Monday, July 19, 2010

Do Men Find Vintage Sexy? (Do We Care?)

 Photo of a model wearing Dior's 1947 New Look by Richard Avedon (The menfolk are intrigued!)

I've been thinking a lot lately about how vintage style dressing is perceived - by ourselves and by the world around us. Two of my favorite outfits lately have been my pink swirly dress and my red suit, both coordinated with matching beige sandals and pocketbook. There's something about these ensembles that makes me carry myself slightly differently - in a sort of prim, ladylike way. (It must be the little purse!) And I've found myself being given the chivalrous treatment by men while in these outfits - doors are opened for me and elevator buttons are pressed.

Even the cat calls have gotten polite! (Cat calling is a hobby of many men in New York.) Where I'd gotten accustomed to a "Hey Sexy!" I'm now being called pretty. And the cat callers are noticing my outfits. While wearing the red suit: a man grinned at me in a predatory manner, and then said, unexpectedly, "That's a very pretty suit!" And while wearing the pink dress: "That's a pretty red dress - with a pretty lady in it!" (Everyone thinks my pink dress is red for some reason. Maybe it really is red and I'm the only one who hasn't noticed?).

In light of this, I've been thinking back to the chapter titled "Sex" in A Guide to Elegance. The author created lists of things that men find attractive or not, saying that she would once and for all separate "fact from fiction" on the matter. On the attractive list is "full skirts, tiny waists, and a long-legged look" and "collars on suits and jackets." On the unattractive side? "revealingly tight skirts and aggressively pointed bosoms" and "spike heels." (I find the idea of aggressively pointed bosoms very comical. Do they think our bosoms are going to come out and get them? Brings new meaning to the torpedo look!)

It's a bit of a twist to imagine men being turned off by tight skirts and spike heels. But I do think there's something classically appealing to men about the New Look era of dress even if they're socially programmed to like things short and tight. But truthfully, there does seem to be something girlishly feminine about a lovely shawl collared jacket that men find attractive, especially when paired with a full skirt. And the vintage look is often portrayed as whimsically sexy in movies (think Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.)

But all this begs the fundamental question: do we care what men think about how we dress?

I do care what my husband thinks, mostly because Jeff has great instincts about clothes even though his own sartorial motto has always been "I'm no fashion plate." He'll tell me when my French darts look nipply and when my bow ties are too big. He'll even catch slight fitting issues that take a garment from problematic to perfect. But I can't say that I'm trying to send any covert sexual signals to him through my dress. In honesty, I think I would be disappointed if that were my mission. If I'm looking to "snare" him, the best way is usually through humor and intellect. And I think I'll keep it that way, thank you very much.

As for men on the street? Eh. It's kind of charming to see cat callers suddenly turn gentlemanly and appreciative of a shawl-collared suit, but I'd really rather not have any unsolicited comments on my looks from the peanut gallery.

And, of course, it must be said that all of this works purely on a heteronormative level. (Please excuse the academic jargon.) In other words, labeling what men find sexy is based on the assumption of a heterosexuality in which men are the pursuers and women are the prey, dressing only to claim the prized male gaze for themselves. It's certainly uncomfortable from a feminist perspective, which is why I think so many modern women are loathe to admit to dressing for men.

Now: as for the old adage of women dressing for women? Duh. Who else is actually going to know the difference between a shawl collar and a notched collar? Talking outfits with the girls is one of the great pleasures of being a woman, I think. Plus, it must be said, any compliments from women are generally not considered to have sexual or predatory undertones (because that would make women sexual aggressors and we can't have that!).

How about you? Do you think men find vintage style sexy? Do you care?

94 comments:

  1. Here in the UK, there seems to be a huge growth of interest in "burlesque" wear, with vintage clothes shops marketing themselves on the Dita Von Teese model. So if I want to buy a wiggle dress in Edinburgh, the glass cabinet next to it will be full of "pasties" (sparkley tassels for nipple-wear), much to my teenaged daughter's horror! While I am enjoying discovering that I have some curves, I find it alarming that I might be perceived as a pole-dancer if I wear a shapely dress. It's a fine line!

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  2. Travelling on London's packed tubes, I have definitely noticed a different, chivalrous note to men's behaviour when I've worn one of my homemade, pretty summer dresses. Put me back in jeans and trainers, and no one's stepping back to let me get the only spare seat! I'm not sure men even realise they're doing this and I'm not sure it's just men. I think women have treated me more politely, too. Are clothes sending out messages? 'I'm a lady, don't you know!'It's all super-complex, isn't it?

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  3. Yes! I do think men find vintage sexy. Do I care? Nah. I only care what my husband thinks. I will say I get treated better because of the way I dress. In fact, not too long ago a guy cussed while we were discussing something. He immediately pardoned himself, saying, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that in front of you. You're a lady." Wow! The power of a skirt, huh?

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  4. No heteronormativeness, er, heteronormality...heteronormativity from this guy!

    When I see a woman dressed in vintage style I am absolutely charmed. It happened to me just this weekend at the Chelsea flea market: a 20-something young woman in a 50s-era sundress with heavy eyeliner and ruby red lips, and she looked lovely to me. There's something about someone doing something that you know expresses their own particular passion rather than choosing the popular trend that says so much about how they see the world -- and themselves in it. In a culture as violent and coarse as our own, to see someone consciously striving to create something of beauty, something that connotes effort (as opposed to being casual and "cool") gives me hope for humanity.

    There's not much we can do to prevent our descent into chaos, extremism, and willful ignorance. I see striving to recreate vintage beauty as a powerful form of resistance, conscious or no.

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  5. I find that men find sewing sexy. Regardless of what it is you are making. There is something old school and nurturing about the ability.

    As far as vintage being sexy, it is as sexy as you make it and feel. When you put on something that makes you feel good that comes out. I'm certain that if a 106 year old lady came forth all vintage like, no man would find her sexy except her 100 (I'm a even make her a cougar) boyfriend and/or husband.


    Peace

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  6. I get more compliments when I wear vintage, and not just vintage-style dresses I've made myself. But they're from both men and women, so I think there's an element of both liking the style on a purely aesthetic level and finding it sexy for the way it enhances curves. I wear vintage cat's eye specs too, and oh lord, they're complimented a lot. If that's because of secretary fetishes, I think I'd rather not know!

    I do know that quite a few men of my acquaintance aren't so fond of out and out sexy clothing, though. One friend drunkenly explained that seeing a shoulder or knee for a second as a woman's clothes move or slip is infinitely sexier than having lots of skin out for all to see, all the time.

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  7. Hi Gertie,

    Well, I have too much to say and not enough time to say it, so I'm going to interject a side note. I once read a great discussion on a mom-blog about the effect of clothing choices on parenting. The moms by and large found they were treated more respectfully by their children, especially their boy children, when they dressed nicely and wore a skirt.

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  8. Not having a curvaceous figure, I never would get appreciative comments anyway, but I'm sure that your attitude and the way you carry yourself when wearing more "elegant" or "pretty" outfits has as much to do with the compliments as do the actual garments. Personally I never dress for men, or at least not in a stereotypically male-pleasing manner, partly because I don't have a stereotypically male-pleasing figure but partly because it's more interesting dressing for myself and (I admit) for other women who appreciate my efforts!! I used to work in the fashion industry in an all-female office so I suppose that has something to do with it too. Men just don't understand most of the time! Have you seen this blog by the way? http://www.manrepeller.com/

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  9. I know my husband thinks certain vintage style garments are very sexy. But I have to say that the fact that I feel sexy in them could be of influence on his thoughts on the subject very much.

