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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Do you get it wrong sometimes?

I have just been inspired by a lovely new blog called Vintage Rose that I came across today. I love what she says in yesterday's post.  She talks about how she sees others looking at her and believes they are thinking negatively about her style, but in fact they are intrigued and  interested, but their face doesn't show a smile (yet).

It is something I have been wondering about too. Somedays I don't want to be a vintage girl when I am out and about in the normal-people world, just because the day is hard enough to get through without coping with funny stares. I am already a red-head, I am already big busted, I have a New Zealand accent, so even at 5'2" (and the all important 5/8"), I tend to stand out. I like dressing vintage, but I don't like feeling so very different - not all the time anyway. But maybe I, like Vintage Rose, get it wrong sometimes.  Maybe they are not funny stares, maybe they are just - "hey-you-look-interesting" stares. 
funny pictures - YOU PERPLEX ME
For when you need a good cute giggle, click here
It is only because we think that other humans are THINKING something that we assume it might be bad, especially if we are already a bit worried. We don't worry about what our cat thinks of our outfit do we? No, because we know they are just thinking about the next meal or, maybe, how to murder the next door dog.

When a stranger passes me and gives me a look, sometimes I have had the guts to break into a smile, even only a shy one, and I always get a really big smile back. It is kind of - "hey I see you looking at me" and "yes, I like your outfit" in silence.

Let me know about you. Are you really brave with your style regardless? Do you save the best bits for when your vintage friends are going to see you, so they understand and appreciate it? Do you have a mechanism to cope with extra attention, good or bad?


  1. I know what you mean! It used to bother me when people stared at me because of my tattoos and I always assumed they were thinking bad things. Then one day I found myself on a London bus starting at a couple that had me most amazing tattoos (mine were covered as I was on my way to work). The girl seemed a bit bothered so I stopped looking. Hey ho, karma :)

  2. Well as a red head who's short with a big bust I know where you're coming from!

    Yes I always assume the worst, however more and more people actually just straight out say to me, I love your hair, or top, or whatever, usually hair I have to say. I do find that in the US strangers more often are complementary & tend not to be quite so rude or snigger as the UK, but still people in the UK quite often are lovely about how I dress.

  3. I tend to chicken out (of wearing vintage) if I'm going somewhere to meet a bunch of new people. I think any vintage lover has days when they have to say to themselves "Ok, I'm going to be BOLD today and I don't care what people are going to think."

    I know that I personally make some odd faces when I'm concentrating or thinking about things. My husband often tells me I look pissed..... Guess I never thought about other people having that issue.

    I do usually save my best things for when I'm going to be out and see friends who will be supportive, but I'm working on that.

  4. Hey there Shona!

    Thank you for following me and mentioning me here! Ofcourse I don't mind! Like you said; it's good if people can learn from this and hopefully think that not all stares are meant negative!

    Oh by the way, I for one lóve NZ accents, and you look amazing! Must be said!

    xx. Lindsay

  5. I pretend they can't possibly be looking at me :o)

    It makes me less self concious in my head on days when I don't want to stand out!

  6. I know what you mean, Shona! I do tend to go vintage extreme when I going to a do or when I'm with like minded friends. I like colour and I have no intention of fading away into middle age or 'behaving' myself.
    People usually react to my tattoos more than what I wear. In my experience people are more likely to be complimentary or intrigued that anything else.

  7. It's really interesting you have posted about this as it's something I think about quite often.

    I have only had the courage to dress vintage outside of the house once and that was to the Chap Olympiad, a bit of a safe bet really seeing as everyone else was certain to be dressed up!

    I find I'm conflicted between the part of me that adores the clothes and hairstyles of the 30s and 40s and wants to dress that way in real life and the part of me that hates any sort of attention! I can't bear it when people look at me, I get so embarrassed. I find I end up scolding myself about it "Why would they look at you? Don't flatter yourself!" etc etc

    The silly thing is, is that when I was a teenager I would wear really weird stuff and had luminous red hair but I didn't even notice if people stared. You'd think I would have been more self-concious as a teenager than as a 30 year old wouldn't you?!

  8. Goodness - lots of good points. Do check on Lyndsey's blog too because she is getting similar feedback.
    It is interesting we can feel so self concious? I suspect it is some survival/security mechanism either instinctual or ingrained in us at school.

    Wouldn't it be amazing if everyone could just be and dress themselves (even if that self changed on a daily basis)?

