Style Evolution – The Dark Days

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Well, lots of people commented on yesterdays Style Evolution post!

Not Just on the blog, but on Twitter and Facebook as well. It made me start thinking back even further. I wasn’t planning to do this post today, but I want to deal with the kind of questions it bought up (for me) while it’s still fresh in my mind!

General consensus seemed to be of the “Gosh! Haven’t you changed!” opinion, and indeed, over that 5 year period I have. Though personally I can still see the elements of my style there all along. I’ve never been one for too many frills and fripperies. I like simple fitted tops and full 50s style skirts. A little black dress and pearls instead of pink satin.

I was always interested in WWII social history from the age of about 10 or 11 and the elegance of womens dress in the mid 20th century. I’ve also always loved dressing up and I’ve cobbled together little historical influences in my outfits, much as I think I do now.

The biggest change to my mind was my weight and my hair. I feel like I now dress like I would have always dressed if I’d known I was allowed! Little changes like wearing stockings, curling my hair and carrying a proper handbag are because I’m no longer afraid to draw attention to myself.

The reason I chose that 5 year period was that it’s the period I have most photos for, thanks to the world of digital photography! If you go back a little further though the story isn’t quite so clear cut. In my teens I was a flamboyant dresser with bright red hair. I favoured flicked eyeliner, red lips and plenty of bright green. Through most of my university years I liked nothing better than to go to the pub wearing bright green eyeshadow and gold shoes. But at some point I lost that. I still liked to dress nicely (I once had to borrow trainers to go on a course because I didn’t have any flat shoes AT ALL) but I lost that flamboyance.

Maybe it was working in an office full time, then at some point maybe it was the weight I gained that stole some of my confidence. Either way I DID lose it a bit. But while the last 5 years might look like a massive reinvention, viewed over the past 10 years I see it as rediscovering the *self help speak alert* Real Meβ„’

So, I dug out some scanned photos from the before the age of digital photography. These date from around 1997-1998. I was at university and they’re all candid “in the pub” shots rather than posed outfit photos.

I particularly love the ball outfit in the left hand picture.Β  I was wearing a black velvet vintage maxi skirt and vintage velvet choker. The bodice was M&S and, yes, that is a stick on beauty mark. I rag curled my hair and tucked dried roses into my hairband, but you can probably see it’s already falling flat. My hair is SUCH a trauma!

I think the girl in these pictures looks far more like the 2011 Retro Chick than yesterdays 2006 pictures.

What do you think?

20 Responses
  • Franca
    February 16, 2011

    I haven’t had a chance yet to look at yesterday’s post yet, but I love there pictures of you all young and smiley!

  • Steph (@mrs_sock)
    February 16, 2011

    i definately think the elements are there throughout. sometimes life gets in the way, money time & inclination. I also think as you approach *ahem* 30, you take stock more and are happier with who you are with more knowledge of who you want to be. In my younger days I was all about quantity – i’d get paid and go shop. I don’t think i ever tried anything on and things would lie in the wardrobe with tags on until they were shipped off to a charity shop. I would say now I try to think more about what I’m buying but I’ve still got a long way to go to be were i want to. But that’ll have to wait until I have more money and the baby is born! Brave post Gemma – but very interesting to read x

    • Steph (@mrs_sock)
      February 16, 2011

      I should add I think I felt my most beautiful on my wedding day in my 50s style made to measure dress, I did spend the run up to the wedding worried what other people, including hubby, would think, but on the day I felt a million dollars and I want to feel like that everyday! And I had only good comments!

    • Retro Chick
      February 16, 2011

      Approach 30! I’m running away from it at speed! πŸ˜€

      • Steph (@mrs_sock)
        February 16, 2011

        haha yeah me too!

  • Caroline
    February 16, 2011

    Ditto Franca. Oh, and I had that M&S top too!

  • BooBoo Kitty
    February 16, 2011

    i used to be a surfer chick at art college, punk emo kid at uni, then gradualy went from punk to rockabilly… now from rockabilly to 50s vintage. I have seen this trend progression true for allot of my friends.