    I like the dress elegantly, feminine, sexy. For myself, ofcourse, because I feel more ready to take on the world when I look good. Something less to worry about, I guess. It makes me feel more secure, more strong, more capable. Silly maybe, but still, it does.

    But I also dress that way for others. I think it would be strange and very un-human like to think that the opinions of others wouldn't be a part in the decisions about how you want to look. You interact with other people, you feel/see/sense their reaction to your behavior/looks/dressing and it will influence you, whether you want it to or not. Anyway, I don't care. I even like the game of interaction between people. Even the part where the men feel like hunters and try to catch their prey.

    I might be very un-feministic, but I don't feel objectified (is that the word in English) because of that meganism between men and women. Yes, maybe men look at me sometimes as someone they'd want to hunt down and pull into bed, but I am the one who makes the rule when I'm participating in a flirting game. And no man ever has made the mistake to think I was a dumb bimbo who could be won over easily, just because I looked sexy.

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  10. Yes and no. I find that when I wear my overtly-vintage outfits, I do get quite a bit of attention from men. Both of the chivalrous sort (the older gentlemen who work at the base commissary are especially lovely about this and treat me like a queen--which makes grocery shopping less of a chore! ;), and of the unwanted sexual-come-on type. I find the latter is more from guys who are around my age; with pop starlets adopting the "sexy vintage bombshell" look, they're more attuned to the highly sexualized/pin up/Bettie Page connotations of a pencil skirt and winged liner. In many ways it tends to elicit comments about my being "classy-sexy" (if that makes any sense). I think too they find it intriguing that I am for all intents and purposes more covered than most other females my age, and yet still show off my curves. Since we tend to let it all hang out culturally now, I think the idea of covering up can be even more tantalizing to some males than a girl dressed in a micro mini and bikini top.

    That being said, I do not dress to attract men. I do occasionally ask my husband what he thinks of an outfit, and do take note of the ones he really likes (just like he tends to wear the outfits I really like on him ;). But otherwise I don't give a darn. Even when I was single, I had friends who used to urge me to dress "more modern" to attract guys. Dressing in this manner just wasn't me, and even though my style was more artsy/bohemian at the time, I dressed to please me. If someone took notice and liked it, great. If not, my whole existence did not rest on attracting a guy or getting a double take! Let them like me for who I was (and my confidence with myself to dress differently--I think that speaks volumes right there), not the clothes I wore.

    I really like what Peter said: "In a culture as violent and coarse as our own, to see someone consciously striving to create something of beauty, something that connotes effort (as opposed to being casual and "cool") gives me hope for humanity.". This comforts me in a way as many times I get some criticism for the fact that I do keep my look up and try to look put together when I leave the house. Sometimes I wonder if creating beauty in my little corner of the world is worthwhile with all the crap going on in the world. It's nice to know that someone "gets" what I'm doing and appreciates it! Hugs to you, Peter! :)

    I'm interested in seeing how this discussion develops; I think it's an interesting topic that needs to be mulled over and debated. Thanks Gertie for posting this!!!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  11. Sorry for the double comment!! My computer was acting up, and it wasn't showing up. Yikes! Feel free to delete the extra, Gertie! ;)

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  12. My father has always said that if you really want to keep a guy's attention, the worst thing to do is put on a bikini--then he's seen it all. You should always leave things to his imagination. :D

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  13. Actually, vintage doesn't have to equate to prim 40's or 50's style. I have a few 1970's dresses that I love and am still complimented on, without there being any of that delicate feminine vibe you get with earlier decades' styles.

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  14. I suspect what men find really sexy is the way women look (and act) when they're wearing clothes they love and that make them feel pretty.

    I know I stand up a little straighter, walk a little more deliberately, and smile more when I'm wearing something that makes me feel pretty, for example. And when I feel pretty, people in general tend to behave as though I am pretty, regardless of what objective reality may be.

    I suspect it's a confidence thing. I don't particularly care if men other than my husband find me pretty, but I like feeling pretty and confident for myself.

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  15. My husband was talking about this only yesterday. He was complaining that all young things think short skimpy skirts are what men like, and the only way to look sexy. He said subtle sexiness is a lost art, which is why he enjoys looking at 40s and 50s fashion. he loves my new interest in vintage fashin, and find it much sexier.

    Of course his opinion is not why I like vintage styles...but it its nice to know he approves.

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  16. I don't know about men in general, because I haven't had anyone "cat call" at me in years, but my hubby couldn't give 2 hoots if I'm wearing vintage or not. He's not into vintage at all, and he's just as likely to like my non-vintage looks as my vintage looks. His basic philosophy is that if a woman looks happy and confident in what she's wearing, her natural beauty shines even brighter. It's all about attitude in his book, and if you *feel* great in what you're wearing, you're going to *look* great.

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  17. I think it's all about how the clothes make you feel. Vintage clothes make us who love them feel very special. Very confident. It's very often a statement too. And a confident and radiant woman is oh so sexy whatever she wears! A woman who loves her looks and dresses doesn't dress for men. She dresses for herself only. But again it is a sign of inner strength. So I guess it's more the individualism and attitude and loving of your own looks that man find attractive, not the particular garments.

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  18. Hey! Fun topic - I was recently married - actually, today is my 1 month anniversary! We just got back from our honeymoon and the girls in my wedding wore vintage-style dresses I went for the figure-flattering side-ruching, a-line dress... oh, how I wanted the 50's tea-length wedding dress, but heels would have been required and it was an outdoor wedding!

    ANYWAY! I'm obviously pretty tuned into my husband and his response to the vintage style. He wouldn't know vintage from, you know, well, anything, but he LOVES full circle skirts and the more interesting fabrics of my more vintage style clothes. He loved, loved, loved the bridesmaids dresses, too - in fact all the guys at the wedding were totally into the crinolines! That being said, I stocked up on fun new clothes for the honeymoon - we went out west, so I was heavy on the floral sundresses a la julia roberts' wardrobe from dying young (I graduated from high school in 1992 - good GOLLY I loved her wardrobe in that movie - I was all about the flowery dresses and docs!) He loved the floral dresses too and went NUTS for the short denim skirt I slipped in! I usually go for the just-below-the-knee length skirt and the novelty of seeing my knees made it extra sexy, I think!

    I think that the appreciation I've seen for vintage styles I wear are all tied up for the actual bombshell quotient as well as appreciation of style. I definitely get the most compliments from women and the gaggle of gays in my life, though. And I find I really probably dress more for my friends - we all love talking about clothes and getting a great outfit together (along with all the fun accessories!)