  9. I find it does depend on what kind of mood I'm in too. If I'm having a 'fat' day or I'm not 100% comfortable in an outfit I feel paranoid and that everyone sees that. Maybe they do too, you know pick up on the awkward vibe?
    I'm very shy generally but as I've got older I feel more confident about telling people that I see who look fantastic, exactly that, that they look great or their bag does ot tattoo does or whatever. You ofen get told about their look or where they got it from.

  10. I used to, but after I realised that *I* stare at people who I think are interesting or different or pretty or well-dressed, I stopped worrying about it. I often wear clothes that are a bit different from the norm, so of course people will look. The same as you would also take a second glance at a really tall person, or someone in a wheelchair, or someone walking their dog. Anything in the slightest bit out of the usual makes us look, and most of the time it is only that - looking. So I don't even worry about it anymore, and the only time it is really obvious is when I am wearing my hat with leopard ears and kids who are too little to know not to stare can't turn away! :) xx

  11. I'm with Penny in terms of how I feel about people staring. Often, I get people stopping me to tell me how much they like something, especially over here in US. I am almost unique in this town to the point of just standing out because I don't live in gym gear. There is one other girl here who runs the local vintage shop. She's lived here longer and says until she saw me she was the only one! I have found that in an effort to make friends here I've toned my look down but now I'm feeling more confident I'm ramping it up and actually they all love it. The number of women I know here that have now started wearing nail varnish and doing their hair has shocked me. I think sometimes people actually like people to stand out as it gives them the courage to make an effort.
    Great posts from you and Vintage Rose xx

  12. Thank you :) I'm building up my wardrobe so that I have something to wear every day, even around the house at home, so I don't have the excuse of falling back to jeans like the rest of my neighbourhood does. I don't wear vintage style (although I love seeing folks in it) except I do have a 1930's evening thing going....

  13. People stare at my hair! I think Im the only girl with bettie bangs the folks near me have ever seen. Or I get people saying - wow your hair is crazy! Hmmm thanks ;)

  14. Im with you, Im a red head with long curly hair but im short and petit but i don't have the big chest. But i have been stared at since i was little i still have people coming up to me and complimenting my hair asking if its natural etc, it doesn't bother me now to be honest im used to it and you most certainly cant hide in a crowd. I think its good to be an individual with your own look, i have learnt to smile now and accept it, for me thats the easy option. An interesting post, makes you think, dee x

  15. Some days I just try to ignore everyone else if I'm having one of those self-conscious days. Others I'm tempted to pull faces at people (I'm childish) but I tend to think the same: I can't read someone's mind so they could be thinking anything.

    So, I don't mind all that much if people stare (though I don't like when my mum points out really old men are perving at me - leering really bugs me and it makes me feel awful, no matter what ages someone is.) Oh, and when people just touch my clothes or hair without asking? That, I don't like. But looking is going to happen. I do get embarrassed when someone occasionally compliments me and just goes on and on about it - it's very awkward and I don't know what to say. It doesn't happen often but it's embarrassing when it does.

    Also, I think we need to educate those who *do* think badly of those who dress outside the 'norm' instead of telling people 'Well, if you don't want to be stared at/called names/whatever' then YOU have to change. (This is not aimed at your or any of the commenters but my own personal rant about some people I know who have said this sort of thing. ;])

    Also, that cat picture is the BEST.

    -Andi x

  16. I used to have a foot high white blonde and lime green mohawk and clothes which were falling apart and stitched back together with band patches, so nowadays I certainly get far fewer stares than I used to! I've also always been a big girl and since childhood never dressed 'normally'. I often feel now like I've lost my individuality a bit by dressing more vintage, just because it blends into a crowd way more than a full on punk image.

    To be honest I barely noticed people looking at me back then and I don't really notice now, I'm so used to it. Even when my style was a lot more extreme, I barely ever had a negative comment from a stranger, having lived with it for so many years I'm certain the majority of people are just curious or enthralled when they see a person who dresses differently.

    There will always be a few ignorant or uptight people who view any deviation from the norm negatively, but the narrow, ignorant views of a few repressed plebs shouldn't be allowed to bother you.

    Most vintage girls will be able to attest to receiving a lot of compliments on the way they look or on the perceived extra effort dressing vintage entails, so my advice to anyone feeling self-conscious would be to just soak up the compliments and brush off any funny looks, because there are a lot more people thinking that they'd like to be as brave as you are and how great you look.

