Thursday, 4 August 2011

Going against the flow

In my experience, most people who dress in vintage every day (whether head-to-toe, or just with a distinct retro flavour), have come to it through many years of experimenting with alternative fashion. If you click around on this blog, you might stumble across some photos of me as a teenager and in my early twenties - I ran the gamut of hairstyles and clothing, from ripped, grungey combats and dip-dyed dreadlocks, to fashion mohawks, baggy skater jeans, Adidas shell-toes, then two-tone psychobilly hair, brothel-creepers and polka dots. And the vast majority of my friends are the same. Former indie-kids, ex-goths, grown-up punks and reformed metallers - the signs can all be seen in decades-old tribal tattoos (me), healed over facial piercings (er...me), sad, puckered, formerly stretched ears (still me), and stories, photos, memories and even clothing that we can't (and don't want to) forget.

 Dreadnoughts.

I've been asked dozens of times over the last few years about how I got into vintage, and my answer is always the same. As someone who strove to be 'different', as much as one can be when hanging around with like-minded friends who all have the same tastes (because when you belong to a style 'tribe' you can never be wholly different), vintage is the perfect retirement plan. And even while I was dressing like a devil-may-care nu-metal fan, I was secretly listening to Broadway musical soundtracks and poring over pictures of my granny in the 1940s. I think if I'd discovered there were people out there wearing 40s clothes with hair to match - for I honestly had no idea before I turned to the internet - I'd have started dressing like this much earlier. But vintage is perfect for me, because while the pool of reproduction clothing is quite small, buying one-off pieces means you'll never turn up wearing the same thing as someone else.

Though as you may have seen, my friends and I actually choose to wear matching outfits sometimes, but it's just for shits and giggles, really.

 In Fleurs, in France.

And even we have started to rail against how trendy vintage looks are - when 'vintage gyms' and eateries selling 'vintage style hotdogs' have started to spring up, it makes me want to be different again. Er... I haven't actually done anything about this, apart from putting my nose-stud back in. My 1940s look is what suits me best (not to mention my wardrobe is both expensive and extensive), so I can assure you I'll be sticking with it until vintage is deeply unfashionable again... then I can relax. ;) But in our desire to spend our time doing things with people who love vintage for its history and individuality, the girls and I have actually decided to put on a club night for like-minded vintage types who don't take themselves too seriously. It's called The Vintage Mafia Presents... The Ric Rac Club, and it's taking place on the 10th September. Here's a link to the Facebook event. A flyer will be designed and posted up this week, but do save the date! Just to tempt you, there will be a humorous raffle with ridiculous prizes... and a load of free booze as well.



The Chap scene can be slightly different still, with traditionalists attracted to what they perceive as a return to old English values of tailoring and behaviour. They are somewhat missing the point, though, since the Chap has always declared its ethos to be one of 'anarcho-dandyism' - wearing the clothes and displaying the manners of an old-fashioned gent precisely because it's not the norm any more - to stick a middle finger up at modern society. The founders of the Chap include ex-punks, hence the penchant for anarchy. This is why the team used to carry out stunts such as scaling an exhibit at the Tate Modern, armed with vintage hiking gear and Kendal Mint Cake. Humorous and subversive at the same time, I feel.


But one of the other things I hear most often (and something I mentioned on here recently) is the notion of not being brave enough to go out wearing vintage. A young girl at last weekend's Vintage festival told one of our crew that she wished she could dress like us, but was too scared to wear it out and about in Romford. However, she had pink hair, piercings and was generally quite alternative - what the difference in bravery was, I'm not too sure. Perhaps it's that she felt safer in a look that's actually quite conventional for teenagers. I'm sure the alternative youth of today still gets stick from their peers, but it can't be a patch on that which my friends and I received back when it wasn't so widespread. But I expect in a few years, that girl will be in vintage, even if the current trend has passed over, as it no doubt will, leaving those of us who were wearing it before to continue to do so after!

I can't really explain the draw I had towards alternative fashion at 15/16 years old. I've always been a little bit of an individual where style was concerned - sewing triangles of coloured fabric into my jeans to make flares when I was 13 (something which was often done at the time, but not at my school, where if you didn't have a bomber jacket, you were hideously uncool), affecting a sculpted 60s type bob with flicked out ends when I was 14. It necessitated a good half-hour with a curling tongs before school, and boys used to try and place biros into it during assembly. It was not dissimilar to this, albeit with less height. I'm sure everyone definitely thought I was weird. Especially because I still acted shy - I might have been brave enough to do it, but I wouldn't meet anyone's eyes for fear of criticism.


I don't know why I always found it easy to go against the flow when I was really quite shy as a younger child. I didn't make friends easily, and would never have dreamed of going up on stage in a main role in school plays. What's even stranger is that now, after I did that short film (which I apologise for, since it auto-plays every time this blog is loaded - sorry about that everyone), I enjoyed it SO much, I immediately signed up for a short acting course and absolutely, totally and utterly loved every second of it. I felt completely bereft on my way home from the last day, and I now desperately want to go to drama school to do an MA in Acting. I'm seriously considering applying and auditioning this autumn, and whether I'll get in (or how I'll afford it if I do), I have no idea, but I'd like to give it my best shot. I have been thinking a lot lately about how much better it would have been if I'd had this acting epiphany a decade, or five, or two years ago, but the truth is that I wouldn't have been ready or able to do such a thing until now. Years of dressing in alternative and vintage clothing have gradually given me the confidence that I lacked as a child.

So how can vintage newbies tap into this accumulated confidence? Well, all it takes is that one step against the flow of the mainstream, and you can go on from there. For me, it was the home-made flares, but for 2011's timid vintage admirer it might be that first repro dress, that inugural tube of red lipstick, or that first hot roller set. Take that step, and the rest will fall into place as your shyness falls away.

