Pretty Vintage vs. Ugly Vintage

Vested Interest, Three-On-A-Match, Half-N-Half; I adore this rather fabulous set of knitted frocks, especially the cardi on the right.

Belle Hop; So clean and chic, I only wish it came with all the jewels, gloves and that wonderful hat.

These are scans from a vintage knitting mag that I bought on Etsy a little while ago. It’s a Spinnerin Knitting magazine from 1956. A genuine article. I keep flipping through the pages of it lusting after each and every knit creation. I’ve probably put 20 years on the poor mag with all my flipping and skipping through it. As I won’t be at working my day job much longer, I brought it to work the other day so I could make my coworkers jealous as they flipped through it too. Much to my surprise, my secret plan did not work. None of my coworkers were jealous that this lovely magazine was mine, or that I might actually knit something from it (when I learn to knit that is). In fact, as they flipped through the pages, barely looking at the photographs they laughed (an odd response, I felt) and said things like “these models have no waist,” “look how thin they are,” “they didn’t have photoshop back then, so they must really be that thin.” I was actually a bit shocked that no one looked past the models and onto to what they were wearing, which is essentially the point of the magazine, right? Not a single ooohh or awww escaped my coworkers lips as they flipped. Not even those who knit their own sweaters and such! Sigh….

Lovely “You”; Isn’t this top just to die for? So sweet! I love how it has a sort of peplum flair along the bottom.

Dual Rule; My favorite of the bunch, I love the cardigan here and the small stripes. The tucked in waist and flared peplum is just ravishing!

No, I’m not going to discuss the skinny here. I want to discuss views on vintage. What do you think? Is vintage pretty or ugly? The other day I was wearing my great gran’s vintage opal necklace and earrings. This lady, a very well dressed one at that, complimented me on the set and said, “Those are really pretty. Usually vintage stuff is so ugly.” My mouth sort of dropped. I didn’t quite know what to say.

French Accent; This is so darling! And just think how comfortable it would be too.

Winsome Twosome; I love the collar on this cardigan and the skirt is just lovely with that faux pleat look.

Velvet Touch, Tailor Made; Oddly I think the model on the right looks an awful like Rosemary Clooney.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately especially with the “laughable” reception of my vintage knitting mag. I personally think it’s just gorgeous. But I do love vintage, though everything I wear and make is not always so. I also think alot of vintage is beautiful, but I have to admit that not all vintage is my style. Then I started thinking that perhaps the styles you grew up in maybe leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. You know, maybe they are associated with the heartache of puberty and such, if that was as bad for you as it was for me. I mean, the 90s give me all sorts of grief. Whenever I’m out shopping for vintage patterns and I come across 90s styles I remember wearing in high school, I immediately push them out of sight. Ugh…. But then sometimes, very rarely I find a 90s pattern that I really like. Weird.

Art Throb

I don’t know. What do you think? Have you ever experienced responses like these to vintage? Maybe it’s just that people are uneducated about vintage style and fashion and therefore feel that anything “old” must be ugly? Maybe, just maybe, its just not their style and I am over thinking this just a little. Still, I would like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Smart Suiter

I do hope you enjoy these scans. I am trying to illicit intense jealousy so if you do feel like laughing, please hold it in and let the green envy take over. It only takes a moment. If you feel you must point out the tiny waistlines, it is good to remember that accenting a waistline with a belt is a sure fire way of nipping this part of the body in (not to mention the shapewear they wore those days). Just a smoke and mirror trick, in my humble opinion. And if anyone knows the rules about copyright and whether or not I can scan in this entire book and put it on Ravelry or something let me know. I would love to see one of these made up.

