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“Ignore The Reactions” German Vintage Fashion Enthusiast Madeleine D’Enfer Talks About Her Experiences In Germany

Here in the US, dressing in vintage fashion usually garners a lot of attention. Many people stare at you, take pictures, compliment you and ask you what you’re so dressed up for. There are some occasional mean looks, but I’ve never gotten more than that.

But I can only speak for myself and the experiences I’ve had in the city I live in. So I asked Madeleine, a multi-lingual aspiring interpreter from Germany, what it’s like for her to live in Germany and dress the way she does. I also wanted to know the advice she had for dealing with judgment.

Here in the US, dressing up like a pin-up usually garners a lot of attention. Many people stare at you, take pictures, compliment you and ask you what you’re so dressed up for. There are some occasional mean looks, but I’ve never gotten more than that.  But I can only speak for myself and the experiences I’ve had in the city I live in. So I asked Madeleine, a multi-lingual aspiring interpreter from Germany, what it’s like for her to live in Germany and dress the way she does. I also wanted to know the advice she had for dealing with judgment.   Q: You’re originally from Germany. How is the fashion like over there? And how do people generally react to the way you dress?  A: “In Germany you see lots of street wear. Especially younger people like sporty, comfortable clothing with minimalist designs and bold messages by well-known sport designers and brands. People like minimalist looks a lot, in general. They combine a couple of basic pieces of clothing with non-opulent jewelry e.g. thin golden necklaces and a pair of stud earrings, which is simple but elegant. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. I’ve seen a couple of eccentric, very individual and wild styles, too.  Overall, people react well to the way I dress but you have to differentiate between the reactions of Germans in general and the reactions of the people from my hometown. The people from my hometown tend to react a bit rudely to things they are not used to seeing. Sometimes they make fun of the way I dress and the staring makes me feel uncomfortable at times. Not everyone behaves like this, however. I’ve also met lots of people from my hometown who really like the way that I dress and some of them have told me that they would dress the same way if they had enough courage to do so. Outside of my hometown I’ve only ever received positive feedback and abroad people compliment me a lot.”  Q: Being from Germany you see Florence Italy as your hometown, do you think Italy has influenced your style? And what’s your take on the fashion of each country? Do you prefer German fashion to Italian or do you like to mix the two?  A: “I used to go to Italy for vacation every year for 18 years, so it’s like a second home to me.  Italy has influenced my style a lot. People there tend to wear bolder colors, as well as more extravagant designs. The way I see it, Italians embrace fashion and use it as a means of self-expression. They’re not afraid to wear statement pieces and they’re confident about how they look. The people there are more experimental when it comes to incorporating different fabrics and colors into their outfits, too, whereas Germans tend to be a bit monochromatic.  Personally, I like the way Germans plan their outfits. They stick with few colors that repeat throughout the outfit which gives it a very balanced appearance. I tend to build my outfits with a few basic pieces that don’t have all-too-wild patterns on them and add some opulence and extravagance using expressive accessories. In conclusion, I’d say that my style really is a mixture of both  influences.”  Q: How did you first develop your style and why do you think you were so drawn to it?  A: “I’ve always been fascinated with cinematography and I would watch classic Hollywood movies when I was younger. When I was 15 I had bangs and everyone told me that I reassembled Audrey Hepburn whom I’ve always admired. I then decided to give the 50s look a try and loved the result. I think that actresses back in the day had fascinating auras. They are the type of women that you just have to look at because of the mystique that surrounds them. They also always looked so well put together with their fantastic hairstyles and their timeless makeup. I really wanted to look like that, too.”    