1. ‘Vintage‘ for anything pre-21st century.
I’m sorry, I don’t care what etsy says, 1993 is NOT ‘vintage’. I sewed clothes that I can still wear in 1993. I’m pretty sure I’m not old enough to be vintage. Even if it’s 1960s it’s NOT vintage, it’s retro. Equally, nothing post 1920 is ‘antique‘, it’s just vintage. And you know what, there is a really good reason to have these classifications. They make life easier. It really sucks to be searching for vintage 1930s patterns and having to slog through pages and pages of 1980s blouses and 1960s mod dresses. There is nothing wrong with retro items – retro is a wonderful classification. Some of my favourite things are retro. But they aren’t vintage! So do the world a favour and don’t call anything made after 1920 ‘antique, anything made after 1959 ‘vintage’ (personally, I think it should be ’55), and don’t call anything made after 1990 ‘retro’.
2. Back in the day.’ Back in what day?
Back in the day…
3. In olden times‘ Which olden times? I’m always tempted to contridict any sentence starting with either #2 or #3 with “Actually, back in the day/in olden times (insert completely accurate historical fact that refutes whatever was just said and comes from a completely random period) happened”. It’s equally true!
In olden times (in a galaxy far away)…
4. ‘ ‘Flapper’ for any woman in a 1920s dress. This term bugs me for three reasons. First, it’s hideously overused. Any term used that much is going to become loathe-worthy.
On a more academic level, what the average punter thinks a ‘flapper’ is has very little to do with what a flapper was in the 1920s. In America, a flapper was simply the modern woman: fun-loving, playful, liberated, fashionable and luxury focused, but in a simple, streamlined fashion. This is a flapper. She certainly wasn’t overly provocative and promiscuous. This is not a flapper. Ironically, half of the images labelled ‘flapper’ on the internet get it closer to right in depict women in (for the standards of the time) perfectly conservative, modest, not at all outrageous, dress, but that’s only because the labelers appear to think that those were outrageous outfits in 1925! In reality, wearing bobbed hair and a knee length skirt in 1924 no more made you a flapper than wearing a plaid flannel in the 1990s made you a lumberjack.
Furthermore, while they were aware of the American meaning from films, ‘flapper’ did not mean at all the same thing in the UK, NZ, & Australia. The term was first heard in the 1900s as a slang for a busybody or a gossip – someone, usually but not always, a woman, whose mouth ‘flapped’. This usage was quickly replaced by ‘flapper’ as a description for a slightly mischievous and precocious (in an entirely non-sexual sense) teenage girl. The usual British flapper wore braids and a tartan school uniform – hardly our image of fringed dresses and rouged knees! So seeing British photos labelled ‘flapper’ by British historians is just, well, sad. Even in America a ‘flapper’ was more likely to be a sassy teenager than a saucy woman (the film The Flapper is literally about a naughty schoolgirl and the pranks she gets up to).
When I’m feeling particularly grumpy about the whole issue I’m tempted to start a pinterest board titled ‘This is not a flapper’ and then pin every image on Pinterest labelled ‘flapper’ to it.
5. Corset‘ for anything laced or hooked or with noticeable bodice seaming, from Renaissance gowns, to stays, to swiss waists, to modern bustiers and laced tops. Things have names, give them their name.
So yes. I’m picky. And a bit of a historical snob. And, just for tonight, feeling a bit grinchy. And I’m sure I’ve made blinding historical mistakes in my own time! But I do try to correct myself and my accuracy all the time. And at least I try to be as nice as possible when I correct mistakes. 😉