2.13.2014

Confessions of a former vintage addict {pt. 2}

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So there's one comment I always hated receiving from men when wearing vintage. It's not obvious, not like a catcall, which can be easily responded to with a couple of fingers or colorful language. It's a creepy compliment. 

"I wish women still dressed like that."

Now, if Tom Hiddleston said this to me 1. What am I doing hanging out with Tom Hiddleston there has to be more to that story. 2. I'd be too passed out to hear. 

Nope, the kind of men I would hear that from were outwardly creepy. Not even a handsome creeper in disguise that gets away with that junk on a regular basis, just plain gross, which makes the comment even worse (though it's weird no matter who says it). Creepiest looking dude at the bus stop? Yeah he's going say that then strike up conversation with me about how he wishes his girlfriend would wear stocking like that. Thanks dude. Totally wanted to know that. 

"I wish women still dressed like that" is not a compliment. They're not trying to flatter you with a genuine comment about your style or personality, it's basically an acceptable way of saying "I wish the values of the 50s were still in place today so I could be above you and you'd have no control over that." 

yaaaay. 

Now I've had similar comments that are not misogynistic in any way, such as "I wish more people would have that much fun with clothing nowadays." I mean it's kind of silly, just because you don't like the way people enjoy and experiment with fashion now, doesn't mean it's not happening. But it's not creepy. 

After so many years of odd words and leering glances, you just kind of get tired of it. No, actually, you get bitter. Yeah ok I'm bitter. I still love standing out now and then because for me fashion is the ultimate form of self expression. But at this point I take pleasure in being a bit invisible day to day. I'm not a people person, I'm a people watcher, and I'd much rather observe the world go on around me than be forced to interact with someone I didn't choose to converse with in the first place. And never would. 

So there you go, that's just a teeny fraction of the creepy sexist portion of vintage culture that no one really seems to bring up. I think it's just so acceptable, kind of a "comes with the territory" thing that nobody bothers. But as I said, I'm bitter. And my eyes are getting tired from rolling so much.

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You are welcome to read my response to the comments in this post here.

77 comments:

Nora said...

You know, I'm not a fan of slogans, but I think "be the change" would be a nice rejoinder. :)

anneke said...

I cringe a bit every time someone tells me 'I wish more girls wore dresses and skirts as much as you do'. I don't wear my clothes for the approval of strangers.

So many men seem convinced that the only reason a woman dresses up is to impress them or make other women jealous. The idea that we might enjoy thinking about and expressing our own style just for ourselves might just be too ridiculous to understand...

Anne Elizabeth said...

I always felt weird reading that phrase (no one has ever said it to me personally, as I haven't worn that vintage style that long), but I couldn't put my finger on what was so creepy about it.
I think you have figured it out.
That weird kind of compliment comes with the idea that there is only one true expression of femininity and that women should dress to please the onlooker instead of themselves...

beate grigutsch said...

i know this, i was a cutie like you as a young woman.....
this men will find another reason to talk creepy to you. it´s not you, it is not your vintage style or mini skirt. i don´t have found a recipe to avoid this in 30 years. but i say to myself "barking dogs don´t bite" and in the end they are "poor sausages" like we say here. don´t be bitter - if you hide yourself they win.

Katy said...

A bit harsh I think. Genuine creeps aside, I read this sort of comment on articles about chic looking film stars from the 40s and 50s. I take the comment to mean that they like the feminine styles of those times.

Adele said...

I quite agree. I'm firmly on the side of 'if you can't compliment me by putting down other women, I don't want your compliment.'

Just because I wear skirts below the knee, doesn't mean I'm more of a 'lady' than babes who rock leggings as pants, fake tan and crop tops.

We don't spend all this money on clothes just to please your penis. Good day!

Faith Rudd Trimmer said...

With burlesque culture becoming mainstream, vintage has also become more sexualised over the last decade or so. Men seem to think that, if you're dressed in a style that they associate with pin-ups etc., it means you're sexually available to all people at all times.

Paige @ Little Nostalgia said...

It's always the creepiest dude who has to speak up! And they can never take a hint.

I think a better way to express appreciation of vintage clothing is to say something like, "I wish more people still took that much pride in their appearance." Example: nobody in the 50s ever wore pajama bottoms AS PANTS. These days, it's like a certain segment of the population doesn't care anymore.

MatSarahB said...

I completely disagree! As a woman who generally runs in mostly male circles I am always thrilled to hear men express just such an opinion. I think that saying that such comments are somehow misogynistic is such a horribly modern feminist way of looking at the world. As if because they acknowledge that you look nice because you aren't wearing a mini skirt or "not pants" (as leggings are referred to in my house)somehow means that they wished you wished you chained to a stove is frankly offensive to men. A friend of mine (and definitely not creepy) once said, "Old fashioned dresses really made you realize how beautiful women really are, more so than modern dress does." That's a compliment, no strings attached. When you hear a comment and you are not sure of what they really mean, you ought to ask and find out instead of just assuming. You can really learn things and one of them ought to be that some men just like to see women looking beautiful wearing clothes that, while they may not be the norm, make them happy!

Jennifer M. said...

I have never had a comment like that from anyone whilst dressed in Vintage. I wonder if they are just looking for an excuse to chat with the cute girl!

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NoirGirl said...

I've had that exact same comment from creepers and it's always an opener to a whole host of bizarre conversation if you allow it. I got caught with it once and never will again.

Dressing vintage draws out the crazy comments from one and all, excepting closest friends and family. (And even then, my brother has had some choice opinions about my hats!)

The worst for me are the creepers who think they are going to ensnare you in the "Oh, you are so beautiful and interesting - would you model for me?" gig. I've actually started shaking when I've been asked that by some choice nasties.

And then, I've had clients in the store where I work accuse me of being Amish because I'm always wearing a hat. And others told me I looked like a mannequin because I was standing so still. I used to get a lot of creepier opening comments where I lived before, but I'm in a more metropolitan area now and it seems to be accepted better. My coworkers have finally got used it, thankfully.

Maybe we need a set of witty rejoinders to come back with?

Abigail said...

I agree with MatSarahB. It's one thing if some creepy guy makes a comment about his girlfriend wearing stockings like you but assuming that anyone, male or female (because it's something I say regularly as well) saying I wish women still dressed like that also means "so I could be above you and you'd have no control over that." I also don't think that anyone wishing the world still had 50s values means they wish women were considered inferior.