So, my advice to those who feel scared of standing out, but who still want to do so is simple: be brave and start small.
  • If you're dying to go red but the idea fills you with dread, buy a shade of lipstick somewhere between your normal shade and pillarbox red, work it up gradually. 
  • Try out a vintagey hairstyle using a set of hot rollers, but keep your makeup and clothes modern for now.
  • Introduce bright colours into your modern wardrobe before you take the plunge with crazy novelty prints.
  • Buy vintage brooches, vibrant bangles (you know I love my bangles), or eye-catching vintage handbags and shoes - something that will probably draw admiring (or disapproving) stares but which live at the extremities of your person, rather than around your face.
But above all this just remember that it matters not a jot what anyone else thinks of you. While I'm not a confrontational person, the thing that runs through my head when I get one of my once-in-a-blue-moon criticisms from, say, teenage boys (and it truly is once in a blue moon), is why the bloody hell would I give a stuff about a 16 year old boy's opinion anyway? Wearing bold clothes can never make you less of a person, but rather the opposite; as I have proved to myself over the last fifteen years, they can imbue you with a sense of confidence and derring do (or, as the cool kids say, 'swagger') that may be a long time coming...but it will come in the end. I guarantee it!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS. Forgive the long and very autobiographical post. I find it most odd that my last post has attracted the least number of comments I've had in years - perhaps because I once again went against the flow by enjoying myself at the Vintage Festival. It's certainly a refreshing change from the hundreds of comments and tirade of abuse I got last year. Marvellous.

PPS. I think 16-year old me would be horrified at some of the clothes I rock these days. Sensible jumper and shoes anyone?

Pic taken yesterday for Rocket Originals (jumper & shoes) and Heyday (skirt). More pictures soon! 
I've never been so hot in my life. *sweats just thinking about it*

69 comments:

  1. Oooh that post rings lots of bells!

    I remember my sister actually getting into a fight to defend my dress sense when I was about 13. I was wearing a 60s style mini dress and over the knee socks, but I was so shy and self concious as well!

    I'm an ex indie/punk weirdo too, and I also didn't know there were other people dressing this way till I discovered the interwebz.

    I have also had that "I'm not brave enough" conversation with other people too.

    Anyway, at risk of this turning into a blog post of it's own rather than a comment I shall just say bravo :D

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  2. hello :-) I've been following your blog for some time, although I've never commented due to a combination of things (some of which being shyness and a tiny amount of time to blogread because of my impending handmade wedding). It's quite rare that I stick around to read in full and with full attention a blog post anywhere at the moment, but this one has finally prompted me to comment. Your words are so wise, so friendly, so open and so honest, they make me fall in love with life and the internet and fashion all over again. For someone 'dabbling' in vintage, your words are a shining light. Oh, and I LOVE the cute young dreaded you! thanks for the inspiration, beauty and style missy. x

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  3. Thank you for sharing - such an interesting post. It brought back memories of the late 90's when I put fabric triangles into my cords to make flares. Finally achieving the foot-covering flare was an amazing feeling. Especially when you're a size 9!

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  4. I loved your advice to people wanting to go "vintage" but feeling a little apprehensive. Come on in! The water's fine!!! I have always been a person who wanted to dress how I wanted to dress, regardless of whether all or part of the outfit was fashionable or "in" or what. Usually, by not following mainstream magazines and whatnot, my outfits tended to fall on the side of "out" in the eyes of the "cool kids" at school. I was teased and confronted more than once. I also found myself feeling pretty lonely, since I never fully adopted the "look" of the various cliques of people who made up my highschool. On the plus side, by not entrenching myself in one style camp, I was able to have friends from all sorts of groups. Anyway, point is: I always admired people who deliberately and consciously chose to take a more overt and deliberate counter-cultural look. However, at a certain point, I realized that taking what the mainstream is doing and then doing the exact opposite becomes a weird form of conformity to the edicts of the mainstream--in a weird way, the mainstream is still telling you how to dress (if that makes any sense). Anyway, I agree with you: if I had known of the existence of a vintage community, I would definitely have started dressing in vintage much sooner. Sorry: long comment: last point: I hope to keep being able to dress in what I love, what makes me feel happiest, rather than in order to stand out or fit in to any particular group or scene. As you noted, vintage looks have become mainstream right now. The "trend" may wane and then wax again over and over (seems to have done since the 80s at least), but I'm going to keep on keepin' on doing my style "MY WAY." I really hope you pursue your acting dream. I think you'll be amazing at it...and it seems to make you so happy!

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  5. Great post! I was a former punk/goth too (wore black for about 10 years in my 20s and had a bright red unnatural streak in my hair.) I decided to go the other direction and dress vintage when I became allergic to red hair dye.

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  6. Great great post! Few years ago I was into japanese streetfashion, like decora style, and those pics are hideous to watch nowadays.. :D Thanks to Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday (and old movies) that I found the beauty of vintage.

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  7. very well written! i'm wading in the shallow end of the vintage pool, trying to reproduce vintage styles to wear. I find the ever changing styles and trends cumbersome and keeping up is tiring and expensive! vintage is timeless.

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  8. Ha ha, is everyone around her an ex hippie/goth/punk? Funny how we all end up in the same place :) I've always attributed it to being indecisive: I like that dress from that film, and that haristyle from that music video, and that coat that that girl is wearing. Mix-and-match is always best, but a sense of humour is vital!

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  9. Here here! Dress how you want to, that also goes for vintage gals who need a day off too!
    I love you in the Dreadnoughts - still gorgeous!