Q:  What is your advice for dressing in vintage fashion?  A: “First of all, think about which decade you like best. Of course you don’t have to decide on only one but you might not know where to start if you’re just beginning to dress vintage. Start by purchasing the essentials of the decade you chose (e.g. a petticoat for 1950s looks) and then slowly build your wardrobe. Dressing vintage doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find nice stuff in thrift shops or on flea markets. Etsy is a great option, too.”  Q:  Where do you usually shop for your clothes?  A: “I have to shop on the internet, as there are basically no vintage shops where I live. My favorite brands at the moment are Banned Retro, Collectif Clothing, Lindy Bop and British Retro. Sometimes, though,I also shop for clothes at the flea market.”   Q: Do you prefer to wear real vintage fashion or recreation?  A: “I’m 5’11” (1.80m) so real vintage often doesn’t fit. I therefore prefer recreation. If I find a piece in a thrift shop that fits, though, I prefer real vintage fashion.”   Q: How do you deal with judgment from non-vintage dressers and what’s your advice for dealing with it?  A: “I just brush it off now but it took me a long time to grow such a thick skin. To everyone who’s new to wearing vintage clothing: It’s very likely that people will stare because they’re not used to seeing vintage fashion anymore. Some might comment as well and the feedback, at times, can be annoying or even frustrating.   My piece of advice is to ignore the reactions and just pretend that you wear the same clothing as anyone else. Haters sense insecurity. If you’re confident about what you wear, most of them won’t dare to say anything. It also helps to remember that whatever somebody says about the way you dress, it’s the opinion of ONE person. Their opinion of you is not more important than your opinion of yourself and if you think you look pretty then you do!”    Q: Do you have a favorite era or vintage actress that you like to recreate your looks after ?  A: “I love the 1940s. The silhouette from that time works very well for me and I really love the hats. I adore Vivien Leigh’s and Rita Hayworth’s looks, the ones from their movies as well as their everyday looks. I also like the 1950s, though, and sometimes I mix both styles.”  Q: You speak many languages. Do you travel often? If so what are your tips to maintaining a vintage look while on the go?  A: “Unfortunately, I don’t travel as much as I’d like to. My plan for the future is to travel to all of the places my ancestors came from, so to Scandinavia, the Balkans as well as Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I only recently found out that my family were disconnected from their roots at some point in the past and I’d love to reconnect.   Maintaining a vintage look while traveling can be a bit tricky as you’re always on the move and vintage styles usually require a lot of time. That being said, quick solutions are usually best. Sponge rollers for wet sets are very practical as you put the rollers in in the evening and you’re all set in the morning. I have a lot of hair that is quite thick as well, so using a curling iron while I’m on vacation is not an option to me. It takes me 2 to 3 hours to curl my hair this way. Using hairnets is a good idea, too because they keep your hairdo in place. Regarding make up, take waterproof eye-make up with you and a long lasting lipstick, powder and foundation. It’s understood that you move around a lot when you’re traveling, so it’s quite possible that your hair or your makeup don’t stay in place the entire day. But you usually don’t have enough time to fix either throughout the day, so prevention is key to keep your hairdo from loosening up and your makeup from running or smudging.  An additional piece of advice: pack your suitcase wisely. You don’t always have the option to iron your clothes when you’re abroad which can be a nightmare if you take lots of 50s style swing dresses with you. When I pack that kind of dress I usually place it in front of me and flip over the skirt alongside the waistline, so it covers the top of the dress. That helps preventing creases.”