Arika said...

I very much agree with you.
And Tom is awesome, so he'd probably say something like, "I think that art deco broach your wearing is very pretty, is it vintage or reproduction? Not that it matters because it's lovely."
At least that's what the Tom in my head would say. But my point is if someone male, female, or other likes what your wearing they'll be more specific then a general "I wish more women dressed like that." That's not a compliment to you, that's a put down to all other women who choose to have a different style.

Madalynne said...

I'm glad you brought it up because I never would have thought about that. Shame on whoever says that to you, and keep dressing the way you do!

Jessie Lou said...

I'm with MatSarahB! I have mainly male friends and grew up with only brothers, they all love it when I dress in skirts, dresses, vintage, etc. Not because they feel that I am inferior or that I am supposed to be bare foot, pregnant, and cooking all day (although I don't see anything wrong with women doing that if they want to...which would be what I would eventually like to do), or that I couldn't whoop their asses if I wanted to....which I have and can do...even though I am a very feminine petite gal of 5'1" and look like I wouldn't ever hurt a fly. The way that you look and dress doesn't mean anything about you, and I have not found one guy (creepy or not....which I tend to be hounded by the uber creepy every day of my life....no joke) that feels if you dress in a skirt or dress that you are beneath them in any way. I am not a feminist, I do not let anyone walk over me, I love dresses and skirts, and I feel that I am a beautiful and strong young woman for wearing it when it is not mainstream. And honestly, I know that you hate the "compliment" (which it truly is one) but I honestly do wish that women dressed like that more often. And this is not coming from a supposed creepy male, but a young woman who rides horses, works on trucks, cooks, sews, and can do pretty much anything a guy can do....while being confident in my femininity and upholding the masculinity of my friends and family. I would much rather think highly and well of the person right off the bat until I know the reasons for their statements or comments before passing any sort of judgment.

Signed,
A People Person lol

azucenavintage said...

Thank you for saying this. This is the reason I generally tone it down in public when it comes to vintage clothing and styling. Even so, I wear skirts almost every day and still have people say that to me as if I would surely agree that all women should have to wear skirts even if they don't want to. Nope, sorry.

And why is it that it is always the skeeviest looking men that say that? You are wearing stained sweatpants and your hair looks like it hasn't seen a comb in decades-- why should women (or anyone, really) care what you want to see them wearing? I forget who coined the phrase "I'm not here to decorate your world", but it seems especially apt here.

Because when men make comments like that to women, they essentially are saying that they see us as decoration, even if they don't realize it.

thepragmaticcostumer said...

I get similar comments, especially if I'm wearing my corset. Suddenly, all propriety goes out the window and people think it's okay to touch or make comments that they would (hopefully) never make to anyone who was dressed "normally." The "I wish all women dressed like that" is a two-way street for me. Sometimes it's very obvious that the man (for it is almost always a man) means exactly what you mentioned: "I wish all women dressed like that...while they worship my manliness and clean the floor." Other times, though, it's backed by a genuine admiration for my gumption or the clothes themselves. Just like me, other people like old-fashioned fashion, too!
Ladies, on the other hand, can be downright cruel. Corsets just suddenly bring out the crazy nasty and many misinformed opinions about why I'm wearing one.
This dress just happens to be two inches smaller than my natural waist, okay? I'm not gonna die or steal your boyfriend or rob your children of their innocence or something. Golly, geez!
I still love wearing vintage, but I mostly just wear it for special occasions now.

Julia said...

Thank you for sharing. I really like this tidbits. I can relate a lot and some days doing this whole vintage thing on a daily basis has really left me feeling burnt out. And it's because of the comments. People are so intrusive and demanding to me and they for some reason they think it's acceptable to ask me why just because I heavily express myself through my wardrobe. "Why are you dressed like that, are you in a play?" "Do you get paid to dress like that?" No, for fucks sake. This is going to shock you all but I dress like this because I WANT to! And the one time I was wearing 1940's sailor slacks and I had a man ranting to me at work about how he wishes more women dressed like I did and how he was offended that women don't wear dresses and skirts to church anymore. (????) I really hate people. But I'm so thankful for social media and blogs like yours because it helps me not feel so alone, and that it can be a struggle sometimes to express yourself.

Sally said...

Thank you! I love vintage, and dressing vintage, and lots of "girly, traditional" things, like baking and sewing etc, but that doesn't mean I have regressive, oppressive values and think that women belong in the home only! As a full blown feminist, I'm all for women expressing themselves in ANY WAY they feel comfortable, including by being a homemaker/stay at home mum, but these sorts of comments always come with either the implication or the follow up remark that ALL WOMEN should be like that, whether they like it or not.
Ugh, sorry for the caps, this really hit a nerve.

Emileigh Mimi said...

I understand where you're coming from, and I'm sure that oftentimes it does come from a creeper. However, I don't think it's always meant in a creepy way. I know some guys have said such things because they're good guys. They wish that women didn't feel the need to put all the goods out in the open all the time, that they would dress with a little more class and modesty like they used to. I've often wished the same thing, so I don't know that all men who say such comments should be lumped in a "creeper" category.

Nancy Wilschke said...

I don't dress vintage but I used to try to dress up until the put-downs from women became too exhausting. "Oh my God, aren't you hot?" "Aren't you cold?" "Don't you want to be comfortable?" "You must be going to a party." "If I wore hose on a Sunday I'd get hives."

Good for you for sticking with vintage and pretty clothes in general. My experience is that other women do not like that. The "creep" didn't sound that creepy to me.

Andi said...

It does come across as skeevy, and I don't feel flattered when people say things like that to me. It comes across as if the person I'm talking to has strong opinions about gender roles and what men and women should do, and I find that incredibly repulsive. Plus, it implies that there's something wrong with the way other women dress. A compliment that puts down other people is not a compliment I want to receive.

Lora Conrad said...

As a wearer of vintage, I've heard this so many times from so many men and you know what? It's always creeped me out. Why? Because the compliment is not directed to the thought I put into the outfit, the craftsmenship of the clothes, or an appreciation for more formal dressing in general (for women AND men). These comments are always focused on the hyper feminine aspects of the garments, which comes across as pretty fucking fetishy and weird to me.