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  10. I'm not a vintage girl, but I do love the retro look. For me, it was originally from watching old films and falling in love with movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.
    My obsession is 50s fashion. The shape is flattering on my figure.
    And yeah, I was pretty 'alternative' as a teenager...still do actually ;)

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  11. I loved this post! I get the "I'm not brave enough" comment so often, and it always makes me wonder if I really am that "brave" or just stubborn. My money is on the latter since I am very shy by nature. Growing up I didn't really deviate too much from the established norm of middle class American fashion, until I was a teenager. As a teen I was involved with a more conservative religious group (no, not that sort ;), and started wearing things that were very anti-trend for the late 1990s and early '00s. Even though I was aiming for something different, I started to stand out. By the time I hit my late teens/early 20s (and moved away from that particular group--in the meantime I had discovered the online vintage community, such as it was then), I was fully at-ease with the idea of dressing how I pleased. Sure, I dabbled a bit in wearing trends and current fashion, but without my usual spin on it (hail thrift stores for quirky items!), it always felt fake on me. Wearing various levels of vintage (I tend to keep things a mix and at my own level of comfort and based on how theatrical I'm feeling each day), just seemed right. Now I honestly can't imagine anything different!

    I think for me, I feel like I always want to tell those who make the "you're so brave!" comment that this is the time to try out the vintage look. Because it's so trendy, if you happen to be the timid sort, it won't stand out quite as much as when it's definitely out. In five years we might all be back in the ranks of the truly "subculture" peeps (no arguments here--I really don't care whether vintage is in or out!), and I can see how that might be a little off-putting to some who are interested in the vintage look. All in all it just comes down to slowly integrating it into one's daily wardrobe. Like you said: small steps.

    Anyway, now that I've rambled... I really like what Jill/Baroness said regarding not being too enmeshed in one group or the other. I think for me that is a huge appeal as well. I've always disliked elitist cliques, and find myself more attracted to people from various groups and backgrounds who just accept me for my quirks and eccentricities (and I the same in regards to them). Which is what I think I like a lot about our little corner of the vintage interwebs... we have definitely made it a welcoming place to ladies (and gents!) who wear all sorts of vintage. From weekend types, to those who just add elements to their more modern outfits. I think it really becomes more about expressing yourself and taking joy and thought in determining how you want to look, rather than letting it be dictated to you.

    Okay. I'll stop... apologies for the long comment! ;)

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  12. This sounds like me lol! So far in my short life (I am only 21) I have tried goth,steampunk,neo victorian ,cross dressing (when I was like 10 because I was a tomboy and did NOT want to wear dresses) and amish like fashion,they all worked well but I always came back to vintage.
    It just fits my personality perfectly ;) Its only now however that I am slowly trying to get into switching my wardrobe over to full or mostly vintage but someday I hope I will be fulltime vintage ;)

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  13. As someone who, in the last year, has found red lippy, hot rollers and vintage-repro underthings, I really appreciate this post. I was never really "alternative", but I have always believed in being myself and not bowing to the expected norm...and now that I am finding vintage seriously for the first time, I have been so pleased to find the sartorial "me". Thank you, Fleur, for sharing your journey and helping us all out with our courage!

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  14. I never tried to be different, I just never managed to pick the same things as everyone else! (Eg a Purdey cut as a teen in the big-haired 1980s.) It's true what you say about confidence increasing with age, though – I've found I've worried less about getting it 'right' and been happy just marching to my own drum.

    Could you do your MA part time and fit it around your other work? Would be tough, but could make the financing easier.

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  15. I love this post, I really do. I'm hardly a wallflower - the amount of facial piercings and corsetry etc shows that! - my only concern is...well, a lack of femininity (too many ninny's, I got confused D:) if I'm honest! I've been a retrobsessive for years now, but never seem to manage to get myself into gear to dress more how I feel. I'll see a dress online I love, just not on me if it makes sense? I'll limit buying gorgeous bangles and bags (I saw a Chanel 30's clutch in a charity shop the other day, sadface.) just because I don't think I'll suit it :(

    Any advice on that?

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  16. Lovely post, Fleur! I've always aired on the side of alternative in my fashion sense because I've been surrounded by people like that all my life. When I got to uni I was surprised at the almost nasty comments I got about my look because it wasn't 'normal', but then I just remind them that normal is boring. I do, however, sometimes give into their peer pressure and go non-vintage, but ones day I'd love to just go "No! This is what makes me truly happy!". I am working on it, I promise! :)

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  17. Thank-you for your post Fleur.

    I have been dressing vintage off-and-on much like yourself since I was in middle school. I was very close to my Grandmother, who kept a dress-up trunk in our play room and a full curler set under the bathroom sink. My fondest memories of my childhood are with her -- dancing to big band records in the living room, watching 40's movies and setting the back of her hair (which she could not reach).

    I too also thought I was Courtney Love in high school. However, I was always drawn to her babydoll dresses, knee socks and Mary-Jane shoes. Our dressing different I believe has an air of wanting "respect" and accepting that we are wildly creative. Which is great! I don't want to look like Kim Kardashian!!

    I think your look is amazing, well thought out and creative. Alternative girls are like a fine wine and just get better with age ;)

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  18. Hi Fleur,

    Always love your blog! I was a strange mix of a mod/goth as a teenager and I suppose have never really grown out of it!

