyone who is reading this will know, the way I've worn it is to create an entire "vintage" look from head to toe including hair, make-up, etc. Online communities and other blogs were a great source of both inspiration and information whilst I cultivated this look and I still have so much to learn about the eras I've been drawing inspiration from, which is one of the many things I love about vintage clothing.

{Photo of my outfit for my 21st birthday - mum made this dress for me}

But as I mentioned in this post, sometimes I get...itchy. To try something different. Or I start feeling less sartorially inspired than usual and just don't feel like putting on one of my '40s or '50s frocks and setting my hair. Sometimes I want to mix it up a little, though I'm not sure where to start. Sometimes I want to go back to certain ways I used to dress. For instance, lately I've just wanted to wear little '60s/'70s style dresses like these again:

{Taken at the beginning of 2007. Wearing a dress I believe was from Deborah K.}

{Taken toward the end of 2007. Wearing a late '60s/early '70s dress - Antique Market on Grote St.}

This photo was taken when I wore this dress to a group exhibition opening night - it was after my 21st when I was still dressing outside of the 40s-50s a little. I still remember the day that I sold it to a local vintage shop - I actually cried! But I was weeding the non-40s/50s pieces from my wardrobe and this dress wouldn't fit me now, anyway.

{Taken toward the end of 2007, wearing a 70s dress from Irving Baby.}

When these moods strike, I feel a bit...stuck. Because I've built up a wardrobe that centres almost entirely on the styles of the 40s and 50s (both vintage and reproduction pieces) and because I've only been wearing it one way - that is, in a slightly more period accurate, though by no means entirely historically accurate, manner, and I think it's starting to feel a bit limiting for me. (Even though there is still a lot of room for experimenting whilst sticking to this approach.)

I started to realise that I'd set out all of these rules (a good deal of them subconsciously) for myself despite the fact that I dislike fashion rules entirely. The one rule or piece of advice I do like is always this: wear whatever you want. That's it. Wear what makes you happy and feel good.

But if I'm stopping myself from wearing cute dresses or even from experimenting because I don't think it will fit into the 'style' I've created for myself then I'm not living by the only fashion rule that I want to keep, am I? I'm thinking and talking about personal style and my beliefs around it one way and then acting another. It hasn't been very often that I've wanted to branch out or to try something wildly different but when I do, why should I curb that urge?

There are so many possibilities for mixing up 40s & 50s (and the late '30s and early '60s I've sometimes thrown in) styles if you look at all the different things women (and men) were wearing during these eras but, despite that, I still sometimes want to try something else. I've rarely been one to stick to one style for long and when I did my hair, at least, was always changing. I don't think I would ever not take inspiration from the past, though...but I do want to start changing my style up a bit more and try slightly different things whilst not abandoning my current look.

My question to the other full-time vintage dressers out there, that is those whose style is more reflective of a particular era than those who wear vintage in other ways, do you get bored? Do you ever want to change things up a bit? And do you have the means to? This question can just as easily apply to anyone who has a distinctive or set style and I'd be interested to hear from all of you, actually.

I'm not sure if this post says everything that I wanted it to but I didn't want it to get into the obnoxiously long territory. Also, you can see the way my style has changed in the Style-Volution series I posted in 2010.

Andi B. Goode


  1. You know what's really funny? Yesterday I started writing a blog post on *exactly* the same topic! Lately I've also been feeling drawn to looks outside my normal 'comfort zone' including 1960s and even 1920s, and feeling like I've set myself fashion boundaries to 40s and 50s - though even that is quite loose compared to some girls who stick rigidly to 40s OR 50s.

    It's an interesting question, and I look forward to reading more responses!

    xx Charlotte
    Tuppence Ha'penny

  2. This is a really fascinating post. I am going to link it through my blog as I'd be interested to see what everyone thinks.

    I must admit (why do I 'admit' as if it's shameful??) that although I have bought and worn vintage/retro/second hand since the early 90s I have always mixed it with modern pieces for an eclectic, personal style. For example, I am a trouser lover so might wear a pretty 50s top with modern skinny trousers and heels.

    One change I am trying to make is that bar actual 'vintage' events, I make a conscious effort to dress just as me when going to things that might be photographed for blogs! I don't know why but I don't, almost as if I think people will judge me as not liking vintage 'enough' because I use it in a quirky way.

  3. This is such a cute post! I loved seeing all your styles.

    I would think that it's normal to get bored from time to time with the "same old same old" no matter who you are and it's important to try new things when the fancy strikes without putting limitations on yourself.


  4. how cute!these dresses are beautiful :) i like the many changes you try!

