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Jan 30, 2013

"Costumey" Dress Style: YEA or NAY?



Costumey.

Is there any more shaming judgement one might make about our choice of clothing?  (I think it's worse than ill-fitting, out-of-date, or cheap-looking.)

Yet while many of us live in fear that a clothing choice we make might be deemed over-the-top, others welcome the attention they get, the double-take they cause.  The judgement that they look costumey rolls right off their back.  Interesting, no?

As a child I definitely got the message that you should not dress in a way that calls attention to yourself.  That kind of style was inappropriately flamboyant (read unmasculine), anti-social, even narcissistic.  Of course, the term costumey to describe someone's personal style (or merely their outfit of the day) is very much in the eye of the beholder.  What looks costumey to you might not look costumey to me, and vice versa.

The word costume itself suggests role playing (i.e., not being oneself -- as if each of us had only one), hiding, and/or trying to be something one isn't.  But take it a few levels deeper and what is this really about?  Our own anxieties about how others perceive us and our inability to control this?  Our own discomfort with expressing to the world who we really are?  Fear of being singled out, bullied, or not fitting in?

I think of my vintage blogger friends and acquaintances, most of whom have written about what it feels like to look different in a world of conformity: pictures taken without permission, being challenged for one's choice of attire, or not having the ideal body type for the styles they love and being judged negatively for it.

Today, it seems that more and more people (and not just women) are sewing from vintage patterns and wearing the results.  Or they want to wear them but don't know quite how to pull it off without looking like they're going to a theme party.



There are so many bloggers, whose vintage style I greatly admire.  Do they look costumey?  Maybe sometimes.  One might also call them trend-setting, creatively inspired, and confident.

Nabby.



Debi.



Shelley.



Casey.



Gretchen.



Laura Mae.



Tino.



I also think of some of the amazingly dressed people I often encounter at the Chelsea flea market, like journalist Lynn Yaeger (in fur below) or exotically attired Timothy John, one of photographer Bill Cunningham's favorite subjects.  Every time I see them I think, Wow, they look amazing!  But sometimes I wonder what it must be like to be stared at all the time or I judge them as superficial -- as if the way they dressed was all they were about.





All clothing is costume when you think about it (in fact the word costume was often used to mean a women's attire just a few generations ago).  And to reiterate: one person's costumey look is another person's authentic self-expression.

But I'll go back to myself: I would feel too conspicuous dressing like any of the above on a daily basis.  It works for the odd Cathy photo shoot, but even Cathy is usually in sweatpants, wife beaters, and flip-flops.  In my normal life, I don't want to stand out.  I want to look neat and color coordinated: nice.

Readers, is this just my own neurosis or can you relate to what I'm talking about?

Do you ever live in fear that something you wear might be labeled costumey by others?

Do you live in a place, or work in a setting, where dressing as "eccentrically" as you might like would not be welcomed and might even jeopardize your job or personal security?

Do you have fantastic vintage accessories in your closet -- mink scarves, Forties pancake hats, platform shoes worthy of Carmen Miranda -- that you fear ever being seen in public wearing?

Costumey dress style:  YEA or NAY?  (for you, or for others)

73 comments:

  1. Yea! I wish we could all dress exactly as we liked, whether it was authentic or not, without feeling self conscious. Haters gonna hate, you can't avoid that - but wouldn't it be nice if we just didn't care? I have a white flowy jumpsuit in my closet, from the 70s or 80s probably, that I would love to wear out and about - alas, I'm too chicken.

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  2. I have been learning over the last couple of years to intentionally manipulate and play with perception through fashion, and I have no doubt that some of my outfits look 'costumey' to somebody out there. My town does "Jeans and a T-Shirt" in all seasons and weather, and to deviate from that necessarily draws attention.

    For me, the answer is "look as costumey as you want and ROCK THAT COSTUME," because if I'm dressing intentionally outside my norm and my area's norm, there's probably a reason for it.

    I have been beginning to explore fashion as self-expression too, and it seems the range of 'allowable' expressions is narrow indeed, and someone will sneer no matter what one wears, be it jeans and a T-shirt or a full 3-piece suit, so in general, they can sneer all they want and I'll be over here, feeling like I finally look like I want to look.

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  3. I keep waiting until I'm "an old lady" to wear all the floppy hats, baubles, bangles,and bright shiny beads I want. Maybe I should throw caution to the wind and start now, at 35. I'm making steps in that direction, though. Just a week ago I wore my Audrey Hepburn coat as a real wardrobe choice instead of a Halloween costume.

