Pink corset

Unforgiving fabrics, hungry metal zippers, tight corsets for support and skirts so tight I can only take half steps.

After another wonderful day of swanning around in a marvellous 1940’s creation, corseted up to the tightest I can lace, forcing the zipper closed; there is a sweet release at the end of the day that no constant spandex wearer will ever know.

It all begins in the closet where rows and rows of garments with their wasp waists, side zippers and delicate seams from eras past, tease me with their good looks. Lined up looking sultry, severe or ingenue sweet; they promise me their transformative powers and offer to carry me away on our own personal romance. But there is a double edge sword.

My fellow vintage lovers; we know the hours and hours of torturous pleasure we give ourselves lurking online lusting over ball gowns, tea dresses, sequins and cashmere. Those one of a kind, dead stock pieces that are worth every penny of the months wage they cost, knowing that, short of a financial miracle, they’ll never be ours. We search by price, by era and most cruelly of all, by waist measurement. The mental battle we wage trying to determine just how we can sneak these beauties in to our pre-existing relationships, can continue for months, while little heart icons mock us from the page.

If we manage to emerge triumphant from this scene, the battle has only just begun. Rarely do they arrive all bright and pristine, meaning we now have to endure the wait required whilst they are treated, cleaned and repaired. When the day of wearing finally arrives, a process of care in dressing must be followed. A specific order that changes as each garment demands. Perhaps we begin with hair and makeup, while our arms still stretch before being bound into sleeves and collars. Perhaps the fastenings are such that a series of gentle movements, easing each joint through tiny openings marks the beginning of the day. Perhaps extra hands must be called for to tighten laces and guide zippers, so awkwardly placed but critical to the finished silhouette. There is never a carelessness in vintage dressing.

Finally corseted, stocking’d and coiffed, we go to greet the rigours of the modern world. There will be no running for buses, or slouching in seats; every movement is a reminder of what lies beneath. Our erect posture and wiggle walk is not an affectation, but rather the physical outworking of the architecture of our wardrobe. Heads must be held high, shoulders back straight and steps measured carefully, avoiding pavements pitfalls. There is a carriage in both body and mentality that springs from our seams.

When the days end comes and many seek the simple relief of removing their suits; while we turn instead to the incomparable moments of snapping off garters, rolling off stockings and releasing tight laces.

As I feel my body sigh and stretch into it’s simple evening slip, I wonder;  this love we have for our vintage fashion, is this more than a simple style romance?

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Very well written essay, captures most of the sensations of vintage dressing quite well. A few other things, the gentle restraint of dexterity as ones hands are enclosed in the near mandatory gloves one dons upon leaving the house, and the brief but careful hesitation before moving ones head about, so as to not dislogde the equally required hat delicately pinned onto the coiffure spent hours perfecting. Then, as a final modifier of ones poise and carriage, the knowledge that every garment and accessory you are ensconced in, from heel tip to glove tip, dress hem to merry widow straps, is a beloved treasure demanding of the utmost of care and grace all day long to stave off their decay and unraveling yet one more day so you may revel in their glories for another wearing.

  2. It really really is kind of like S&M – I like the structure and being aware of everything at all times. My friend calls it “rigging” – the garters and stockings etc.

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