  5. I love people writing about how their style evolved, and how they got interested in such a niche fashion!

    I absolutely feel the same way. I'd notice myself putting modern stuff back on the rack if it was cute but the hem was too short to style it in a 1940s or 50s way. Now that I cut my hair I'm feeling a bit more liberated to experiment with clothing and it has led to a bit of a blogging rut because I don't often wear the kind of outfits I wore when I first started my blog. I find myself drawn to 60s and 70s clothing more and more, as well as really eclectic street style fashion. I'm not certain anybody would be interested in seeing me post that! Or if they'd feel like it was a 'bait and switch' of sorts.

    I think blogging in some ways contributes to the feeling of being locked into a certain style, particularly if you started out wearing very specific clothing. You feel like "I can't wear this because it doesn't fit the style I cultivated online". So I'll just put it out there that I'd really love you see you experiment more, and I'll make an effort to put some of my more modern outfits online too, and see where it gets us!

  6. great post! I have to do one too xxx

  7. I absolutely love the purple 70s dress, it's amazing! This was an interesting read as I don't really dress in a particular style. I live by that rule - wear what you want - without it actually being my rule!

    I do love the vintage 40s/50s look, but I don't think I could restrict myself to one era of dress like that, as gorgeous as it is.

  8. I can relate to this. I don't dress in a head-to-toe vintage look like you, but I just love dressing up (for a number of reasons) so almost every day I'm wearing a pretty dress or skirt/top combo and often some red lipstick. But there are lots of days when I am just tired or busy or don't feel like getting done up, and if/when I start to feel badly about that I always have to stop and say "wait...fuck that!" and do what I want anyway. I think it can be easy to feel pressured to maintain a certain look, even when the whole point of that look is to do WHAT YOU WANT rather than conforming to someone else's rules. In any case, I'm glad you wrote about this and I look forward to seeing where your style goes from here!

  9. What a great post. For me I have always like different aspects of different eras fashion and also I have found that certain styles I love the look of just don't suit me when I put them on! On top of that I was a full on heavy metal rock chick in my teens and 20s so I still have to have that edginess to my outfits sometimes!

    I like to mix vintage and modern and I wear whatever I am in the mood for that day so it can be 60's influenced one day and 30's influenced another, or a mash up of both.

    I will say this has only come about with age, being more comfortable in my own skin and not worrying so much about what people might think of me.

  10. This is why I try not to pigeonhole myself too much. I'm mainly interested in late Sixties, early Seventies clothes and designers, but I don't feel it restricts me with hair, make-up or what inspirations I choose (especially since the Seventies leaned so heavily on the Thirties and Forties for inspiration). I'm as happy looking at photos of Claudette Colbert as I am watching videos of Pan's People or watching Film Noir in the same day as a Sixties movie. Vintage is a good place to start when it comes to creating your own style but - as you say - the moment it starts to restrict you, you're then not really living by the principles you started out with. Great post! x

  11. I definitely don't have a set style. I find myself striving toward that goal, then waking up and just not *wanting* to. I used to be far more confident in my style and choices than I am now and I think that confidence is what I really need to find again, as opposed to a specific era. I guess spending most of the years from 18-24 in other countries messed with what I did know and like. Hmm. This post definitely has gears churning now! I love the 60s dresses and have a few myself I enjoy changing it up with now and then :)

  12. Love this post!! You always look adorable, no matter what look you choose.

    Much as I love my standard '40s/'50s/dash-o-'30s wardrobe, every so often it does start feeling more like a uniform, and somewhat tiring to wear every single day. Sometimes I just feel like being someone else for a change! I do have a few distinctly '60s and '70s pieces left over from high school, and it's refreshing to wear them occasionally, like a little vacation almost (and as much as I adore my older vintage frocks, I do live in fear of tearing a seam or spilling something on them, haha).

    And then again, change is a good thing when it comes to style. We certainly shouldn't ever feel compelled to settle on just one signature look!

  13. A grand post! I too become bored and feel limited but the era I have built up over the past few years. I feel the need to return to just wearing a nice dress :)

  14. I am completely there with you and you expressed it super well. This is one of the reasons, in fact a much bigger reason than I'd given credit, as to why I quit blogging this month. I started to feel claustrophobic about the image I'd created for myself. I'm very much one for walking as well as talking the talk but started to feel limited and unable to express myself as well as I wanted due to my commitment to vintage.

    I think, like you, I will always be vintage inspired, as I ALWAYS have been but right now I want to wear a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt occasionally without people jumping on me and proclaiming 'well, that's not very vintage is it?'. It's not an easy thing to do though, as again, like you, I only have vintage/vin repro in my wardrobe at the moment.

  15. Just wrote a long comment which disappeared - grrrr!! I was saying...I am completely there with you and this, I now realise,was the driving force behind my quitting blogging. I feel I've changed, my life has changed, and I can no longer live up to the sartorial commitment I made on the blog. I will ALWAYS dress vintage/vintage inspired as I always have but I don't want to do it all the time.