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  4. My own style is pretty costumey (today: velvet marching band jacket, dark teal paisley corduroy pants, motorcycle boots - think "world's toughest Ren Faire busker"). I don't worry about looking narcissistic or inappropriately theatrical, because I *am* narcissistic and inappropriately theatrical.

    People react to confidence as much as to clothing, if not more. Bold as my clothes may be, they're nowhere near as bold as my personality, so I get away with sartorial murder.

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    1. "because I *am* narcissistic and inappropriately theatrical." I am totally stealing that line...how perfect for what we do! And good for you for doing whatever you want! :-)

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    2. You, my dear, ROCK. Out loud even.

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    3. Oh, Arlette, you made me laugh with that one!

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  5. Most of my early sewing was making the majority of my high school clothes. I wanted to be unigue in a small town that had little variety. I don't think I was over the top, but that may have been only in my eyes. I was generally very shy, but could be "costumey" and not fear opinion. People did make comments. While in graduate school I found that I needed to dress a certain way in order to be taken seriously. (I was in a male dominated field and femininity was frowned upon.) Since then I have tried to be unremarkable in my everyday work attire. I miss my freer days, but have found that the unspoken pressures of work conformity to require I dress like everyone else. Now that I'm over 50 and invisible to most people, I may be able to go costumey again!!!

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  6. I've really gone back and forth on this over time. In high school I went from punk to raver, wanting to stand out as self-expression. In college I dressed pretty normally, well, my own take on normal. When I moved to San Francisco after college I went all out, wearing ball gowns on camping trips and crazy outfits just to get groceries. A few years down the road, and I'm back to pretty boring (again, my take on boring). But I'm looking forward to a re-invention when I'm out of grad school (sometime in the next year). I want to stand tall and proud and proclaim that I like playing dress-up every day.

    I guess, in my opinion, wearing "out there" attire all boils down to confidence. If you think you look good, you do. If you feel comfortable and confident, it affects the way people see you.

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  7. For myself, I guess I would fall into the nay category. I dress pretty conservatively but I have definitely had my moments (it's all relative, I guess). For others I say, "Yea!" I love it. What I think puts a look over the top is TOO MANY ACCESSORIES!!! Even a wonderfully costumey look can be ruined by over accessorization; one need not necessarily wear every cool thing that they own at once.

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  8. I'm a road engineer working for gov, talk about conservative environment! (would be even worst in a firm I guess) And yet, with 4 piercings and 3 tats, I'm already known as the place's eccentric. So when I wear my vintage "british from 1st desert storm op" jacket, or my heels-with-skulls, or any of my few out-of-mainstream outfits coworkers are used to it and expecting it. I had compliments at the x-mas party for using my old ikea snake plushie as a boa...

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  9. The woman who taught me how to put on makeup (who was not my mother, I have to say I've taught her now) told me "you want people to think 'wow, she looks great' not 'wow, her makeup looks great'" and that's kind of always stuck with me.

    I have a lot of unusual pieces of clothing and accessories, but I make a point of just wearing them one at a time. I want to be memorable, but not as the woman with the crazy clothes.

    I was going to make some excuse that now that I'm super pregnant I tend to look like a bag lady, but then I clicked on Casey Brown's link and now I just feel like I need to try harder. Sigh.

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  10. Yea!

    This is one of those instances that, while it does draw attention, what is going on here is basically harmless and sometimes people need to lighten up and mind their own business. I don't dress completely costume-y (I don't do full hair and makeup) but I do often wear pointedly 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's dresses. I've never had a strongly negative reaction except from a few teenagers who, based on their own clothing choices, had no business talking.

    I understand that dressing like that might not be comfortable (physically or psychologically) for some people, but it's an individual choice, no? I can't stand the thought of wearing pants or 1960's shift dresses (don't fit well, don't look good on me) but I would never "nay" them across the board. For women who do like them . . . go for it.

    Also: I live in Texas, where Western wear that would never fly in many parts of the U.S. is considered totally normal, and I used to do Civil War and Texas Republic reenacting, so guys who mix historic uniform items into regular clothing seem absolutely normal. Band collar shirts and loose pants with suspenders are hot!

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  11. I have to admit that I have very little interest in wearing vintage styles myself, but I would be thrilled if people were more open to dramatic, avant garde, and unusual fashion in general. I'd love it if I could wander around dressed like an evil robot and still be taken seriously!

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  12. YEA - I think I must be a bit of a Pollyanna. When I see someone dressed with a real point of view, my normal thought is "can we be friends? oh pretty please?" So, I assume that when I attract stares that it's entirely positive, which may not always be the case.

    When it comes to costumey dress, I think confidence makes all the difference. You want to wear the clothes and not have the clothes wear you, as they say. You can tell when someone is uncomfortable or feeling uncertain about their outfit vs when they are walking around like they think they are fabulous.