    Anyway, the reason I'm commenting is I read about your desire to do an MA in acting, as a theatre director I am always working with those coming out of drama school (I went to one myself) and my advice right now is to be very careful about what course you choose and do your research about what is right for you. I have lots of experience of the whole process, through me, my friends and my husband. If it's something you would like to do as a semi 'hobby', something fun and interesting to see what comes of it, maybe do some unpaid/profit share fringe plays, low budget films, then there are lots of courses - if you want to actually work as a full time actor (National, RSC, touring stage, feature films, TV etc) with a decent agent, then there really are only a few courses, most of them the full 3 years. Every drama school has success stories, but be aware that the fashion for each of them waxes and wanes with agents and casting directors each few years. If you go to commit time and good money to it, go into it with your eyes wide open to this. Right now, Guildhall is the hot property alongside (as always) RADA and the Drama Centre is rapidly regaining it's good reputation thanks to people like Michael Fassbender. Also, some schools may love your look, but be prepared for some to want you to pare down the vintage look so they can see the 'real you'. I hate this kind of thing, but it's very common. You, personally, may be better off seeking an agent to sell you as you are and carry on with the short acting courses and see how you go from there. More and more people are actually making it this way, but it's down to a hell of a lot of luck. Also, if you want to stand the best chance of getting in - you should get yourself a coach to do your speeches with. 9 years ago, when I went, you didn't need to, but there were much less people applying and less boxes to tick. I have it on good authority that all those (with some talent of course!) getting in to the best schools have done it with a coach. Also Re: not doing it a decade or so ago, everyone will constantly ask you - why do you want to come to drama school now? Why not a decade ago? Have a great answer prepared as getting in is as much about commitment as talent (BTW, going at any age is not a negative by any means, but it's a question they ask to make sure it's not a flight of fancy) Be prepared to have to audition for 2/3/4 years in a row, especially to go to the top schools.
    Think about it carefully - I have so many very talented and beautiful female friends/colleagues who have been to top drama schools and simply have never made a penny from an acting career they had to give up on within a few years, including me - I had to take a sideways step. It's SO hard for women! But if that doesn't put you off at all, and you know you have the talent - then go for it!

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  19. Thank you for this wonderful post. :) I fall into the "not quite brave enough yet" camp. But I think if I slowly wade into the vintage pool I'll be ok. Jumping in the deep end was never my thing. ;)

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  20. It took me years to feel comfortable enough to wear hats in public. Now I wish I hadnt been such a chicken all those years. Actually, one of the things I like best about being in my 30's is not giving a cr@p about what other people think about my wardrobe! Its been very feeing.

    Thanks doll,
    The Glamorous Housewife

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  21. Thanks for all your lovely comments! Glad this is inspiring some of you!

    Natasha, thanks so much for your comments. You've not mentioned any of my preferred schools - East 15, Central, LAMDA or ALRA. I kind of assumed that any NCDT course would be a good one, but I certainly didn't consider the fashions among casting directors etc. I've already researched some audition technique courses too.

    I would go into this with the intention of acting full-time, with the added bonus as a freelance writer (and my other jobs) I could earn money that way when not working. I've thought about going down the short films/fringe theatre route but I wasn't sure it would be fruitful... also I thought the chances of getting an agent without full-time training was pretty much zilch! You've given me food for thought, so thanks.

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  22. I loved this post. Thank you!

    I used to be a little bit alternative and started to be interested in vintage styles because I loved psychobilly styles. It's fun to see how many people came from similar interests.

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  23. I never comment, but I have to say that I loved this more autobiographical post, good for you going against the flow, as you say, "who care what others say." It's not always that easy in reality, but it comes with practise. I've been wanting to try hot rollers for years, but haven't bitten the bullet, thank you for the inspiration.

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  24. What a wonderful and inspirational post! I have always loved vintage (my mom was a big vintage enthusiast, but didn't wear vintage as she got older) but was afraid of wearing it, I was just too shy. I did do the whole "punk" thing in highschool. I'm proud to say I've finally found the courage to dress how I want, a lot because of my dear fiance who completely loves it. Any way, again, loved the post!

    xo,
    Em

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  25. Right on!! I was into punk, goth, rockabilly, cyberpunk and everything under the sun! Nowadays, I traded my teal mohawk and septum ring for well-made, tailored vintage clothing and badass, huge vintage hairstyles. I love the fact that I spent a few years in each subculture. It makes me the diverse, knowledgeable woman that I am today ... flying military death planes. Never shy away from doing what you love!

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  26. Hah, I completely agree with you. "Perfect retirement plan", love that. I think about what my 15 year old self would think of me now... At that age I couldn't imagine ever wearing anything mut black for the rest of my life! Haha.

    http://confessionsofavintagestoreowner.blogspot.com/

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  27. What an interesting post- so much I can relate too. I have never been a conventional dresser and my (60s/70s inspired) 'look' is an extension of that.

    As you mention there are some who dress vintage because they want to return to old fashioned values, but the VAST majority of vintage people (and all those I am friends with) are creative, inspirational and very open minded/modern people.

    With regards to postgrad acting course, Central is fantastic (not that I am biased as an alumni) - I never wanted to act (more community and youth arts work) and I appreciated the way they tailored really sound advice towards people's actual career aims.

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  28. Ha! You're describing me to a tee!

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  29. Fleur your brilliant! enough said