While I am a feminist, it isn't a "feminist" notion to want to go about your day without the uninvited opinions of strangers. Anyone would find that intrusive, not just those of us who believe in gender equality.

Solanah, thanks for bringing this up! You're awesome.

Lora
hungryheartvintage.com

Andi B. Goode said...

As I've said before, I really love this post. And there are some great comments here. I especially love what Adele and Lora had to say. I think they kind of said anything I could want to say, myself.

Also, I could not care less about someone's intent if the result is hurtful, creepy or somehow detrimental to someone else.

Betty2Tone (Laura) said...

I've always felt like if someone dresses differently from the norm (vintage or not), people tend to think it's ok to be more rude or make comments that they wouldn't usually make to someone else. I'm not sure why that is though.

Whitney said...

I agree, Solanah, and while I understand people who think "I wish women still dressed like that" is a harmless compliment, it does imply that That Is The Way Women Should Look. It lumps all women into one category and shelves them away so they don't need to be dealt with in their complexity. This Is Womanly, All Women Should Wear This. I'd have no objection to someone saying a more inclusive "I wish people still dressed like that," or general compliments about style, liking one's attention to detail, quality, whatever, but making it into a specifically "Yay, you know how women should look!" comment is regressive, albeit in a slightly subtle way.

Daffny AVintageNerd said...

I think it is a perfectly lovely compliment esp if it came from an older gentlemen. There is nothing sexist or creepy about someone-anyone (bc women can hit on women too) to say "I wish women dressed more that way". What they are saying is that they wished women took more time to tend to themselves or perhaps they admire how lovely a lady looks all dressed up. Thing is many young women today find it offensive to be called a lady and offensive when a man calls them one. That is something that was lost in that generation. I think its lovely to be called a lady and lovely to have men referred to as gentlemen. Unfortunately, most men aren't and most women aren't. And unfortunately, just bc people dress a certain way doesn't mean they are that way ie dressing punk doesnt mean someone is rude and cursing all the time or someone dressing 40s doesn't mean they are respectful or ladylike. I think you just have to take it with a grain of salt. And YES I LOVE Tom too!! Swoon!!!!!! xox

Victoria NicAnndrais said...

This is one of the things that has stopped me from wearing vintage or getting dresses up. But I want to wear what makes me happy with out worrying about what people'll say to me. I don't like talking to random strangers. It bothers me that other people can have this affect on us.

Johanna Öst said...

Great post! I've only gotten this comment from (what I assume to be) women, and only online. I guess because it's very unusual in Sweden that anyone, and especially men, openly comment or compliment an unknown person. I still find it just as enervating and annoying, and I feel the same about the "not a feminist" comments above. Saying you're not a feminist in this supposedly enlightened age is just plain crazy to me, just the same as saying you are not against rasism or any other inequality.

It's even more annoying when this comment comes along with some idea of "modesty" or "dressing properly", which to me is a concept that shouldn't even exist, and is dangerously close to slut shaming.

And saying "they don't mean it in a bad way!" so doesn't recognize the problem and is completely beside the point.

The not wanting to interact with strangers vs. loving extravagant clothing is a whole other thing that I could probably write an essay about (I have social phobia and am a total recluse), but I won't do that now :)

Lindsay Lane said...

I think I have to disagree. I do get this compliment alot ... but so far I only got it from women who were, say, married and in their 50s. I don't think they were all hounding me and being all dissapointed that their husbands weren't wearing seamed stockings and skirts/dresses like I do.

But ofcourse there will always be a bunch of people with the wrong intentions. However, they address to me in a way múch more rude, than just saying they wished there were more women who dressed like me.

Jennifer Rainey said...

I have to agree with JessieLou and MatSarahB; I don't think this is an automatically misogynistic comment. It can be, certainly, but I feel like there could be many other reasons a person could express that they wish women still dressed like that. If you don't continue the conversation to find out whether or not the gentleman (since we seem to be focusing on men) perhaps does like the craftsmanship of vintage clothing or has a connection to the vintage aesthetic because it--perfectly innocently!--reminds him of a happier time in his life, it's too easy to assume he has bad intentions. I don't think you can assume someone is a sexist creeper just from that comment, and I'm sure many people do mean it as a compliment. If they truly do wish more women dressed like that because they like the vintage look, it's a compliment to your style, but unless the conversation is continued it's too easy to assume that isn't the case and they're being creepy.

Also, some people are just awkward and don't know how to compliment people even though they want to! They may mean it as a compliment even if it doesn't come out that way.

This is a really interesting topic, by the way! It obviously got a lot of people thinking. (Also, props for the Hiddleston love!!)

Cheers,
Jenny

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Wow. Some interesting comments here! I think Andi G. Goode hits the nail on the head: "Also, I could not care less about someone's intent if the result is hurtful, creepy or somehow detrimental to someone else."

I so agree, and will never understand why people don't get this concept.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Solanah.

Rebecca said...

yes, yes, yes, yes. I love the vintage aesthetic, but this is so true. thank you for writing this.
Rebecca @ tr[i]b[e]cca

map said...

To the people who only hear this as a nice comment from nice men, that's great. I disagree that it's a wholly sweet comment, because it relies on pitting women against each other - in a mild way, yes, but it's still there. (The comments about modesty and looking more covered up skeeve me out even more because it's a just few short steps to slut-shaming.) Like a few others, a compliment that is really a dig on other women isn't complimentary to me, thanks. Plus, even if you've only experienced nice, non-sexist men in your life, doesn't mean that sexist creeps who wish to return to 50s values aren't out there. I'm glad for those who haven't experienced them, but obviously Solanah has. (As have I, and I never dress full-on vintage... but even wearing skirts/dresses frequently can bring out the comments about "what women should do more often".)

Frances said...

YES. I mean, obviously, intent is important, and maybe some of the other ladies here have been lucky to only get the positive-sounding version... because there's a big difference between "I wish more women/people still dressed like that (I wish people got dressed properly instead of going out in pajamas)" and "I wish women still dressed like that (and Men were still Men and Women were still Women and we had clearly defined unequal gender roles)" and it's usually quite. obvious. On the other hand, I'm still wearing vintage because I like how it looks on me and I feel properly dressed, and (in my experience) it doesn't really change how many men or women see fit to be creepy at me, it just means that I get more genuine compliments to balance it out!

colormebrazen said...