    I think there’s also a zeitgeist thing about clothing. Styles are drifting from a more see-it-all aesthetic (hello gaga and American apparel) to vintage style in the mainstream. I think guys (and gals) respond to something that’s new. The ultra-feminine look of the 40’s and 50’s womens’ clothing is a little new and exciting – and getting a response. Then there’s the thing that for guys around MY age, vintage (again, 40’s/50’s) style is pretty referential to 80’s style (well, vice versa, probably )… perhaps all the good vibes the guys send our way is them feeling that they’re all up in high school again! Cue the psychedelic furs…

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  19. My husband is a HUGE fan of my more retro-influenced clothing. Some of the super-costume-y stuff that I only haul out on occasion makes him intensely happy.

    But men in general? I honestly don't know. I definitely get compliments when I err retro, but they come from both genders. I think retro-influenced clothing is perceived as interesting and unusual enough to merit conversation, so we just hear more from observers.

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  20. This is such a fun post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and everyone's comments, especially Karin von D.'s, as she succinctly states how I feel about dressing: "I like the dress elegantly, feminine, sexy. For myself, ofcourse, because I feel more ready to take on the world when I look good... It makes me feel more secure, more strong, more capable."

    I justify spending money on clothes, shoes, and now fabric (!) because I feel so much more happy and confident - at work and outside - when I'm wearing a lovely outfit.

    P.S. - I read that women dress: #1 for themselves, #2 for other women, and #3 for men. That's true for me, and reading the comments, seems to be the case for many other women.

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  21. you only wear vintage if it makes you feel special and confident... and that attitude is definitely attractive like a magnet!

    on another note, when i saw the title of the post i thought it meant " domen find vintage sexy [for themselves to wear]? do we care?" hmm even so would we care?

    and another note, can't help but think, being currently in India, does vintage mean anything for the saree wearing woman? just a random thought, worlds apart...

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  22. I, being both heterosexual and male, find the vintage style much more attractive. When I see a girl who appears to have just stepped out of the fifties or forties and a tight mini skirt, low cut wearing chick, i am much more attracted to the fifties girl. They seem to have a better sense of pride. Like, they're not showing their boobs to you before you meet them, they seem I don't know, real? I instantly have more respect for a women who is dressing like you, and doesn't seem to be caught up in the whole, 'let's dress like a hooker' trend. I feel like most women underestimate men, thinking we're just sex loving hogs, but really, most of us would rather not have a 'hooker' as a partner. Or maybe it's just me?

    -Alex

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  23. Great post and very good things have been said already. I don't think I have much to add. Like many others, I do care what my boyfriend thinks of how I dress. And he loves my retro-clothes. And I, as well, notice being treated politely and getting compliments when I'm in a vintage-style dress. From both men and women, but the kind of remarks is different. However, I get that in more of my self-made clothes. Basically in everything (not just with skirts) which is both covered-up and curve-enhancing. At a friend's party not too long ago, I noticed how much more fabric I was wearing with my kneelength, full circle skirted dress, than any of the other girls. I think it looks great and feminine and it makes me feel happy, if others like it, even better.

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  24. Bottom of the LeagueJuly 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    I wear hijab - ankle-length skirts with a coat over that covers to my wrists and a headscarf. (Under the coat I wear clothes which I make, which is what brings me here BTW). As soon as I started wearing it (my choice, in my late thirties), men, all men of any ethnic group as far as I could see (this was in London) started to give way to me on the street, stand up for me on buses and speak much more politely to me.

    Women, on the other hand, started to push past me in queues, elbow me out of the way to get on the bus and actually stare me up and down aggressively. I had honestly never experienced anything like that before.

    Apparently, there is some kind of women's league table, where if you are higher up than them (pre-hijab I was a medium-height, slim, fit, blue-eyed natural Scandinavian blonde), women will be charming (someone might be watching them?).

    Now my "attractions" are concealed, women treat me with contempt. I was startled and very depressed by the experience. However, a lot of women have said this is what happens when they hit menopause - they become invisible.

    You may not be dressing to please other people, in other words, but it doesn't mean you will escape their reactions. Nor is dressing for other women quite as innocuous as you might think. I emigrated.

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  25. Interesting post. That's cute that men in NY are acting like chivalrous around you. I once wore a pretty contemporary but still 1970s mandarin collar tweed suit to teach (I teach at one of the CUNYs) and one of the hip hop styled men in my class said, "Professor- you look so classic and stylin' today." It was a hilarious moment.
    But I actually don't care if what men in general think of my clothing choices. My partner thinks my interesting in sewing is cool and tells me anything vintage I've made is "cute" but he has made clear that he thinks I'm attractive in jeans and a T as well as 1950s homemade rockabilly dress.

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  26. I'm a woman working in the IT industry. As in, I'm a junior systems admin. There was a time when I was doing a lot of labor intensive work in actual datacenters but now most of my work is done remotely from the office. THAT SAID, I find that because I love clothes and fashion I am always much better dressed than the majority of my peers. And when I lean toward vintage or "classic sexy" people treat me differently. I get more respect, the higher management comes and talks to me first.

    And the senior admins that I help support are much more willing to help and teach me new things, which in turn advances me faster than others at my level. Most of them are men. So while I'm dressing up cause _I_ like it, they take notice and its definitely to my benefit.

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  27. Part of it is that almost everything is left to the imagination. This is far from a bad thing! My mom was a lifeguard in the summers while she was in college in the 60s. So the male lifeguards saw her in swimsuits every day. One Sunday, she had to come straight from church and was dresses to the nines in a homemade suit and heels and got dropped jaws and wolf whistles when they didn't notice her in her one piece swimsuit!

    It seems to me that perfectly fitting, modest clothes, vintage or not, are always perceived as more attractive and classier than something that's too short, too tight, and too low cut.

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  28. What men like, in my experience, is skirts on a woman. Women making an effort to be pretty, as opposed to sexy - it gets a LOT of male approval.

    I wear long, usually full skirts and modest tops and YES I am treated differently! (No catcalls, doors get opened for me).

    If I pair this up with my daughter in a dress too? One might need her sunglasses for the beams of approval.

    Do I like this? Yes, but it's a side-effect. I don't dress for the man on the street. Ew. I dress for my husband and for myself, in a manner which I hope pleases God. Everyone else can just deal.

    But yes... they like it. :)

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  29. So I thought this was a very interesting question and I asked my boyfriend what he thought. He said that women dress very provocatively these days, but in a "I'm trying to be 22 and on Girls Gone Wild" instead of sexy and their age. So when he sees a woman in vintage, even if it is a tight wiggle skirt, to them it's sexy and age appropriate. So he understands why men get a little more chivalrous when a "woman" walks in the door because men want someone comfortable being their own age.

    I'm not sure I totally believe this since I think quite a few of them have Betty Page and Joan Holloway complexes but I do think we carry ourselves differently like you mentioned, and that really makes all the difference. :-)

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  30. Based on my husband's opinion, I would say that men appreciate a woman who has obviously put thought and effort in looking put together and classy. So whether it's vintage or not, if you look good, if you look put together, you look sexy.

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  31. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Having seen 50s-style brassieres, I completely understand why the adjective "aggressive" was used. Those bras scare me.

    I think some men might find vintage sexy (think about bondage and corsetry sex imagery and fetishes), but some others might find it just fussy. I also think some guys can appreciate details like fit, draping, beautiful embellishments. Whether that's sexy per se, I don't know.

    I have heard men say that they like to have something left to the imagination.

