Why Did We Stop……?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is one of my favourite rants.

It seems as soon as I discover some amazing thing that makes my life easier or actually works as a product instead of just smelling nice I discover they no longer make it, it’s impossible to find or I am mercilessly mocked for using it.

Thanks to some very good Twitter advice the other day I purchased the book “Let’s Bring Back” (now in my bookshop!) with some Amazon vouchers and I’ve just started dipping into it. It’s an excellent, and very interesting book. Mr Chick calls it a “bathroom book” but personally I’m dipping into in the middle of the afternoon when I get an energy dip, or just before bed! The book is American, so not all of the things are relevant to the UK, but it has inspired me to put together my own little list of things I don’t understand why people stopped using and we should definitely bring back.

Rain Hoods

I have one of these and I completely fail to understand why they ever went out of common use! Even the most compact umbrella can be a fairly bulky thing to fit into a small handbag, but my rainhat comes in a squishable compact plastic pouch and lives discreetly in the corner of my bag. In the case of unexpected rain fall I just whip it out and my hair is dry and I don’t look like a drowned rat on arrival at my destination. I then stow the damp hat in my pocket instead of having to find places to put dripping umbrellas and then leaving them behind.

You can buy a pretty red polka dot rain hat for the measley price of £1.50 at Notorious Kitsch.

Refillable Make Up Containers

I can only assume we can largely blame the massively consumerist 80s for the apparent final total death of this one, although they started to disappear far earlier.

You spend a fortune on a pressed powder, it might even have a mirror in the lid, then, when it’s finished, you THROW IT AWAY and spend another fortune on a replacement. I searched Boots Make Up department for the word refill and found just 11 products. Several from Estee Lauder, so bravo to them, and another couple of premium brands, but from the regular make up counters, nothing. Powder compacts are the most common refills available, but whatever happened to refillable lipsticks, or mascaras and eyeliners that came in a cake and were used with reusable applicators? I know formulas have moved on, but I feel so frustrated when I throw away yet another un-recyclable mascara tube.

You’d even decant your talc and bubble baths into prettier display containers, meaning the purchase packaging could be far less extravagant. Plus, of course, it means you get to choose your own style rather than being a walking advert for a cosmetics company every time you powder your nose.

Refills are more environmentally friendly and save you money. Why did we stop using them?

Besame still sell a refillable powder compact, as do some high end brands, but lipstick refills appear to be gone for good.

Travelling Trunks

I think you can still get these, but again, confined to the very high end of the market. They’re maybe not the most practical for lugging about on the train if you don’t have staff, but with a lighter weight material and the addition  of  a couple of wheels I think they’d be perfect for the kind of business or leisure traveller who drives from hotel to hotel, staying one or 2 nights.

It might still seem unwieldy, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen business men struggling across a car park, 4 loose shirts fluttering in the breeze, trousers slipping off coat hangers, trying to manhandle a laptop bag and wheely suitcase up a kerb, into a hotel and deal with check in. Imagine arriving, upending your trunk, opening it up and having everything hung, arranged and ready to use. No unpacking, no ironing screwed up shirts with terrible hotel irons, no forgetting all your socks and leaving them in the hotel drawer. Bliss.

If you are insanely loaded then Bernard Malle appear to still make one, but I can’t imagine it comes cheap!

Setting Lotion

Amami has shut up shop and most shop assistants look at you with confusion if you ask if they still stock it. Having spent a gazillion years trying to get my hair to hold a curl using mousse, gel, heated appliances, hairspray and any number of voodoo like rituals, I bought my first bottle of Amami about a week before they stopped selling it. Great.

I can now get setting lotion at Superdrug, and it’s available online at Sallys, but it’s far from widespread. It’s still the only thing that keeps a curl in my hair, though even that’s not infallible. It’s probably not great for your hair, but considering the amount of other stuff we all use that isn’t great for our hair that hardly seems to be an argument! Bring back stuff that actually works, that’s what I say.

Dressing Up

I’ve expressed strong feelings about this before, so I won’t go off on one again, but I was reminded of it while watching the Seven Year Itch on TV last week. That famous white dress Marilyn Monroe wears? She’s just come out of the CINEMA. I think you’d be viewed as over dressed if you wore it out to dinner these days, let alone to go and see a film.

It’s just such a shame, considering how expensive it is to go out to dinner or to the cinema wouldn’t it be nice if we could get dressed up for it and give it a sense of occasion, maybe it would make that expenditure seem a bit more worthwhile and the cinemas could stop complaining that DVDs and downloading are killing them off.

I could carry on ranting for a while, but I think 5 is enough for now, maybe I’ll return to this when the urge to rant strikes me again!

What would you bring back?

26 Responses
  • Caroline
    January 12, 2011

    I agree with all of these points – every single one! Dapper Chap and I were watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Sunday and swooning over the travelling trunks, and I’d LOVE to put my vintage compacts to use if I could only find refills that would fit! I do have one cigarette case come powder compact that turned out to be the perfect size to hold my business cards in one side and my cream blusher (which I also use as lipstick) in the other – and I adore it!

