I have been “snowed” (hahaha) under, but I promised myself I wouldn’t forget to post at least a brief #MentalHealthMonday post. The last few have gotten kind of unintentionally deep and personal, so I really wanted to do something slightly more frivolous this time. So, I nominate vintage fashion! (This could really be extended into the universe of vintage *stuff*, but I thought I’d keep it focused).
Sometime in my mid-twenties I became fascinated with vintage fashion and trolling the Internet for it. I was initially inspired by the fashion blog of artist and children’s book author Emily Martin. When I saw it, I thought to myself, now that is exactly the kind of style I want! Very classical, children’s literature inspired. (You can see she also extended her coverage to “stuff”). Some Girls Wander (typepad.com)
I had good timing, as I felt there was a vintage boom around then with Mad Men, and not too far off came the Vintage Garage Chicago, a pop-up vintage market held in a parking garage where I became a regular customer and even, a couple of times, vendor.
So, I guess, let me explain how vintage fashion ties into my mental health. Most obviously, it just makes me happy. Curating a wardrobe I love and caring for and wearing it makes me feel stylish and good about myself. Acquiring new pieces either online, at markets, or through what I later learned was the ultimate thrill of estate sales, gave me an adrenaline rush of treasure hunting discovery. Having people comment on them or even start a dialogue about them (in the classic “conversation piece” way) is fun.
Secondly, one of the great mental health perks of having a hobby is getting involved in a community of like-minded folks. The Chicago vintage community is *awesome*, and I love the fact that when I’m buying pieces now I’m often supporting people I love and what I know is their very hard work of waking up at 4 a.m., driving out to God knows where, waiting in their car, and sifting through closets at estate sales (because I’ve seen them there). I love that some of my favorite vintage dealers know exactly my style (usually forties or fifties day dresses) and pull out things I’d like right away. I actually met someone I consider among my best friends because we were often standing in line at estate sales together. We bonded over our collections, traded pieces, and even split a booth at the Vintage Garage a couple of times.
Finally, I love what vintage fashion can teach you about history. Like how dresses from the thirties or forties are often sheer because all women just wore slips, girdles, or other undergarments at the time. Or how day dresses from the forties and fifties which I so love often have generous pockets sewn in (which I also love) because it was more convenient for housewives. Or the cool mod patterns that emerged in the sixties and the subsequent shortening of skirts. Really getting into something in a way where you begin to acquire knowledge and deeper understanding, at least for me, is really good for the old brainpan in developing confidence and lessening anxiety. I am by no means an expert, but love learning these details.
So, that’s it for today. I truly believe if you pursue some of your interests and hobbies, it can lead to opportunities you might not expect, including even friendships, and we all know how valuable those can be. Even if the hobby seems frivolous.