Monday, 15 August 2011

Birds of a Feather

Something that I hear a lot, especially in conjunction with my Vintage Mafia girlies, is how so many people out there wish they could find some like-minded vintage friends to go out with and misbehave. Or behave, but that's less fun.

I won't deny, my friends (by which I mean all the ladies and gents of my acquaintance) have been my lifeline on occasion, and a constant source of warm and fuzzies the rest of the time. I have small pockets of friends from school, college, university and work. All of whom I love dearly but see irregularly. But I'm definitely currently part of a large group of friends, who dress in vintage to varying degrees and these are the ones with whom I spend the vast proportion of my time (and since this is a vintage blog, the ones I'm going to talk about). Much like any group of friends, there are ups and downs, people come in and drift out, contact is made and lost; often picked up again and held fast. The group dynamics change a lot, people move away, meet other people, find new interests or move from the peripheries to the centre. There are those I would go to the ends of the earth for (all the Maf, several other close friends, business partners and sisters from another mister, 'vintage' or not), those whose friendship and advice I value immensely and love hanging out with but we see each other less often, and those who are super fun, lovely people whose company I enjoy, but who I simply just don't know that well. And those who are just not my cup of tea, for one reason and another. But friendship is a funny thing - some people you just mesh with, effortlessly; these are the ones that you never have to worry about. Even if you don't speak for weeks, months, years, you'll always have loads to talk about when you finally do. There are some friendships that do require effort, but it's worth it. And yet more some that despite all the effort, are never going to take off. It's only experience that tells you when to stop.

I've been guilty of many of the cardinal friendship sins in my time. Meeting a boy and disappearing off the radar, particularly. But then, I do tend to fall headlong in love and everything else pales - it's not a conscious thing. I'm also a bad long-distance friend - when people I'm close to move to the opposite ends of the country, or worse, another country, it proves difficult for me to remain close. I only have myself to blame for this. But making friends isn't so hard really. I know some people feel it is, but in this age of social networking, it really is a cinch. How do you think I met all the lovely vintage people I know?

Last weekend was lovely Lisa's birthday. We had a picnic on London Fields, for which lots of our marvellous mutual friends came (all this alliteration is making me sound like the unbelievably irritating copywriter from Groupon... kill me now), and it got me thinking about how we all met. It's a combination of random chance and demon networking, and an interesting story to no one but me (probably), but if it can help some of you vintage lone rangers find a friendly soulmate or two, then so much the better.


I met this beautiful lady on the Fedora Lounge, probably as far back as 2008? We have hung out off and on over the years, 
but this last year has forged our friendship into something stronger. I love this woman.
She's been a constant source of advice, delight and awesomeness.
Her birthday picnic at the weekend was a day of joy!

I got into vintage entirely on my own. My best friend is very 'normal' in terms of fashion and hobbies, and my boyfriend at the time was going away from his rockabilly phase, into a more trendy one, listening to electro and suchlike (disclaimer: I like electro...now!). I was heading further back in time and obsessing over vintage and victory rolled hairdos. I found the Fedora Lounge and the What Katie Did forum, and was captivated by the people I 'met' on there. This led to friendships on Facebook, real life meetups in London, opportunities and more meetings, snowballing eventually into the group of friends and lifestyle (not to mention career) that I have now. And it all started with a Google! The internet is a hugely powerful tool to make new connections, whether you're after friends or love (I'm going to write a bit about online dating as a vintage girl soon, too). Once the connections are made, friendships can begin!

I met the Nomlette in 2009 when we were at a fashion event together. I was invited by a fellow blogger, Mademoiselle Robot.
Naomi was the stylist and I the model. I've always been much bigger than her.

I appreciate that if you live in a small town and there are literally no like-minded people in your area, then it's always going to be difficult to make real-life friends. But I love chatting to people in different areas and countries, and these virtual friendships have often led to real encounters, like the time the New York Fedora Loungers took me on an amazing night out, or when I went to Phoenix in Arizona and hung out with Lolita Haze; or when we welcomed Darhling to London where she'd come on holiday from Sweden. She now lives here, so we must have done something right! But if you're in an area where you know there are others like you, ya freak, then what's the best way to get in on the action?


