ACT News


Clothes maketh the men find manners

Deanne Barnes is a serious follower of vintage fashion. The McKeller resident, who was awarded best dressed at the Festival of Vintage on Sunday, spends her spare time researching, remaking and modelling period fashion.

Ms Barnes, who is particularly interested in the looks of the Dark Ages and Regency period, regularly participates in four-day Living History weekends, in which she reenacts life as it was when the fashions were originally in vogue.

''You cook, you sleep and you wear the costumes of the particular era, which you have to make as they did back then. So, there is a lot of hand stitching. It's basically like stepping back in time,'' Ms Barnes said.

Considering how far back in time her interests go, Ms Barnes looked almost futuristic in her 1950s floral swing dress and pink gloves at the Vintage Canberra markets on Sunday. Her friend Tracey Clifford of Sydney, also dressed in the 1950s style, said vintage fashion had always been popular with people interested in DIY as all the items could be tailored to fit any shape or size perfectly.

Both agree television shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire have played a big role in bring retro looks back, but vintage is proving to be a fashionable and fiscally responsible choice for those who wish to tighten their belts.

''People are becoming more aware of their money and more conscious of recycling. Many are starting to resew and reuse things more so than ever. Plus, vintage items are so well made they will last forever; which is very different to spending all your money on chain store items which last for like 10 seconds,'' Ms Barnes said.


For Tracy Rowe of Farrer, the chance to ''rediscover the art of dressing up like a lady'' is why her wardrobe of vintage fashion is growing.

''There is a need for more women, of all ages, to be dressing up and like a lady, the festival and markets like this are great as they give you a chance to meet like-minded people. Back then, whenever the women stepped out of the house they looked impeccable and I think a lot of that style and attention to detail is lacking today,'' Ms Rowe said.

The women agreed that pulling on a petticoat or and a pillbox hat is a magnet for compliments and chivalry.

''As soon as you step out the door, dressed in a style from the 1950s or '60s, people start to use manners. They open your door, it's an automatic respect thing. I don't know why it happens but it does,'' Ms Barnes said. ''Just this morning as we were lining up for the ATM, three gentlemen stopped and said 'good morning ladies'. You dress like this and people automatically start to use manners.''