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  13. I wear a variety of things that could be interpreted as costume-y by some people. To be honest, I don't really care what anybody thinks about me. I think it's more ridiculous to be wearing the same predictable crap that everybody else is wearing. I will say that I don't care for things like Steampunk, which, in my opinion, lean too far into the theatrical side of things. I dislike it when the individual is fully equipped with prop guns, non-functioning goggles/eyewear, and a variety of other items that serve no purpose or function. To me, it is a costume if you're carrying around props.

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  14. I find that the older you are the crazier you can dress .... the young ones seem to only judge 'their own style sense' amongst themselves and if you are older, they attribute it to your senility!

    Works for me!

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  15. Yea! I really have no problem with costumey and dressing a certain aesthetic. I love seeing people "own it" and seeing them being able to wear it all the time because that's who they are. I think that's the key too, its who you are, and you tend to gravitate towards a certain aesthetic even in your non-dress-up clothes.

    I think realizing that though is half the battle. I was trying to wear vintage styles and really just didn't feel like.... me. I would look in the mirror and just think "meh." Its one style that I can use in the details but can't do full on (in my own opinion). And I think that's fine. Not everyone is into vintage and can wear vintage well and especially here on the interwebs that's key to recognize because you're not less just because you don't sew vintage. Not that vintage is the only style out there, but for those of us who aren't totally sold on how they look in vintage its kind of let down (on a personal level). I LOOOOOOOVE seeing it on those that wear it well, but I also LOOOOOOOVE seeing those that just wear what they are, be it minimalistic, college prep, goth or whatever. All of it is inspiring and I think for everyone, its one of those things that really pushes you out of your comfort zone but you like it for some reason and so you get inspired to try something new.

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  16. I don't have any problem with 'costumey'. Like you, most days I want to look nice and don't need to be noticed, but some days I like to wear things that do get me noticed. My day to day wear has a general 60's lean to it; I wear pointy shoes and fitted dress that give a nod to that decade. Nothing, though, that shouts 60's. If I want to shout 60's I add things like patent kitten heel boots with a matching hat but that's only on days when I want the attention. I guess that's how a lot of people feel. Now that I have an age that starts with a 5 I wear what I damn well like ie whatever makes me feel good on the day.

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  17. I don't care how others dress, but for me dressing costumey is and always has been a good thing. A great thing even. I am always happier when I am wearing an outfit that makes me feel like I'm channeling someone or something else. That's when I feel the most like myself.

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  18. I'm with Marie - I tend toward wanting people to think I look great, not comment on "that whacky skirt" or whatever. I am fairly unique, outgoing and creative, so I can get away with some stuff, but I work for the gubmint. Some things just stand out like halloween. I don't want to be crazy costume lady who is not to be taken seriously. I want to get promoted, and have my ideas respected much more than I want to wear steamcon prize-winning outfits as day-wear. I add details, use interesting accessories and spice things up that way.

    How much you stand out depends on who you hang with.

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  19. yea is my answer.. if i like it, i'm going to wear it, no matter what anyone else have to say about it (and, oh they say a lot sometimes).. i love vintage fashions of various decades, and i love to mix them up in my own way, and mix them with contemporary styles and prints and fabrics.. for me, that's what fashion is all about - to have fun with it.. i can't see myself wearing one era, e. g. 50's all the time, and also match it with hair and shoes and accessories.. i do admire people who can pull that off, though

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  20. I love costumey. It makes life interesting! I live in a regional Australia where "dressing up" means wearing your best thongs (flip-flops, that is). Anything that isn't a t-shirt, 3/4 pants (low slung, preferably with bum cleavage) and thongs classifies as costumey.
    A few months ago I saw a middle-aged man at the supermarket who was dressed as a gothic, Scots rocker - black kilt, stockings, mesh vest, miles of chains, long black plaited hair and the biggest black boots you can imagine. I stared at him for ages, he looked fantastic! Another time there was an elderly man in the same supermarket with plaid jacket, cordinating pants, cravat, fedora, white shoes and cane. Marvellous. They brightened my day - there should be more of it.
    Much as I like looking at it, though, I don't know about wearing "costumey" things myself . I have plans to make a Burda vintage shirtdress. I figure it's safe enough. If I end up wearing it I might venture more into the vintage look. We'll see!

