Service of the Comfort of Vintage

January 23rd, 2017

Categories: Candles, Fashion, Films, Gifts, Movies, Old Fashioned Things, Vintage

Whatever “vintage” means to you—if you’re 20, 1980s films, fashion and décor might describe it while if you’re 50, it could be all things 1950. For some there’s comfort and perhaps a soothing visual to live with a grandparent’s furnishings; for others, reminiscences shared with an uncle while watching Audrey Hepburn on Turner Classic Movies brings smiles.

I thought of this after seeing “La La Land,” a movie I enjoyed. The writer/director Damien Chazelle is 31 yet he picked the 1940s/1950s romantic musical genre for the setting of his story. He added zero pyrotechnics, violence or gore and none were missed. The film set a record at the Golden Globe Awards winning seven including recognition for best motion picture—musical or comedy—performance by an actor and actress, director, screenplay, original score and original song. ran a article about what’s in or out in fashion. Nikki Ogunnaike reported we should “anticipate a shift toward contrast denim styles in vintage silhouettes.” [This look is in contrast to skin- tight jeans popular today.]

I’d saved a December, 2016 section of The Wall Street Journal‘s “Off Duty,” because of its cover story, “Presents with a Past,” that featured 50 nostalgic gifts “whose origins date back decades and beyond.” The subhead continued that the gifts will “conjure a simpler time when the holidays were lower-voltage, but just as bright.”

Speaking of voltage, most of the suggestions would burn a hole in most wallets. There was a gold bracelet by Sidney Garber reminiscent of flexible metal coils first popular in the 1930s for $12,200; a 3-day slumber party at a historic English country estate @ $15,600/night for 16; Prada’s jewel encrusted mules for $1,150; a $685 pair of retro headphones; a mink stole for $5,500 and a chauffer to drive you from Paris to Versailles in a period Citroen starting at $370.

I don’t spend that kind of money for the loved ones on my list. The Wall Street Journal editors chose a few things under $100 too. There was a box of Turkish delight [$35]; a rubber band-propelled toy car [$25]; an apron [$47]; a ‘70s popular fondue pot [$95]; traditional Belgian speculoos cookies [$20]; a Mickey Mouse wall clock featuring a 1930s style rodent [$65], and an Italian knit necktie [[$90].

The J. Peterman Company catalog seems to be going strong with its focus on vintage-inspired men and women’s fashion.

Have you noticed vintage influences creeping back more now than in recent years? Do you welcome them or consider them old fashioned and therefore not worthy of your attention? Do you think that in turbulent times people look back to what they recall or think may have been a calmer period?


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6 Responses to “Service of the Comfort of Vintage”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    A return to “the old ways” is not what it’s cooked up to be as a rule. My old favorite is Donald Duck, but the idea of rolling back the clock 60-70 years, is neither healthy nor wise. I suspect that’s what some powerful factions in today’s society are about to discover.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Golly Moses, Lucrezia, I never thought of that–which is nuts as it has been the biggest elephant in the room of late first as a threat and now reality. I wonder if the 31 year old writer/director of “La La Land” thought of the political climate? The answer is “NO” I’m sure. He may have been intrigued by the 1940s/1950s.

    I adore vintage posters; 1940s style fabrics, period jewelry and antiques. But I have loved these things for years so I can’t attribute the fondness to a trend nor is it inspired by a single event.

  3. hb Said:

    When I first read the headline of your post I thought, “Oh boy, a post on joys of drinking fine wines!” And, of course, the word is derived through the medieval French word, “vendage,” from the Latin words for wine and grape picking. Like many English words, the word has acquired since the 19th century the generally positive meanings in which you use it.

    However, used with its more traditional meaning, describing a wine made in a given year from the grapes harvested from a given property, it may be just as relative to measuring people’s changing tastes as your examples. In 1955, I bought in New Haven a bottle of 1945 Chateau Margaux for about $7.00 (or put another way, the cost of three cartons of cigarettes.) Today it is available, and possibly not drinkable (if cellared improperly) at an average price of $3,153 (or about 340 cartons of cigarettes). A fairer comparison would be to 2005 vintage where the cost of a bottle would probably come to about $925 (or 100 cartons of cigarettes.)

    Another example involving wine would be making a comparison of the cost of buying a dinner with a half bottle of house wine. In 1960 I lived in an older, safe neighborhood near the center of the city. We often ate at the simple but excellent trattoria around the corner. For about $1.50 a head, tip included, you got pasta, meat or fish (fresh), salad and a half liter of a very good house wine. Dessert and coffee were extra. While the menu was limited as to choice and the cooking was not fancy, it was a good deal. In New York where we live we have several acceptable neighborhood restaurants, but there is nothing quite equivalent. However, that quantity of food and wine of that quality could possibly be found, with inferior service, at a Turkish or Greek restaurant and would set you back $40 — $50 a head.

    The moral of the story: Tastes change and the rich get richer.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m sorry to disappoint–I would be the last person to write about vintage wines which have always been well beyond my budget and probably wasted on me, even though I love wine. I’m giggling at the crossed wire.

    Speaking of tastes changing, the irony is that the value of antiques has raced in the opposite direction of restaurant dining and the price of vintage wine. Nobody is much interested in 17th and 18th century furniture. If you paid $3,000 for a wonderful piece you’d be lucky to get $250 for it today.

  5. David Reich Said:

    One “vintage” relic making a comeback, especially among young people, is turntables and the old LP record. One of my son’s friends has not only a turntable, but a wonderful old amplifier with — get this — tubes.

    So what do I do with all my CDs now?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve noticed records for sale and was curious about them. Mystery solved. Nothing these days lasts long. It took years for books to go out of style and soon the DVD will join them on the dinosaur pile.

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