I first met Gemma when she emailed me about Tart, then I bumped into her at Goodwood. 
I met Bethan at VaG last year. They met when we all went out together...
the same fateful night the VM was formed!  Now look! Aww.

Online

Joining forums dedicated to your passion is a good start. Then you can network and chat about your interests. This applies to anything - not just vintage!

Get involved! Just as quiet people find it hard to make friends, so if you simply lurk and say nothing, you won't be invited into friendship groups. Online you've got no excuses, shyness doesn't count!
Be brave and go out there. If your new acquaintances are publicly organising a night out, then ask and go along. If they haven't specifically invited you, it's probably because they didn't think you wanted to come (or expected willing people to express interest), not for any other deliberate reason. Just ask!

Use blogs, Twitter and Facebook to make friends. You know if they write a blog you read and love that you have the same interests! I know so many ladies through blogging and Twitter now, it's absolutely brilliant. And it always breaks the ice in real life! "Oh you're so-and-so from whatchamacallit aren't you?" "Why yes I am, and you're thingy from whatsit!" This happens a lot at events now.

I met Jennifer when I did her hair at the Rhythm Riot.
We then met again on a Fedora Lounge event, I think... Hannah and Fay are both former FLers.
"Let's look smug while the short ones look sad," Hannah said. It was only a partial success.

In real life

The best thing to do is to find awesome events, convince a friend to get in the spirit for one night and go along. Or, if you're really brave, then go by yourself. The night the VM formed, Bethan tweeted me and asked if she could join me for a trip to the Candlelight Club. She'd only met me once before, and none of the rest of the girls. But we swapped numbers, she came, we had an amazing night and the rest is history. Jeni and Bethan now live together!

I went to the Chap Olympiad for the first time in 2009, completely by myself. I only knew a few people who were there a little bit, from seeing and chatting to them at events. They definitely weren't actual 'friends' by that point. But I went, I had a blast, and now I count some of those folks among my closest friends. AND, I write for the Chap now. If I hadn't mustered the courage that day and gone, then things could have been totally different.

Take up a hobby or class - swing dancing is a perfect one. You don't even need a partner, and you'll meet tonnes of people. It matters not a jot if you have no rhythm, trust me.

Go to vintage fairs, galleries, festivals. You never know when you'll meet a hot boy or a future friend.  If you're there, then stands to reason people as totally awesome as you might also be! I met Shona Heyday because I bought a pair of trousers off her at a Jukebox fair... now we're fast friends and business partners!

So those are my tips for making vintage friends, for what they're worth. They worked for me, so that's the main endorsement! I only hope I get to meet more of the amazing ladies and gents I chat with online. Make sure you do say hello if you see me or any familiar face at events. And (do excuse the plug, but) if you're a vintage fan in London, then do consider coming to our Vintage Mafia event next month - The Ric-Rac Club, brackets Let's Misbehave, close brackets. We're just in the process of confirming all the details before we can give it an almighty plug, but we're pitching it more as a vintage social rather than the usual dance-centric affairs that are so common in this old town! We're planning some solo dance demonstrations, fun and games, and, more importantly, some amusing giveaways featuring booze, so you can acquire that dutch courage if you need it. Come along and make some new friends.

See you on or offline soon!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

35 comments:

  1. what a lovely group of friends!!!!

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  2. I must say your mafia pals are such nice ladies- I've recently been meeting many of my online buddies in the real world and everyone has been so nice! (Sounds rather sachharine but it's true).

    Finding people with shared interests and just ASKING is something I was always nervous to do. Blogging has cured me and I have some awesome vintage chums now. And the attitude has also enriched other interests too- I'm far more likely to invite mates of any kind to museums, jazz,arty things...and have found most people are thrilled to share unusual passions! Nothing dodgy I hasten to add, he he! I'm actually kicking myself that pre-blog, I assumed no one would share my interests; actually, many of my non-thrift, non-vintage friends suddenly became eager to join my funny ways!