xoxo,

Sunni

  • Lauren - Oooohh, I AM green with envy! I love that ‘french accent’ dress. Sigh, if only I could knit…
    To be fair, I have seem plenty of ugly vintage items. I agree on the 90s issue – waistcoats, once a mainstay in my teenage wardrobe now give me the heeby jeebies. When I started out buying vintage clothes I’ll admit I bought a lot of ugly items. Things that were frumpy styles or dowdy colours and a lot of things that were dirty and damaged. I’m more particular now about what looks nice and what suits me, but I have learnt that just because something was made in the 40s, it doesn’t make it pretty!
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  • K2 - No waist? It must have been different pictures than the ones you posted. The models you posted all have itty bitty waists. Much smaller than I could achieve. I think your observation about the era you grew up in being ugly is spot on. I was a small child in the 1970′s and think most of the fashions and everyday clothes from that era are ugly. I went to High School in the 1980′s so I think most of those styles are hideous too. My favorite era’s for myself are 1940′s and 1950′s with the occasional foray into the early 1960′s. But I mostly look at the housewife/business woman styles of those eras. I’m a little too old to wear a 1960′s miniskirt dress or other “younger” styles.
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  • Paunnet - I’m sewing the swing dress for Casey’s sew-along and the other day, while trying it on, my mum told me it makes me look a lot older (I’m 24). It was kind of sad. I can’t tell if she’s right or she just doesn’t like the style. I know for a fact that she’s not a vintage fan, but my enthousiasm for the dress took a hard hit…
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  • Sara - i think that vintage is such a broad term that it becomes almost useless. when people say they hate vintage, they might mean that they hate acrylic granny square jackets from the 60-70s, etc. and people have different tastes obviously about what eras they liked (for example: i’m not a big fan of 70s style)
    if you are just learning to knit, i’d warn you that the pictured items all use very fine gauge yarn and needles and will likely take you a long time to knit (and might be painful). this is not to dissuade you as it can be worth it but it’s good to know that it might take you several months to finish one garment. also, scanning and adding to Rav is a no-no. i believe it’s against their guidelines that you can’t upload patterns unless you are the author.
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  • plantingoaks - I think it can be very difficult to really ‘see’ fashion divorced from the context you expect it to be in. If your first exposure to 50s or 60s clothing is old, poorly fitting hand-me-downs worn by people more interested in practicality than style, it can be very difficult to not make that association. Like you and the 90s, I am having a very hard time with the recent 80s revival, I can’t see the leggings without conjuring the hair and the makeup and the fuchsia and the music and just wanting to run.
    I’m trying very hard to broaden my eye, and see things in different contexts, and it is helping. Some of the vintage bloggers just have astounding senses of style, and seeing their interpretations really counteracts the ‘grandma’s old work clothes’ associations. But it’s a very slow and onscious process, and I wouldn’t expect everyone to be there.
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  • Becky - I think it does come down to a matter of personal taste and style, a lot of times. I’m not really a vintage sewing person, and would probably be more likely to take elements of things I liked from different eras to make it my own. Like I like the fitted, ladylike silhouettes of the 40s, but not necessarily the necklines. And I love 60s and 70s bohemian hippie style, but generally the super-flowy unfitted stuff is really unflattering on me. So I like taking those ideas and making them work on me. That being said, I’m really not a fan of the 80s revival at ALL, and am soooooo thankful that my teenage years were in the 90s instead so I don’t have to cringe as much at my pictures. (That, and I am firmly of the opinion that 90s music was far superior. At least the alt-rock.)
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  • krystina - Tough to say that you either like it or don’t like it. Or that its either pretty or ugly. There are some beautiful vintage pieces and there is some serious ugly out there too. I think its hard to catagorize whether you “love it” or “hate it” because if there is one constant thing about fashion it is that there will be a bad trend no matter what the time period (and when I say bad, I mean unflattering). There are some trends today that are just awful and there are some trends from the 50s and 60s that I find terrible too! That being said, there are way more “timeless” (i.e. trendless) pieces from back then. Clothing now tends to be more trendy and transient.
    Which reminds me, the other thing that makes vintage appealing is the fact that much of it was so well made. For the most part, clothes were made to last. It is really nice to put something on that has care and attention sewn into it and that is so rarely found in most department store clothes you find today!