    Richard Avedon, although straight (I assume, he was married), was a fashion photographer, making images for high-fashion magazines catering to women. So the fact that he posed three men casting admiring glances at the model means nothing to me.

    I personally hate "The New Look," and I don't find it the least bit sexy. To me, it's overwhelming. I do like the idea of an artificial silhouette, though. It gives women more control over their shape, similar to the way mean have control when they wear their padded, armored suits, which create the most flattering line possible for the man's body. I just don't like Dior shape. I much prefer the shapes from the 20s and 30s, and some from the turn of the century.

    Incidentally, "to beg the question" means to assume a fact in argument that has not been established. I think you it meant, "it prompts the question." It's a common mistake.

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  32. Very interesting topic!
    I find that when I dress vintage I also get treated with more chivalrous behavior. Men do open doors or give nice compliments, but I get equal compliments from ladies, funnily enough. I definitely *like* the sort of attention it attracts as far as attention for men much more than when dressed in modern clothing. The sort of comments people make about gals in modern clothes always sort of made me shudder. I find it extremely frustrating that the main aim is to be "sexy", with no attention to self worth or style in a lot of cases. I remember in my single days when I dressed modern a lot of guys would turn heel and run when they found out I had a mind of my own. So stupid.
    Now that I'm married I'm really blessed that my husband has a very similar aesthetic to clothing as I do. He thinks that a lot of modern clothing looks "trashy" (his words, not mine), and thinks the same of a lot of the pin up culture. He's a believer that you don't need to show all to be attractive. Thank goodness. Funnily enough, he really loves frilly girly dresses with innocent little bows and ruffles and he loves the color pink. I don't know that he's really aware of it, but I get much more compliments when I'm wearing something along those lines, or if I wear something two tone or with color blocking- even than wearing something really neatly tailored with cool style lines. I guess I'm more into that style than him ;).

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  33. I agree with 'nora. Gertie, you even said that you carry yourself differently in those beautiful outfits (the pink one looks red on my computer, but I'm sure that it looks pink in real life; many men can't see in shades of pink). I really do think that reactions vary based on how we carry ourselves, but our clothes mediate the level of approachability.

    Jeans and tees are seen more often; they are less exotic and therefore the catcallers feel more at ease to use all their "best lines" on women that they find attractive who happen to be wearing that type of clothing. When dressed in a pretty, knee-length flared skirt and blouse, the woman appears more exotic and confuses the catcaller, possibly reminding him of respected women from his younger years. The catcaller still feels compelled to acknowledge the attractiveness, yet he becomes aware that his more coarse "compliments" may not be appropriate, so he edits them to a more respectful variety.

    I do think that posture plays the biggest role in being recognized though. A girlfriend and I used to go for walks downtown on lunch, both in the late months of pregnancy and walking very tall, b/c with all the added weight of pregnancy, we worked hard to make sure that we protected our spines with good posture. We were noticed a couple of times by men in passing cars, who we saw just as they passed our profiles and realized that they were slowing down to look at two very pregnant women. Funny, each looked away quickly and swiftly drove on.

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  34. If you are going to be cat-called, why not have the more gentlemanly variety?

    I don't think "sexy" is the right word for the reaction that men have. I think the charm of vintage fashion provides a kind of mystery that is compelling to them. I think a bit of class can be very attractive, as it kind of creates this image of an icon, or a flawless movie starlet, or something else above the daily dirty life. Maybe I'm babbling. But I think you've got something there. And I liked your academic-speak about the predator-prey nonsense. I rather like the idea of playing with color and drape, and becoming kind of a walking bit of visual interest, and re-igniting those associations that the people around me may have with certain shapes of clothing, etc.

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  35. I think men find long, full skirts attractive for the same reason they find long hair attractive---the movement and fullness of it. I have never really dressed vintage, but I do have a history of (vastly) overdressing... I can't really say that it affected how I feel I was treated, though (even vs. my more skanktastic days, of which there are also plenty).

    I have a question, though. Do we really WANT to be treated like dolls or precious, fragile items? To me, this kind of special consideration for the lady was the flip-side of male chauvinism, and if we want the advantages of equality, that special treatment is something we should give up. Not that I think common courtesy should go out the window---but I don't want the door held for me and then dropped in the face of the man behind me; I'd rather that seat on the train went to an older person or someone with mobility problems.

    I guess this returns to the issue of vintage dressing (cool) vs. vintage values (not cool, IMHO). Vintage dressing does seem to invoke some of those vintage values---I'm just not sure I'm totally in favour of that.

    Also, impressions aside, I don't think that someone dressing scantily necessarily means they don't value themselves (though they may get treated that way, unfortunately). Some of us feel "the power" when we're in long, full skirts (not me, so much), others when we're baring everything we've got. In an ideal world, this would just be a matter of personal preference. ;)

    Wow, that was excessively long.

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  36. I don't know if 'sexy' is the right word, but I think men find vintage appealing, and a little mysterious. Especially in a world where celebrities skip wearing pants (or underpants!) and there's often nothing left to the imagination. I made a vintage shirtdress that fits at the waist but is fairly loose everywhere else, a modest knee-length and short sleeves. Hardly anything exposed! And yet when I wear it, I feel pretty and feminine, and my guy loves it. Plus I'm comfortable and confident, which I definitely wouldn't be in hot pants and a tube top :) Subtle can be sexy, and while that might not work for all men, it seems to work for mine!

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  37. the hubby likes anything that looks good on me whether it is a tee or a vintage floral print dress. if you look good in something and it fits you properly people will notice especially if you feel good while wearing it. it is all about confidence!

    xo,
    cb
    www.thecitybirdsnest.blogspot.com

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  38. "the best way is usually through humor and intellect" The fact that you have the wisdom to know that ensures a long and happy partnership. I have known it for 33 years now.
    You'll make 33 easy!

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  39. I wish I could say that I lived in an area where men actually looked at you in this way! In the state that I live, there is a deeply religious undercurrent where anything that's sleeveless, above knee length or reveals anything of the back is considered distateful by the majority of people here, including the males. That and being a red-head, I think many people are socially conditioned to think that tanned blondes and brunettes are much more beautiful anyway. Alas, no cat calls here and definitely no "gentlemen" in my neck of the woods. Reading vintage Harlequin romances make me sort of long for being able to spark that sort of chilvary in a gent.

    I find myself more and more dressing for my female coworkers and counterparts. I dress up here and there for my husband too, but like you, find more excitement and sex appeal in words and actions than looks. Great post!

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  40. It makes sense that those pointy boobs wouldn't be sexy--they don't look touchable. My husband explained to me once how he perceived the difference between "glamorous" and "beautiful." In vintage terms, Marilyn Monroe was glamorous, while Katherine Hepburn was beautiful. Monroe might get more catcalls, but Hepburn would get the courtly gesture.

    "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:/its loveliness increases: it will never/pass into nothingness." So with vintage style.

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  41. I think it's women that we care about what they think of our dress...at least those of us that have already attracted someone who we have in our lives. Maybe if I were still trying to attrct a mate, I would think more about what the men are thinking. However, I worry about what other women think of my outfit because as you say, talking dress with the girls is fun. And we know we tend to judge other gals...