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  21. Love the topic! I love clothes, and love to mix items, to get a look I want that day. I too have loved motorcyle boots, which I often wear to church, with a long skirt, or to do hospital visits. Cowboy boots too, with velvet, and distressing it myself makes me love it more. People will be intrigued - shy people can gain some confidence. Catty women, and men with low self-esteem hate me. Not a loss for me....When depressed clothes are a great pick-me-up. Now am wearing grey capri sweat pants, raspberry T, cherry shrug, rose cashmere sox, rolled very low, with esercise Mary Janes, and a long mauve necklace, with white daisies, and a mauve enammeled bracelet, with flowers. Work with groupings, themes, etc. I'm 63, and know women much older who rock in style. This outfits is for p.m. at home, reading. Cathie, in Quebec, Just had hair done - a bright auburn, almost beet. Emphatic, not dull. Way too much dull out there. Usually I dressed similarly, but want to work on fit and proportion, to get the best....

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  22. Man, I'll take costumey over cheap or ill-fitting, any day of the week. I hear what you're saying and, obvs, I'm not trying to look like a war poster from 1940, but I think a little bit of costume imparts drama.

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  23. I love the ladies who dress in vintage dresses etc. They gave this old over the hill granny inspiration to dress however I want to, (with a small assist from Hillary Clinton). I am sick of wearing what people think I should. Life is way too short. I aspire to be one of the ladies on Advanced Style but know I will never make it. But at least, I can feel like one!!

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  24. Yea for others. If it makes you feel fantastic and makes you feel gorgeous... then absolutely a yea! This is true of any style or fashion really. I love it when someone wears what they truly like... it makes them more attractive to the world because they are comfortable in their own skin. Personally I don't feel very comfortable with costumey clothes on a daily basis. I'd feel AND look awkward in a full on twenties dress or 40s suit. I do however like the undertones of costumey looks... I'll gently integrate it into my daily wardrobe.

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  25. I have a few phases in my life where I thot I should dress conservatively. "Look like an adult" or "blend in, don't stand out." And those periods each coincided with some of the worst, most crippling depression I've ever had! I was miserable wearing white button-down shirts & grey blazers during the work week, basic jeans & T-shirts on weekends, letting my hair go it's natural mousey brown (cut in a "classic" bob even), wearing simple "tasteful" jewelry & "subtle" makeup. UGH SO NOT ME.

    I'm convinced that returning to a more creative, yeah kinda wacky, but totally Trystan wardrobe was a crucial part of my return to mental health. Lots of rich dark colors, tons of velvet & texture, big bold jewelry, deep dark lipstick, dyed hair, tall boots, fun, fun, fun! It did take a while to figure out the right mix of business-appropriate & personal gothic style (& that's why, all these years later, I started my blog), but it was worth it.

    Blending in is fine if that's who you are. Standing out is fine if that's who you are. The point is that *you* need to do what's comfortable for *you* not for anyone else.

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    1. True story:

      My Grandma who recently passed away wore a fur coat with rollers in her hair and flip flops on her feet to the Ritz in NYC years ago. She was an original. She was vibrant and full of life and didn't give two you-know-whats for polite society's "conventions".

      She really rubbed my mom (her daughter-in-law) the wrong way, to say the very least. Not to say my own mother is conformist, not by a long shot. But she is VERY concerned with what other people think of her.

      One thing I learned from Grandma: "It doesn't matter what other people think. You are fabulous how you are. Own it, work it. And [bleep] 'em all if they can't take it."

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  26. In part because of my profession, in part because of who I am, I tend to dress conservatively, but always with an element that will make people take notice. I have been known to rummage through theatre costumes, to find unique looks to wear. One example is an Edwardian evening coat, superbly made, that I sometimes match with leather pants and boots, for that steampunk look. A russian military coat bought at an army surplus store has a commanding presence that will make heads turn. And so on. The trick is to have a few "costumey" items, and mix them with more conservative clothes to achieve a look that people will remember. And if you have the personality to match, so much the better!

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  27. Life's too short to not wear what makes you happy, costume or not!

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  28. Oh heck yeah! I am getting to the point where I just don't care what anyone thinks, but I do like to have whatever I have put together "work" on me. Life is short-enjoy what you have!

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  29. That's the spirit! :-)

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  30. Nay, personally. I find I won't wear clothes out of my comfort zone but also find myself wishing otherwise. And I envy those who do dress eccentricly.

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  31. In my part of the world I am a "piece of local colour". I wear what I want and I own it every step of the way. After all, it has recently been 'cool to walk around with bum cracks and major hip fat hanging out, pants worn BELOW the hip line with crotches down to the knees, with underwear on full display (just go to the "Poorly Dressed" section at failblog dotcom to see things that will make your eyes water) , HOW can anyone worry about "looking ridiculous" in a cool vintage outfit or something "costumey" compared to THAT?