    PS the knitwear from that mag I (mostly) love, but sheesh most of it looks like it was done at an impossibly fine gauge! Beautiful result but so time consuming!
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  • Loren - I’m going to guess most of these women were older than you (by a few years at least). These sorts of things definitely have a cyclical lifetime. My cousins and I were discussing baby names for the newest addition to our family and I mentioned I thought both of my Grandmother’s names were really pretty (Loretta and Fern).
    All of my cousins agreed with me but all of our Aunts groaned and said ‘Ugh it’s so formal and old fashioned’. I think things need at least two generations to be ‘cool’ again. I’m sure all my kids will be wearing stuff from the 70′s when my MOM was young and cool and I will be the one who ‘just doesn’t get it’.
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  • Adrienne - Well, I am with you on this one. I think most vintage is absolutely beautiful. And I do think that it’s true that most people aren’t too fond of the styles that hearken back to their growing up years. For me personally, the styles of the 80s and 90s were terrible. But I am aware of the fact that my daughters may one day think these styles are just the bees knees! Those pictures are beautiful. I don’t see how anyone could deny the elegance and sophistication they portray!
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  • Heather in Oregon - I love, love, love pre-1960′s vintage. I pick and choose anything after that point and there isn’t much that I love. Before I had children I had a huge collection of original vintage but now I’d never be able to fit into them again; my body shape has just changed too much. Because of that, I’ve been teaching myself how to sew so that I can have the vintage styles again but that fit my body now and that are in fabric that will stand up to chasing after two kids. I’m not willing to wear the girdles, corsets, and other foundation garments that would give me the various 1910-1959 body profiles on a regular basis and sewing my own allows me to modify the silhouettes to accommodate that. I really love how feminine and put together women often looked during these eras. Obviously some of the styles simply aren’t practical on a regular basis but very rarely do I think one is truly ugly.
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  • Rachel - I love all of those vintage outfits, but the French Accent is my favorite.
    “Those are really pretty. Usually vintage stuff is so ugly.” Don’t you just love backhanded compliments? GRR
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  • Tasha - Great knitting magazine! As a knitter and lover of vintage I have many in my collection, and mine are all well thumbed-through as well, I must admit. I look at them constantly. I particularly love that French Accent pattern you showed!
    I’m aghast that someone said vintage is usually ugly. I’ve never felt that way, and don’t really think I’ve heard others say that before either. I suppose unless the person had a particular era in mind that they didn’t like. I hate 80s and 90s fashions, and don’t care for 70s much either. So I can see someone saying they didn’t like a particular point in fashion history, but not just a general blanket statement like “most vintage is ugly”. Perhaps I naively am under the wrong impression that even if you don’t want to wear vintage, you would still think of it as classic and classy. ;)
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  • Darci - I’m in the same boat as you, plantingoaks. The 90s looks make me want to duck and cover, and although I’m a child of the 80s and remember all the fug associated with that era, I’m able to see past the BRIGHT and BOXY to find interesting, usable forms that can translate into something delightful today.
    That being said, most vintage is a little too girly and twee for me, but I really enjoy seeing it! And Sunni, those knitting patterns are gorgeous. I would have snapped that mag out of your hands to run off a pore over it alone. So much pretty all in one place!
    I may not be “drawn” to vintage styles, but I can sure appreciate the workmanship and structure that goes into making these beautiful, wearable pieces.
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  • LeeAnn - I am not a knitter, but I have a few vintage knitting magazines too! (For some reason they are more available then vintage sewing magazines.) In any era of fashion you get a wide breath of style. Give a modern fashion magazine to those same ladies and I think they would point out similar details. One point on the figures- people forget the American diet was so different in the 30-50′s. If a family wanted french fries they had to wash,peel,cut, and fry the potato AND THEN clean up that terrible frying mess! Much more work and trouble for the calories. But back to fashion- I’m glad you pointed out that the undergarments were different. I also love to look at the accessories and the hair styles. I wish someone could teach me some of those up-dos! Once thing I have found that I don’t really like about some of the late 50-60′s designs are how low the sleeves are set! It makes me feel much larger around the bust than I am. Like bat wings or something. And I see that coming back in some knitted garments today. My favorite image you posted was the last one, the smart suiter. Amazing!
