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Vintage Girls are Taking Over TikTok

People always look at you when you dress up, especially when you dress up in period clothing. They stare. Sometimes they make weird, judgemental faces when I wear a-line dresses, as if my clothing choices affect them in any way. I’ve always hoped for a community where my vintage style of dressing would be celebrated; I knew other girls like me existed, but I'd never seen them. However, this year, that changed.

There’s a subculture of women (and men) who don’t feel comfortable or confident in the styles of 2020. Instead, they look to historic actresses like Grace Kelly, Twiggy, or Elizabeth Taylor for fashion inspiration. I’ve always wanted to be one of the women who call themselves “vintage girls,” but it’s quite difficult to replace your entire wardrobe with pieces of a fairly niche style.

Vintage-inspired Instagram influencers already existed, mostly posing staged photos on the platform. However, now there are also  sophisticated, adult women making videos of their lives as vintage girls, especially on TikTok. In my opinion, an Instagram post feels less personal, more posed and disingenuous, than an Instagram reel or TikTok. 

When I looked at photos posted by “vintage” girls, I always asked myself: did they dress like that all the time, or did they just dress up for photo-ops at a soda shop? However, TikTok has shown me that, yes, a lot of women really dress vintage during their everyday lives, even if it’s just to go grocery shopping.

On TikTok, I’ve seen step-by-step dress-up guides for all audiences; these influencers not only cater their content for the general public, but also for people like me, who want to be like them. TikTokers have shown me where to buy corsets, stockings, and other “hidden” vintage accessories. One fashion historian and blogger, EternalGoddess.Uk,  dispels corset myths on social media. Don’t shame someone for wearing a corset! In case you didn’t know, corsets, when worn properly, aren’t unhealthy, nor do they “move your ribs.” 

The TikTok/Instagram community of vintage girls has also expanded to exemplify a variety of historic eras. EmilyRiboflavin, a self-proclaimed flower child, uses her Instagram to cheekily remind people that being a 60’s vamp or hippie is more than a Halloween costume; it’s her full time identity. Another Instagram model, Jasmine Chiswell, has taken her vintage life to a beautiful extreme: she dresses and lives like Marilyn Monroe. She even lives in Monroe’s former home. After seeing these women on social media, I feel more confident in dressing how I want without fearing judgement or feeling like I’m wearing a costume. 

As I’ve delved further into the realm of vintage TikTok/reels, I’ve found smaller, more independent influencers. These women show off how their collections of vintage clothing and accessories have grown through the decades. Biddy Stanford has shown me that your wardrobe grows with you – contemporary clothing I buy today can still give off a vintage feel and will someday actually be truly vintage. Not owning “real” pieces doesn’t exclude me from this community. I can buy vintage remakes from Collectif or Modcloth or even pick up pieces from Target, as long as I make them fit my aesthetic. 

TikTok has shown me that there’s a community of women like me, a place where I can fit in. TikTok and Instagram vintage girls offer advice and positivity – apparently, everyone in the vintage girl community relates to not wanting people to ask where you’re going all dressed up. There’s no gatekeeping – just a love of clothing they want to share with vintage-lovers and trendy dressers alike. Instagram reels and TikTok have provided creators with the perfect medium to offer a more personal glimpse into their wardrobes and the reasons they love vintage.

Christina is a senior at UPenn studying English. When she isn't reading books, quoting Gatsby, or singing show tunes, wishing she could hit those highs like Patti LuPone, she is definitely annoying people by correcting their grammar.
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