People get totally the wrong idea if I tell them that I like the feeling of being restrained. I definitely don’t mean bondage. If anyone tied me up I’d be hysterical. I don’t even like someone blocking the doorway. What I’m actually talking about is vintage menswear.

There’s nothing quite as invigorating for the spine as a well tailored three piece suit. A firm waistcoat forces you to have good deportment and denies you the ability to slouch. It may be tiring to wear but the effect on those sagging stomach muscles is worth the effort. If I could get away with wearing whalebone corsets I would. What’s the odd fainting episode when you can look taller, slimmer and have better carriage?
Vintage clothing has boomed in recent years with the good people of the land fingering their way through rails of old tweed and taffeta which has a lingering smell of pre-war pre-deodorant armpit. The side parting is back and Brylcreem is no longer the drug of choice for the over seventies only. Forget garish patterns, how about the natural beauty of an ancient stain on a pair of 1930s slacks? The well dressed men about town are sporting leather satchels and fine brogues which would have met with approval from even the most disapproving granny. There’s even a resurgence of the cravat and pipe smoking.
I, personally, can’t get enough of it. I’ve got tie racks groaning with 50s rayon, vintage waistcoats and am never ashamed to wear a good quality tank-top. My tweed collection is getting out of hand, I have horn-rimmed glasses and I’ve even considered (but rejected) growing a handlebar moustache. Most large towns in the U.K. are now awash with vintage clothing shops, vintage fairs and markets. It’s become a whole subculture which has begun to creep even into the mainstream. The psychological and social reasons behind growing nostalgia for the past aren’t hard to fathom. We’re always going to be inclined to look back on past times with some degree of rose tinting, especially during difficult times. That’s fine by me; as long as we don’t forget that as well as the 1950s being a time of fine tailoring and clear diction we also remember that we gays were living secret lives in fear of persecution and imprisonment.
My only complaint about the whole vintage movement is that the definition is just too broad. I remember the eighties (aka the decade that taste forgot) and really don’t want that dragging back into the world again. It was bad enough seeing all that Lycra the first time.
I like the idea that fashion has become more eclectic and more forgiving. So what if your clothes are 70 years old? They’re better for it (providing you’ve dry cleaned them and given them a thorough fumigation). It’s good that we can choose what we buy; whether current fashions float your boat or you’re happier giving a nod to previous eras it’s all fine, provided it’s done with enough aplomb.
I’ll never let the whole vintage styling thing take over my life though…Oh, would you be so kind as to excuse me? I think my bowtie needs straightening and my Babycham is getting flat. I must get ready for the weekly jitterbug contest too. Toodle pip old chum.

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About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.

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