    As for dressing up, well, some of us still do! But I was bemoaning the fact that people go to the theatre in jeans and fleeces these days just the other day – I think it’s awful. Dapper does where a suit, tie and trilby every single day (unless he’s in his caped, waxed overcoat and cloth cap to walk the dogs…) and gets some truly astonished looks. I always feel it’s because people look over and are embarrassed to be dressed so shoddily!

    • paperdoll
      January 14, 2011

      Hi, I found that a Rimmel pressed powder, once coaxed from its container (take off the paper label underneath and push something through the small hole) fits beautifully into my vintage compact!

  • Redressing
    January 12, 2011

    I would definitely bring back housecoats for daily chores wearing! You know, the ones which you cover your gorgeous retro vintage style frock in in order to bake/cook or clean without spoiling your dress. So much better than a regular apron and in kitsch fabric I’m sure they would be uber cool too!

  • Roisin Muldoon
    January 12, 2011

    I’m going to go out and get myself a rain hood, for real! I’d probably still have an umbrella for my clothes, but the rain hood fulfils two functions as it also stops the wind from whipping your hair around.

    I’m totally with you on refillable containers as well – I do it in my kitchen so it would be lovely to be able to extend that into other areas.

    Ditto dressing up – my boyfriend and I get similar astonished stares to those Caroline described. I like it, but I don’t really understand it – it’s not that much harder to make an effort!

  • Perdita
    January 12, 2011

    Yep to rain hoods and setting lotion (they sell several types in my local superdrug, maybe because of the average age of the customer, I bought some for my wedding hair and the lady assumed I was buying it for an older relative!).

    My husband knows how to find old lippy cases, sterilise them and then carefully cut-and-reload them using a modern lippie. I have no idea how he knows this, but it’s quite a cool-how too. I shall hunt boot sales for old lipstick tubes!

    Bed jackets would be one I’d bring back. So much prettier than a random cardie/bathrobe/poncho/old-chool-jumper over your nightie (I know now apparently ALL have super central heating but it just isn’t so- and even with it, if you have vintage windows and walls it can be draughty- plus there is nothing worse than an overheated bedroom, why not have it just right with the bed jacket, which you take off and saves money?).

    • Retro Chick
      January 12, 2011

      Bed jackets! Yes, I was talking about them the other day actually!

    • Redressing
      January 12, 2011

      Well Perdita and Gemma- I was bought a bed jacket for Christmas! (Not really very vintagey but a bed jacket nonetheless!) Gorgeously soft, hooded and grey polka dot- M&S would you believe?!?!

  • Perdita
    January 12, 2011

    … but on another note. F.I.L is amazed at the idea that we modern vintage-ites have that everyone dressed wonderfully and even had one or two ‘good’ dresses. It’s just, he says, you didn’t SEE the scruffy (and dirty, and too thin) in photos. They were hidden in slum areas.

    Where he grew up, people had one set of clothes, often shabby- and some children went to school different days because they shared one pair of shoes. They didn’t go to the cinema or restaurants AT ALL: that’s why their scruffiness didn’t ‘offend us’ there.

    We celebrate the positives and ‘best’ of different eras and cultures in vintage and alt. We should not judge people based on a glimpse, or assume embarrassment or shame.

    So as for the ‘dressing scruffily’- I won’t judge those I haven’t met and never assume they are embarrassed or look down on them.

    One change that I DON’T want brought back is the ‘arch stare’ (anyone have a harsh aunt or gran that did that? I met plenty) for those who dress differently, look different, long hair, different skin colour… it did happen and I knew older relatives who used vocabulary worryingly close to some things I see on vintage forums (‘aren’t they ashamed/embarrassed’ ‘don’t know any better’ ‘stupid’ ‘not feminine’ etc’) to justify their judgements.

    It is NICE for the person dressing up to dress up. It should not be to impress others they have never met: and it is definitely NOT nice to look at others aghast. If you do that it’s just a ‘posh’ version of yobbish kids laughing at me/you at the bus stop for dressing up.

    Rant over.

    • Retro Chick
      January 12, 2011

      Oh no, I absolutely agree with that. However I think generally it was an issue with replacing worn out clothes and financial constraints. It just seems to me that people with wardrobes full of clothes will go to the supermarket in their pyjamas and that’s crazy! It’s pure laziness and I think that laziness and lack of care spreads throughout everything people do. It’s nice to live in a tolerant and relaxed society, but not nice when that tips over into a lack of care.

      I do agree with you though, looking down on people is never a nice thing to do! Expensive tracksuits and trainers might not be my style but people should wear what they want!

      • Perdita
        January 12, 2011

        I agree- you’re spot on about the tracksuit, that was exactly what I meant- it’s not so much people who go out in their PJs I was talking about- as you correctly point out that’s a case of lazy/wasteful behaviour rather than a ‘look’- but the assumption that it’s OK for ‘us’ (ie alt/vintage fans) to make comments on people who, for example, wear UGGs and juicy tracksuits and then complain about funny looks towards us. That’s 2 sides of the same coin.

