Friday, July 3, 2009

Is real vintage out of style?

For over half a century, I've collected vintage clothing from many different eras, most notably the 30s, 40s and 50s. I'm pathetically addicted to collecting, even as I know the time has come to part with this outrageously vast mass of clothing. What I am discovering in my attempts to market my "true" vintage is that no one seems to want the 50's net formals, the 40's two piece gaberdine suits or even the bias cut graceful 30's gowns.

While at first dismayed, then distressed and finally outright indignant, I began to search for an answer as to why these beautiful vintage pieces were not being purchased. My only conclusion is that the clothing from these decades is TOO SMALL for the 2009 woman. Most certainly we have evolved from the tiny waisted, small bosomed, lithe bodies that wore the netted formals, gaberdine suits and fluid gowns of bygone eras. We are, in essence, several sizes UP from what we were "back when."

For a woman who lived through the 40's and 50's, I have an easy 5 point explanation as to why this has happened. Growing up in the 40s and 50s, we ate three wholesome meals a day... meals that our mothers prepared while wearing their homemade aprons and literally standing over a hot stove. Our food was for the most part organic, grown in gardens or purchased directly from the farmer's stand. It was "put up" as my mother called it, in large quantities in her hot summer kitchen, enough to take us through winter. Vegetables and fruits were abundantly canned or dried and brought forth from the root cellar as needed. We almost always had dessert, too... a cherry cobbler or apple pie prepared from the bounty in the root cellar.

Why then, you may ask, with such generous meals, were we wearing size "small" when most of us now can only dream of a 32" bust, a 22" waist and 32" hips? Consider the following....

1. We almost never snacked because our healthy three meals a
day kept us feeling satisfied.

2. We didn't know what "fast food" was until the late 50s when
that strange "pissa pie" from Italy was introduced and McDonalds
launched their first hamburger with fries.

3. Most families didn't have television so we didn't become
couch potatoes.

4. We had ONE family car which caused most of the family to WALK
everywhere even if the distance was measured in MILES.

5. Not exercising wasn't an option as we mowed the grass with push
mowers and scrubbed floors on our hands and knees. Oh, and yes,
we walked miles to school and back uphill all the way and in the
winter with icicles hanging from our eyelashes!

Oh, how I long for my small body so that I could wear my tiny net
formals, my two piece gaberdine suits and my sexy flowing 30s lingerie. In all my years of collecting, I have yet to find a plus size vintage anything. If you find one, cherish it and sell it for the highest dollar you can get because you have a true treasure.
In the meantime, I'm still hanging in with my very large collection of very small vintage. What's worse, is I'm compelled to keep adding to it.


Jessica Cangiano said...

Thank you for this post, it confirms firsthand many of the reasons I'd long suspected a good percentage of mid-century ladies were so slender.

While I do sometimes encounter the issue of vintage pieces being too small (and I say that as a very average sized gal by today's standards), one thing I love about older pieces is that they were often cut for smaller heights, which work well for me as I'm 5 foot 2.

A lovely and thought-provoking post, thanks again!

Wishing you a fantastic weekend,
♥ Jessica

Marge, Born Too Late Vintage said...

There are beautiful plus size vintage items out there. You just have to look in the right place which is Born Too Late Vintage on Ruby Lane.

You'll also see that the prices on those plus size items are fair, not out of this world just because they're a larger size.

Anonymous said...

There were women of all sizes "then" as there are now. Plus sized vintage, even by today's standards of plus size, can be found if you look.

Also, keep in mind that not all women back then were just naturally skinny from genes, diet, exercizse, etc. It was almost a rule of fashion that most women wore more constrictive undergarments and shapers-even those "thin" by today's standards. Many women today do not wear shapers, and it's been shown by the media several times over than many of us don't even wear bras that are our correct sizes! No wonder we have such a hard time trying to fit into older clothes.