    How can someone in a cool self-devised outfit possibly look "more" ridiculous than someone with their pants' waistband at mid-thigh, hat on backwards and t-shirt ten times too large? People actually respond VERY positively to original style; the only ones who don't are as another person mentioned, generally teenagers who can't get past their own limitations!

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  32. Oh, and Peter, in the pic of you in your suspenders, if you were holding a pitchfork, you would bear a remarkable resemblance to a younger version of the guy in the "American Gothic" painting!

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  33. In my town in country Australia, it seems that no-one cares about what they are wearing (or own a mirror - but thats another story). I, on the other hand, DO care about what I wear and how I look. I put my vintage 1950s inspired looks together very carefully complete with hair and makeup. Do I look 'costumey'? Probably. But the overwhelming majority of the feedback I receive from complete strangers, is that I look beautiful. I agree with those people that have said if you own your look, wear it with confidence, and walk around like you look fabulous, then the costumey effect is minimised.

    And besides us 'costumey' people add a bit of colour to life. And who doesn't love a bit of colour :)

    But yes, people photographing me without permission gets my goat every time. If they just asked I would say yes without hesitation!

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  34. I would be happy wearing anything as long as it would fit. I mean anything!!! Lol. From an 18th century women's frilly corset to a zoot suit, I would wear anything I wanted. Since I'm a student and carry a ton of books and a laptop on my backpack, I don't think wearing a frilly corset would be practical. Lol. Great topic btw! Cheers!

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  35. I live in the mid-west where 1/2 of the men walking around wear cowboy hats, cowboy boots and a big belt buckle and I think costume every time I see it even though there are many that dress that way. Why not be just a bit bolder and where whatever you want, like a pirate costume (channeling George Carlin)? Just because your 'costume' is slightly less conforming, why not?

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  36. I say its better to draw attention to yourself because if you let other people do it , they will only mess it up.



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  37. Yea!

    Variety is the spice of life people. I rarely dress too terribly eccentric, but I love to add little details to everyday outfits that make them pop. For guys this can seem especially limiting, though with the advent of the “hipster” era and the return of hats, suspenders, bowties, etc. as seemingly normal attire, it’s become difficult to think of even those as costumey.

    I am also a theatre geek, so some of my favorite days are when I get to wander through a costume shop or a theatre’s storage space and literally just play dress-up. If I am on good enough terms with the props and costume master I will ask to borrow a piece and give them my phone number in case I try to take it or it gets forgotten at the back of my closet after being worn out.

    Being both a guy and 6’2”, it’s difficult to find unique items in the RTW world that are my size. Luckily, now that I’ve discovered this blog, I can begin the journey towards creating my own fantastic pieces that carry just the right amount of *POP* for my personal style and that fit me perfectly!

    Matthew

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  38. Yes I do worry about it. I've put projects aside because its started to look to vintage. Especially something that relies heavily on a tiny waist which I do not have. But I think the people who can rock those looks, look amazing.

    Full circle skirts for instance. Women who are thick around the middle and who might have a bit of a tummy, look thicker in full circle skirts. And the waist band doesn't sit where its supposed to. I've worn a few and I regret it looking back at the pictures.

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  39. When I was in middle school I wore vintage sailor middies - the real thing from the navy, mind you. I had 3 - one blue wool, one white canvas and one red wool (not sure where the last one came from). I also wore old army pants (Vietnam and Korean war era solid green, not cammo), a men's cutaway tuxedo coat, dresses that had been my mom's in the 50's complete with petticoats, an old army Class A uniform jacket, and an old lab coat that my cousin tie-dyed for me with a spectacular spiral in fuchsia and purple. I wore hats of various styles, weird shoes and made my own jewelry or wore stuff that had belonged to my aunt in the 60's. I didn't really give a hoot about what people thought. My brother was known for stealing a few choice pieces from me and wearing them, including my favorite wool dress pants. Further into high school I started to want to blend in because a jerk of an assistant principal commented that I looked odd and invited nasty comments based on the way I was dressed. That and I thought it would make some boys I liked like me more if I looked 'normal'. I figured out quickly that it doesn't work that way and I liked myself better when I dressed the way I wanted to.

    As an adult I've learned that I have the figure that looks good in some vintage styles (40's and 50's) and less so in some (20's flapper style). Although I love the 20's I look like I'm wearing a giant sack in many of those dresses and that just makes me look shapeless. I've resigned myself to it and learned to dress myself in ways that enhance the good parts and kind of hide the bad parts. I try to take the vintage feel and run with it as much as possible, but often that means garments that just aren't made for taking my 3 year-old son to the park to play, or any other physical activity. When I do have the chance to wear more 'costume-y' outfits, I tend to try to find the balance between modern and vintage, though sometimes I just need to go all out. I haven't had any bad reactions as an adult and it makes me feel good to look pretty. And that's not always a bad idea.

