Style

Are you ever too old for hand-me-downs?

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As I sit here wondering how to begin my very first post for Retro Claude, my mind struggles to find something to talk about. Believe me, I am not lacking in things to say, far from it. My issue is how to introduce the ideas and concepts behind this little project of mine in a way that sets the tone for things to come, doesn’t give too much away but leaves you all wanting to come back for more.

As I stare at the blank page my eyes are drawn to the photo I have chosen to be my profile picture. This one:

Are you ever too old for hand-me-downs? - Retro Claude

Now perhaps I should make this clear from the outset. I am no model, I don’t intend to be and if I could pay someone to be in the photos and wear beautiful clothes for me I would. But unfortunately, that’s not how this blogging game works. So in the mean time I’ll be trying to improve my lopsided smile. Please bear with me.

Anyway, the picture. I chose this picture mostly because of the good hair, but also because there was an ugly light switch crying out to be covered up with a jazzy logo. But now I look back on it, this photo, this outfit, is a perfect snapshot of what Retro Claude is going to be about. Vintage clothes and hand-me-downs.

The dress I am wearing in this photo was one of the first true vintage pieces I ever owned. I bought it aged 18 online in the Beyond Retro sale. It was a bit of an impulse purchase, and when it turned up it needed a lot of TLC. Most of the seams had gone, a popper was missing at the waist and the covered belt, well the covered belt is beyond saving frankly.  It was listed as 1960s on the website and this turned out to be a pretty accurate date but what took me back was not the age of this piece, but that this dress was handmade.

As I lovingly repaired ever seam, I came to know every stitch that had gone into the dress. I could feel the care that had gone into making that garment and how much it would have meant to the original owner to have a brand new dress, made to fit, in the exact style they wanted.

With the decline of home sewing, this is something that has disappeared from everyday fashion. Even though I am a professional seamstress I have NEVER MADE MYSELF AN ITEM OF CLOTHING. Instead, for years and years I was perfectly happy to support an industry that doesn’t appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of my trade, that exploits workers and the environment and perpetuates impossible body standards.

Time for Change

Well enough was enough. Slowly but surely, I have left fast fashion behind. At first this started with a few vintage pieces, and then a pledge to buy nothing new. This led to my undying appreciation for charity shops and now I am a proud owner of an almost entirely secondhand wardrobe. I have also gladly embraced hand-me-downs.

And now, I’m spreading the word. I have gained a reputation amongst my friends as a secondhand lover to the point that they frequently offer me their hand-me-downs. Just like the yellow cardigan in the picture. Whilst visiting my brother, his girlfriend lent me that cardigan, she said it suited me so much I should keep it, as she hardly ever wore it. But I adore it and my yellow cardy has now become a wardrobe staple.

And so as I look at this picture I see that these two items, perfectly sum up everything I want Retro Claude to be about. They demonstrate my own personal style, my approach to fashion and my appreciation of clothes. And so now you know what to expect: a mix of beautiful vintage pieces, some charity shop treasures, good old fashioned hand-me-downs and hopefully, coming soon, some loving handmade, bespoke pieces. Made by me for me.

I hope to see you again soon,

Claude x

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