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  42. The word 'lady' seems to have slipped out of today's vocabulary, but it sounds to me that you were dressing and acting as a lady, and receiving the respect that naturally comes with that, and probably not just from men. Wearing bright colours and vintage styles probably makes you more noticeable as well - I don't think you need to necessarily do that to be a lady, but it does hint back to the days when most women were!

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  43. Gertie, I think you live in my head, or maybe I live in yours! Recently when I google stuff you come up on the first page of results and now I'm responding to another lovely post of yours because I too have been pondering on this topic recently.

    I got into a bit of a strop recently. In the London Swing/dress-up scene Burlesque is pretty much a given, but having stepped back out of it while I had my child and seeing more Burlesque than swing fashion bandying about this year, even at swing dance events, its beginning to annoy me that its seems to be taking over the whole 40s/50s vintage scene. It bothers me that people seem to be thinking its all about the figure busting out wiggle dresses, propped up boobs, wild coloured undergarments, pasties and tassles. I have nothing against burlesque, I think it a lovely art, but I now know people who, when they think of forties vintage have burlesque in their mind and I think its sad. But then I am in love with modesty of it all, the demure suits, the feminine circle skirts, the hats and white gloves... I want everyone to find vintage attractive, but not in a burlesque sexy kind of way.

    Rant over. Yesterday, to a wedding I wore a sweet dress made from 70s pattern along with an appropriate shaped pettticoat and people swooned over it, male and female. They loved that it was vintage but even more that it was handmade, I found it a very interesting reaction.

    I get mixed responses to my vintage wardrobe. I don't know that men respond to it any more than women do, I think both sexes take note of it but doesn't everyone? The whole 10 second judgement thing? But I have thought in the past that women dress to impress or belittle other women.

    Certainly choice of dress can be worked to our advantage, I've done it to impress potential future employers and whether I wore a skirt or a trouser power-suit very much depended on which sex was going to interview me...

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  45. Gertie, great post… now look at all the comments you have to read. :-)
    I agree with saboknits, the cupcake goddess and Doris.

    Ofcourse women do dress for other women, full stop! Go and watch them checking out the competition. They master the art of a quick glance at the entire outfit and rank you. They are the ones that will comment and criticise other women. On the silliest of details even! Wrong season for this shoe or wrong size of that bag, they will have an opinion.

    Compliments are for social bonding and confirmation of status, so that's all in interaction with our peers and social environment (in the case of Gertie's blog, our vintage sewing peers).

    Men are less fussy on the dressing matter. They do appreciate a woman that looks feminine. If your skirt is from 1955, 1999 or last season, they wouldn't know. Most don't even care. In general... they like skirts, because it validates femininity.
    The midcentury fashion might accentuate all those feminine assets. That's the whole classic biology thing on hip-waist-ratio and so on. The new look is quite about that, tiny waist, healthy hips and some cleavage. Even a gay man will agree on that.

    The miniskirt and "letting it all hang out" thing is sex(y) in another way, that more towards lust. I guess it's for play (Marilyn/Betty), elegance and decency is for commitment (the Hepburns).
    Feminism or not, it's still about passing on our genes, evolution got us where we are and that's something that changes very slowly!

    In that light: we dress for others. Don't you think we are social beings "par excellence" and all our social interactions and thoughts are taken with "the other" in mind? And no… "the other" is not everyone on the planet. But we care of what the other from our (sub)culture, peers, friends, school/work environment think. Our social network is most important to us, they define who (we think) we are.

    That's why unflatering loungewear was invented for our private couch life. ;-)

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  46. I don't care. Really. I wear vintage for me.

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  47. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    I dress for myself first and foremost, and I'm much more insistent on comfort and safety than many women I know (no ridiculously high heels for me). Having said that, I dress in a way that enhances my attractiveness, so I often wear skirts and dresses, which are better suited for my shape than pants. If I wanted to wear exactly what I wanted every day, I'd go around in my Laura Ashley corduroy overalls (too hot for that now anyway). In any event, I dress reasonably modestly and age appropriately.



    Bottom of the League:

    I'm sorry that some women are rude to you, that's wrong, but as you are someone who apparently was raised in the Western tradition, I find it difficult to believe that you don't understand some of the reasons for the reaction. Many Western women, who are striving for equality in still very sexist societies, regard the wearing of the hijab as a step backward. Such women appear to be willfully erasing themselves. There are more subtle (if challenging) ways of dealing with sexism than completely hiding oneself from the outside world. Dressing like a stripper is one extreme, yet many young girls adopt that style in order to be popular. I would argue that dressing according to the dictates of a fundamentalist religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) is another extreme.

    Head coverings and robes don't bother me, but I was on the subway the other day and there was a woman who had on the full ensemble (I'm sorry I don't remember the terminology). You could see nothing but her eyes. In addition, she had a veil that she kept pulling over her face so at times you couldn't even see her eyes. That was very disturbing.

    Part of American society is the ability to understand people who are different from ourselves. That understanding comes in part from communication. That's hard when one can't even see another person's face. London may be less tolerant than New York, but I don't think it's all that different.

    But just as you are exercising your "choice" to behave differently from the majority, others are exercising their "choice" to indicate to you their disapproval. At least some of these women are fighting for a world in which turning 50 won't automatically render a woman invisible. If you choose that for yourself at a much earlier age, that is your prerogative, but don't expect everyone to agree.

    I do agree with you that we are all affected by how we are perceived and treated, which may well influence, consciously or subconsciously, how we present ourselves in the public sphere.

    Again, I am not justifying the rudeness you describe, nor am I saying you don't have the right to practice your religion, but I do think it is helpful to explore why some women may be reacting as they have. It's more complicated than a bunch of grown-up mean girls dissing you.

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  48. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  49. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    [Have tried to post this since this morning. Google says I have to do it in two parts]


    Bottom of the League:

    I'm sorry that some women are rude to you, that's wrong, but as you are someone who apparently was raised in the Western tradition, I find it difficult to believe that you don't understand some of the reasons for the reaction. Many Western women, who are striving for equality in still very sexist societies, regard the wearing of the hijab as a step backward. Such women appear to be willfully erasing themselves. There are more subtle (if challenging) ways of dealing with sexism than completely hiding oneself from the outside world. Dressing like a stripper is one extreme, yet many young girls adopt that style in order to be popular. I would argue that dressing according to the dictates of a fundamentalist religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) is another extreme.

    Head coverings and robes don't bother me, but I was on the subway the other day and there was a woman who had on the full ensemble (I'm sorry I don't remember the terminology). You could see nothing but her eyes. In addition, she had a veil that she kept pulling over her face so at times you couldn't even see her eyes. That was very disturbing.

    Part of American society is the ability to understand people who are different from ourselves. That understanding comes in part from communication. That's hard when one can't even see another person's face. London may be less tolerant than New York, but I don't think it's all that different.

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  50. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    [RESPONSE TO BOTTOM OF THE LEAGUE, CONT.]


    But just as you are exercising your "choice" to behave differently from the majority, others are exercising their "choice" to indicate to you their disapproval. At least some of these women are fighting for a world in which turning 50 won't automatically render a woman invisible. If you choose that for yourself at a much earlier age, that is your prerogative, but don't expect everyone to agree.

    I do agree with you that we are all affected by how we are perceived and treated, which may well influence, consciously or subconsciously, how we present ourselves in the public sphere.