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  30. Hi Fleur,

    Just to follow up - yep, it's a sad fact that not all drama schools are created equal as far as the industry goes, despite the fact that many of the same teachers actually teach at all of them. It's a circle, once one place is 'in' (i.e it's produced some recent stars), the top agents go to the showcase in the hope of spotting the next star, the most talented people are clamouring to go there and therefore, get top agents and work when they leave. Out of the schools you mentioned, right now TBH, LAMDA would be out on top, followed by Central, East 15 and Alra very much in that order. I know people who are 'stars' from both LAMDA and Central and I also know people from there who have hardly worked since they left. Also, have you given thought to schools out of London? Welsh college, Royal Scottish, Birmingham etc.
    I have my own opinion about many of the schools, especially the MA courses, from working with recent graduates on lower paid classical theatre projects or higher paid theatre in education (usually places like Central, Lamda, Bristol, Mountview, Arts Ed - not really as preference, but these are the sort of graduates who would apply for roles in my work and best in audition). But what I look for (I work mainly on classical texts), may not be quite the same thing you are after.
    The best thing to do is look at what the recent graduates of a drama school you like the look of are doing right now, especially the women. Are they working? Is it top level theatre or fringe? Any film or Tv? Are the successful actors just from the three year course or are the MA graduates working as well? Who are their agents? Who else is on that agent's books? (Gives you an idea who turns up at the drama school showcase). Where did your favourite actors go? (Some schools like the Drama Centre and East 15 are connected with a particular approach to acting) Have a look at the sort of theatre, TV or film you would like to do and see where the actors in their 20's and 30's involved went. All this is so much easier with the internet nowadays! I used to spend my time scouring theatre programmes! Don't forget so many people make it simply down to connections - half the time, their father or mother is someone in the business. The rest of us have to work twice as hard for that great agent.
    Once you have decided where to audition, I can't stress enough get the right pieces to sell you. Don't neglect the song (if they ask for it) either. An audition course will be helpful no doubt, but a one-to-one coach is by far the best option. Look for one who actually teaches/is on the audition panels at drama school. Same goes for the audition courses - check who teaches them.
    I hope that helps - I know how hard and confusing it is, I nearly went to a drama school completely off the radar when I was 18 - luckily I had my doubts and held off until I got into one of the top schools (which got taken over/bought by Central after I left, so can't recommend it!)Good luck and keep us posted!

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  31. What a wonderful post! I relate so much, and the comments are brilliant too.

    Though I became a vintage girl when I was about 14, I had quite a long stint as a diehard '60s gal: Ronnettes-esque hair, dolly dresses, and gallons of liquid eyeliner were a must for class each morn. Now that I've slipped backwards in time fashion-wise and prefer the more demure looks of earlier eras, I shake my head in disbelief at the young me. But! at the same time, I'm glad I was such an independent and creative youngster. I really stuck out in my tiny hometown (well, I still do, hehe), and I learned whose opinion to trust and whose to ignore pretty young. And yet, I was painfully shy most of my youth, as well... funny how that works!

    It's so sad when people say they're too scared/shy to dress vintage all the time... if only they knew the incredible sense of self-esteem a wholly unique, beautifully tailored vintage frock would afford them. I was always good at rationalizing my eccentric vintage dressing habits in my head... just remember, our outfits would've been perfectly normal and perhaps even dull 70 years ago!

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  32. I adore your blog, I find it very inspiring. I love that you post pics of what you actually wear (as opposed to just outfit roundups) and congrats on all your success in modeling & the short film.

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  33. What a beautiful and inspiring post. I've always been an admirer of the vintage style myself, although I wouldn't like to dress vintage from head to toe. But I do admire you or others for doing it. I was a big fan of the old Hollywood for as long as I can remember (Judy Garland was my favorite actress when I was 6 years old) and that was not very ordinary for a greek girl. I wanted to be an actress when I finished school, but my parents wanted me to go to the University instead, which I never actually did and I also didn't become an actress. I wish I was more persistent back then and I wish had the courage to follow my dream, no matter what. Because in my country there are so few opportunities for aspiring actors/actresses, and far less for someone in their mid thirties. But in your country things are much better and you should pursue an acting career if that's what you want. I wish you all the best! :))

    http://stripesandscarlets.blogspot.com/

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  34. What a lovely and inspirational post! Thank you! I have been wearing Ruby Woo for a few years now, and so many ladies tell me they would love to wear red lipstick 'but can't' and when I ask why they never really know. When I was reading the part about wondering what life would be like if you had had your vintage epiphany years ago, my mind was thinking 'but you wouldn't have been ready then, it wasn't the right time' and lo and behold you wrote something almost identical in the next line! I bought hot sticks and did my first vintage set after reading your tutorial, and get so many compliments. Ok there are the odd few stares or comments some times, but on the whole I get a positive reaction. Viva la vintage! And thank you for your blog! Just one thing...please can you use your influence to bring The Chapette back to The Chap?!

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  35. Thank you so much for this fun read. I myself came to vintage from metal with a very short break at rockabilly station. I still love metal and bright hair colours, but at one point I started to realize that women at a certain age start to look ridiculous when they stay with "metal fashion" and I knew that I had to do something sooner or later. I´ve always loved the old Hollywood look and bright rockabilly fashion but never thought about wearing something like that myself as it requires a hairstyle and make up (both of which I wasn´t very confident about). But one day I used the chance to do a fun photoshooting for university, dressed up like a rockabilly chick and I got so many compliments that I decided to give it a try. I didn´t go the lipstick road for a long time, though, because for me lipstick was THE sign of femininity and I´m rather a tomboy, but now I love it. Depending on my mood I now switch between band shirts, rockabilly clothing and vintage and it´s fun.

    Oh, and your tips for slowly going vintage are pure gold!

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  36. Thank you SO much! You have no idea how brilliantly timed this post was. Just yesterday I had massive discussions about my vintage/repro dressing. Thing is, it is not just a teenager on the street, its the people closest to me who do like my style, but just advise me to go a bit "less flamboyant" aka "less me". Kills me to know that they are ashamed of me. After all the years it took me to finally dare to dress this way. How on earth can one react on this? I am still confused, angry, sad...
    One more thing after pouring my heart out on the internet to someone I have never met:
    I am following your blog for a while and enjoy reading your posts, some of which actually draw my attention to otherwise shamefully neglected online repro shops (love my dark blue swing trousers from Heyday!).

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  37. It seems a shame that people are too shy, worried or whatever to wear what they want. I have to say when I first moved to London over 20 years ago there was a big scene for my kinda thing 50s music & style,however it didn't mean we didn't get stick, in fact there was the odd violent attack sadly, however this didn't stop me wearing what I wanted to wear, it always felt right!

