Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Dressing vintage, a sub-culture?
Lina Sofia made a comment on my post Properly Dressed? about dressing in a vintage style at a sociology institution where some people study the retro sub-culture. I have been thinking about this before, on and off, and her comment put it on again. Am I and you and you part of a sub-culture just because we opt to dress a certain way? To me a subculture have always been more than about the way you dress, even is fashion is a significant way off defining yourself to belonging to a certain way of life. It’s about sharing an outlook on life, setting yourself voluntarily apart from what is considered the norm in society. I have never felt that people interested in vintage are uniform enough to warrant the label sub-culture. I discussed the subject with Pimpinett who pointed out the diversity of what she calls “retrophiles” (which I think is a very good name, btw.) There are those involved with the burlesque scene, those who dance, living role-players, rockability and so on. All with different outlooks on how they define vintage and what they want from it.
However, people who are not involved in it, often seem to define an interest with vintage to “a young woman who used to be into other alternative styles, like goth or emo, who now are into a pin up-look”. There was even an article in The new York Times recently,
A Sly Wink to Pinups of the Past. I don’t think it’s a particularly good article and it annoys me no end that they work so hard to sexualize a look that is actually rather demure, using code words like “Playboy” and pin up style”, but I think it’s a good illustration on how vintage style is commonly seen.
I’m not in my twenties, I never did dress very alternatively, if you don’t think spending 15 years in black clothes avant-garde and I’m not interested in cultivating an overly sexual “pin up” look. Not that any of these things are wrong, they are just not what I am. I think it’s very interesting to learn why other people opt to dress they way they do and I love just the diversity I have found among people who I have met under the vintage umbrella. We share an interest, but have different outlooks and are drawn to different things. The plain, the fancy, specific decades or specific styles within a certain time period. And, something that seems to be completely forgotten in media, there are men who dress in a vintage style too. I know quite a few of them. Perhaps they are overlooked because they just can’t be pushed into the pin-up style? All in all I feel that there is far too much diversity to call this a sub-culture. Or am I wrong?
(The pin ups where brought to you from http://freespace.virgin.net/b.mercer/Pinup1.html)