Friday, 14 October 2011

Enjoying Vintage Blogs

After over a decade of being on-line, it's only over the last week or so, I've really got into reading other people's blogs! I really have a love hate relationship with being on-line. My laptop is rarely switched off all the hours I'm awake. I frequently, like 20 times a day turn to it as a reference source, about a program I'm watching on tv, an author, looking up the fact a drama is based on, something to do with cooking, what's on the news, you name it, I'll google it. I've even considered having Wikipedia as my home page.

But there's also a lot online I hate. I'll often play a game of Mah-Jong which I down loaded, but the thought of practising genocide with someone living on the other side of the planet, leaves me cold. And as for FaceBook, Ugh. I'm on it but hate it with a passion I'm not able to explain. I have most of the options and setting turned off or for friends only. I use it only to find people I know in real life and send them an instant message which is formatted more attractively than an email. I would no more write on someone's wall as shout a private conversation across a crowded room, it just strikes me as soooooo gauche. Sometimes it seem, (and it seems only to me) the world has gone mad. All this strident screaming on people's walls about the great life, advertising your private life, tagging in photos and then allowing companies to use you, your photo and your wall to advertise their goods to your friends! Are you serious? It's why I call it FakeBook and I hate the culture it's creating. Can you tell I'm over 50? :)

In the early days of blogging I never knew what to look for. I tried reading blogs by journalists I liked, but often it crashed down to mumbling about the minutiae of everyday life and I really don't need to read the ponderings of someone's breakfast cheese of watch the collapse of their marriage.

But recently, this all seems to have changed and I'm finding my interests better reflected. I have always loved the fashions of the Belle Epoch. The time between about 1910 to the 1930s. When women's Edwardian fashion started becoming more practical. Currently you'll see the best of it well portrayed in Downton Abbey. It was a fashion created for mature curvaceous women, not skinny models. It is meant to be beautiful, flattering, erotic and sexy. Edwardian clothes sexy? You're so damn right! It was the first time lingerie was developed. This sudden jump from ankle length thick cotton  nighties with full sleeves and cotton mop hats to flowing gowns with matching peignoirs, all the better to be seen sitting brushing out your hair in with a come hither look. This is no surprise. As soon as motion pictures were invented, it's fashions went straight to the bedroom. One of the other reasons I love this period is that between 1910 to the 40s fashions were flattering for women with, big boobs. You may think the 20s were just about young boyish figures, and it was, if you were like that, but check out the photos of larger women during the time. How they celebrated being freed from looking like roosting hens. In fact the fashions from 1910 right the way through to the end of utility wear in WWII were the most democratic of womens fashions as far as body fascism is concerned. It's why I love it.

So here I am, this 5'4' rather dumpy woman with a love of serious vintage clothing, in the autumn of my years. One of the things I'm really looking forward to doing is making my own clothes adapted from the many vintage patterns I have from the time. I'll also be trying my hand at hat making as well, which should be interesting, but if anything, if I can nail this, it could become a bit of an earner. Who could resist a cloche hat with the winters being as they have been over recent years?

But lastly, the most difficult aspect of these interests are at large being reflected 'out there'. By far most of the women on line who are interested in wearing and making vintage wear tend to be young (under 30), very slim and white. Nothing wrong with that at all, I salute my sisters and their individuality. I on the other hand am in my 50s, very rounded and a mixture of British and Ghanian (west african) descent. Yes I know, I'm more likely to look eccentric. Do you think I look as if I care?

But the availability of the vintage pictorial history of the Diaspora has not been well documented over here in the UK.  Sure you can find grim US images of African Americans (post)slavery, dirt poor in the deep south or urban decay in the depression. Apart from publicity photos of early jazz musicians it's hardly a visual history anyone would want to re-create. But now new images are beginning to emerge and it's this new emerging history I want to salute, of African Americans, happy healthy and beautiful and getting on with their lives. And they ore the ones I see myself in. I must add, more diverse images may have been more accessibly in the US, but are not widely available on this side of the Atlantic.

So for anyone who has ever wondered, what would a Black aristocrat look like on the set of Downton Abbey, here's a taster. And if ever I get to go to a ball, I hope to do her justice.