On Saturday I sat down with fourth year history student Ellen Gilbert, my friend and vintage clothes lover. She is a regular attendee at weekend dress-up vintage rallies and has a wonderful collection of beautiful, original vintage clothes.
Henrietta : When did your love of vintage clothes start?
Ellen: About seven years ago I went to a 1940s weekend with my dad in a village near where I live. I hadn’t known about these kind of events before this so it was sort of by chance that we went. I bought my first dress in a vintage shop beforehand and then we went to the show and I loved it. I absolutely love the dressing up part and the fact that everyone is doing it together. It was so much fun! I also met my boyfriend at a rally like that one so that makes it even better obviously.
Henrietta: I know that it is not just 1940s clothes that you like, do you have favourite era for fashion?
Ellen: That is a very difficult question! For casual wear or if wanted to where vintage regularly or to a ball or something now, the 50s, but the 1940s for dressing up events.
Henrietta: I’m sure this is also a really difficult question but I don’t suppose you have a favourite piece out of all of your collection?
Ellen: Definitely my 1950s cocktail dress. It has beautiful beading on the front and the bodice is boned so it has really really good shaping. I actually got it on Etsy and it was in perfect condition which was amazing! I’ve only worn it once because want to keep it safe, but maybe I’ll be brave and wear it to a ball soon?
Henrietta: You definitely should it’s so beautiful! Do you personally think that there are any style lessons that we can learn now from vintage clothes?
Ellen: The thing i like about vintage fashion, in particularly the 50s, is that when the women put the outfit together they also wore the correct sort of underwear. I know that sounds weird but hear me out. Corsets, now, people tend to see as repressive which I can understand, but for me they mean 50s glamour and I would love to see a return to this. They help give the clothes their correct shape and this is how they are supposed to be worn.
Henrietta: Would you ever mix and match vintage and modern style?
Ellen: When I first started wearing vintage regularly I wouldn’t mix and match my style! I know lots of people are open to mixing eras and might wear an outfit comprised of clothes from different eras but I’m a puritan. I am a bit more relaxed now though, I have worn 50s coats with every day clothes and accessories and this could work if it was done right, but not with any thing more major or a whole outfit I don’t think. The clothes deserve to be worn properly.
Henrietta: If you could choose any piece that you’d like to come back into style now what would it be?
Ellen: Definitely 50s and 60s style swing coats. They just look so elegant and are so flattering!
Henrietta: Ok final question, may be a controversial one, do you in general prefer modern or vintage clothes?
Ellen: Ok, I am actually going to say that I prefer clothes now. I can really appreciate modern fashion and I like how it is so more low maintenance than vintage fashion, especially for women. When I’m getting dressed up in my vintage outfits I have to curl my hair and do my full face of make up to feel like I have done it properly. Also, with fashion now women have so much choice. In the 30s, 40s, 50s etc. there was a set style and an aesthetic and everyone lived up to this and I like doing that too, but I like that I have much more choice in what I wear now.
Henrietta: Thank you so much for this Ellen! This has been super interesting! You look fab so keep doing what you are doing.