I’d Rather be Retro than Vintage

Posted on July 3, 2012


Recently, my Hubby and I were invited to a good friend’s 60th birthday bash, a retro-themed, costumed event in the neighbourhood. While I pondered whether I had really squirreled away a much-loved maxi dress from the 70’s to wear for the party (or just reminisced about it), Hubby was content to leave his costume selection in my hands. After 30+ years of marriage, he still cringes at shopping for clothes. I Googled “retro images” for ideas, and the category “vintage” also showed up. (It was a bit unsettling to be thought of as “vintage”.) As it turned out, the dismal, rainy weather forecast for the gathering proved to be the determining factor for picking my “Earth Mother” flowing skirt and peasant top, and Hubby’s sunburst, tie-dyed t-shirt, jeans and straw fedora – all courtesy of the local consignment store. Back in the 70’s, I was a studious academic, an introverted participant of life, and my Hubby was an older 20-something, conservative, geeky Brit just out of college. Now dressed in our Hippie attire, we certainly looked the part of some San Franciscan or Woodstock gathering.

Peace and love … groovy!

I found the costumes that the various couples pulled together were not only creative (doing their own tie-dyed shirts and macrame belts) but reflective of their personalities (easy-going fellas wearing comfortably worn jeans and understated tees, “party” gals going for the retro prints and bright colours). Even though I chose to wear my long, straight hair in loose curls, I was not the only female who chose to wear posies in her hair. And Hubby’s new bearded look fit right in. Strings of beads and peace symbols abounded, as well as braided headbands and wild psychedelic prints. And of course there were our favourite bands and artists from the era playing on the stereo. That was definitely a highlight for me to hear those tunes again. I felt I should find a Bic lighter and start swaying! If someone had handed me a hammer, a bag of nails and some twine, I could have crafted up a crazy string-art picture while “zoning” in the glow of a lava lamp … groooovy …

What was interesting as we were all recollecting about memories of our youths, is what trivia we retained, whether that be social events, popular pastimes, first jobs, clothing, cars, or food. (Heck, I have a hard time remembering what was on the calendar last week for heaven’s sake!) Those that grew up in large urban areas had a different perspective than individuals who’d spent those years primarily based in small town settings. What was a common thread, though, was that life was simpler for most of us back in the 70’s – the same message we likely heard from our own parents about their early life. As for the fashions of that time, they were cool at the time, but nobody in our group seemed keen on resurrecting anything other than sandals and bare feet.

What a great way to celebrate a birthday!

Life has a way of getting more complicated as we age. Each successive generation is more technically savvy and better educated than their parents. The great expectations of my Boomer generation were sometimes lost and often questioned. For all its “Make Love not War” mantra, there have been plenty of world struggles in our time. There have, however, also been some remarkable movements in world unity and charity. It’s up to each of us, on his or her own timeline, to figure out how to find a balance, to strive for harmony and contentment, to live in accord with Mother Earth. And to continue to teach our children from our experiences.

Gee – I guess I am a Hippie deep down in my core, even if I didn’t look much like one at the time! It was fun to dress up and wander back to that time. But Hubby and I are grandparents now and that’s a bit sobering.  I am just a bit distressed thinking that in another decade or so, the good ol’ 70’s may be classified as a “vintage” era and “retro” will be something completely different. Only time will tell.