I’ve been a big know-it-all for quite some time now. Well, actually, I was a bigger know-it-all when I was younger. Now the older I get, the less I know, and the happier I am about that! I think I could write about ten more paragraphs on that mind shift alone but it’s only because I’m trying to delay telling you how wrong I’ve been for so long.
This is what I said to audiences and in print while in my late 30s, early 40s (cringe, cringe):
As you age, don’t wear vintage. Vintage on older women makes them look older. Save that look for the young people.
There’s a chorus line of vintage lovers in my head right now (“I’m eating my words! I love you guys!”) who are reading this and shaking their heads. I’m glad this is a blog and you can’t throw your homegrown organic tomatoes at me.
Fast forward to current time: If vintage was a political party, I’d be leaning in. I can’t leave my modern political party altogether, but I have much more understanding of why people march for the vintage party.
“Duh,” you say. “You just noticed? We’ve seen this coming for a while, Brenda.”
Inching ever closer to joining the vintage party
You’re right. Here’s me this spring in my yellow vintage coat purchased at an antique collective in Novato. I love the color, the silhouette, the way it reminds me of Mother, the way it feels on my body, the pockets, and the made up story I have (it could be true!) that the person who originally wore it had a lot of fun in it, and now I do, too. (Falling Hard for the Color Yellow is here.)
And here I am carrying a vintage python bag that I used to only use for table decorations at home Oscar parties or to decorate a shelf in my office. One day I looked at it and thought, Why am I not bringing this out into the world? Now it travels with me on client shopping trips, lunch with friends, and waffles on Saturday with Russ at the Sunflower Cafe on the Sonoma Plaza.
Here I’m wearing a vintage hat that a client was going to toss after her 96-year-old mother passed away. It was so pretty; I couldn’t bear the thought of it losing its place in life. My client said, “You like it, why don’t you take it?” Okay, I said. I found a companion for the hat when I discovered this vintage blue sparkly brooch at the Petaluma Antique Faire. So you can see, I’ve been slipping over to the vintage side for a short while now!
(More about the anatomy of this outfit, mixing vintage with modern.)
It was love at first sight when I spotted the vintage Louis Vuitton bag at SAX
So let’s pedal forward to this month. Caitlin called from work enticing me to stop by her and her sister’s consignment store in San Anselmo, SAX. What was she using for bait? A slice of her homemade peach-nectarine pie. Now who says no to that? Not me!
While I was having my slice of pie, I looked over at the mirror on the wall behind their front counter. This LV bag was hanging off of it. With each bite of pie, I’d look over at it again and again.
“Caitlin, can I see that bag?” I said. She handed it to me. I put it over my shoulder and the fit and size was perfect. I’ve never had an interest in having a logo bag like this but there was something about the fact that it was older and a bit worn at the edges that endeared me to it.
Erin, the other half of the sister team at SAX, had stopped by for pie as well. I showed her the bag on me. “What do you think?”
She said, “Well, it looks good on you!”
Before I purchased it, Erin wanted me to be sure I saw that the fabric on the inside pocket was a bit worn. Then she pointed out the leather corners of the bag and how they weren’t perfect, like maybe they’d encountered water and gotten stained. While inspecting the bag Erin’s words got fainter while my inner voice got louder. I was having a conversation in my head while Erin was disclosing all of its “as is” qualities. My hand was lovingly placed on the front of the bag. I was telling it, “It’s okay, Sweetie, I love you just the way you are!”
I’m in my 60s. Along with not having to be such a no-it-all all the time, things don’t have to be perfect either. They can be good enough.
My heart did a switch-er-oo and suddenly I was talking to myself in that same loving and accepting way. “Brenda, you’re imperfect and a bit worn around the edges; you’re showing your age. And it’s okay. I love you, just the way you are.” My eyes glazed over with tears as I pretended to be paying attention to Erin. Even as I recall that moment now, the tears are back and falling on the keyboard, harder now. In my mind I see myself walking through the tough and lonely times in my life, times when even I wasn’t on my side.
I want to give myself a big hug and say, “It’s okay, Sweetie. It’s okay, I’m here.”
It’s easy to love others and to love things, but how often do we feel love and kindness for ourselves? Something about accepting the imperfection of this bag has opened a conversation with my older and maybe wiser self…I’m letting love in.
On my first day of carrying my new-old LV bag, I slipped into jeans and a linen blouse. I used one of Russ’ ties as a belt. When we got home from having waffles at Sunflower Cafe I pulled out my copy of The Art of Dressing: Ageless, Timeless, Original Style by the famously vintage-loving Tziporah Salamon. I attended a workshop of hers in San Francisco in January. I was so impressed. When her book came out in April I bought several copies for friends.
I sat on the porch devouring every image and every word. I’m eager to learn about the art of dressing from people who do it differently than I do. Along with that, I want to explore the art of loving myself. I think that’s a bi-partisan effort that we could all get behind. Shall we call a vote?