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  3. Lovely post and all fantastic advice. I've found friends similarly and am currently working on building friendships with vintage peeps in San Francisco. Surprisingly not so easy if you don't Swing dance (I do Swing dance but as a busy Mum of two have little time for it at the moment). However, I'm getting there and the fun is in the doing.

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  4. Fab to learn how you gals all know one another. The internet it a wondrous contraption. I owe the majority of my friendships/ brief chats with vintage-istas to it - including meeting oooooo!

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  5. I never thought that when I started blogging that I'd ever find anyone in my area who was a vintage lover, but over the last couple of months I've found several ladies within reasonable driving distance. I think the biggest thing I've come to realize is that it is going to take time and effort and now I'm cool with that. Plus, online friends are great too!

    Thanks for sharing this post!

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  6. Oh, wow, thanks so much for this! I've recently moved countries to become an au pair for a year, and wasn't sure how I'd make friends. I'm painfully shy, but these tips will really help me get out there and enjoy my OE! I know it's out of context because you're talking about finding vintage friends, but I think everyone can use this advice for all sorts of occasions! Thank you :)

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  7. What a lovely post! Loving how much blogging you've been doing recently :)

    I must admit I've always been too scared to say hello to bloggers in case I come across as a bit of a melon. I saw you and the rest of the maf at Swing for Skin but nerves got the better of me, even though you all seem like such a fun bunch! I probably just gazed at you all like a loon ;)

    J x

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  8. Thank you for a lovely blog, being a vintage lover for 30 years friends have come and gone over time but my true vintage friends have stayed with me and I have met some amazing new ones since the arrival of facebook and twitter.

    The vintage mafia has inspired us vintage girlies in the Norwich area to set up a monthly lunch or afternoon tea to get together, dress up and do all things vintage.

    Keep up the great blogs and hope to bump into you somewhere.

    Karen

    fabulous miss k www.blueskiesvintageevents.co.uk

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  9. All great advise! I've met some lovely people by meeting them online, yourself included actually :o)

    Recently at the Rockabilly Rave I ended up chatting to 2 Australian ladies who follow my blog about 2 ladies in the US whose blogs we all follow and who had both got married, it was in turn bizarre but totally lovely!

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  10. what a lovely post, and some good advice. thanks.

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  11. Such a lovely post and really great advice. I've been reading vintage blogs for a while now and always wondered how you all made friends. Hopefully I'll be able to come along to the next Vintage Mafia event and if I do I'll be sure to say hello.

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  12. Very nice post :) Its not always easy to keep and make new friends as one grows older but this is some great tips for how to meet new people with the same interests. I find my self to have three main "groups" of friends, the ones from way back at school and from work, the ones I've gotten to know the last five years in the vintage/rockabilly scene and the ones from the amazing www.

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  13. Great tips here, none of my friends are remotely interested in the same things as me so I may be checking out Fedora Lounge right now! :)

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  14. I've missed you and Hannah on the FL! Too few people talking sense now.

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  15. I live in Antwerp/Belgium and we do not have vintage events or festivals. So it's very hard to meet like-minded people. I always seem to be the only vintage-clad lady when I go out and I do get some strange looks. People here don't seem to "get" the vintage thing, although we do have quite a lot of vintage stores in Antwerp now. Maybe I should try talking to the shoppers there LOL. A few months ago I found a new magazine called Vintage Life in the bookstore and I loved it. I see all the lovely events organised in London and get so jealous! LOL

    Anyway, I love your blog and will keep on following you and your friends on the internet!

    Inez

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  16. I've always been a secondhand rose but when I met my dear friend Kitty 8 years ago, she was so fabulous I had to ramp it up a notch in the glamour stakes. Being like minded gals we put our heads together and the Daily Strumpet was born! We totally agree, Fluer - meeting like minded people can make amazing things happen! Stay gorgeous - we fully intend to make it down to London for one of your fabulous events some day. xxx

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  17. Great post! The tips you give are excellent for anyone who wants to make firends with people who share an interest whether vintage or not. I don't have a large group of friends as I haven't found anyone who is remotely interested in the same things as me. I have only been blogging for a few months and even though I have not met anyone in real life, I certainly feel that I am making a few friends just by reading their posts and making comments. Now I will be trying some of your tips in an effort to become more involved with like-minded people.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Thanks for sharing this - it's full of encouraging words and just plain good advice. I've met most of my greatest friends via the internet and I honestly don't believe there's any other way I could have encountered such a fantastic bunch of people. It definitely helps us shy people summon up the courage to get out there and do things!