    Again, I am not justifying the rudeness you describe, nor am I saying you don't have the right to practice your religion, but I do think it is helpful to explore why some women may be reacting as they have. It's more complicated than a bunch of grown-up mean girls dissing you.

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  51. What an interesting post & discussion. It's summer here, too and cat calling achieved definitely a new high. And yes, wearing a skirt definitely helps a lot!
    But I have to add one thing that still misses in this discussion: you stand out when you are wearing vintage. You don't blend with the crowd, so men and women alike will notice you. And as you put some thought in what you are wearing, chances are good that you are looking lovely in it. We all like to see beauty, it's human, isn't it? ;)

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  52. Advanced BeginnerJuly 19, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Sorry for the multiple posts! Blogger/Google have been very weird today.

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  53. Men do appreciate a pretty dress! And, strangely enough, they find some things (young) women believe to be not attractive at all quite sexy. For example, I'm a below-the-knees kind of girl when it comes to my skirts and dresses... and every one of my guy friends i've asked (or who have simply complimented!) believe that a mid length skirt is much more flattering that the crazy butt-length skirts that seem to be reigning in the rest of the world....

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  54. Here, in Dunedin (southern New Zealand way down in South Pacific) wearing vintage when I first moved here 20yrs ago was wearing an old petticoat over leggings with other imperfect op-shop (thrift store) finds - kind of a grungey impoverished look. Amongst a swathe of black and grey (and red) those women (usually arts students) stood out because they dared to be different.

    Now, wearing vintage is gradually changing - there are those of us who love the spotted Osti style dresses from the 70s and the shirt dresses of the 60s. However, I feel that I am in a minority here, as Dunedin-ites are generally conservative. Other women seem to either love what I wear or ignore it.

    I must admit I like dressing nicely, I walk taller and I feel more confident. My husband is supportive of my vintage style and considers some of my items "brave", but the truth is he likes me to look nice. I think that NZ men aged 40 and over probably do too.

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  55. I think guys do find vintage stuff more attractive. Many vintage styles are much more universally figure flattering and leave a lot more to the imagination.

    Plus when you think something is cool, you exude much more self confidence.

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  56. A woman will look sexy only if she is comfortable in her clothes and in her own skin.

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  57. I think there is something in a man's DNA that responds to their perceived vulnerability of a woman dressed in vintage clothing. Do I care what men think about the way I dress? No #%expletive*& way do I care. I'm not dressing for them.

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  58. I think that there is something to be praised about the more modest sillouette of the 50's. With attention to the necklines and hemlines, it definately portrays femininity, but with the charm of not being over revealing. It seems to evoke a level of class, beauty and sofistication both in the wearer and the observer.

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  59. Skimming the comments, so sorry if I'm repeating. I think 'sexy' and 'attractive' are two very different things, albeit with some small overlap. You can appreciate something without finding it 'sexy' and you can even find something about someone attractive without it being sexy, per se.

    Also, maybe your street caller was colourblind? My manpanion is, and we had a hilarious scene the other day while we looked for his blue shirt. I had already found it, but it's purple, so I thought we were looking for something different...

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  60. I agree with Marla ~

    I think that there is something to be praised about the more modest sillouette of the 50's. With attention to the necklines and hemlines, it definately portrays femininity, but with the charm of not being over revealing. It seems to evoke a level of class, beauty and sofistication both in the wearer and the observer.

    To me, that's the spirit that vintage protrays. I am a lady. Not a man, and as such I want to be treated as a lady ~ I like that vintage inspires the chivialry that is so often missing in modern manners.

    My husband treats me like a lady {he himself is a real gentleman} and always did ~ even before I was into vintage. But I like that vintage can inspire other men not to be uncouth but to step up and be gentlemen too!

    We ladies wonder were all the real guys went to, but maybe our behavour has encouraged them to behave with less than admirable manners.

    At least, that's the common complaint I hear, but none of us really want to think that it might be in some way our fault!

    In the end though, I do agree ~ it's best to dress in a way that makes you happy; not what is expected because that's what the celebrities are wearing...

    xox,
    b. of Depict This!

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  61. Omg! It's funny you bring this up because I have gotten sooooo many compliments since dressing more vintage. Women comment on my red lips and even children comment!! A little girl told me I was pretty and a little boy asked his mom who that beautiful woman was! Hahaha the mom just had to tell me what her son said. So sweet. I have never received so many compliments before I started dressing and fixing myself up vintage. It kinda nice to get compliments from strangers.

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  62. What someone finds disappointing in sending signals in one relationship is flirting in another. And is has nothing to do with what the relationship is actually based on.

    I dress for men (and a certain portion of the female population), and always have in a style that *I* like. Vintage is what I want to wear, and like to wear, but my choices are based on what looks good on me aka...dressing for men. When I was a kid, I liked my Daddy telling me I had a pretty dress, and my boyfriend has been my best friend for 21 years and has never failed to tell me I look pretty either. There is no compliment that is better then coming from men you consider important in your life.

    I like men, and while I am straight,the majority of my admiration for them is not even on a sexual level. I like old men, young men, men in between...and I like being around them and talking to them. I like the differences between the two of us in gender, and I appreciate the fact that men talk to you because they like you (and no amount of pretty clothing will make a man put up with you if they don't like your personality after you shoot them down for anything else). A lot of men in my acquaintance are older men, my father's age and above and wearing a dress does not really change my interest in war and history, or the fact that I can talk about them intelligently.

    Do they find vintage sexy? Sure. A large part of the draw is that *I* like it, but the admiration from others is a big boost to it too (especially if you are vain). Do I care about the average man on the street? Only as far as to get the ego boost from an appreciative glance.

    Saying that, I also will admit I appreciate the glances and "nice outfit" from lesbians. Does it change the fact that I am coming home to my boyfriend? No, and he doesn't worry because I have a flirty personality either since I am with him and someone tries to seriously flirt with me, I back off (and yes, there is a difference in flirting and really flirting).

    And I will be honest, I don't care at all of I am being objectified for the brief moment I have to deal with someone I don't know. Those that know me know I'm not as flaky as I come across and it's an act to avoid most of the world. It saves me having to mess with most people, or try and be someone else that I am not since there's these pesky molds that everyone tries to make you fit into.

    Dressing sexy is kind of a misnomer. I do it sometimes, when I feel like it, but most of the time I dress with an idea toward my body and what looks the best.

    I have never bothered with the feminist label since I really don't need a group of women telling me what is considered good, feminist behavior. Even tho I dress with the idea of men in mind, I don't really care what they think, either. I just want the looks and them to go away.

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  63. I should hope that people have the manners to treat everyone with respect, whether they're wearing miniskirts, hijab, or bright green antennae. The people who deride women for wearing hijab are behaving just as badly as the people who think a miniskirt gives them the right to assume its wearer is a hooker. I live in a very diverse area of Brooklyn, and I see Muslim women wearing hijab and burqa just as often as I see Orthodox Jews wearing long skirts and wigs - just as often as I see other women in tight tank tops and miniskirts. I'm not bothered a bit by any of it, as none of it's my business and I frankly don't have the energy to find any of it "disturbing" or "anti-feminist" or what-have-you.