  17. I know what you're talking about! I can be like that with the (often vintage inspired) things I sew. In the early days of my blog, I wrote a post about it:
    When I've made something, I only consider it 'finished' once I've worn it out into 'the real world'. Over time, by the simple rule that for each 10 people who will stare, 1 will actually speak up, either to me or to his/her compagnons, I've learned that a vast majority of those 'looks' are positive or at worst, neutral. Yes, I have had a few negative comments. Three, in the time I've been wearing my own designs, so few I can actually remember them, and all of them from young women. I don't know what I should think about that last bit, but it is striking.

    However, when I get up in the morning, I do choose the day's outfit thinking about what I will be doing that day. I love my vintage-inspired creations, but I don't consider them suitable for every occasion.

  18. Love this post (and Vintage Rose's) and it is something that I used to worry about A LOT. I used to think that people were staring at me in a "WTF is she wearing!" kind of way. And it used to really bother me. But, after a year of dressing the way I do, I have come to think "they MUST be staring at me because I look nice!". Delusion - more than likely. But it makes me feel better and enables me to hold my (half baked) Victory Rolls high!

  19. Hi, I wear vintage everyday from my hair and make up right down to my shoes on my feet.Sadly I come across more rude small minded people of all ages.I have over the years received more rude remarks than compliments.But hey who are they in their nasty plain little clothes and bed head hair to dare think their opinions bother me.I am who I am and will always be vintage through and through.Have a wonderful week!

  20. Share feelings with you and half of those who dare to dress "different" in this world. Where I live, the vintage simply does not exist.
    So I have to sew dresses and I like people look at me funny when I go down the street, I smile ... if the other person smiles too, is good, if they do not laugh, I forgot ...

  21. I totally understand where you're coming from. I too love dressing in a vintage style but lacking confidence I often take peoples looks the wrong way and feel defensive. However I have had a fair few people approach me with nice comments about my appearance and it definately gives me a lift.
    The same thing happened when I got a small tattoo on my face just above my eye. After a while it had become so much a part of me I had almost forgot about it so when people would stare or give double takes I would take it personally it was only when people comented on the tatoo that I would remember it was there!!!

  22. I know that feeling! I feel the same way about dressing vintage and also about my tattoos, and then with the two together, yikes. I am a rather shy person in general until I get talking to someone, so I sometimes don't notice if people are looking at me which I guess helps, but I do feel stares. I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to explain though, "Love your glasses!" or what-have-you. That is a real confidence booster, much better than an odd look that you can't figure out. :)

  23. Now I'm a red head out of a bottle and will quite happily go from dark natural red to pillar box red with no problem but change into vintage scares the poo out of me. i love love love the vintage 40's and 50's but am terrified to wear it. i have no friends who share the vinatge love so cant even dress up on a get together
    I will get the courage to show the real me to the world this year and just wish i done it as a teen when you dont notice what the world thinks.
    em x

  24. I love wearing vintage, and used to dress up much more when I was younger. Now I'm closing in on 40-and having some trouble deciding if I look "vintage" or "old". What worked at 27 seems to look a little frumpy on me at 39. Now I think people look at me thinking "she is too old to wear that". What's funny is that some of the bloggers that are close to my age look great, cute and fun. Don't know why I am feeling like I can't pull it off anymore.

  25. I like it when people look at me as I know I dress a bit differently from the norm and I like to think that people are looking because I look good or because they are jealous (call me deluded!) It's better than blending in! That said...I was wearing a cute, bright yellow and black sixties dress and bright yellow sunglasses one evening last summer and some not chaps tooted and shouted "Lady Gaga" at me from a car window - hey ho...I like La Gaga, so I wear my vintage with pride!

  26. This is a really interesting discussion! As a psychotherapist and long time vintage lover it raises some very pertinent questions- bear with me I'm going to get a bit deep here! We all know that vintage looks 'different'- that's one of the reasons we like it after all! We all know that when we encounter something different it can bring up mixed feelings- admiration, curiosity and interest, but also insecurity and sometimes threat too. Given all this its no surprise that people stare at our elegant outfits really! It seems that there's some ambivalence going on- we like the 'differentness' of vintage but when we see someone looking we feel uncomfortable! We want people to 'see' us but at the same time we can get scared because being seen can make us feel vulnerable. How we individually react to being 'seen' is about us as individuals- our 'issues' in the end. I must admit I ALWAYS check out other people's vintage outfits, its irresistible isn't it?- I don't even try to be discreet anymore, I just tell people that I love their outfits, it makes them feel great, dispels any paranoia and you get talking to some lovely people!

  27. Being afraid of drawing attention to myself has kept me from wearing more vintage. I usually have vintage hair and makeup but wear more conservative, less vintage clothing.I would love to just be me and wear what I want!


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