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On Costume and Vintage

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Today on the tube, a man told me he liked my costume. I smiled and said thanks and then he got off the tube. But actually I was a little unsettled by this encounter, not just because anybody talking to you on the tube is a bit weird, but because my first thought was ‘what costume?’

Today, because of the snow storm currently gripping the UK, I’m wearing all the woolen items I own including my Vivienne of Holloway swing trouser, a white 1950s deadstock woolen jumper I picked up at Radio Days, and the blue jacket my brother bought me for my birthday. I also decided that there was no point brushing out my hair this morning as it would surely be ruined as I waited at the bus stop in the snow. So instead I just chucked on a headscarf Rosie the Riveter style, wrapped myself up in my much loved Collectif coat and an old woolen scarf and dashed out the door. I just about had time to chuck on some lippy and still make it to work on time.

Comfort Not Costume

For me this is a casual look. I dressed for comfort and warmth and the fact there is 2” of snow covering most of London.

The idea that this is a costume for me is bizarre. I work in the costume industry, creating costumes is my vocation, I would never put so little thought into an outfit if this were a costume. Costume has to tell a story, it has to be an extension of the character that the actor is playing. But I’m not playing anybody; I’m being myself.

On Costume and Vintage - Retro Claude

I have never felt so confident and so much myself as when I dress vintage. For me finding a style that suited the person I am came as a sigh of relief. Like I could finally stop pretending to enjoy wearing skinny jeans and be unashamedly myself. My love of knitwear has often had me lampooned as a Granny. Well fine, good because Grannies are great. They are practical and comforting and wear the fashion of their youth, which is probably the 1940s.

In this world of constant exposure to unattainable standards, where it can feel that someone always has it better than you; is more successful, happier, sexier whatever, being yourself takes courage. Finding something that makes you happy and celebrates who you are is rare and I feel very privileged to have found mine.

So no, actually, it’s not a costume.

Claude x

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