A Pretty Nostalgic Society
The best place to accompany your vintage lifestyle?
In recent years there has been a noticeable resurgence in the popularity of vintage fashion, styles and events; the popularity of ‘Blitz Parties’, films such as The Great Gatsby and the ever increasing popularity (and value) of classic cars are just a few examples of this.
This could perhaps be in part due to the social environment surrounding us: the 50s are a pretty popular point of fashion to emulate at the moment- a time when the country was newly out of a hugely costly war and everyone was tightening their belts to save that extra bit of money. Sound familiar?
And that is the crux of the Pretty Nostalgic Society- their motto is “Spend Wisely. Waste Less. Appreciate More.” The Pretty Nostalgic Society was launched at this year’s Goodwood Revival (what better place?) and is a celebration of everything that was great about the early 20th century including cookery, craftsmanship, fashion and beauty, all on the sensible and affordable budget that makes it practical.
The Pretty Nostalgic society has been the brainchild of Nicole Burnett, who started the society off as a newsstand magazine in 2012, which always had a strong sense of community. In her own words:
“We have always had a very strong ethos and made a point of only featuring and promoting British made and genuine vintage and upcycled goods, but we soon decided to drop all advertising so we could concentrate on quality original content and last year we decided to make a break from the newsstand altogether. We decided that our core readership was our reason for being and that their interests should be first priority. I didn’t want to play the games other magazines do, pandering to shareholders, creating features specifically to attract advertising revenue and publishing second-hand content to please other book publishers.”
* “It soon became clear that we had wonderfully talented readers who had between them enough feature ideas for the next 100 years and our readers were so involved and felt so strongly about what we do that they wanted us to become more than just a magazine. Earlier this year I was having problems keeping the magazine going, I was really struggling to get to print and made a rash decision to open up to my readers, tell the troubles I was having, the realities of publishing and asked them whether Pretty Nostalgic should continue. *
I was totally overwhelmed by the wonderful response I had, there was a very passionate agreement that we had to keep going, so at that point I decided this has to be about more than me and my business, we had to do this as a community and so The Pretty Nostalgic Society was born… We now publish the Pretty Nostalgic Compendium quarterly, all our contributors are members and we do all we can to support British made , handcrafted, antique and vintage good and independent shops and businesses– we have huge plans and together I really feel we can make a difference.”
We spoke to Nichole about Pretty Nostalgic, vintage fashion and the resurgence of the 'do it yourself' culture.
Picollecta: Actors, musicians and entertainers all seem to be getting on board and wearing vintage styles at the moment- why do you think that current fashion trends seem to be so heavily inspired by the 40s/ 50s?
Nichole Burnett: “…it is almost an instinctive reaction to growing older, we are drawn like magnets to objects which connect us to our recent family past and childhoods, but now we not only want the everyday objects of the period, but also the clothes too.
I think there are a few reasons for this, firstly the fashions of the 40s and 50s are still very wearable today, a person would have looked very odd in the 1970s walking around town in an original 1880s bustle dress, but wearing an original 1950s outfit today will draw admiring looks, but doesn’t make quite the same statement, also I think that in the last 60 years life has changed beyond most people’s comfort zones and clinging to gentler more nostalgic times is very reassuring and nowadays it has become more than just a fashion or a following of style, it is almost a social movement which people want to totally immerse in. So many choose to mimic lots of aspects of a vintage period as possible and clothing is a huge part of that and allows you to connect very quickly with other people who feel the same way.”
P: The Pretty Nostalgic Society’s maxim is very much in the spirit of the age of austerity- “spend wisely, waste less, appreciate more.” When the money is tight people often spend less on clothing, what advice would you suggest for people that are shopping on a tight budget?
NB: “I think there is more to it than just saving money – after all you can pop along to most High Street Fashion stores and spend less money buying a brand new outfit than you can buying a second hand one from a vintage store or even a charity shop. Pretty Nostalgic living rebels against cheap tat fashion, and especially vintage-style tat fashion, which as far as I am concerned is just awful. For me spending wisely could mean spending £500 on a beautiful British made tweet jacket, which will last a lifetime as much as it could mean scouring boot sales for bargain, buys. People really need to think about why they buy and I feel that many people if they stop and asked don’t really know.
My advice for people shopping on a tight budget is simply stop shopping and start creating. Appreciate the resources you have around you, which can be things you already own, your own talents or those of friends and family. There are so many things you can do – my favourite 1950s style dress is made from an old pair of curtains by a friend, I couldn’t make it myself but we swapped skills and both got what we wanted. Really there are so many options and if people just spend a small portion of the time they would have spent at the weekend roaming shopping centres actually creating, making and upcycling and socialising then they would all have fantastic, unique clothes, have a wonderful time and feel very proud of themselves too.”
P: At the Goodwood Revival this year, you launched the online Pretty Nostalgic Society, which exceeded its Kickstarter goal of £8,000. This would presumably mean that there are plenty of people that embrace the vintage lifestyle and are eager to join the society. Why do you think return to ‘old-school’ ideas is so popular at the moment?
NB: “The Pretty Nostalgic Society isn’t specifically intended to be about vintage style, but about recapturing the true essence of vintage and yes there do seem to be a lot of people who feel they don’t quite belong in the modern world and want to get back to a simpler and more meaningful way of life – the problem is that many of these people are hard to reach by normal marketing and so the Kickstarter was a good way for us to get our message across and prove that there were enough people out there who want to get involved. Goodwood was a great opportunity to meet lots of vintage loving people, but not all our members are the dressing-up type, they have a whole range of interests and skills and we need to engage with all of them. “Old School” ways were developed over hundreds of years and have their foundations in people working with and for the benefit of people and this can only be a positive way of living.”
P: Can you recommend any good vintage clothing shops/ ways to buy vintage clothing?
NB: “It is always good to establish a relationship with your local vintage clothing trader and that way you will have eyes all over the country looking for things you really want to buy. They will get to know you and your tastes, they will often give you a really great discount for your valued repeat business, you will gain a new friend and will get pleasure from spending your hard earned cash with a real person who will appreciate it, rather than giving it to a big High Street brand who doesn’t really care who you are or what they sell you as long as they have your money.”
P: Do you have any ‘style icons’, or indeed figures that inspire you to keep in a retro frame of mind?
NB: “I really admire people who manage a simple classic look and always look good without having a bulging wardrobe. I can’t really think of a particular person which reflects this, it is more of a generational thing and something that women in the past had to do, they bought the best quality they could afford, looked after it and then bought a few key new pieces each season to keep their look fresh. I don’t like being up-to-date or fashionable and vintage dressing is a great way if opting out without being seen as sad.”
P: Can you tell us anything about your own personal clothing collection? Do you collect anything else?
NB: “I particularly love vintage handbags and have found some lovely examples in charity shops for a few pounds – I think they really epitomise the vintage style of an era, they are highly practical and I love the little pockets with mirrors in they used to contain.”
Our thanks to Nicolle Burnet and
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