Solanah, you are living proof that love of vintage needn't be coupled with oppressive gender roles. Why assume that anyone else's has to be? It's distasteful to assume that women dressed in vintage are necessarily submissive and weak-willed. It's just as distasteful to assume that men who appreciate vintage expect women to be that way. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

Also, the offensiveness of a remark has nothing to do with the person who said it being "creepy-looking". If we as vintage lovers don't want to be judged on our appearance, let's not do the same.

Ivy said...

The only tine I've found that comment be not creepy is coming from elderly men who have just said my outfit reminds then of their wife or mother and is clearly wistful and missing their youth. I don't mind it then.

colormebrazen said...

Also, it's possible to believe in equality without subscribing to the politics of feminism. The term connotes so many different things nowadays that I don't fault anyone for abandoning it altogether.

Librarian Tells All said...

I'm glad you brought this up, because it's sparked a great discussion. Sometimes it's difficult to repeat or write down what somene else said to you, and get their full meaning and vibe across. I've had that problem in my own blog.

Two people could say the exact same thing to you, and one would make it sound creepy while the other person sounds completely innocuous. And when you try to tell someone else about it, it's hard to explain why the creepy person sounded creepy.

But you know it was creepy. Oh, you know.

Ultimately, I understand why an introvert would not want to call a lot of attention to herself. It makes sense to me.

Lainie said...

Thank you, I agree. I agree because I do believe EXACTLY what Adele commented, do NOT think that putting down other women is a compliment to me.

Saying, Hey I like that dress, or Nice Style, that is a compliment.
I am also glad someone mentioned the sexualization of "vintage", not every girl in a swing dress is a burlesque dancer. I have been on the receiving end of "so yeah, do you have those strap things under your dress like those pinup girls?" (shudder)

Jessica Cangiano said...

It's interesting, while I have gotten some make-your-skin-cringe comments and questions from men over the years (including being asked, twice, even though I don't look like most alt girls in the slightest, if I was a Suicide Girl simply because they see vintage, think rockabilly/psychobilly/goth/alt what have you and don't take the time to realize I look like an old photo of their grandma when she was my age, not a racy pinup girl or anything of that provocative nature), over all the comments I've received have been wholly positive and encouraging to me (Canadians are a wildly polite bunch as a whole though, so I know I get off lucky compared to many of my fellow vintage wearing ladies the world over).

One of my absolute favourite is actually very similar in a sense to this one that you (completely understandably, of course) are not fond of. For me, when a middle aged or elderly person looks at me and says something along the lines of "You look so much (or exactly) like how mother/grandmother/older sister/aunt/wife back in the day used to dress", that warms my heart beyond measure because I know that I'm helping that person reconnect with a point in their past in a way that simply remembering in their mind's eye might never do. One of my favourite elements of wearing vintage has always been the joy doing so can bring to senior citizens, so no doubt that's part of the reason why this comment means so much to me in an entirely positive light.

♥ Jessica

Miss Emmi said...

I think there are two kinda guys who give that compliment - ones who appreciate the aesthetic, but are ignorant of the time involved in the look and perhaps don't see how rude it is to kinda diss anybody who would rather spend an extra hour sleeping, exercising or on other hobbies. The other kind think if you dress in vintage you are into the 'lifestyle', and would probably watch madmen thinking how awesome it would be to be Don Draper without appreciating the shitty side of that lifestyle. They're the kind to fetishize the feminine aspect of dressing, and come across as creepy as their perception of you as beautiful comes with so much baggage about how they think you should behave.

Elena G said...

I understand what you're talking about. I've had the odd (fortunately rare)comment like that, it feels horrible. It feels worse when people around you brush it off or tell you to take it as a compliment. Doing that throws the negative back on you and validates the insult. It's good to see posts like this that challenge the assumption that dressing in vintage (or any specific way) means it's acceptable to patronise.

I used to dress in a lot of vintage, I like the aesthetic, the quality, an outfit with a story that takes you to other times and other places. I now make a lot of my own clothes, I blend my favourite styles and the result is more modern, and more me (my next project I'm combining a 50s pattern with icelandic folk). I like to think it reclaims some features popular in fashion that first time around did have a negative legacy for women, like Dior's "New Look" of the 50s which was a reaction against the European wartime de-feminizing (and decidedly not domestic goddess) fashion designs the "new look" also had a profound impact on what waist & bust size is considered beautiful.

It's a mixed experience out there, but there are certainly sexist attitudes in the mix. It't not overreacting to challenge it and nor is it helpful to dismiss them in the name of defending you own choice (i.e. dressing in a traditional feminine style).

It's always possible to tell the difference between a genuine compliment and a creepy or sexist remark. Thanks again for calling out the negative, it's brave to share that kind of feeling and empowering to own your choices, even when that choice is about clothes.

At days end... said...

While talking about "creepy" wouldn't one put the original author in this category as she professes not to be a people person, but rather a people "watcher"...creepy enough for me...just sayin! I'm old enough to remember the 50's and to know that men, typically weren't creepy like they are today. I believe what has exploited women the most is women themselves as they want to be as sexually minded as a man, albeit they won't allow a man to be sexually minded. What's up with the double standard, ladies? I lived through the first phases of feminism and burning of bras, etc. and find it repulsive. First, all through out history, women have done what they have had to do. I have to laugh my head off with the stereo types feminists put on a whole population of people when they themselves claim to not want stereo types. Men are human, ladies...just like you are and there are good and bad in all. So, why must you ASSUME they are being creepy? Apparently you aren't women enough to ask. Me? I ask...what did you mean by that, exactly? I don't have to have a foul mouth to get my point across. My story? I was an only child and my Dad passed down the family business to me. This happened all through out history so I'm not an anomaly or out of the usual. There are many women in history that were strong women and didn't need to lean on a feministic ideal to get there. We stood on our own two feet and men respected us for it!! So, ladies, get off your high horses and live like a lady...dress with respect to yourself. If you dress provocatively, you are expecting to get the creepers and you are enjoying it. So, let's be honest, please! Don't flaunt it if you can't handle it. And don't call yourself a feminist until you know the real meaning of the word. Myself? I believe in true feminism, I'm not a feminist.I'm Italian and I don't need to hide behind a label. Strong women can be as feminine as they'd like without having to worry about creeps. I treat men and women alike...I don't see that happening here. There is a decided angst against men.