        Something I do think should be brought back is the idea of politeness – not simply manners but realising that words have consequences, and that any ‘right’ I hold dear I should apply to all people- even if I don’t personally get on with them (ie. if I dislike rudeness to me, I must ensure I am not rude to others, if I know it hurts to have a teenager laugh at my clothes, I should not mock someone who loves sportswear etc’).

        ‘An eye for an eye makes everyone blind’.

      • Retro Chick
        January 12, 2011

        Absolutely, but you can dislike an item of clothing without looking down on someone! I still hate UGGs, though I am tempted sometimes to get a pair to wear in the car when my feet are freezing!

        I think it’s just about acknowledging different people like different things.

  • Tegan Davies
    January 12, 2011

    very good article I think refills for make up is a good idea but most of the time its more expense than the actaul thing itself and your still throwing something away, but I do like the idea of the suitcase and will be usefull coathanger drawers perfect if you dont want stuff being screwed up or messed up with the wrong thing (e.g food and clothes)

  • Lauren
    January 12, 2011

    Absolutely agree.
    Only this morning I was thinking about rain hats as I struggled with my umbrella in the wind. I think you’ve encouraged me to go and find one today!
    Have to agree on the refills too – it’s a crying shame to see all of those pretty vintage ones go to waste!

  • Miss Peelpants
    January 12, 2011

    Agreed on every point and level!

  • Jess
    January 12, 2011

    Yes, yes, yes to dressing up. I agree with all of this but I don’t understand why people are so adverse to putting on nice clothes and going out.

    Every time I go out someone will tell me I am overdressed. Yes, but at least I look good!

  • Franca
    January 12, 2011

    Loved this post!

    rainmacs – yes! umbrellas are rubbish, especially if its windy.

    setting cream – must try it, i can never get the curls to stay! what is the brand you use that is in superdrug and sally’s?

    On the dressing up thing, I disagree slightly. I understand your desire to get dressed up to mark an occassion, but I’m not particularly bothered whether other people do or not. I want to be able to dress up if i want to, and not be looked at weirdly, but that’s about it. The flipside of any ‘everyone looks nice’ situation is that there is a lot of pressure on people to dress up, and people will be looked down on if they don’t conform. I prefer it the way it is now, to be honest.

    And I think some people DO dress up to go to the cinema. Whenever I go there is young teenagers, for whom the cinema is obviously a social highlight and who have clearly made lots of effort with their clothes, hair and make up. It’s not what you or I would consider dressing up, but they are dressing up for each other, not for me, so that’s fine.

  • Shona
    January 12, 2011

    Ditto all of that!
    I would add over-shoe boots, the kind that you slipped your foot and shoe into – Brillant!
    Also, although it is easily available, why does cold cream need to be an old lady thing? It is the best cleanser for my tendency-to-be-dramatic-if-exposed-to-chemical skin.
    Three cheers to vintage sensibilities!

  • vicky
    January 12, 2011

    I would bring back dressing tables! Why are the so hard to find. Nothing nicer than getting ready infront of a mirror on a dressing table. I had to search high and low for one to match the rest of my bedroom furniture and wouldn’t break the bank.

    I love getting dressed up my friends often joke that we never look like we are going to the same place 🙂

    • Perdita
      January 13, 2011

      Try those ‘junk’ furniture shops for ones to re-con. It’s amazing how expensive, shabby-chic new ones are very similar to 60s and 70s repro edwardian ones (and in the 60s/70s, quite a lot of repro was well made). I found a table in a junk shop for about £30, I stripped it down and painted it faded duck egg blue – result, it looked like something I saw in John Lewis for £600.

      Sadly it was left at a previous address, but hopefully the new owner will enjoy it now!

  • Lady Cherry
    January 12, 2011

    I never knew she was coming out of the cinema! I love dressing up but everyone is so casual these days its almost considered inappropriate I agree its a great shame about the reliable make up. It would make perfects sense to bring down production costs too.

  • Fiona - Notorious Kitsch
    January 12, 2011

    Absolutely agree on many of those things!

    I love dressing up and I know I am guilty of letting this part of me go in the last couple of years since I’ve been working from home, however I am making a real concious effort this year to go back to being ME! Me is dressed up, made up and hair done :o)

  • Pia
    January 14, 2011

    I have to get myself this rain hat! Great link, thank you.

    If only I would have known about setting lotion before I doscovered the world of vintage and it’s blogs… Yes I heard it mentioned before by my nan but never knew you can buy it for yourself.

    I use now Lottabody (bought via Ebay) and it works brilliantly – for years and years I used mousse, curling iron and lots of spray – my hair wouldn’t hold a curl longer than a couple of hours. And now after pin curling it – for days! I am in curling heaven!

    I also agree with the dressing up but I always had a tendency to overdress anyway 🙂

  • Emma at Daily Clothes Fix
    January 15, 2011

    I am totally with you on the dressing up one. Why do jeans seem to be appropriate for every and all occasions?

  • Georgina
    January 16, 2011

    Yes to dressing up! I long for the days when men wore hats and tailored coats, and women got dressed up in pencil skirts and patent heels. Whilst I’m very grateful that I can slip on jeans and a t-shirt to run to the shop, it makes me sad to see that the standard uniform for most girls is hoodies and Ugg boots!