    I have to say you do look cute in your dreadlocks ;o)

    And wow well done you for doing an autumn winter shoot on Wednesday, you must have been sooooo hot, mind you better than yesterday eh?!

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  38. What a lovely, inspirational post! If I look back at my closet over the years, I think I've never been a conventional dresser at all, and ignorantly so! As a teenager I never followed fashion, and I also never wore what was considered to be 'rebellious' clothing. I knew from a very young age that I liked femininity, and dressed up in dresses and skirts, and sometimes pencil skirts and tailored jackets at the age of twelve, when everyone else was wearing jeans!

    I love feeling like a woman when I get dressed, and get cojoled for not being able to dress down all the time. But, I love it! Swimming against the tide is so much more exhilirating! I know that, even if the vintage trend fades, I will still be sporting pin curls, victory rolls and girly glamour. That's just who I am, and the peace one gets from knowing who you are and how you like to express yourself, is very liberating.

    Thank you for a great post Fleur, and take the acting bull by the horns, and ride him till he passes out! You'll do great!

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  39. Glad to see there are so many other shy alternative girls in the comments! I was also a former goth/punk/mod, which I somehow managed to survive despite all the constant criticism (it was tough being a black goth in the mid 90s). I always loved classic films, music and clothing, but it wasn't until I moved to the UK that I felt able (and mature enough) to embrace my love of wearing vintage.

    I feel most like myself in vintage/repro (at the moment the recession has stopped me from really buying any key pieces). It has also brought me closer to the histories of awesome ladies from all races and backgrounds who lived amazing lives while in stockings and heels. Your advice to wear vintage accessories was spot on. I'm never without my vintage glasses, purses and brooches and they have become recognisable parts of my identity. I'm also certain that I'll be wearing vintage and sensible shoes long after it stops being fashionable, it just suits me!

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  40. Thanks so much for the awesome post Fleur. I think you look amazing, and I hope that I can look just as great and be just as confident in my steps towards wearing vintage :)

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  41. What a great post - interesting and very inspirational too!
    I too was a teenage goth and as a result have an irrational hatred of mindless conformity.
    You really are an inspiration to all of us vintage loving ladies who are still finding our feet, so please keep it up!
    Good luck with the acting too. I'm a firm believer that it's never too late to follow your dreams!

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  42. Thank you for such a fantastic post! It's rather reassuring to know it's not just me. :)
    If acting is your passion, go for it!

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  43. I think it's great that you explain the evolution of your personal style. So many of us are constantly evolving what works for us, and sometimes it can feel like we're lost as we change from one thing to another. I love vintage and am trying to find ways to make it work for me on a daily basis. I love reading about your exploits and seeing how you got where you are now style-wise.

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  44. this post was so, so interesting :) you make some good points.
    i'm definately finding that, growing up you do things that your former self would be completely horrified at, but in turn you are just as horrified at things you used to do! Or proud. Or fond, or just find the whole thing hilarious (me!)

    good luck following the acting through, you certainly have the personality :)

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  45. Thanks for a great post. It's good to know that there is always a place to start. I need to learn to stop caring what others think of me and just go with what I know I look good in and enjoy. I'm slowly getting there by choosing outfits that have vintage flare.

    Love the picture of you at the end. You look great!

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  46. Interesting post. I have always loved vintage and unlike you was always very open about my love of 1930's/40's films & music despite being a metal fan. Some people did try to give me stick about it at the time but when they saw it didn't work they gave up. It was just accepted that I loved Gene Kelly as much as I did Glam metal!

    I did spend my teens/twenties dressing like a rock chick 99% of the time. I was quite shy and insecure in a lot of ways and didn't want to obviously stand out from my friends, this despite us clearly not conforming to the fashion of the day.

    As someone else has said there does come a time when age catches you up and suddenly micro minis and pvc dresses were no longer where I, or my arse were at! Age did bring more confidence though and a knowledge of what suits me through the trial and error of youth.

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  47. The above post was mine by the way, realised I was signed in as my other half when I wrote it Ooooppps

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  48. I need to ask... a "vintage gym"? WHAT THE HELL? People are really doing this? Please tell me 'yes' so I can laugh my ass off.

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  49. This post strikes such a chord with me! I've had an interest in vintage (30s/40s mainly) for years now. I've collected some nice dresses, bags and shoes, I've bought some great repro, I've gained confidence curling my hair and can even manage a passable attempt at leaving the moons bare on my nail polish, but can I handle leaving the house dressed like that? No! I bloody can't and it frustrates the hell out of me! I've only gone out in vintage 3 times and each occasion was a vintage event rather than just a normal day.

    I've often pondered over what it is that's stopping me, I think the main reason is I feel really awkward when I receive any sort of attention, even positive attention (crazy, I know) though I don't know why. I guess I envisage being constantly stared at if I'm dressed vintage and the idea terrifies me. Sometimes I think I'm flattering myself a bit but people will look, won't they? When I was a teenager I wore some really weird stuff, I wasn't a goth or a punk or a metaller I was just 'me', I had luminous hair and wore petticoats over my flares (which I made with triangles of fabric too!), amongst other things and I really didn't register if people stared or not. Weird.

    Also, I don't have a group of friends to go out with who dress in a similar way, if there's a group of you it's not so bad is it? You obviously have a really great group of friends, I quite envy you!

    Thanks for writing this blog post, Fleur, it's made me start thinking about it all again. I think I just need to kick myself up the arse and remember that I'm bloody lucky to live in a country where I can wear what I want when I want, so I should just take the plunge and do it!

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  50. I would first off like to say that I LOVE your blog. I totally understand what you are talking about. I have always love anything vintage and retro, but alas I still have not gotten brave enough to rock the looks I love.