Amber said...

I think that there are other implications in mean saying "I wish women still dressed that way..."
1. Many men probably associate vintage style with a vintage soft-porn/ pin-up aesthetic. So, yeah, them saying that is basically them telling you that they are ogleing/ objectifying you right now.
2.I'm assuming that non of them men who said this to you were snappy dressers themselves, so what makes them think they deserve more effort from the women around them than they are willing to put into their appearance themselves?

Best response to people who say this kind of thing is "Yeah well, I wish men would work out more and actually wear grown-up clothes. You know, the kind that need creases ironed into them..." Just turn it right back on them...

Louise said...

I agree with Jessie Lou. I also wish women dressed "like that".. and I feel sorry for men that are from an older generation. They can't even open a door for a woman without being sued or something for being sexist. I wish more girls today would wrap their heads around things a little differently. I think feminism was created in order to destroy the natural inclinations and essence of a woman. Being truly feminine is what's freeing!

At days end... said...

Louise, I totally agree. I have looked it up and the new definition of feminism apparently is a feminist. So...apparently there is NO definition these days for the majority of us women who believe in femininity. What are WE? Femininitiers? Femalists? Why has the word been soo destroyed and maligned? You are right...feminists were created to destroy femininity. The difference is that those who believe in femininity revel in their womanhood and WANT to be a woman. Those who are feminists cannot come to grips with being a woman and instead, wish they had been born a man.

Alexandra Marie said...

I can respect your opinion- though I have to say, I definitely know for a fact that I have guy friends who simply appreciate the way I dress (vintage) because it is unique, modest and beautiful. It is feminine, undeniably, but a guy can like that in a girl without having a sense of being above her. There is something wonderfully classy about a girl who acts and looks like a woman ( after all , isn't that who we are?) Embracing femininity personally is definitely not a bad thing. And for a man to embrace femininity in a girl isn't a bad thing either!

Indigo Violet said...

Firstly, vintage rules, and your post rules. Clothing has always been problematic for me as I was an early developer and had to endure lots of inappropriate comments about my shape. Adults are a bit more subtle than children, and tend to stare rather than comment (in this country anyway). I don't expect respect just because I happen to be wearing a dress, but I do expect people to hold a door open for me, just as I would hold it open for them if I got there first. It can be dispiriting when, as a woman approaching her middle years, people ignore me or cut me off. Maybe I should dress flamboyantly more often so it doesn't happen so often.

Roman Noir said...

It's always OK to say "My body is not up for discussion"...whether that is directed towards a stranger or family members.

Maria said...

Actually, women and men that think like 'at days end' user are the downfall of femininity... Women can act whatever the hell they prefer, and they're still 'true ladies', because last time I checked being a woman was about how you identify yourself, not about the way you dress or behave toward men, that's just plain superficiality.
As for creepy comments, sadly that's just part of being a woman, you really can't escape, even dressing down in sweatpants and sneakers won't help against it, and that is just so sad, I wish we could live in a more decent world sometimes...

Taika said...

This just goes to show how different people are.

I have often said "I wish people would still dress like that!" and it has always been a compliment!

Im a bit shocked that anyone could even think that by saying that, I would mean something offensive.

I am a big fan of historical women's (and men's) wear AND I am a feminist.

If I like high heels or if I like frilly petticoats or if I like velvety capes and nice things I am still complitely entitled to be a feminist and crave for the past fashion.

And in the future I am definetely still going to sigh "oh, I wish women would still dress like that!" And it it a compliment. I just do not understand why I couldn't say that? If I love what the person is wearing and if I would love to see same kind of fashion elswhere in the streets and shops... How is that a rude thing to say? When I mean it!

I think this kind of outbursts give feminism a bad name. And it is kinda rude to put words in other peoples mouths. I hate misogyny and I battle agains it everywhere I go. I've gotten into real trouble by standin on womens rights.

Yes, I wish that many different fashions from the past would come to fashion again. And that does not make me a misogynist.

Whitney said...

The whole problem here is the idea that vintage, or any style out there, is how a "girl... acts and looks like a woman." That is what is regressive here, and that is the anti-woman sentiment. If it makes you feel like a woman, that is awesome, and you should do that. But you can't say that that is THE way a woman should look, or the only way a woman "looks like a woman." A woman looks like a woman in dresses, in pants, in menswear, in ripped t-shirts, in anything she puts on her body because her body and/or mind is that of a woman. The whole reason women's liberation happened after the 1950s was because of the idea that there was one way for a woman to act/look/be. That's not true anymore.

At days end... said...

Maria, you must be confusing me with someone else...I'm At Days End...but I NEVER said women could ACT however they want. Being a "lady" is someone who doesn't need to use foul language to get her point across...that's "acting" a specific way and it's not superficial. Treating men kindly like you would anyone else...is not being superficial...it's being kind, real and genuine. You know, not all of the styles of the 50's were Leave it to Beaver's Mom. Some were quite risqué. I have no idea how y'all are dressing. Perhaps you are trying for an effect? Perhaps you are dressing demure and then taking it that all men are animals...that IS the feminist thinking after all. Men are pigs...maybe y'all are too young to remember the mantra. But I'm not and I hate haters...feminists are haters. They want to be men and hate the fact that they are women. I LOVE being a woman. It took me 10yrs to be able to conceive my children and I love being a woman and a Mom soo much, that I left my high paying career as a Sound Engineer to be a homeschool Mom. Feminists are ugly people...they just want to hate men and don't care about other women, either. They are just plain haters. I made it to the top in men's fields but not as a feminist but as a woman...whom men RESPECTED me because I am NOT a hater.

At days end... said...

Whitney...it never WAS true in the first place. Calamity Jane...there's many women in history who have done whatever they've had to do. They didn't need a feminist manifesto to get them there. Most feminists whine about not being "equal" and yet...I have NEVER seen a woman put as much into it as a man who is on the same track. I've done it, been in high powered positions, taken over a male businesses...but I've always had to get rid of the gals who claim to be feminists because they are all about hating and never doing the work...they want it all for free. The biggest problem I've had is over coming what men feel is a feminist and it's been against me who I am NOT a feminist! So ladies...you sure aren't helping other women by being feminists and the constant nagging on guys. Sheesh! No wonder men feel the way they do!