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  • zilredloh - There’s so many comments in here to read over, I love it. :)
    I personally love vintage style, but I’m not quite surprised your coworkers had the reaction they did. I’ve had the same thing happen when I show others some of my patterns and such. But laughing at it… that’s too bad. I do love the wasp-look, and while these models are thin they’re shapely, generally I think models today are even thinner and lack the wasp-curves.
    I don’t think I could wear all of the stylized clothing that was worn back then, but I love wearing vintage anyhow. At the moment, my tastes have tended towards vintage shapes and fit. For example, I could never pull off the yellow sweater in the first image you posted, but I could totally make/wear the Lovely “You” blouse that has the small peplum and short sleeves.
    Thanks for sharing all of these lovely images. I’m turning green… heh
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  • zilredloh - I’ve recently been seeing a lot of scans of vintage knits, and am not sure what the protocol is now.
    I’d check to see the copyright date, and usually if it’s X years old, and the copyright hasn’t been renewed you ‘should’ be free to post.
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  • Casey - The phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind while reading your post. I, for one, am drooling over these scans! They’re gorgeous! But then again, I really like vintage styles already. But, I have noted a definite dislike of vintage particularly among women over a certain age. From many of them I’ve heard the phrases “frumpy” and “uncomfortable”. I think perhaps it’s like if you grew up in the 80s and 90s and think that the current revival for styles from those decades is a bit head-scratching and in some cases bringing back a lot of “ugly” that should have been buried and forgotten. You’re remembering all the fashion faux pas and ugliness that lurks even in the most stylish eras (which a lot of times, also tends to be the “trendy” things). As vintage aficionados, we do tend to be drawn towards the “pretty” fashions, often forgetting that just like today there was a lot of “fugly” hanging about too. (Does that make sense or am I just going in circles and babbling? rofl.) I think ultimately one needs to remember that vintage is still a bit of a sub-culture; not everyone is going to think it’s cute. Unfortunately a lot of people tend to think it’s not attractive to dress in an “old fashioned” way!
    As for the models being too thin… Can I say I’m laughing at that?! lol. Having just given a quick flip-through some of the Fall 2011 runway shows that have been popping up, if we want to discuss too-thin models, let’s start with the current era. haha.
    I really love these designs that you’ve posted–I would definitely be tempted to knit any of these up! Oh, and wanted to say congratulations about your previous post and announcement that you’re going to be working full-time on your business! So excited for you!
    ♥ Casey
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  • Elizabeth (aka LadyKatza) - I was showing my daughter (age 7) a vintage 50′s pattern I got and the first thing she said was “her waist is so tiny!”. I said “Well, they were drawn that way and they would wear really uncomfortable undergarments in real life to try and get them that way”. She was like “Oh. Well its cute!”.
    I also made sure to show my daughter this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U
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  • Sigrid - Interesting post– and comments. LadyKatza, that video is fascinating ! Maybe when people think “vintage” they think of tatty acrylic stuff ?
    Or maybe it isn’t what they are used to seeing in the RTW stores so they think it must be “ugly.” I think a lot of the fashion industry involves the manufacturing of desire. It’s not always about making beautiful clothes that will flatter us with their cut and fabrics, instead there are new trends every year and the industry needs us to want them and to buy them. I think Vintage is so outside this process that people don’t know how to think about it.
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  • Jessica - I think the “vintage is ugly” thing depends on your audience. My friends are all vintage mad, but they’re a certain demographic – young, urban etc. When I used to work at a church, older ladies would bring me their old things they were getting rid of – beautiful dresses, coats, purses etc – because they couldn’t imagine why someone would want to bring that back.
    And I agree that we tend to forget the uglier parts of an era – I actually like 70s fashion, but there are parts of it that are remarkably ugly!
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  • Countrygirlcouture.wordpress.com - Classic “vintage” (i.e. the stuff that never goes out of style) is fine, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around some of the vintage love out there. For example, I think that flapper dresses and such that have no shape are hideous, right along with the “dropped waist” type style. The “French Accent” in the picture above has that ugly rick-rack look to it that I personally despise. I wouldn’t go for the “windowpane” sweater in the first picture either, but on the right person, it could look awesome enough that even I could appreciate it. Doesn’t mean I would wear it–any more than you would wear any/everything that I would wear–but I can still appreciate the time, effort, care, and love that went into the creation. My least favorite fads? Anything with rick-rack or Navajo/southwestern style. They make me think of horse blankets. Yuck.
