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At What Point Does it Become Costume?

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Canadian, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    For me, it becomes costume when you're wearing it not because you like it or it's comfortable, but because how others perceive you is all that matters. It's costume when some women insist on wearing a fur coat at Summer events "Because it's vintage" (and often because it's an excuse to wear newer fur in a setting where they won't be questioned on it), despite the temperature making it wildly inappropriate. It's costume when some men wear spectators / co-respondents in Winter. It's costume when men wear a hat.... and fail to remove it when appropriate (i.e. during dinner, at a dance, or similar). It's costume when you spend an hour putting on your best suit to go do the groceries.
     
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  2. Zoukatron

    Zoukatron One of the Regulars

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    Whilst well put, I would make something of an argument against this particular idea. If clothing, even vintage, is particular both of a past period of history and of present day, then it's not historical costume. It would only become historical costume if combined with other items not particular to the present day.
     
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  3. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    That's very well put.

    The definition of costume is much broader than the Cambridge definition - dressing as Abraham Lincoln or as a 12th Century archer is also a costume. Costume also includes an actor's dress as a character. It's this last one that fits the OP's question. People who dress in period at odds with the others around them often appear to be dressed up as a character and may seem to be playing a role rather than being themselves. A Zoot suit at a job interview, for instance. When a person is palpably lacking in authenticity they can really stick out and annoy others. Some period outfits fall into this category.
     
  4. MondoFW

    MondoFW A-List Customer

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    [​IMG]
    Here's a summer outfit I posted in the shoe thread. Other than the fact that I look very beaten down by the helluva day I had, this doesn't beg too much for attention, the only bold move being the spectators. This outfit is entirely true vintage; 40's specs, 50's gabardine slacks and a 50's sports shirt. It was very well received, and it wasn't too big of a step out of the loop of modern wear, like some vintage enthusiasts try to pursue. I'm not trying to brag about my outfit here (which honestly makes me look like a rockabilly hoodlum who hustles the hubcaps from my neighbor's car), the point is that all true vintage CAN work, but the pieces must be timeless and work with each other.
     
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  5. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

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    @Seb Lucas, you got me again! I am a grandstanding narcissist! Lol!

    Seriously though, there are days when I'm in the mood for it and days when I'm not. There are days when I wear the clothes and feel like me, and days when I don't because I feel like the clothes would be wearing me (if that makes any sense).
     
    Benny Holiday likes this.
  6. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    You shouldn't worry what others think, your spectators are beautiful, you might think that they are bold, simply because against the modern idiom of the ubiquitous trainer, they actually look both different and fantastic. I guess youth still has peer pressure.
    What you might like to go with your fifties ensemble are a pair of Gibsons. These are shoes from the 1950's that took the two tone from correspondents and spectator shoes, but changed the styling. I have three pairs of Gibsons, these are the blue and cream ones.
    old photos 570.JPG
     
    gamez32, hatsRme, shadowrider and 4 others like this.
  7. MondoFW

    MondoFW A-List Customer

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    GHT, thank you for the compliments on the shoes. I don't typically fancy the styling of Gibsons, and am attracted to the more elegant lines and shaping of pre-1950's spectators. My father wore Gibsons back in the day (what teenager didn't?), but he usually preferred the same styles I also do. I feel they're more versatile and much more unique and eye-catching than the rock-and-roll era of two-tone shoes.
     
  8. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday Call Me a Cab

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    I can relate to this very well Big J. I especially remember times in my mid and late teens when there were days I just didn't want to go through the hassle of being the only rockabilly kid for ten miles around. I didn't comb my hair like Tony Curtis and wear the clothes for attention, I wore them because I loved (not liked, loved) that style, but it sure grabbed a lot of attention living out in the western fringes of Sydney. At my high school, you had to conform to the standard of everyone else, the sheep mentality: long hair, flannel cotton shirt hanging open over a Megadeath T-shirt, stonewash jeans. You had to fight to break the mold, and I mean literally fight. And so over time, because other people saw what I wore as being so different, the clothes I thought of as being natural and fun to wear sometimes felt like a costume, like the jeans or pegged pants and leather jacket were wearing me and not the other way around. In other words, I began to feel self-conscious about my appearance rather than feel just comfortable being myself.

    There are days, rare days, when I feel like that again. Sometimes I just don't feel like attracting the attention wearing a 40s-inspired suit and fedora inevitably bring me. But most days I'm happy to stand out, making a statement that it is right and proper to dress nicely in an age of slobs (see photo posted earlier by GHT), a little bit of rebellion against the common attitude of our times.

    Oh, and MondoFW, that's a great look!

    This is my everyday sort of attire, at a recent long service awards ceremony at work. It's just how I like to dress, but of course to some people it's only going to ever look 'costumey':

    Long Service 30 years 2.jpg
     
  9. MondoFW

    MondoFW A-List Customer

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    Thanks much, Benny. As for your suit, it doesn't even look passe, so i don't know where the costume feedback comes from, unless you're leaving out some gaudy vintage accessories for the picture. It's a well-fitted, tasteful and classic style. I would love a brown striped suit myself.
     
  10. Big J

    Big J Call Me a Cab

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    Looking pretty sharp there Benny. It's good.