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  40. I see all sorts in my store, which attracts designers, vintage lovers, dancers and students like a honeytrap, so ALL SORTS. I love that. But our store is in the cool, alternate part of the city. Half a mile away in the main part of town, those people would be stared at for not wearing black suits (Wellington NZ is like a tiny, clean, safe version of NYC in many ways!)
    What I don't like is when people dress selfishly - dressing in a way they know provokes a reaction in other people and then resenting it or being surprised by it. I feel there is a difference between Look at me and Look at my clothes, and that difference is in the heart of the wearer, not so much the observer.
    I think self-expression is more important than style, and by it I mean where you dress to express your pure self, not some identity. It means dressing for the now, not out of fear left over from the past. We are all shaped by the messages we took in as children, but so often these just hold us back. That's not to say that the message to dress down is wrong, but it is about what NOT to do, not what to do, and so often that is how people dress; by wearing what is left after all the rules are applied. To that, I say - MEH. o

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  41. I was actually bullied in middle school for dressing differently. I was soooo into grunge. Grans old lace dress with combat boots and 3 sizes too big leather jacket was the usual "costume" for me. I changed schools, moved 260 km and life changed. My high school years were spent dressing up for each day with my first ever BFF. And we most definitely were dressing very costume-y. Back then drum and base was in and it also dictated the way we looked.

    Now at age of 29 things have calmed down a lot. I still like to wear vintage dresses with unexpected choice of foot wear (read biker boots and sneakers)
    But what I went trough has thought me one thing - never judge a person for what they are wearing. I admire people who have the courage to stand out and look as if they stepped out of a vintage fairytale or right of the Haute couture runway. And no one should say that they can't do it or it looks stupid.

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  42. It is not too costumey if you like it. I say where what you want. I love it when people are themselves and they enjoy wearing the things that make them happy. It' really none of anyone's business anyway. I love the photographs of the lovely ladies in their outfits. I didn't read some of the other comments because they are too lengthy but I am sure they all share their own individual style.

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  43. MrsC - I completely agree with your statement about those who dress in a way that they know provokes attention and then are resentful or surprised.

    This discussion is quite interesting. My son (16 yo) and I have had several discussions centering around dress. We were discussing "scene" kids, and how they dress (skinny jeans, band T-shirts, etc). Yes, he likes to dress this way, so we weren't just pointing fingers. He was telling me that these kids dress this way to reject a society that they do not feel accepted by. Ok.... but then they are also offended that people judge them based on their dress/costume, even though they know that style of clothing sets them apart from others.

    I could go on quite awhile, but as I am nodding off I'll quit for now...

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  44. Yea for sure!

    I consider myself very fortunate to be part of a workplace that encourages people to be, and dress as themselves. There was one person (who sadly no longer works with us) who wore what some people would consider to be costume. Each day she had a theme- sailor one day, Pippi Longstocking the next... one day she came to work as Charlie Chaplin, complete with fake moustache! I think there were 2 things in particular that I really appreciated about her style. The first being that she was completely unafraid of being judged and that the person that she projected to the world was herself, and not some pale, conforming imitation. The second thing I loved was that personally I found her style really challenging. By challenging, I mean that I learned that I could be just as judgmental about other people's style as anyone else, which in time I came to realise could be complete dismissal of them as a person. How ridiculous!! I consider myself lucky to have met her as I can take inspiration from her knowing that I can wear what I like without fear of judgement.

    I also think that people who express themselves, no matter what form that expression takes, are generally happier people, so surely we should all be encouraged to let it out and express away!!

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  45. Being relatively ugly, I don't like to attract attention on my appearance, so prefer to wear whatever is the norm for the current setting.
    I love seeing people dressing outside the norm, though. One of my neighbours is an older woman with extremely short hair (think crewcut), outrageous faux-fur coats and statement shoes. When I see her it always makes me smile !

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  46. Maybe I'm biased on account of being a costume designer, but "costumey" is definitely not an insult in my world! Although daily footwear choices are impeded by living two miles down a farm track in Somerset, I can still get away with tea dresses, untamed hair & a permanent armfull of silver bangles.
    Life is too short to stifle your individuality. As long as you don't scare the children!