    That being said, I do really enjoy seeing women who are really put-together (and this is just as often something I see in women who are keeping a religious dress code) and I adore the vintage look. I do wish cameltoe would go away, though, and I still don't think leggings are pants.

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  64. Interesting topic Gertie. While I love vintage clothing and I definitely enjoy the less overtly sexy femininity of it, I have to say it bothers me that so many people report getting treated better while dressed in this manner, especially when comparing this to clothes that are perceived as too tight, to short, too sexy, or 'hookerish'.

    It bothers me that a woman appears to be treated more respectfully if she is dressed to show less skin. I believe Alex also wrote that actually did have more respect for women who dress this way. I understand that a lot of people simply think short skirts and tight clothes, or dressed-down jeans, are less a attractive style but I think it is immensely problematic that the respect a man (or any person) has for a woman, or shows towards that woman, depends on what kind of clothe she wears. Especially when the clothes that cause a woman to be respected less are associated with her sexuality. While acting more chivalrous seems pretty harmless, the association between a woman's clothes, her sexuality, and the respect given to her by others seems to be pretty central to cases where women who have been raped or suffered sexual assault or harassment are not taken seriously because of their clothes. The converse side of a woman being classy because she covers up is that a woman who doesn't is 'asking for it' or being 'provocative'.

    I don't mean to say that anyone on this blog, and certainly not yourself Gertie, supports this kind of mentality but if we're discussing experiences of women being treated better when they dress in a way that shows less skin, I think it is important to be aware of the potential reverse effect.

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  65. Well, the only men who comment on my clothes are old men. And I mean old enough to be my grandfather. It's nice when it gets them reminiscing...not so much when they try to hit on me. A bit awkward.

    I don't think I dress for me. Perhaps some might argue on some subconscious level I am (who knows?) but when I look in the mirror before I go out I don't think 'I wonder how many men will find me attractive today?' I think 'I look hot. Go me.' Or something like it.

    If I was dressing to 'ensnare' a man, as it were, I would probably have changed ages ago as I get hit on a LOT less now that I dress this way. Not that I care about getting hit on at all but I do notice these things. ;]

    Can't remember what else I was going to say but I don't really care if men like it or not.

    -Andi x

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  66. I am an engineer & so have spent the last 10 years of my life in fairly male dominated arenas. As a result it's not uncommon to be treated as 'one of the guys' and see some insight into what they think, (granted the guys that I have studied & worked are all engineers as well & fashion isn't necessary the highest item on their agendas). To put it very bluntly, what I have noticed more often than not, is that guys don't notice what girls wear unless they dress inappropriately (i.e. super skimpy clothes at work & the like).
    This doesn't mean that they don't notice that you look nice or pretty or that you've put in extra effort that day, they do. The guys I know though just don't notice the details. It's not that your wearing a 50s style suit with nipped in waist & full skirt. You could be wearing an equivalently smart modern suit, it's that you look smart, you've gone one (or maybe two or three) steps further than the girl who just threw on a shirt & pants with no thought to it at all.
    I think I've rambled a little here, but in the end, my point is, in my experience men don't necessarily notice exactly what you wear, but they do notice when you've put in the extra time to look nice & taken pride in what you're wearing. Perhaps the attention you get for 'vintage dressing' has less to do with the style of clothes your wearing & more to do with the pride you take in wearing them.

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  67. Maya said it all, I think.
    "While acting more chivalrous seems pretty harmless, the association between a woman's clothes, her sexuality, and the respect given to her by others seems to be pretty central to cases where women who have been raped or suffered sexual assault or harassment are not taken seriously because of their clothes. The converse side of a woman being classy because she covers up is that a woman who doesn't is 'asking for it' or being 'provocative'."

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  68. my boyfriend loves to see me in vintage style dresses and thinks it's extremely sexy. he enjoys the fact that i look classy and stylish, and not like any other girl on the high street. reactions from guys on the street are all different, ususally they don't really notice me but as soon as i'm a bit dolled up i get quite a lot of looks!

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  69. who cares what guys think! It's when a coworker compliments the tiny piping I inserted into the collar of a crepe blouse that I feel most flattered! Women appreciate the intricacies and unique style inherent to sewing your own fashions. Even women who don't sew, notice and admire and their envy is worth a ton of whistles from any construction scaffold. Rock on Gertie!

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  70. Interesting question. I think men appreciate effort, any effort, as they can imagine it is for their benefit! The rest is personal preference. I do find that cat-calls increase with a vintage shape and red lips, but more along the lines of 'Hello Angel' and 'Morning, gorgeous' than anything offensive - which is fine by me...

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  71. i really appreciate this post, i garner the same reactions from men (and women) when i wear vintage and it always makes me quite happy and assuages my penchant for thinking the
    "whole world has just gone to pot".

    but i so love talking to women about clothing even moreso, you're so right!

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  72. I've thought about this more now after reading other comments, and I think it is important not to overlook the use of fetish triggers in vintage style. Heels, stockings, even tattoos (I'm not being mean, I like tattoos.) Think Dita. Somebody else mentioned Bettie Page, and a few Marilyn - these are bonafide sex symbols and we should probably own up to this element in our dress if we choose to wield its power! I'm not suggesting that it is all about sex, but it's there, you know?

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  73. In my experience, most men who find vintage sexy are very much like the guys who think marrying an exotic woman will get them a domestic slave. It's not so much the clothes they appreciate, as the fantasy of a submissive woman, one who knows her place and will stay there. I'm old enough to remember the 50s, and believe me it was not a good time for women.

    I'd be all for wearing a miniskirt if that's the signal to men that they should watch their step with me. But that's totally untrue, I don't dress so heteronormatively, and they get the point just fine. There is a happy middle, you can dress nicely without showing your butt, and also without wearing dresses like your grandma. Vintage doesn't necessarily mean feminine exaggeration - think Katherine Hepburn. Till the late 60s we wore skirts to school and work because they were -mandatory-, not because we liked them.

    Totally agree with Maya that if a guy shows respect proportional to square inches of skin not displayed, he's a guy you want to avoid. And a woman who wears hijab 'from her own choice' these days is still just dressing as a fundamentalist, so shouldn't be surprised if people react negatively to that. This is not more pleasant in female or exotic versions.

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  74. As you may have noticed (since I tagged you in the post) I have shared the link to this entry on www.sailorettes.com 's facebook fan page. I absolutely agree with you! I will not shun the burlesque trend, which I must admit is preferable to the downright vulgar alternative, but I think we are losing track of what looking beautiful and glamourous is all about! And of course, what you don't see will be what arouses more curiosity on the other part - in this case, in a world where it's alright to wear big cleavages and short dresses or shorts (and thank god, it was about time women could choose to wear whatever they liked without being immediatly tagged as sexual-attention seeking or an object while the male gender never suffered such discrimination) sometimes not showing any cleavage or leg at all can be refreshing. I think dressing for other women does apply in social terms, of course we want to make a good impression when meeting others, but first of all we are looking to please ourselves - for the ultimate aproval that we feel gorgeous in our own bodies, and that our clothes enhance our natural beauty in a way we are comfortable with. What men (or woman!) wouldn't find this kind of confidence and consistency attractive?!

