The hunt for the vintage image can turn up some thoroughly modern publications. I found a copy of this fantastic book at the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair.
What We Wore: A People’s History of British Style is a retrospective of UK chic and music culture told through people’s own personal polaroids, snapshots and Photo Booth strips.
It’s a complete nostalgia-fest. Covering seven decades from the 1950s, each page will provoke a memory of someone you know or somewhere you’ve been, it is all wonderfully familiar. Glam Rock girls pose proudly in their flares, Nutty Boys and skinheads in their Fred Perry tops, New Romantics, B-boys and Acid House casualties come together in this celebration of sartorial style. It’s interesting to see which fashions crashed and burned and which ones are still visible on the streets today.
This book is a love letter to youth and expression. It conversely shows how some used fashion to stand apart from the crowd and how others used it to fit in. But both sides of the spectrum share a pride in their appearance. These photos are real, although posed, they don’t have the contrivance of a fashion shoot, there’s no input from a team of stylists. These images show fashion exactly how it was, chosen by the individual at a particular moment in time. As a social document, it is ten times more accurate and authentic than any fashion magazine could claim to be. It’s also much more fun.
What We Wore: A People’s History of British Style by Nina Manandhar & Eve Dawoud. Prestel ISBN: 978-3-7913-4898-8