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  47. Last winter I made myself a lovely cross-over top using fabric from my "dancewear" stash (I used a fabric called Posh Velvet, from Glitter and Dance here in Australia for one side of the top, and plain royal blue stretch velvet for the other side and both sleeves.) For summer, I repeated the exercise with a short sleeved top, only I used "Zsa Zsa" sequinned fabric for one side and a short sleeve and plain nylon lycra for the other side and sleeve.
    My daughter tells me to looks too much like a tap COSTUME, but I wear it to work anyway. Everyone at work knows by now that I love to dress in sequins. Who cares if I'm not doing a tap routine!

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  48. Weeeelll, I started sewing to make cosplays (anime/game costumes) so I'm pretty well used to being stared at! Anything goes here!

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  49. I think it all depends on one's surroundings. Living in the city, I'm sure it's a lot easier to dress more expressive, "costumey". I currently reside in Georgia, ultra conservative, Augusta. needless to say, I don't fit in most times with my fashion choices. "Oh there goes that weird girl" feelings and stares as I walk down the street, when I'm actually quite tame compared to my Michigan years. I can't wait for my future move to NYC and finally "fitting in"!!

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  50. I always want to slap the judging panel on Project Runway when they label something "costumey". Well DUH, runway style is - by definition - over the top.

    I totally own the fact that I like to wear unusual things. It's who *I* am. Just like my pink or turquoise hair color. Or my Star Trek purse or Star Trek laptop satchel or my Star Trek dress. Which I wore to my Grandma's funeral. *She* would've approved.

    Hell, I'll take "costumey" over yoga pants and a tshirt any day. You're dead on that "costume" really is what all clothing is. If all the world is a stage... Just sayin'.

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  51. I prefer to think of it as "creatively clad". Looking different may involve stares or worse. If you have the self confidence to be different, then go for it.

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  52. I have to disagree... "ill-fitting" is much worse than "costumey". Too tight, too short, too baggy, ill-proportioned, etc. are sloppy and disrespectful. At least those shown here took the time to present themselves in clean, neat, fashionable looks (and all within very "normal" limits -- except for Tino -- I would say).

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  53. I forgot to say earlier that "costume" in French means a suit. When you look at it that way, it kind of gives you a different perspective. After all, men wear their suits to their jobs or to put forward an image of being put-together, professional, confident, you name it. But even the most conservative businessman removes his suit at home and wears clothing that is less refined and more casual. So in a sense, a suit is really a costume as much as a full-on vintage outfit or a Star Trek dress or a Pippi Longstocking outfit. Everything we wear sends a message, though I shudder to think of what kind of a message wearing pajamas and slippers to the store sends. (In defense of that look, I will say that I saw one time that it didn't make me wonder why the person couldn't bother to put something else on - but it was at the corner grocery at 11 pm and the gentleman in question was buying toilet paper and nothing else. He had a marvelous bathrobe on.)

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  54. I believe that "vintage" and "costumey" are better accepted in creative fields, less so in conservative ones.
    I am in my fifties, an accountant in a very casual company. I am too shy by nature to bring attention to myself with extravagant clothing !

    Eve

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  55. I know what you mean. I love a lot of vintage designs but I don't have the guts to wear them out for exactly the reasons you said. But I will tell you one thing I admire about all the bloggers you referenced: they are all having fun! And that is the point, isn't it?

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  56. Yea!

    I don't think cosume-y should be looked at as a negative thing. I think it spices things up, both for the wearer and those who are checking them out. I wish I had the energy to dress differently more often. Most of the time I default to a T shirt and my worn out slacks, though I do frequently wear around my wood shoes and my homemade conical felt winter hat with a silly red flower on it:
    http://tinyurl.com/ahtw6sh

    I agree that you've got to utterly own it and relish the attention when you dress out of the ordinary though. Wood shoes make a LOT of noise in closed spaces with hard floors like the airport. My colleagues at work joke that they can always tell where I am in the building.

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  57. Okay, here's my twist: I feel like I need to put on a "costume" in order to be taken seriously in my profession -- interior design. Personally, I am so much more comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt and makeup makes my face itch, but I think that my clients and business associates have an expectation that creative, successful interior designers should be flamboyant and fashion-forward in their personal attire. Think Mary McDonald and Martyn Lawerence Bullard from Million Dollar Designers, on Bravo. So I get those highlights, wax those brows, and put myself together in a way that reassures clients that yes, I DO have some style sensibility, but that has ALWAYS felt like theatre to me. I would love to feel free to be completely authentic and show up for a client meeting in my flip-flops, with a chipped pedicure, a pony tail, and wearing my husband's way-too-big sweatshirt. Go ahead, World -- judge me! :-)

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  58. Since I work at home I can wear whatever I like. My non-home wear can be fun or dull, depending on the occasion. Boring Washington cocktail party? Definitely a fun clothing opportunity. Trader Joe's visit? Sweater and jeans.