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  19. What a beautiful group of pretty girls with red lips:) I can see the happiness on their face. Seems like they really enjoy what they are doing.

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  20. Fleur, I love all of the autobiographical posts you've been doing lately. They're very informative, and universal in the sense that all of us vintage girls struggle with the same issues. Vintage isn't a huge subculture, and it doesn't have a definitive hub since it branches so many countries and continents. It's harder to meet like-minded people, but when you do it's easy to become friends since there's so much to talk about.

    My biggest dilemma is that vintage is cheap and abundant in the semi-rural area where I live, but there are literally no other people who share my interests, not just with vintage. My life plan is to amass a huge collection of dresses and the like and then move to a big city. You should write a guide of the best 'vintage' cities.

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  21. Aaaw...you're a good-looking bunch! A lovely post once again Fleur. Great advice! In life, one has to put oneself 'out there' in order to make new friends, and I'm thankful for the friendships I'm forming with people all over the world. The pond is shrinking thanks to the internet!

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  22. Love the pics,nice to have vintage loving friends,a gal can never have too many.

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  23. What a great post. I hope to utilise some of your online friends that share my love of all things vintage. Thanks again Fleur.

    xx Fran

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  24. What a brilliant and very truthful post - I hope it inspires lots of people to get involved and meet new friends.
    I also love that you blog about your friends as I really enjoy reading their blogs too - so much vintage bloggy goodness!

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  25. This was such a great thing to talk about! I've been considering starting a blog for a while to connect with other like minded people. Thanks for the little push!

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  26. Great post! I was actually inspired a year ago to explore more of my "vintage" lifestyle as I grew tired of doing vintage things alone. I have been dressing vintage off and on most of my life, but knew that there had to be other people that followed it as closely as I did. It is actually how I found you, and realized that there were whole groups who liked, collected and enjoyed going to vintage things! The internet is good for something :D

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  27. What a wonderful post topic!

    I've actually found recently that vintage style has been such an excellent conversation starter out and about. I recently moved to a country town where I stick out like a sore thumb and thus was dressing relatively 'normal' unless going out. Upon "getting my vintage back" more recently I've had a lot of random conversations with strangers.

    I love your pointers for meeting people online and at vintage events - I shall take your advice!!

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  28. Currently trying to unify the Belfast vintage network!
    Looking forward to your blog about vintage dating :)

    Lucy

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  29. I loved your post, it made me very happy for you but a little sad because there aren't vintage loving people in my city... In fact I know there are just 3 in my country, but they live too far. I'm shy even to talk to them on facebook =/

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  30. Your posts are very inspirational to me. I have just started wearing vintage and recently went to my first vintage event, a forties weekend at the Seven Valley Railway. I have been shy so far when it comes to approaching and talking to others, but really will persevere to come out of my shell. Thanks x

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  31. Yes, one must be brave and approach people! Having recently moved to a new city and been forced to make new friends, I must say that it really is the only thing that works! I also have to remind myself not to be intimidated by people who look unbeliebably cool - they are still just people! - but everyone appreciates a compliment, so I always find a good icebreaker is to pay someone a compliment - great dress, I love your hair, do you mind me asking where you got those shoes, etc etc. Even if you only find one other person in your town who is into the same stuff, maybe the two of you could travel together to a bigger city, to specialist events? Plan a vintage weekend away together!

    It's so encouraging to hear that you met your besties online, thank you, as ever, for sharing with us!

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  32. You and your friends are all positively gorgeous!Please please please share with us where Lisa got her fabulous outfit from!

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  33. Thanks for this! I'm not someone who dresses vintage all the time, or can even get my hair to look decent in victory rolls, but these are really good suggestions. I think I just have to push past that little voice that says 'no one will talk to you all night' and just go for it!

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  34. Fantastic article thank you!

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