rosecampion (rosecampion) wrote in fatshionista,

The politics of vintage (and vintage inspired) fashion

They're having a very interesting conversation right now over at Jezebel on vintage fashion and I thought it would be just the thing for this community to gnaw on for a while.

For myself, I love vintage and buy it and wear it every chance I get. I also love vintage inspired looks, like Jane Bon Bon's dresses. Do I think on a daily basis about what it means when I wear those clothes? Honestly, no. I want to think, hey, it's just what looks good on me and they're cool looking clothes. I think the discussion really can go a lot further than that though.

While the main discussion on Jezebel is about things like how clothing from an oppressive time, like the fifties, can be a symbol of that oppression, my own mind went to fat issues. For instance, one defense people have been using in favor of vintage is that the silhouette is more "flattering" than modern fashion. This seems to mean mostly showing off an hourglass figure. Or the creation of the illusion of an hourglass figure. I know we've talked about shape privilege in Fatshionista before, how to some fat is a little more "acceptable" if one has an hourglass figure. I have to confess, one of the reasons I love the couple of vintage dresses I have is that they do give me that appearance of an hourglass figure. I'm probably not going to give up the dresses, but I'm going to try and be more mindful of this. And try and work on the idea that it's okay if my silhouette isn't a perfect hourglass.

Another defense of the vintage look is "they're just clothes" and "all I think when I look at fifties vintage is, oh, pretty!" I don't know about this though. I'm not sure one can really divorce clothes from meaning. My personal theory is that clothes are always a little story we tell the world about what's going on in the insides of ourselves. Sometimes its a conscious story we cultivate. Other times, it's not really conscious, but I think it's always there. I think of myself as a feminist and I now find myself wondering, do I want to be telling a story about myself that links me back to a time of oppression of all kinds. Even if I don't idealize that time myself, maybe someone might look at me and think I do.

Another fat issue with vintage is size privilege. I'm on the smaller end of the bigger fats, just a bit too big to be an in-betweenie. But I recognize that I do have some privelege in that regard. If I scour eBay and etsy, I can find a few things that fit. But for those much bigger than myself, well, it's really super hard to find stuff, especially the sought after fifties stuff in natural fibers. I'm not sure, what, if anything can be done about this privilege except recognize it. One can't change the past and make more old clothes. I suspect it's not that there weren't larger fats in the past, but that, like today, it was hard to find clothes to fit for larger fats and when they were found, they were worn again and again, until worn out.

For some further context, the source of the discussion comes from this blog-

and this one

so, what do people think?
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