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  • Countrygirlcouture.wordpress.com - I love the “you” and “dual rule” ones though! Probably more suited to someone with a waist (not me), but so pretty and feminine. :-) Just in case you thought I was hatin’ on all of them, just because I didn’t like the rick-rack-y one. :-)
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  • Katherine - I recently come into ownership of a 1968 sewing pattern catalogue. I love to share my discoveries but you gotta have the right audience, you know. I was lucky. That day an older friend from my book group dropped in. Now I don’t know exactly how old she is, and didn’t want to offend, so I casually asked…’what year were you married?” Turns out it was 1968. My lucky day. I got out the catalogue and we went through it. She remembered some of the patterns and had even made some of them up.
    I think the whole ugly / pretty thing has a lot to do with the silhouettes you like. In the past, the fashions of an era were so strongly associated with a silhouette. I personally love the 20′s and the 60′s. I would never look good in the styles of the 40′s or 50′s which is maybe why these have less appeal for me. I hate the polyester of the 70′s but love all the topstitching detail from that era.
    The ability to refashion allows you to get the best from vintage…keep the features you want and reshape the rest.
    All tastes, all sorts, we wouldn’t all want to dress the same.
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  • Isidore - I guess I’m a weirdo, because I love the fashions from my high school days!
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  • Sherry - I knit, and you have totally made me jealous owning a magazine of such gorgeous patterns…!
    I think if you have an interest in fashion, you’ll at least appreciate vintage styles, or any other style, even if they are not your own personal taste. I find it hard to label anything as outright ugly, as there inevitably will be someone out there who loves it – and who am I to say!
    I think ‘ugly’ often has it’s own charm anyway, and with the right styling can look really cool, often filtering down to mainstream fashion – I think the geek trend is an example of this. ‘Ugly’ is uniqueness in a world of carbon copies, sets trends rather than follows them, and shows style confidence. I think ‘ugly’ is good – take her comment as a compliment!
    Another thought is that some people don’t have much vision – this took me years to discover as I just took it for granted. You can probably visualise one of these on you in a particular colour that goes with something else in your wardrobe. Others often can’t – they see the whole picture and think they wouldn’t wear that ‘costume’, without considering it’s potential.
    Interesting topic and comments – thanks!
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  • Catherine Daze - I think it’s spot-on that how you react to vintage is as much to do with how you feel about the era concerned as it is to do with the actual look. I think it also evolves over time! I distinctly remember hating everything 70s during my 80s childhood, but now I love it. And I think of myself as loving 80s style but actually when I look at real 1980s sewing patterns I realise that I’m only remembering a subset of what we wore then, and a lot of the rest was pretty unflattering. It’s so hard to step back and see the clothes independently of the times.
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  • Leah - I think that these sweaters are absolutely gorgeous, god, I wish I knitted! Art Throb? Kill me, that’s adorable and I can honestly say that I would probably wear most of these.
    I think it’s important to point out that many people like what looks good on them, but a lot of people also do this odd thing where they just like what they see available to them in major stores, even it it’s supremely unflattering. I personally love vintage styles of the 20′s even though they would look terrible on my figure. I also love styles of the 40′s and 50′s, which look pretty great on me, I love it all, even if I can’t wear it all. I love fashion history, though, because it’s fascinating and illustrative of the social and political setting. Nothing exists in a vacuum, though, so it makes sense. Did you know that every war of the previous century provoked hem-line shortening? It makes perfect sense, i.e., fabric shortages mean shorter skirts, but when you know how it works you have such a better appreciation for why fashion has moved the way it’s moved. Or that women started wearing suits in the 40′s because they had to convert their husband’s suits into women’s clothes if they wanted something new? Things like that fascinate me.
