Wearing vintage to work

Wearing vintage to work

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen two pictures of this dress (or bits of it), but that’s how much I love this crazy water marble fabric.  I consider this dress to be a present from my Staycation Guardian Angel (see also: four days of un-forecasted sunshine, lots of delicious brunch, a relatively painless WOF).

I took the opportunity presented by four days off work to check out Rebound Clothing in Petone.  I’d been out once before, but I had a boyfriend in tow, and although he was a particularly nice boyfriend, I still felt the social pressure that is a slightly bemused man in his 30s patiently waiting for you to stop looking at weird-smelling clothes.  For some reason, years went by without me making another trip. I finally got motivated after I saw Ash wearing an incredible velvet blazer that she picked up from RC.

I had limited time that day, so I won’t write a full review of the RC experience, but I will tell you about its greatest feature.  There’s a rail labelled “1980s”.  It is full of dresses.  I power walked across the room (it was too cramped to run).  My body language was unnecessarily assertive.  Adrenalin was running through my entire body.  I was not there to mess around.

I normally struggle with vintage dresses, and particularly stuff from the 80s, because my frame is both small, and hunched from my computer-based lifestyle.  Women in the 80s hadn’t yet experienced smartphone dependence and therefore had spines and shoulders that were permanently in the “power pose” that I now have to force my poor, bent body into whenever I’m preparing for a presentation.  Thus, when I try to wear their clothes, I look like a child dressing up in her Mum’s wardrobe.  Somehow, their power dressing makes me look vulnerable and disempowered.

However, this rail presented many options that were what I shall refer to as “80s-lite”.  There’s always a legit question about whether everything you find a second hand shop is really vintage, or whether it’s a later version of something.  I’m extremely relaxed about this – I’m not here to be a fashion historian, I’m here to find cool stuff I like wearing.  In this case, I skimmed straight past everything double-breasted, drop waisted, or with shoulder pads and focussed on the dresses that had great prints and pretty details instead.  Thus – this dress.

Now, when I found it, it was full length.  The skirt is made of a fabric that reminds me of a school uniform, so I’m not entirely sure what this dress was intended for.  That fabric choice meant it didn’t seem particularly fancy, but the length and the bodice meant that it seemed a bit much for day. It might be that I’m just no longer used to particularly modest styles of dresses, or that I’ve got a closed off view of what constitutes fancy.  Either way, I bought it safe in the knowledge I’d be getting it hemmed to just below the knee.  That length ensured that it would maintain a good proportion with the upper half, and the belt piece would be a nice length in relation to the overall skirt length.  I also have a real fear of over-hemming dresses, so I always go for a slightly longer skirt and have it re-hemmed if I think it needs it.  In this case, I think it’s perfect at this length.  

I wore this to work on Thursday, and it was really interesting to see how people responded.  I think it’s fair to say I experienced an usually high number of compliments, and people were digging this dress.  Why was this interesting?  Well, this dress is on trend in exactly zero ways.  The fabric on the bodice is pretty unusual.  It’s obviously retro.  I was basically living proof that you can wear things that haven’t been in style for 30 years and still look good.  I think that’s because I frigging love this dress and how I look and feel in it, and so I power swished around in it and I sat up straight so the button detail wouldn’t be collapsed.  How much was the dress making me look good, and how much was me making it look good?  Who cares – turns out, this dress and I are a match.

Dress: vintage from Rebound Clothing, but may I suggest this or this (which I would buy if it was my size) as great TradeMe alternatives.  Coat is Andrea Moore via a clothing swap.  Shoes are Wittner, try these.  Surprisingly tan legs are courtesy of a pair of Voodoo tights in the colour Golden Glow.