    I think that because I live in Japan and stick out like a sore thumb, I've both become desensitized to people looking at me, and more flamboyant than I was back home.
    Years ago when I started dating my wife, one of her friends commented that my wife would would 'sort out my fashion sense, and make me stylish'. I was tacken aback because I thought I was doing ok, but it put me on a track to make more effort and take more care over how I look, and now I want to thought of as stylish, I guess. My kids give me a hard time sometimes about it, but I think my wife likes that I haven't 'let myself go' and still make the effort. It shows that I still care about our free time together, I think. I feel good, but it's kind of respectful to her too. A lot of middle aged married men just look like they've given up. And yeah, I do get a kick out of her friends noticing that I still care enough when their husbands don't even give birthday presents.
    I guess that's a kind of old-fashioned way of thinking, but I want to set a good example to my daughters too.
    Good manners, well dressed, confident and good old fashioned romance, why not?
     
  11. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

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    I've been thinking about this question a lot lately, certainly more so than five years ago when I wore vintage or vintage inspired clothing every day.

    I think whether or not something is costume depends on a combination of:
    1. The items and combination of items worn. For example, clothing like zoot suits is always likely to look costumey.

    2. The occasion the clothes are worn to. Wearing morning dress to a beach party will look like a costume, wearing morning dress to a royal wedding will not.

    3. The demeanour of the person. Patrick Hall looks like he would look perfectly natural wearing a suit to meet friends at a bar, other people who rarely wear suits would look uncomfortable and as though they're in a costume.

    I try to balance these factors in what I wear day to day. I'm not particularly bothered over whether I look "period accurate" in what I wear, I just try to look well dressed without being too overdressed. I also tend to mix vintage or vintage inspired pieces with modern clothing. For example, the fedora and tie in my avatar picture are vintage while the suit is modern (made to measure with some vintage inspired details), along with the shirt and shoes. I was visiting San Diego when that picture was taken although it's a very casual city I didn't feel as though I was in a costume.

    But (these days) I feel equally comfortable in a pair of black modern jeans, a shirt and a leather jacket as I do in a suit and I expect most people can tell. That probably helps to show people that when I wear a suit and fedora I'm doing it for myself rather than because I look down on people who dress casually.
     
  12. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

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    Pretty much my feelings, exactly.^
     
    -30- likes this.
  13. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    My previous posts might have come across as, well at least argumentative, the reason being is because I have come up against what I call the thought police a few times during my life. Early on in our marriage there was the question of babies, when are they going to happen? Later, from family, and a few of my wife's ambulance colleagues, there were snide remarks about just two people living in a rather large house. Recently our peers can't understand why I don't retire, well meaning though some remarks are, it's still intrusive. So I guess that my style of dress has been on social media from time to time.

    Now I grant you that the length of the zoot suit jacket is not something that you see very often, but my zoot suit was made to measure, it's a rich wool, dark blue pin stripe that I have worn out in a crowd on a few occasions. It certainly stops the hub-bub of general conversation as I walk past. How often it's featured on social media is lost on me, I have never signed up to any of the popular sites. So in reality, if anyone (not here,) wants to make a negative remark, and for all I care, pepper it with a string of obscene profanities, let them, I'll never even see it.
    zoot.jpg
     
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  14. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday Call Me a Cab

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    I'm right there with you GHT.
    Wes zoot 1 - Copy.jpg
     
  15. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Way to go benny, that is one sharp suit, I love it. Tell me, is there one of John B Stetson's finest to top out that impressive look?
     
    Benny Holiday likes this.
  16. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday Call Me a Cab

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    Thanks mate, I thought I'd give a double-breasted zoot a try. I do have an Akubra Stockman in medium grey to wear with it. It has a 3 inch brim and a porkpie crown and fits the bill. Always great to see pics if you in your fine clobber here but especially your zoot. Not enough of them seen here anymore.
     
  17. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    That Stockman sounds like the perfect choice to top out your amazing double breasted zoot. I've had an eye on a Stockman priced at $170AU, that's about £95, great value, but the shipping costs and import duty are horrendous. I'm keeping an eye on local traders to see what turns up.
    akubra stockman.jpg

    Your double breasted zoot hangs so well and the reason I didn't go in for D/B is my weight. Since my hip replacement, I've been advised to lose the belly, it does make sense, but it's so damn difficult. My last D/B suit is a replica of my father's 1948 demob suit, you can see the belly straining at the buttons.
    IMG_0093.JPG
     
  18. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday Call Me a Cab

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    Is the new version of a PM called a Conversation now on the Lounge? If so I will send you a message about that Stockman GHT.

    What a brilliant idea for a suit that DB is! Actually in that photo you look as sharp as a tack. As always your shoes, hat and tie look just as great as the suit. I reckon your Dad would've been right proud.

    I hope things have been much better for you since the hip replacement.
     
  19. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Good point, I wonder if anyone considers the ladies clothes to look like they are wearing a costume?
    In this photo you can see my missus in a dress that she made from an original 1930's pattern. Not a style that you see today, but I reckon that she could walk down any High Street and look the part.
    005.JPG
    Or maybe in black & white for period authenticity:
    Tina.jpg
     
  20. Zoukatron

    Zoukatron One of the Regulars

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    She certainly wouldn't look out of place today. Especially actually TODAY, as I've seen loads of ladies dressed up for street parties celebrating the royal wedding.
     
    Benny Holiday likes this.

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