    I like Sherry’s use of the term costume, I think some people can’t get past that word, and it’s not costume, it’s clothing. Just because it wasn’t made last week by a factory in Indonesia doesn’t mean it isn’t wearable. Obviously not everything ever made is a beautiful flattering piece of clothing, but I think there was more of an appreciation for craftsmanship, say, 70 years ago, then there is today, and it shows. It’s why I like sewing, because you can bring that back!
    Great topic and great comments. And the woman who “complimented” you is quite the backhanded hitter…
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  • Charlotte - It’s sometimes hard to see because we all love vintage, but I do think we can get ‘blinded’ by our immersion in vintage that some styles can end up looking frumpy. But often it’s easy to fix by, for example, raising the hem (the late 40s / early 50s New Look skirt length does nothing for me) or making the skirt narrower or making the bodice more fitted.
    xx Charlotte
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  • Charlotte - Those knits are just divine – I love love love the stripy number, and that peplum suit in the last pic!
    Re the backhanded compliment, it seems rather an odd thing to say. For a start, ‘vintage’ is such a broad term that it would be hard to make a single generalisation. It’s true that a lot of vintage is ugly, just as it’s true that a lot of new is ugly. Because designers don’t get it right all the time, and everyone has their own tastes.
    xx Charlotte
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  • Emily Smith Pearce - Thanks for sharing the pictures. So interesting. Yes, the models are too thin, but they also look weird because most likely they were wearing some serious undergarments, the likes of which haven’t seen the light of day in decades. Girdles at least, if not corsets.
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  • Seemane (aka Claire) - Hi Sunni!
    I’ve just awarded you a ‘Stylish Blogger Award’
    Clairex
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  • Trixie - Oh, those knitting patterns are just so beautiful! I’m so envious! (Typing can’t convey the lust in my voice but it’s there, or, well, it would be if I was actually speaking aloud and not typing). I do knit but I very very rarely knit from any vintage patterns because the teeny tiny gauge doesn’t go well with my attention span but I’ve been thinking I should really learn to concentrate, because 40s/50s knitting patterns are so lovely and after seeing these ones I realise I really really must try one.
    It seems strange to me to say that all vintage things are usually ugly (and I suppose equally to say that they’re all beautiful) – there’s about a century’s worth of clothing and patterns out there! How can it all be ugly? Personally I think 40s and 50s styles are the most beautiful clothes ever made but hate 80s styles.
    Oh, and like you say, they might not have had photoshop back then but by god, they had shapewear!
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  • Jeanine - They’re probably also the people who go to those “sofa art” sales and think they’re tasteful paintings. I rather liken vintage to fine art—it’s well-made and timeless and not throwaway (for the most part!). I can almost bet money that most people who look down on vintage don’t frequent art museums or anything cultural. They are more into the mall and sports, etc. Buncha sheeps who have to wear current styles, regardless of whether they’re flattering or not.
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  • Hatty - The truth is that in most of the world it is only those born since the seventies that are so “cornfed” in their childhood that they are now big and strapping (to put it kindly) or even obese. I compared my school primary school photos (sixties) with my son’s (eighties) the other day. Yes, his generation is HUGE compared with ours. We were not only slimmer but smaller-framed as well. One reason older people may cringe at the memory of all those fine-gauge knits and “vintage” clothes, though, is that they do remember them being worn by their middle-aged mums and aunties after much childbearing. Believe me they are not so lovely on the stocky, broad and buxom. Having said that, modern fashion isn’t either – and today’s young people manage to be like that BEFORE they start the childbearing. (Probably my generations fault for overfeeding them in childhood of course.)
    Another thing i remember well about the sixties and seventies (and none of the “vintage-groupies” ever so much as mention it) was the ubiquity of (the firstly welcomed and later despised) Crimplene. Believe me if you haven’t danced in Crimplene, you don’t know what “sweat” means. And washing powders were not so effective then either….. uuuurrggggh.
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  • Karen - Who really looks good in a 1920s silhouette? As much as I love that era, I would look awful in a drop-waisted, flat-chested, beige, calf-length rectangle dress.
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  • Tasia - I love the scans! The ‘You’ sweater is my favourite and I’d own it in every colour if I knew how to knit!
    The whole ugly-vs-pretty debate is so general, but I think there are some people who can’t appreciate any of it. You know? Like all things non-modern are OLD. I agree with Katherine, it’s about the silhouettes for me. And the feelings. I love the extremely feminine full-skirted look and wish I could twirl through life in a cupcake dress, all the time! Plus, the hourglass silhouette that was popular, is flattering on me. The mod sixties, with the minis and trapeze silhouettes? Not for me. It’s not ugly to me, it’s just not something I’d wear myself. I’d love to have long thin legs to rock a minidress!