Emily said...

I can definitely see both sides of this one. There is something that comes across as ... controlling? about saying "I wish more women dressed like that." But I don't feel comfortable assuming that EVERYONE means, as you suggest, "I wish the values of the 50s were still in place today so I could be above you and you'd have no control over that." I think it's possible that it can also just be an aesthetic commentary; a not-very-elegant way of saying, "I enjoy the way that style looks and I wish that I saw it more often." Which, as a message, is neither creepy nor sexist.

HOWEVER, I completely agree that uninvited comments about one's appearance, regardless of content, can very easily come across as creepy/inappropriate. There is something really uncomfortable, a forced intimacy, about a stranger saying that he wishes other women in his life looked like you.

And I truly do not think it's unique to vintage, although I'm sure the words change. I think anyone who chooses to dress in a way that stands out has experienced this sort of thing. Some guy who has a fetish about the style you're wearing who just can't help but tell you how hot he thinks it is. Yuck.

Kathryn Parker said...

I didn't read all of the comments. I apologize if this sounds like a broken record. I get a whole boat load of interesting comments from people, mostly from having pink hair for over 10 years. I get the sexist comments, the freak comments, the why comments x 10 every single day particularly since I live in a conservative state. I, however, LOVE getting these types of comments because I am not always polite and always like to have the last word. I will tell a person their comment is sexist, ageist, racist, or what have you and that's what makes me feel empowered as a woman today. Yes, it can be dangerous but I'd rather get beat up than walk away from an outrageous comment in awkward silence. That's how culture progresses. You fight for what you believe in. I believe in my style and will defend it and call those out who don't want to understand. Women have fought for ages for freedom and to give up what you love over being tired of this aspect of it almost seems like a way of giving up the fight. My second favorite comment is usually from women, "I wish I could pull that off." That bothers me way more than "i wish women still dresses like that" because that's women acknowledging the fact that they care how society perceives them and that they don't have the confidence to be what they want to be. Wow sorry, this turned into a long babbling comment.

loiseaujoli said...

Sometimes it feels like there is such a breadth of human experience and perception and intention that it is impossible to speak meaningfully about anything.
In this case, I strongly agree that (for me) unsolicited comments from men almost always have an overtone of control. Other women, as seen in the comments here, do not feel that way at all. It's strange that we all live together in this world but can receive such different impressions of the people we encounter. From my specific perspective, it seems that some of those other women who don't feel the oppressive overtones in such comments /must/ be 'blind to reality' or for some reason deluding themselves as to the truth; but over and over again I feel that that must not be the case. I am completely sure of how I feel about men's unsolicited comments, and so who am I to say that other women don't feel just as strongly in the opposite direction? Truth is relative; reality is subjective.
I think that any conversation like this would benefit from everyone understanding and acknowledging that there are these huge discrepancies between how different people receive the comments of others. I don't understand why, but the discrepancies certainly seem real.

At days end... said...

loiseaujoli The reason for this is because there is an "agenda" in our society today. To keep men and women from caring about each other. There is an ultra liberal agenda going on since the 60's and I have had to live through it. There are those of us who are not "blinded" by the "mantras" and are able to think for ourselves. THAT'S why there is such a gap of differing opinions. Of course...there are men who will be that way, crude...but there are also women as in the author...who have no problem using a foul mouth to get their point across, also crude but she has a "RIGHT?" Oh, ya...because she is a woman. Double standard. They are really waiting...like a spider to lure a man into making a comment so they can pounce and have their chance to be rude. I have been ridiculed and treated badly by many, including women for my religious beliefs...but if I were gay or atheist no one would say a word against what I feel or think. There is definite persecution going on and it is anti male and anti female, anti God...what have you. Most on this forum claim to be feminists...what does that mean exactly? I can define who I am it takes many words because I am a multi faceted person...but I do not see where women on here define who they are...they only have the mind numbing, "agenda driven" word...one word to describe them...a feminist. Hate...that's all it is pure and simple. Hate of ALL genders. Because they hate the IDEA of a God. Why? Because there are "rules" to be followed. People like to do and think as they please...rules of conduct? REALLY? No one wants that. So...we have what we have...men who no longer look to a woman as a wife, mother of their children, a Mom, a sister...HELLOOO people...that is NOT sexist that is LOVE and RESPECT. FEMINISTS have MADE women into SEX OBJECTS. So...live with what you have created or change your thinking. But don't whine about it...PLEASE!

karen14 said...

At days end... Your comments are a bit out of whack. You write blanket statements about feminists that I take offense to. I think you are oversimplifying a very complex cultural shift. The influence of feminism on treating women as sex objects is only a valid argument if you also say men took the opportunity to use feminism in this way. Otherwise, that's a lot of hooey, no matter how many times you tell me you have lived through this or that. I actually did live through it and have seen many trends come and go. Mostly, I believe money influences how women are treated. Just watch TV now and again including the ads, sit-coms, dramas and reality shows. It is a cliche to say that sex sells, but it really does. And somehow sexism has wedged itself right in the middle of all of that. TV culture is an influence and a measure to some extent of how we view women. Feminism is about equal rights. That's it. However you want to characterize feminists as a bunch of men-hating nymphomaniacs, I believe I could come up with enough anecdotal evidence to make broad statements about homeschoolers being uptight Christian wackos. But I am sure that is not you.

At days end... said...