    Being from a small town in the states it is very hard to go anywhere with out feeling constantly critizied, even when you are dressed "Normal". Everyone claims that the good ol' US of A is so open and accepting, but the truth is I don't think you find so many unaccepting and close minded people anywhere. Now don't get me wrong there are areas in the country where metal heads and the retro freaks can get along just find and are even pretty well accepted, but I am not from one of those areas :(, So until I get a little braver I will contiue to read your blog and wish I could be as fabulous as you and the rest of the VM.

    Oh and why oh why can't we all start wearin hats in the US. Its such a cute look that you English pull off so well.

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  51. I've been a vintage-ite since I first watched "Grease", and Olivia Newton-John. Although at that time I didn't know the words to describe my obsession with the 1950's and the pin-up look. By the time I was 16 I was buying clothes in second hand shops and making myself pencil skirts. Marilyn was(and still is)my main inspiration. something about the whole innocent, wide eyed sex appeal has always appealed to me. I was shy, and only wore my 50's inspired clothing to religious meetings, were it conformed on some level. My fascination with 50's style dampened in my late teens early twenties, and its only the last five years that I've remembered my lust for all things vintage and allowed myself to truly express it. Too be honest, though, I think that its a symptom of getting older and more comfortable in my own skin that has let me open up and reveal my true self. Thanks for revealing your true self, your an inspiration for us all!

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  52. Your "yoff" sounds very much like mine, except mine was 10 years earlier. And I was the whole hog vintage punk and played bass guitar in a band. I was still shy but the band definitely gave me confidence and I look at photos now of some pretty crazy outfits I wore on stage - like vintage frocks and petticoats and Victorian lace up boots with stripey tights. I had bright red dreadlocks too. Although I wore the clothes from an early age, I think if the internet had been around when I was young, I would have come to the styling a lot earlier.

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  53. I meant "yoof" as in youth, not "yoff". Ah, never mind.

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  54. Hi, I just sent you an email i think. I didn't fint the "post a comment" thing :p

    But anyway.

    where are the black dress with the fowers from?
    And where do you buy all your shoes?

    and at least.

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

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  55. Veuillez m'excuser, Madame, de ne pas vous écrire directemente en Anglais, mais je ne parle pas votre langue au point d'exprimer à quel point vos paroles m'ont touché. L'itinéraire vital que vous décrivez dans votre texte, un itinéraire aboutissant à un regard en arrière, ne serait-ce qu'esthétique (or toute esthétique est une étique), est sans doute le mien; ce besoin, pour des gens timides, de chercher des repères dans le passé, un moyen d'expression personnel unique, fait de recherche, de désir, de lectures, de fouilles dans de vieux magasins ou dans les armoires des grand parents. Durant mon adolescence, je me suis retrouvé aussi bien chez the new romantics que chez les mods ou les punks! Petit à petit, dégoûté du manque de goût qu'affiche notre époque, aidé par les films d'époque ou ce feuilleton tv merveilleux qu'est Brideshead revisited je me suis retrouvé à apprécier les vieux costumes trois pièces, la bonne laine lourde des vestes périmées, les chaussures, les cravates. Au point que, comme vous, je suis parti vivre dans les années 30-40. Or, malheureusement, chez moi (j'habite l'Espagne) les choses sont toujours plus difficiles (et sans doute plus éprouvantes): les gens ont un sens fort aigu du ridicule, tout le monde autour prétend faire comme le reste. Aussi est-il inconcevable pour l'instant de crér un club de gens amateur de fringues vintage, de style vintage en général. Mais je tiens absolument à braver les inconvénients et à faire les choses comme je les entends. En tout cas, thanks a lot for your blog. I love it as much as your pics and your beautiful look and excellent taste. I apologize for writing this comment in French but my English is not as good to express my real feelings and thoughts about your words.
    Sincerily yours

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  56. Dear Fleur, Go for it! I'm a music teacher in a high school who freelances in orchestras at the weekend, so heartily approve of you following your dream. How marvellous if you studied at LAMDA, next door to those utterly fantastic purpose built houses with studios on the Talgarth Rd; Margot Fonteyn used to have one. (Alongside St Paul's cathedral and the Michelin/Bibendum building the ultimate jewels in London's architectural crown in my humble opinion.) I was a New Romantic in the 1980s, complete with Phil Oakey hairstyle and occasional Adam Ant stripe, and then went backwards; the usual question asked of me at Uni was "Who have you come as today? Thoroughly Modern Millie or an extra from The Boyfriend?" Still favour 20s/30s, 50s/60s, with a nod to later if I feel like it. Having your own style and being happy in your own skin is what it's all about. Love the blog.

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  57. Reading this came at just the right time for me. I'm fifteen years old and people have often been critical and down right mean about the way I dress. Just the other day I was questioning the way I dress and wondering if I should tone it down a bit, but then I thought about how I feel when I wear vintage - it completely transforms my confidence! One of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten was from an old women who told me that I looked "Elegant" :) I love knowing that older women admire my style because I am doing nothing but recycling their own style :)

    Thank you so much for posting this and lifting my spirits :D

    My sister and I would love if you would check out our blog (oneinchapart.wordpress.com)

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  58. No other word for this post but amazing. Thankyou for sharing it with us, I loved it. It was brilliant to hear your story and know that I'm not alone in my alternative fashion fetish. xoxox

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  59. Ditto honey, I think its there from the start, trying to find a way to manifest lol. On my wedding video you can hear my Mum whispering to the minister in an embarrassed way that I always like to be different. And I/we thought we were fairly 'normal' that day ;)
    V
    xxx

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  60. Great post, Fleur! I loved reading about it all, and you sharing some of your old photos :)

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  61. I saw your tutorial on making bangs in a 40's style and loved it, but lost the website when my computer went down. Hoping to get some 50's styled clothing soon. The forties styles didn't make clothing sizes for us plus sized ladies. I just love all your pictures and such. I adore looking different, much to my daughter's distain. She is into trendy fashions, I am not.