    How disappointing that you didn’t get to show off your finds like you intended :) At my previous job, no one would have thought they were cool either. It’s like my brown dotted shirtdress – the skirt is longer length than standard fashion, it’s not super-fitted, and the sleeves are a modest mid-bicep length. Ugly, perhaps, to some people. Most people wouldn’t have looked twice at it on the rack. But when I wear it, I feel pretty and comfortable and a little bit twirly.
    It’s almost the same reaction to thrifted finds – some people just can’t get over the ‘used’ factor to appreciate the truly awesome thing you just found. Those are likely the same type of people, thinking all vintage is old/ugly, all thrift-store clothing is used/old.
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  • In the Hammock Blog - Aww, that’s too bad that your coworkers didn’t see the beauty in these designs. I personally love the striped outfit with the peplum, adorable!!
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  • melina bee - wow, knit dresses are a personal favorite, I’d love that one with the square collar and two stripes at the bottom hem.
    I wear a ton of vintage and some of it is frumpy and some is stylish, it’s as much about how it is worn and context as much the items.
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  • Lorena - My mother and sister have told me the same thing when I wear vintage and vintage-inspired dresses; they say they age me. I have thought the same thing sometimes when I see girls wearing vintage…that it does make them look older. I have to remember to keep it young, like with my hair and makeup…I don’t overdo those!!
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  • Lorena - A lot of vintage styles can be frumpy. I like how girls pair vintage dresses with edgy tall wedges that make the look fun and youthful and at the same time more modern. A mix of vintage with modern works best.
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  • Tisha - I thoroughly enjoyed this post… I came here from Elegant Musings. The scans are lovely, and the big question is: if the ladies’ waists back then were so skinny, how wide were the hips? Straight skirts would look really awful over skinny waist and wide hips!! Did they just not eat? :)
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  • Amy - It has to be said, maybe I’m not a ‘true’ lover of vintage but when I go to actual vintage shops I’m always amazed at the ugliness of some of the stuff in there! I mean, the 70s and 80s are technically vintage now and there was a load of hideous stuff that came out of those decades – acid wash jeans for a start!
    I think sometimes folk who are heavily into vintage get a bit carried away, just because something is old does not necessarily mean it’s either pretty or flattering. I guess it’s like anything with clothes, what looks good on one person doesn’t necessarily look good on another.
    On the other hand though, I agree with the ladies above, vintage is going through a revival at the moment and so folk in their 20s-30s might have been a bit more positive about your lovely knitting mag! I know my Mum doesn’t quite get my vintage obsession, she associates a lot of the things I wear with her Mum, who wasn’t the most stylish woman alive (in the nicest possible way Gran!).
    I read several vintage and fashion blogs where the ladies wear clothes that can look super chic on them, but would look utterly ridiculous on me. Equally though, sometimes they wear items of clothing that they go on about how wonderful and vintage it is and I’m looking at it thinking, “oh my goodness, really?!”
    Horses for courses I guess!
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  • Viv - No matter what decade, there are going to be ugly trends/fashions. I don’t think you showed any that fit into those categories. Just because someone doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean that it is ugly. And I feel sorry for your workmates because they just showed you how creative they really are- they couldn’t look past the fact that your magazine was 50+ years old.
    I agree with the fact that if you were alive in that decade, it is looked upon as “out-dated” to you- thus not pretty anymore. However it wouldn’t be fair to just classify past styles as ugly. I personally can appreciate almost every decade. Athough 80-90s I’m having a hard time. 80s just seems so extreme to me like they ran out of ideas and had to get crazy.
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  • Lainie - I love the Dual Rule! And yes, I was in middle school in 1988 and had HUGE Teased bangs, bleach spots on my jeans and fringed boots. I see the 80s influances pop up and just cringe! I HATE it! However, there are ugly, gaudy clothes in every era, today included.
    I am into specific vintage looks, and modern ones inspired heavily by that specific era. But even then, I don’t like all colors or prints, so even if the shape of a dress is something I like, the color or fabric could make me feel as if it “ugly”.