I beg to differ with you...feminism has never been JUST about women's rights. All strong women through out the ages have made their way without this mantra IN the business world. I have, so I speak from the position of authority. I've worked in the high powered world of the "Industry" for those unaware, that is ANYTHING in the entertainment realm. It was well known in producers circles (of which I was privy as I was one) that feminism opened the way for the sexualization of women in T.V. PRIOR to feminism, shows like Leave it to Beaver were the "norm" as to what a woman was. She typically was beautifully dressed, well respected by her family AND her husband. She was the "go to" person. NOW...women are treated MUCH more like a sex "object" than in the 50's. So...that blows a hole right through your theory. Porn has exploded, exploitation of women has exploded, sexism on the screen has exploded, abortion has exploded (women are babies people and the most apt to be aborted btw) and women are howled at on the streets. Btw, there was much less of this type of behavior when I was growing up compared to these days because most men thought of women to be as their own Mom's and Sisters and typically would shoot a dirty look at any guy trying it and a fight would ensue. I would know about that, too as my Dad protected my Mom, myself and other women. In fact, more than a few times my husband and sons have stepped in when a guy acted this way to my daughter or myself. Why? Because we HAVE those (albeit) OLD FASHIONED ideas and ideals. Feminism is a useless tool, ladies. It gives you nothing. Work for it, respect men and act like a lady and they will treat you as such. Call them on being wrong, but not by being a (b) witch...you can do it as a strong woman. Titles are irrelevant. Attitudes, action, kindness, a gentle nature, business sense, willing to work and EARN what you want without whining about what you DESERVE. Yes...feminism in the work place is highly irrelevant these days...it's old hat ladies. Get on with being a woman and drop all the drama of feminism. If you want to stay at home, do so, if you want to work, do so...but you don't have to be a feminist to do so. The reason women have not gone forward in the work force is NOT because the "good ole boys' won't let them in. I'm proof of that. When I got my job as a Sound Engineer, my boss said that he NEVER wanted another "Woman" engineer because all she did was flirt with the guys and wasted studio time, which was money. As a Sound Engineer in 1978, I was making $100 an hour working with top name men like Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Waylon Jennings, Paul Anka and many other artists that most of you younger ladies would not even recognize their names. Perhaps you would know the Osmonds and I've worked with their whole family. ANYWAY...point being, my boss did not want time wasted by a womean who thought the job was "owed" to her because she was a feminist. He vowed NOT to hire another woman...that is what I was up against ladies. My Dad talked to him and told him I had ALWAYS been in the business world and I was not that type...I was a hard worker. He gave me a try as a gopher and secretary. When he realized I could write an iron clad contract with production companies, knew my way around musicians and studios, could operate any equipment PLUS work on and even BUILD a Sound Board...I was hired. In fact, years later when I left to take over my Dad's business...I went there on my honeymoon so my husband could meet my ex boss. He was willing to set my husband up in WHATEVER business he wanted to have me back. That is not feminism ladies...that is hard work that I showed my talents. What made it hard for me was not the "good ole boy" club, or men at ALL...it was a FEMINIST WOMAN!

At days end... said...

BTW...you are right...I am a Christian homeschool "wacko" certifiable and I got there BECAUSE of the feminist culture that I realized I needed to fight in order to keep my sanity as the world is getting totally insane these days. I am not JUST a Christian...but will put all into perspective. I am a Catholic...not JUST a Catholic but a TRADITIONAL Catholic...not schismatic against the Magisterium of the church, but totally traditional as I've found there in lies truth. These days reality is "subject" to a "make it up as you go" society that has deteriorated. Maybe those men who say they like women dressing that way think back to a simpler time. I know I do. I know my menfolk do as well. These days society is in chaos. The societal fabric is decaying and anarchy is on the forefront. We have to think in bigger circles than just "I'm a girl... I want my 'rights', I want fair pay (without the work...remember?) I want men to ONLY talk to me when spoken to, I want the world to revolve around ME!!" Talk about a permissive attitude and whine, whine, whine? All I'm saying is that if women put HALF the effort into working, RESPECTING themselves, a humble attitude, treating men in the SAME WAY THEY would like to be treated instead of constant whining and fault finding, maybe...juuusst maybe men and women could find some equal ground. If you want to know the opinion of a man...let him read what I've written. Maybe you'll have a better relationship with your menfolk the way I do! Maybe they'll love, respect, put you on a pedestal, let you work on a vehicle, rope and ride horses, work with cattle, work in the business world...whatever your hearts desire is. You can do it, but not with an attitude that disregards one whole half of the population. Maybe you DO have the rights...maybe men are just waiting for you to EARN it, to step up to the PLATE!

Sparrow said...

Yeah I'm going to have to disagree on this as well. When I hear someone say 'I wish more women dressed like that' I take it to mean they appreciate the beauty and elegance in it, that the woman in question has taken the time to care about her appearance. There's nothing offensive about that. I see an awful lot of misandry both in this post and in the comments. What I'm seeing here is it's creepy for any man to compliment you unless he looks like Tom Hiddleston, then it's totally okay. I find it sad that so many commenters here instantly judge a man as a creeper just because he doesn't look like the front cover of GQ.

Speaking as a woman, I do wish more women not only dressed vintage, but dressed with any level of care, it shows self-respect. How anyone can hear 'I wish more women dressed like that' and translate it to 'I want to dominate your gender' is quite beyond me. This kind of hyper-sensitivity is what gives feminism it's bad name.

At days end... said...

Sparrow...THANK YOU! Well said...I take you as a strong woman who can stand on her own two feet & can be whom ever she wants to be without wrapping herself up in an outdated "persona" that never had just the intention of being for women's rights in the workplace but had a decided "sexual" connotation that goes along with the term that women can be as bawdy, rude, ill mannered, sexually explicate in dress and manners as any man. It's good to know that there are a few good solid women around and the whole of femininity is not doomed! I'm old and a hold out...we need young women to lead in a better direction than feminism was. Thank you, God! And you, Sparrow...maybe there is still hope! :)

karen14 said...

At days end..you sound so angry. I think, however, you make my point when you say your Dad had to intervene to get you hired. I see so much anger I can hardly read what you say. By the way, you missed my point. I did not call you a wacko. I was trying to drive home the point that no one likes to be lumped into a stereotype.
I truly cannot have a meaningful conversation with you because you are dead set against it. Ok. Let me end by saying I have had multiple bosses in various jobs in my life. Some men, some women. Some men were sexist, some not. As it turns out, there were two men who prevented me from doing my job in an effective manner and none of the women have. Do I hate men? Of course not. I have been married to a wonderful man, a feminist, I may add, for 30 years. I grew up very Catholic, too. But I traveled down a different path than you and I am happy with my choices. At work and in my personal life I work for equality -- all sorts of equality. We must move forward, and blaming women for inequality is just plain wrong. That's just blaming the victim.

karen14 said...