    Sometimes I want to be able to experiment with modern fashions without people giving me a hard time about it, which they do when you publicly proclaim your commitment to something. It's an interesting dilemma which for me has thrown me into an unexpected identity crisis.

  16. I"m kind of a one-trick-pony myself when it comes to setting 'fashion rules' (intentionally and unintentionally) in that I've boxed myself into the cutesy doll look and don't have anything that isn't that exact style.

    I haven't yet figured out a way to change up my style the way I'm hoping to. I bought a few funky pieces, but honestly, I just don't like the look of them with my lace dresses and platforms. Maybe we should just buy a few of the different style pieces we're hoping for and see how they work for us.

    Let me know what you end up doing!

    Oh-- and I really liked this and your 'Stylevolution' post. I love seeing how bloggers' styles have changed. :)

  17. I'm not a vintage dresser, but for a long time I was a pretty hardcore skinhead (and i mean the raggae loving, non-racist kind). I only bought jean skirts with button up shirts, I always shaved half my head, and the only shoes I wore were boots and Sambas. After 10 years I couldn't stand the monotany anymore!!! I grew my hair our and started getting more clothes that are out of my comfort zone, but look great! Its so much fun! I still go back to the skinhead style every now and then, but it feels good to know I'm not tied down to one style.

  18. Lovely post dear! Here in Portland OR we have a large rockabilly community and I always think how boring it must get to dress within a certain style and never break out. I love mixing all kinds of eras and styles and I would never ever limit myself to one or two or any.

  19. It's funny reading this as it feels like you took the words right out of my mouth. I, for one, wear the same 50s-style dresses day-in and day-out. I'm not kidding when I say that I have about 80 dresses of the same cut/silhouette, something which I'm sure you would understand. ;) While I have established this 'look' to be my own as well -- to the point that people are actually shocked to see me wearing anything but -- I've recently felt the urge to just completely overhaul this 'personal style', if you will. Before the year started, I had landed myself a new job and it felt like a very opportune time to go for a major revamp. But alas, like you, I had absolutely no idea where to start. I had gotten so used to looking a certain way (and it even felt like my body grew accustomed to the tight bodice and circle skirt) that everything else felt entirely wrong!

    To address this, instead of going cold turkey, I've taken to adding a few unconventional pieces (well, unconventional to me) to my daily outfits. Say, a cute cropped blazer. Or a modern slim long cardi. I'm comfortable with this slow incorporation and it doesn't seem like such a drastic change, you know what I mean? Who knows, one day I might feel adventurous enough to wear *gasp* JEANS! Hahahaha :D

    I really like this post -- one of your best yet =)

  20. For me when it starts to feel like a uniform then the look isn't doing it for me anymore. I dress in a 40s/50s inspired way daily but I do have one day a week where I have my "off day" (jeans, t-shirts, converse, all modern styles, no set hair). It keeps it from feeling like vintage is a uniform or a self-imposed fashion rule.

  21. Btw I forgot to ask -- please ask your mom, what dress pattern is that (with the S-shaped gathering?) Thank you!!!

  22. I too have set up my own rules towards my closet. I've been shying away from the 60s, mainly because of the hair... :/ I can never get a good flip, which is what I really like, and I grow tired of up-dos, so often when I wear 60s, I leave my hair down and maybe throw a headband or scarf over it.

    I'm glad to see the 60s and 70s getting some love out there. I hear so many gals just rip on the 70s. So, I'd love to see more of 60s and 70s outfits from you. :)

  23. I'm so glad I took a break from my haven't-had-time-to-read-blogs to read this great post! You always look so great no matter the style. :)

    This is such an interesting topic and a hard question to answer. I think that since I've been blogging in the 'vintage world', I do have a bit of a feeling like if I dress totally outside what people normally expect to see me in, that it will seem weird to people. Which is completely silly, but I still have a bit of that feeling nonetheless. In some ways, it can feel a bit restrictive, however in other ways it's been great for me since it's kept me more focused. I always used to -aspire- to be more dedicated to a style but was way too wishy washy to make it happen (I'd be a little more rockabilly, then more vintage, then completely normal, then more punk, then more vintage again, etc). It was as if in my head I wanted to be one thing but in reality I wasn't that focused. lol

    That all being said, I think it's important to just do what you want to do and have fun with it, no matter who is looking. I think when you have a pretty set personal style, especially one that's exhibited in a public arena like a blog, you may feel more nervous about making changes to that style than folks who just go with the flow. We just need to all relax and do what makes us feel happiest! And that will shine through. So rock on with your 60s and 70s dresses if you want to, I know I for one would love to see it no matter if you wore 60s one day, 40s the next and 2012 the day after. ;)

  24. I have been wearing 40's-50's clothes for more than 10 years and I'm really not bored! My style evolved to be more and more accurate. At the beginning I was wearing modern clothes with vintage, but I will not do that again. I cannot think to wear a shorten 40's dress with a jeans underneath... I have already seen that in on vintage shop customer!
    I love an era and not only vintage clothes : cars, music, furniture, design... moreover I spent year to build a complete wardrobe for all seasons and weathers, I cannot imagine get ride of these treasures!!!