    While many of my coworkers regularly compliment my style, it isn’t the look for them at all. As their’s aren’t for me.
    Just embrace your individual style, and forget about everyone else’s opinions. It’s nice when other people think you look good, but not as nice when you feel good yourself!
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  • seeks - I’m sorta with Sigrid on this: fashion is really about the manufacturing of style. In which case, if you look at vintage clothes as “old” or “quaint”, you’re more likely to see it as ugly and outdated. If you were to take very similar pieces of clothing and show them on willowy runway models of today, the same folks may not interpret them as such. If you look at vintage as “classic” or “timeless”, then you are more likely to notice the stellar as opposed to the awful.
    I really enjoy vintage, but I do think that I probably don’t wear it the same as it would have been worn in its original era. No matter what, fashion is always about reinterpretation.
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  • bonita - ~ * ♥ * ~
    I am purely green with envy…. I would LOVE to knit any/all of these patterns and words fail at the gorgeousness of the knit peplums!!
    I can sympathize though ~ I bring home a piece of delightful vintage that I adore and often times my family comments along the lines of my looking like a grandma. That or my mother literally laughs at me… : (
    I just tell myself that some people don’t get it, and the internet is full of vintage obsessed people that can drool with me. : )
    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~
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  • Jen - I for one am swooning over just about all of these—even those that I wouldn’t personally wear have a lot of charm. (For the record, though, most of them I WOULD WEAR! With a thrill in my heart!)
    What others are saying about some folks having a skewed view of “vintage” (polyester, anyone?) is true. I grew up during the 80s and 90s. Neon, insane proliferation of animal prints, harem pants, western style (with fringe!), pegged jeans…Oh, dear. Yes, I remember it all. And even participated in some of it, Heaven forbid!
    But I look at fashions from my own personal favourite eras—the 40s through the very early 60s—and see so much beauty, class, and elegance. There was a lot of cheek and fun, too—the novelty prints, the bright colours. And as another commentor noted, so many “classics”! Classic pieces that one would be hard-pressed to find RTW today in some cases. Plus things in that era fit so nicely—not baggy and floppy or sausage-skin tight like we see today. I’m an hourglass shape, so finding things RTW that fit is really difficult—hence my appreciation for styles like the ones here.
    No waist? Too skinny? WHAT?! That is just unbelievable.
    Also, all of these “ages you” and “makes you look older” comments…Obviously, our culture is obsessed with youth, but one reason I like older styles…Everyone looks like an adult. A grown up. Every woman had a bit of Myrna Loy or Kate Hepburn or Olivia de Havilland about her because she was dressed so nicely, her hair done up…What is wrong with looking like an adult if you are one? I think about my grandmother being married and pregnant at 22 with her husband fighting the Nazis in Europe. She was an adult. I look at that and what they accomplished with real awe. Just a thought.
    Finally, Sigrid makes a brilliant point:
    “Or maybe it isn’t what they are used to seeing in the RTW stores so they think it must be “ugly.” I think a lot of the fashion industry involves the manufacturing of desire. It’s not always about making beautiful clothes that will flatter us with their cut and fabrics, instead there are new trends every year and the industry needs us to want them and to buy them. I think Vintage is so outside this process that people don’t know how to think about it.”
    Exactly. Brilliant.
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  • Miss Katie - I would kill to knit one of these up! Do let us know if you post them somewhere, I would be all over that :)
    I get that kind of a reaction to my vintage knits all the time, people are genuinely shocked that something vintage can be beautiful, and also that something handmade can be wearable!
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  • The Thriftaholic (Leilani) - Not to be an urban-centric snob but are you located in a city or a more suburban area? I live in Chicago and rarely have I gotten a derisive comment on a vintage outfit (I wear vintage or thrifted clothing every day) and usually get a compliment on even my ‘wackiest’ accessories. When I’m outside the city, however, I tend to get weird looks and more questions. Especially in the neighborhood I live in (which is younger/more artsy) the vintage look has become almost mainstream! (As an aside I’m originally from Arkansas and when I’m at home people are usually pretty accepting too.)
    You should be happy that you value history and appreciate vintage, I’m glad there are people out there like your co-workers so I don’t have to compete with them at the estate sales or thrift stores! You should ask them if they have any aunts or grandmothers who have vintage and want to give it away as they are unlikely to want their old clothing.
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