    I find allot of rockabilly, 50s vintage girls used to be quite punky before.

    i wonder what draws them/us punky girls to vintage?

    • Retro Chick
      February 16, 2011

      Yes, I think it’s a more grown up take on an alternative look.

      So while it’s argulably quite conservative in style it attracts people with a taste for attracting attention!

  • perdita
    February 16, 2011

    How strange, I think we have slight paralel fashion lives! I was at uni in the middle-90s (The UEA funnily enough) and was the red-hair-sequins-and-velvet member of my peer group.

    Then I ‘caught’ good taste (I blame moving to Guildford, in which The White Company is seen as sartorial heaven), but what actually happened was I started buying loads of black/grey Next style office clothes and sensible bootcut jeans/blouse/blazer/low heelp boots that looked …well…sensible to convince myself I was ‘worthy’ and ‘respectable’ etc’. There was an element of good-taste bullying in my first workplace (hence my strong dislike of ascribing personal qualities to clothing).

    Then I started to realise that I was pretty good at a few things, and the urge to wrap up in grey and black (unless I wanted to) receded. Now, I’m not saying I go to management meetings in my coral Hello Kitty sweater, but I no longer treat my clothes as a uniform or a disguise. So I’m probably closer to my 1990s self than ever before- in fact i dug out one of my old 90s coats this winter for the first time in years.

    • Retro Chick
      February 16, 2011

      I think there was a phase in the early 00’s where good taste suddenly became beige for a bit!

      Suddenly working in a conservative office at about that time was a bit of a shock to the system.

  • Penny Dreadful Vintage
    February 16, 2011

    Yep I agree, these are much more you – it is the enthusiastic, happy grin. I think I went through a similar stage of trying to cram myself into a different personality clothing wise, but that had a lot to do with the guy I was with at the time (who made it clear he though I needed to lose weight and hated me wearing things that were ‘different’ from other girls) x

    • Retro Chick
      February 16, 2011

      Booo. I had a boyfriend like that, but that was YEARS ago. Well before those pictures!

      • Perdita
        February 16, 2011

        I had a fella who controlled what I wore. Nothing too long/short, no heels – he was OK with alt so long as it was on his terms (broadly speaking Mod revival or indie) which was OK except that he sneered at things that were too mainstream OR too alt.

        It was like a uniform! He just wanted a dolly to dress up, liked younger/innocent girls and just couldn’t handle difference.

  • Lady Cherry
    February 17, 2011

    I cam totally relate to your comment about wanting to dress as you do now but not feeling allowed to. I was exactly the same at 18. I spent years messing with different styles too until about a year ago. I think the photos show that you have beem quite experimental and not conventional at all.

  • Ali Bunn
    February 17, 2011

    These definately have your spirit in them more than yesterday’s pictures. I loved yesterday’s post and have shamelessly copied the title, so if anyone want’s to see me as a kid… feel free!
    Ali – Bunn The Baker

  • Denise @ Swelle
    February 17, 2011

    Aw, I love the old photos! I’ve finally come to terms with my hideous style past, namely when I was 13-14 years old and had rocker hair. I see it all as fun now and a part of who I am. It’s all good!

  • Ms Wanda
    February 17, 2011

    What a brillaint couple of blog posts. Looking at the pictures it was like seeing a little flower blossom, die a bit, then blossom again. Just a few photos say so much.

    I put on loads of weight after I got married too – what’s with that?

  • Rowanna
    February 18, 2011

    How funny! I STILL have that M&S top! Although I wouldn’t fit in it unless I used a shoehorn, but it was one of my favorite tops and I can’t seem to make myself get rid of it

  • Rebecca
    February 19, 2011

    I still have that M&S top too, but mine is purple!

  • eyeliah
    February 23, 2011

    I see the style resemblance, your best accessory is that big grin! So smiley πŸ™‚