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  59. I guess I'll weigh in. As a regular kilt-wearing man:
    -Can you relate to what I'm talking about?
    Absolutely. I just dare to be different. And try to look good doing it.
    -Might be labeled costumey by others?
    Yes. It frequently is. But I reply: It's a kilt, not a costume.
    -Jeopardize your job?
    I wear what the job wants/allows me to wear. I ask their opinion, then dress appropriately for the office.
    -...or personal security?
    I live in Texas. Some places in this state are fine. Some are not. I usually stay away from the problem areas and problem people.
    -...that you fear ever being seen in public wearing?
    Believe it or not, yes. I have a collection of walking sticks I just love but rarely use. Why? Because I think they are too over the top with the rest of the outfit. Go figure.

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  60. Not long ago I noticed that it would soon be time to replace my poplin-with-zipout-lining trenchcoat. Perfect for the climate where I now live with its short but chilly winters. My original was purchased in NYC when I was living there. The stores here do not carry these coats, but I found one online and ordered, black this time instead of khaki. When it arrived, I found it to be ankle length instead of the "street" length I had expected. No problem.

    While waiting for coat weather, I picked up a book I had in the house - a collection of all the serialized Sherlock Holmes (I am a serious fan) short stories plus the original illustrations. And there was Sherlock, wearing "my" coat! Well okay, I had unintentionally bought "his" coat and his would have been heavy wool. What if had the hat too?

    One can purchase this "deerstalker" cap, but it is pricey for something that would be worn occasionally, and is made only in men's sizes anyhow. I already had a cloche type hat pattern and the fabric store had some nice tweed (no tartans) so that's pretty close.

    Yes, I think of this as a costume, although I doubt if anyone else will even make the connection. But I will be having fun, which is what it's all about.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Annushka! Fellow Sherlock Holmes fan here! Funny you should mention making a deerstalker cap...I saw some black-and-white houndstooth tweed at the local fabric shop that I am going to make a deerstalker-style cap with, to go with my (A Study in) scarlet wool trenchcoat. I recently purchased "The Art of Millinery" and it features a deerstalker cap pattern; it's basically just a pointy-4-section beanie-style cap with a brim on the front and on the back, and with earflaps that tie over the top!

      I remember reading somewhere that it was Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes that made the idea of the deerstalker as Holmes' cap popular; apparently there is no mention of it as his headgear in any of the stories, other than a mention of an "ear-flapped traveling cap" (or something of the sort).

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  61. Hey Sufiya, I will take a look at that pattern. Thanks! I too read somewhere "cloth travelling cap" and do not know where the name "deerstalker" came from. I only learned that name by finding pics of Jeremy Brett in the role and following up. One gets obsessive sometimes ....

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  62. YEA! I am fortunate. I run with a circle of friends, that would love to dress from all different eras. Sometimes we dress up for historical events and sometimes we just want to dress up. I have a handful of 50s dresses that I will wear whenever. I love the fitted bodices of the 1870s-80s. I have no fear of wearing them in public. It's only the rare few who sit there and criticize. But they can keep their off the rack, ill-fitting clothes that do nothing for them. I wear those to work (I have a dirty job) and wear what I want the rest of the time. Heck, my husband has to wear collar shirts to work. It doesn't say what kind. So he wants me to make more waistcoats and comfortable collared shirts. he already has taken to wearing his bowler more. And again, sometimes he gets laughs and comments, but we dress how we want to.

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  63. I happen to have had a long talk about clothes with one of my drawing teachers last week. We were on a school trip and she was fascinated when she saw me hemming a dress with a print of grizzly bears, deer, a moose or two and some assorted geese and trees. She remarked she always thought my 'wacky' clothes and choices were fantastic, and I admitted to sometimes being frightened about 'pulling it off'. I do get a lot of stares and looks (mostly about my giant ear-adorned hat at the moment) but found that I don't really care about it, as long as I'm feeling comfortable with my own clothes. I can look at my wardrobe or my reflection in the mirror and feel good about it, so I really don't mind if someone else snorts. At least my friends think I look awesome!

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  64. I feel conspicuous in the few, twee, "vintage" dresses I've bought at anthropologie. I passed down the most outrageous of them to my daughter, who's an art student and can carry off the look. That said, I like to see people who have the courage to dress in vintage. They're interesting! How boring the world would be if everybody were tastefully clad in head-to-toe Banana Republic.

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  65. I truly wish I could wear vintage clothing but I would break the number one rule, in my mind, of dressing vintage: If you wore it the first time you shouldnt' be wearing it the second time around. Just sayin....

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