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  62. Fleur, wonderful post. I've always loved 1940s vintage (STILL regret reselling my first 1940s suit), but once I got married and had children, it was just easier to buy modern clothes (expecially since I'm tall). But, earlier this year I hit a spot where I realized I'd strayed too far from the things I love. So, I've made time for antique fairs, sewing, and exploring vintage styles. I feel like I've returned home after a long trip! Your advice on going gradually is where I am right now. I'll never go fully vintage, that's not really for me, but I've never been reluctant to wear a hat in public or carry a handkerchief, and I'm working hard to make clothes that suit my personal esthetic. Never had the punk phase, just took the easy route to dressing sensibly for life and work. Thank you for the inspiration.

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  63. I was in tears reading your post. i literally just googled 'blog-young ladies-alternative dress' for the simple curiosity for someone out there that shares in something i love - there has never been anyone to appear to think so similarly with myself on dress that i have ever met in my 25 years. and the fact that you have a CLUB! oh! amazing! and there are MEN that entertain these notions as well!? incredible!! as for the acting- do it! that was what tipped my confidence ice burg when i was 14 when a friend told me they needed more kids in the drama club... she dropped out a month later but i stayed all four years and year after year felt less shy about my urge to be different. :) thanks for this blog- i no doubt will continue to read as it feels like an indulgence knowing im not alone.

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  64. Fleur, this is the best post about reasons for dressing in vintage every day - or indeed, dressing "different" in general- that I have read in a long time!

    I love that clothes (and vintage ones in particular) can be my armour, can harness a mood or bring out a part of my character which was previously languishing...

    As a child and teenager I was cripplingly shy - the last person to go near a stage. Then, from a notion to push myself out of my comfort zone, I auditioned for drama school and got accepted! I had the best (and most challenging) time of my life at drama school and even though I no longer work as an actress, the things I learned and the friendships I made have stayed with me. That's why I say, go for it, give yourself that chance!

    And thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

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  65. Great post Fleur. The Fleur dresses are divine (you wear them well!) and are currently on my birthday wish list. I have just read all the comments as well and thought I would throw my two cents in. I wear vintage "pieces", a skirt/coat/jumper/jewellery/accessories mixed with modern bought classics, I haven't done the head to toe look (except for evenings then it is no holds barred!). Why? Mostly because I don't have all the components, I am very picky about what I buy so while I have a vast collection of evening wear I don't have too many daywear pieces. And I spend my corporate life in pinstripe suits (albeit they are tailor made for me and definately vintage inspired). But I do wear hats most days and red lipstick is essential for life. And because I'm the other side of 40, you know what? I don't give a fig what people think of my outfits. And I always compliment someone who is made an effort, it generally makes their day.

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  66. Love this post, it really hit a chord with me (and obviously with many others too). xx Fran

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  67. What a great post. Like many, I was a goth laquered teenager. I started going sort of rockabilly-50s bad girl in black in my early 20s. Now in my mid 30s, I have been dressing in a more true 40s/50s new look style for about 7 years now. I do it because I like it. I mix up genres, and even wear "modern" clothes if I like them and they fit my style. We should do what we are comfortable in. And you are totally right about the first steps. It look quite a while to morph into how I look know, at first I thought I looked frumpy or old-fashioned. Until I became comfortable, and now-that's the point!

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  68. I was a goth too. Then, a few years later, goth had become cool and I had moved on to a more '30s gypsy look'. Follow more years of mockery during which I actually /tried/ to fit in a few days out of a year before deciding I hated it. Finally, I started dipping my toe into vintage without really knowing it.

    I can understand the fear to be different, to stand out like that. It's funny that I'm shaking head to toe at the thought of standing out, but feel confident in my 50s get-up! I think it's a type of armor. I think the fear comes down to two things, really.
    1) We're afraid to show what we're really like, lest someone not like us and we can't chalk it up to 'they're just going on a stereotype'.
    2) We're afraid of standing out BY ACCIDENT. It's one thing to get up in the morning, get dressed, and know in an instant that you're going to be unique and get stares. It's quite another to get up in the morning, get dressed, and find that you're standing out when you're dressed like everyone else!

    Er...that's my opinion anyways. Not worth much, but it's there. Sorry about the comment on an old blog post. I just found it today and it hit home. Er...I'll stop while I'm ahead.

    Cheers!

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  69. Dear Fleur,
    thank you so much for this Post! I think most people, loving vintage, have gone a similiar way. I was very shy as a child and then as a teenager something changed. I tried everything I wanted. My Mom always told us do be selfconfidend (3 daughters) and at least it worked. *phew*
    I got through a few subcultural scenes like Metal, Punk/Hardcore and then Psychobilly. I had always a fetish for old things like furniture, beautiful dresses and everything that fitted in the picture I wanted to draw of myself.
    I'm still in love with getting tattooed :D that's one point that didn't really changed, but er... healed over facial piercings... er formally drenched ears(I hope they will heal over a bit more)...
    I love Vintage clothes since 3 - 4 years (I know I'm just becoming 22, but I'd gone a long way though). In the beginning it was slow. I try to wear my lovely Vintage Styles every day and I became a sewer last year I try to do sew my own repros somehow, because it's to expensix. Like "in the Heyday" said sometimes you simply need a day off (I always try to have that day, when I don't leave the house :D *hrrrm*).
    Please Fleur follow your dream I'd love to see you on TV. <3

    Mireille Muerté

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I welcome all comments, praise and constructive criticism alike! Please note, though, that I don't respond to anonymous comments. If you want to offer a criticism then have the conviction to do so publicly. I thank you!

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