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  75. Wow, so many great comments, opinions and feelings! Bravo Ladies and Gentlemen...if this gathering has anything to say about our lives and our world, as it is reflected in fashion and style, it will be passionate. Passion fuels everything, no one wants to be boring:)

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  76. The majority of compliments I've gotten on my clothes have been from women who want to know where I buy or how I make my vintage dresses. And while compliments from any gender are always nice (as long as they are compliments and not some stranger shouting at me on the street) the one thing that really really bothers me is the type of men and women who say things to me when I'm dressing vintage about how I look like a 'real' lady or who make comments like "men like it so much more when you leave things to the imagination", or "you are so much better than those girls who have no pride in themselves and let it all hang out".
    I'm sure some people find these things complementary but to me they are very insulting and make me feel uncomfortable. Part of it is the notion that women who don't dress a certain way aren't "real ladies" because they don't conform to what some people consider prim and proper. Part of it is the assumption that I am (or should) be getting dressed with male approval in mind. And part of is is the fact that they often insinuate that women who dare to show more skin somehow don't take pride in themselves or are desperate or insecure. You see, I only dress in vintage 50% of the time. I have varied tastes in clothing, and an interest in fashion and that leaves me with a wardrobe with full knee length skirts, but also skinny jeans, and tight minis. No matter which one of these I'm wearing, or how much skin I'm showing, I'm still proud of myself and confident. It really grates on my nerves to hear that people would think there's something wrong with me or that I'm 'slutty' just because some days I dare to show a little leg. I don't do it to be empowering (although that's fine too), and I don't do it for sexual attention (that would creep me out), I just don't view my legs or the curves of my body to be purely sexual things and as such I wear my clothes based on how much I like the style.
    I realize I'm rambling a bit but I just find it so unfortunate that wearing vintage clothing leads me to meet men an women who feel the need to tell me that they disapprove of women who have different clothing styles than they do, particularly as its always vaguely tinged with slut shaming, or based on the idea that a woman who shows more skin is somehow more sexual, or inviting of sexual attention (and the idea that that is a bad thing). How much or how little clothing I (or any other woman) wear does not determine how much of a lady I am, or how worthy or respect I am.

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  77. sorry for the triple post!! The last one is the most complete.

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  78. Whenever I wear vintage or vintage-inspired clothing and hair, I get more compliments and comments from people, both women and men, old and young, than when I wear jeans and a t-shirt. I suppose these people find it interesting to see someone dressed this way...and vintage dress is just so PRETTY and FEMININE. How can they not like it? ;)

    BTW, I dress for me. Not even for other women. My boyfriend generally likes what I wear though.

    Great post, Gertie!

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  79. I was wondering what the answer to this question was myself. I have actually experienced something different in wearing vintage styles. I work in an all women office but I meet with men (mostly pastor's or people in jobs dealing with ministry). The times I have worn a vintage inspired outfit they don't comment at all about my attire. However when I wear a modern business get up I constantly get comments (oh that color is nice, you look very pretty, etc.) I have not asked my husband yet, but I was thinking men didn't like the vintage look or they were intimidated by the more structured feminine style in the workplace.

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  80. Please DON'T STOP using "academic jargon"! I really love the intellect in the comments of your readers and I thank you for encouraging it.

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  81. Eilidh Head said "Your dress should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose enough to show you're a lady."

    Being a woman is biological, being a lady is personal. Do men find both attractive? Yes. Perhaps vintage dresses just get the satorical expression balanced right.

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  82. Do men find vintage sexy? A fascinating question, and one I put to the test directly at when I attended a BDSM/fetish ball last year.

    I was tired of all my leather-and-straps gear, of the corset-over-black-base-garments. It didn't feel fresh to me any more. So, I dressed to the nines in a 1940s-style retro outfit, complete with a tiny veiled hat and period makeup. I am curvy; there was CLEAVAGE.

    Despite this, I was, as others have observed, treated like a lady. I was also treated like a dominatrix, which isn't really my thing...

    I'm also fascinated by all the declarations that the vintage-sexy thing is "heteronormative." Lesbian culture in Western countries in the 1920s through the 1960s was often based on butch/femme dynamics, and queer history books are full of photos of dazzling retro femmes. Going in a "sexy vintage" look to a lesbian event would be very well received!

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  83. Great post and great comments. I was in WalMart school shopping and I saw the anthesis of vintage. It was what appeared to be a mom and her 8ish yr old son. She was wearing a short romper and when she walked you could easily see her buttocks. I felt embarrased for her son for many reasons. Its so much better to leave SOMETHING to the imagination.

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  84. Vintage is in, and yet vintage is always sexy. When someone wears clothes that shows their personality and individualism, it makes them look good. Sometime for men trying to look good in vintage, a tie can be a bit of a downer. They can slip out of their knot and change your whole style and they way people interpret your wear. That's why I use this great tie accessories called the Tie Snug that makes sure my tie is always tight and looking great.

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  85. Florence King, in describing her own body image issues in comparing herself to the 1950's ideal, once wrote that "tits just weren't up to snuff unless you could use them to poke out Glouchester's eye in King Lear." I'll never forget the sentence. Aggressively pointed, indeed!

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  86. Well of COURSE men find you sexy in that vintage inspired red linen suit you made - you look hot! And of course we dress for women - men just see the hot, women see the hot AND the sytle. Awesome style, lady!

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  87. I reread this post and its comments recently, and found myself typing a brief comment--which became a multi-paragraph response--which became a lengthy blog post--which became a sort of manifesto. It's an inspiring topic and I apparently have a lot to say about it!

    In any case, my thoughts on the subject are here:

    http://somethingsihavemade.blogspot.com/2011/06/why-sew-vintage-manifesto.html

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  88. I am not to sure that it is simply vintage that men find sexy. Classy, feminine, and stylish will always be sexy whether vintage or not.

    Just started reading your blog as a man newly returned to sewing, learnt by watching my mother many years ago and now trying to relearn to sew for my family.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Regards,
    Richard

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  89. Vintage will never go out of style. It's a matter of time before it makes a come back with today's youth.

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  90. I wore a 50s shirt waist dress and heels to the grocery store. A very sweet elderly lady said to me "It’s so nice to see a lady dressed up to go shopping". I believe that's the answer. Taking time to get ready and look like a lady is not a priority in this day and age. Women just throw on jeans, t-shirts, and flip flops and go. A dress, vintage or modern, is feminine and sexy. It says I made an effort to get ready and to look pretty. Men like that so naturally they are going to notice a lady in a dress and heels.

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  91. Since retro covers any period between the 1920′s to the 1980′s, you can choose to wear different eras every week or even every day, or you can stick to just one era.Dress the way you wanted it.Each of us has it's own fashion.

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    No need for suit hire Canberra for special occasions when Overhsip will save hundreds over a suit hire Canberra store. Formal Suits from $79 save on suit hire

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  93. I like the dress elegantly, feminine, sexy. For myself, ofcourse, because I feel more ready to take on the world when I look good. Something less to worry about, I guess. It makes me feel more secure, more strong, more capable. Buy Cialis Silly maybe, but still, it does.

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  94. As a man I can say vintage has this interesting effect on men, It is very reminiscent subliminally of the females from their growing up. It is a symbol that is very Freudian at its core, but very relevant.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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