Back to the original point of this conversation...while I can see how some men might truly be trying to say something nice, some are not. I teach my daughter to use her instincts - if it feels creepy, it probably is. I have had to deal with my share of creepy men and when you feel unsafe or a bit uneasy, I think it is prudent to go with those feelings. I do not wear vintage clothing but my former co-worker did, and I thought it was a lot of fun. I enjoy the fashion and I think fashion of the 40's and 50's is aesthetically pleasing. I have pieces from my mother that I truly love. So...do what you have to do. You shouldn't have to answer to anyone for your decision. Walk with the knowledge that sexism does exist and eventually, we will conquer it and move on. We have made progress but we must remember our goal is that all women receive equal pay for equal work and do not have to be subjected to inappropriate comments or behavior in the workplace. This is not whining. I have experienced this myself in the workplace. I did not dress differently or in a way that some may call promiscuous. But I was bothered and scared enough to change where I parked and where I went in my workplace. Don't let the haters blame you for your decision or make you feel you have to earn your rights. No man had to earn his rights. We were told they were 'inalienable rights' in the Declaration of Independence'.

missfairchildscharmschool said...

Just some thoughts to add for "days end" - television wasn't a poplar medium until the 50's ... so there wasn't a whole lot of tv to compare "before feminism". And before the "Motion Picture Production Code" came into effect in 1930 (it was enforced from 1934 onwards) movies featured all sorts of women...living all sorts of lifestyles.

At days end... said...

missfairchildcharmschool...Studied ALL of that in college, Ma'am. I was a music major, teaching minor and Sound Engineer. Also worked behind cameras in studios and was a D.J. Plus production. Please do not give me a history lesson. There were PLENTY of television programs in that era which actually started in the late 1940's due to WWII...it would have become much more popular sooner if not for the war. This is all irrelevant to the fact that there were PLENTY of shows in the 50's. Let me read you just a partial list. Lassie, Phil Silvers, Divorce Court, Rin Tin Tin, Johnny Yuma, The Donna Reed Show, Burns and Allen, The Loretta Young Show, The Rifleman, of course I Love Lucy, I Married Joan, Gunsmoke, The Ed Sullivan Show which btw...began in 1948,
Amos and Andy, Dragnet, The Life of Riley, Our Miss Brooks, The Red Skelton Show...anyway the list goes on and on
. I'm glad you brought up the codes.
Did you know the codes had a Catholic influence? They were set for CHILDREN...as television was coming into the home. Here is a bit I got from Wiki...The entire document was written with Catholic undertones and stated that art must be handled carefully because it could be "morally evil in its effects" and because its "deep moral significance" was unquestionable.[24] It was initially decided to keep the Catholic influence on the Code secret.[29] A recurring theme was "that throughout, the audience feels sure that evil is wrong and good is right".[2] The Code also contained an addendum commonly referred to as the Advertising Code which regulated advertising copy and imagery"...thought you might enjoy that bit of information. Yes...the "Industry" was corrupt...it always has been...but WE as women...the protectors of children and the innocent should be FOREMOST in calling in and complaining about programming...how many of you do that? I have many times and am involved with the American Family Assoc. who has prevented many things from being broadcast. Feminists actually have no problem with the exploitation of women on tv. Why? Because they want to have SEXUAL RIGHTS. It's not just about their rights in the workforce.

Solanah said...

At Days End, you are done.

Jenny said...

I'm surprised at how upset some of the commenters seem to be by you interpretation of comments you've received, especially if they've never heard them in regards to what they're wearing. I completely understand your point...once in college a guy tried to touch my leg because I was wearing back seamed stockings, as though it were an invitation! It's odd, whenever I would dress demure '50s creepy men seemed to act as though as I was some sort of secret fetish outfit(I don't think I was). But it really depends on the person who comments. When anyone over 80(ha) says they love how I dress I am over the moon! And I do know that some people appreciate others who actually show some respect for themselves when they leave the house, i.e. not wearing flip flops and changing out of their pajamas. But the more authentically vintage you dress, the weirder the people that talk to you about it seem to be.

Fiona Timantti said...

I don't expect all people to be so narrow minded to think that because i wear vintage i must think like a 40's housewife. Like i don't assume all the people commenting on my looks and attire with comments like "I wish more people to dress like that" really meaning that they want to oppress me or women in general. That is quite absurd.

Kathryn Parker said...

I know I am terribly late with this comment but what is with comparing real life to TV and film? Human nature hasn't changed too terribly much in the last 100 years. People acted in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, etc as they act now. Pick up an old News Paper, many of the headlines are the same as what you would see now. Prostitutes, rape, foul language, drugs, government corruption, etc. TV and film was censored by conservative religious groups as you say and should have absolutely no bearing on how women are perceived back in the 1950s. That would be like giving a history lesson by referencing the film Pochahontas by Disney, or better yet the most recent version of "Pearl Harbor." Films and TV are wonderful and entertaining but are very rarely historically accurate and should not be used to reference "the way things were."

Kathryn Parker said...

Also one should note that many of these social constructs we still have today are a result from "modern religions." Before these became world wide religions many women in many different cultures had more power, voice and typically worked along side men or shared a similar workload. Women were still seen as the care givers, nurturers and being "one with nature" but were very important members of ancient society. Somehow after modern religion took hold, these qualities become inferior to those of man.

Alexandra Marie said...

So interesting to go back and read all of these comments- I will say this much, while I do have my own opinions, as everyone here does, I do think it's really important to respect each other's opinions. There's definitely nothing wrong with standing up for your beliefs or how you feel about something ( goodness knows we need more of that in modern day society)! But all should be done in kindness and respect to one another. Just my thoughts :)

titancia said...

I'm sorry it turned out to be such a wearing experience for you. I allow others to dictate when I should or shouldn't wear, and sometimes I break those ideals and wear what *I* want, but only when I feel up to defending my choice of clothing. It can be so tiring and wearing when people are more concerned about what they think you should be wearing instead of letting you decide for yourself what you are comfortable wearing.

knit1purl234 said...

Thank you so much for this!!! This is the reason I don't dress vintage on a regular basis, although I would love to. As a feminist, combatting this P.O.V. can be exhausting and just not worth it. It is also the reason I struggle with many sewing blogs. So many focus on modesty or sewing from a religious perspective - something I just cannot relate to.
So thank you for voicing exactly what I've been thinking.