  25. I love seeing you in those cute 60s dresses! I've never been one to stick to just one era head-to-toe for days on end. I've always had to mix it up. Probably because I genuinely like a lot of eras, so I couldn't just choose one. I like that you're thinking about this and realizing the rule you have imposed on yourself. I respect those who dedicate themselves to wearing one era all the time, but that's not me. It's also slightly uninteresting in my opinion because it becomes expected. If someone wears 40s all the time, then there's no element of surprise there. So seeing you with straight hair and rocking a mod dress is a new thrill.

  26. Ha ha - just like Charlotte, I have a post along the same line in a rough draft!!
    I think it is really important to muck around with a different style when the mood takes you, but it can be difficult to do so when the way you have defined yourself is by an era, and perhaps even more so when you are doing it as historically correct as you can (rather than throwing it all together however you like).
    You need to let the creative you shine though, so if that means you need some different styles in your wardrobe then it just has to be done!

  27. What a fun post! Look at all of those eras expertly covered. You look gorgeous in them all.


  28. What a great post!!! I've been mulling this over a lot lately. During and after the Epic Move (as I've now come to call it), I got really bored with my style. While I am nowhere near authentic--I prefer a quirky, artistic mixing of vintage pieces--I was starting to feel like it meant I couldn't dress in other ways if the mood strikes. There have been days the past few months where my makeup is still very vintage inspired (because that is honestly what I love, and I dare say no matter what the rest of my clothes look like, I'll be sticking to that for a bit), but I'm wearing jeans tucked into boots and a fitted blazer. Far more modern-preppy than vintage. But it was fun to try a look I was admiring others wearing. It also made me realize I need to give myself permission to play a lot more than I do. Fashion is fun, after all!

    I really liked the point several others made about the connection between blogging and a sense of "pressure" to look a certain way. When I start to feel that way (which believe me, I have!), I know my priorities in life are getting really screwed up. Honestly, as fun as fashion blogging is, when I start catering to what people expect, rather than what makes sense for me, then I feel like I've lost complete focus on why I blog and share things.

    I don't think I'll ever abandon vintage--I take too much pleasure from finding those beautiful gems of days past--but it may have little "flights of fancy" from time to time. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that at this point! :)

  29. I love your 40s and 50s outfits Andi but I also think you look super adorable in those 60s mini dresses!

    I think you should dress in what ever style you're comfortable with. I don't believe that anyone should feel restricted in what they wear. I also think if you want to dress all 1940s one day and 1960s the next, then that's okay too!

    I'm not usually one to wear an entire outfit from one era as I prefer to mix things up and try to create my own look. Although I think my look usually ends up being a mix of 50s and 60s (which the odd modern piece thrown in).

    Dress in what ever way makes you happy!

  30. Thanks so much for sharing not only your style evolution, but your thoughts on changing styles. I can totally agree with many of the above comments, and sometimes feel like dressing up in vintage has become a little bit of a trial. Then I remind myself that fashion is after all meant to be fun, and I put on something completely out of character just for laughs! xx Fran

  31. Very insightful post, I think its quite an easy 'mistake' to make when you first get into vintage, you tend to put restrictions on yourself because of your new found love of a certain era. But I definitely think it is more fun to mix up your styles and influences and I think you do it brilliantly xx

  32. I am always surprised by how many rules I have created for myself - rules I don't even know exist until I go shopping with friends who throw cloths at me to try that don't fit into 'the rules'! Although I think my rules are less about a certain style, and more about shapes I have learned suit my figure. It is almost a self-protective little rule-set, that help me avoid change room frustrations with clothing that doesn't fit right.

    I think you are incredibly creative - and your outfits reflect this. So don't let anything hold you back!!

  33. this is EXACTLY how I feel Andi xx

  34. This is such a neat post! Loving the 60's/70's as I do, I especially love those dresses you wore in the last 3 pictures! I admire people who can do full-time vintage dressing, but (and I think you might feel this way too, even though you've done full time?) I really love being able to wake up one morning and put on a 50's style dress with a crinoline petticoat, and then the next day wear a black velvet 60's style mini dress with a giant white lace collar. For me it's like playing dress up every day, with no rules whatsoever :)

    I love that you've been playing around with your style for so long, too. I went through a long horrible jeans and sweatpants phase so most of my outfits from age 11 up until I was like 23-ish are just terribly boring!


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