Q: You’re originally from Germany. How is the fashion like over there? And how do people generally react to the way you dress?

A: “In Germany you see lots of street wear. Especially younger people like sporty, comfortable clothing with minimalist designs and bold messages by well-known sport designers and brands. People like minimalist looks a lot, in general. They combine a couple of basic pieces of clothing with non-opulent jewelry e.g. thin golden necklaces and a pair of stud earrings, which is simple but elegant. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. I’ve seen a couple of eccentric, very individual and wild styles, too.

Overall, people react well to the way I dress but you have to differentiate between the reactions of Germans in general and the reactions of the people from my hometown. The people from my hometown tend to react a bit rudely to things they are not used to seeing. Sometimes they make fun of the way I dress and the staring makes me feel uncomfortable at times. Not everyone behaves like this, however. I’ve also met lots of people from my hometown who really like the way that I dress and some of them have told me that they would dress the same way if they had enough courage to do so. Outside of my hometown I’ve only ever received positive feedback and abroad people compliment me a lot.”

Q: Being from Germany you see Florence Italy as your hometown, do you think Italy has influenced your style? And what’s your take on the fashion of each country? Do you prefer German fashion to Italian or do you like to mix the two?

A: “I used to go to Italy for vacation every year for 18 years, so it’s like a second home to me.

Italy has influenced my style a lot. People there tend to wear bolder colors, as well as more extravagant designs. The way I see it, Italians embrace fashion and use it as a means of self-expression. They’re not afraid to wear statement pieces and they’re confident about how they look. The people there are more experimental when it comes to incorporating different fabrics and colors into their outfits, too, whereas Germans tend to be a bit monochromatic.

Personally, I like the way Germans plan their outfits. They stick with few colors that repeat throughout the outfit which gives it a very balanced appearance. I tend to build my outfits with a few basic pieces that don’t have all-too-wild patterns on them and add some opulence and extravagance using expressive accessories. In conclusion, I’d say that my style really is a mixture of both 
influences.”

Q: How did you first develop your style and why do you think you were so drawn to it?

A: “I’ve always been fascinated with cinematography and I would watch classic Hollywood movies when I was younger. When I was 15 I had bangs and everyone told me that I reassembled Audrey Hepburn whom I’ve always admired. I then decided to give the 50s look a try and loved the result. I think that actresses back in the day had fascinating auras. They are the type of women that you just have to look at because of the mystique that surrounds them. They also always looked so well put together with their fantastic hairstyles and their timeless makeup. I really wanted to look like that, too.”


Q: What is your advice for dressing in vintage fashion?

A: “First of all, think about which decade you like best. Of course you don’t have to decide on only one but you might not know where to start if you’re just beginning to dress vintage. Start by purchasing the essentials of the decade you chose (e.g. a petticoat for 1950s looks) and then slowly build your wardrobe. Dressing vintage doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find nice stuff in thrift shops or on flea markets. Etsy is a great option, too.”

Q: Where do you usually shop for your clothes?

A: “I have to shop on the internet, as there are basically no vintage shops where I live. My favorite brands at the moment are Banned Retro, Collectif Clothing, Lindy Bop and British Retro. Sometimes, though,I also shop for clothes at the flea market.”


Q: Do you prefer to wear real vintage fashion or recreation?

A: “I’m 5’11” (1.80m) so real vintage often doesn’t fit. I therefore prefer recreation. If I find a piece in a thrift shop that fits, though, I prefer real vintage fashion.”


Q: How do you deal with judgment from non-vintage dressers and what’s your advice for dealing with it?

A: “I just brush it off now but it took me a long time to grow such a thick skin. To everyone who’s new to wearing vintage clothing: It’s very likely that people will stare because they’re not used to seeing vintage fashion anymore. Some might comment as well and the feedback, at times, can be annoying or even frustrating. 

My piece of advice is to ignore the reactions and just pretend that you wear the same clothing as anyone else. Haters sense insecurity. If you’re confident about what you wear, most of them won’t dare to say anything. It also helps to remember that whatever somebody says about the way you dress, it’s the opinion of ONE person. Their opinion of you is not more important than your opinion of yourself and if you think you look pretty then you do!”


Q: Do you have a favorite era or vintage actress that you like to recreate your looks after ?

A: “I love the 1940s. The silhouette from that time works very well for me and I really love the hats. I adore Vivien Leigh’s and Rita Hayworth’s looks, the ones from their movies as well as their everyday looks. I also like the 1950s, though, and sometimes I mix both styles.”

Q: You speak many languages. Do you travel often? If so what are your tips to maintaining a vintage look while on the go?

A: “Unfortunately, I don’t travel as much as I’d like to. My plan for the future is to travel to all of the places my ancestors came from, so to Scandinavia, the Balkans as well as Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I only recently found out that my family were disconnected from their roots at some point in the past and I’d love to reconnect. 

Maintaining a vintage look while traveling can be a bit tricky as you’re always on the move and vintage styles usually require a lot of time. That being said, quick solutions are usually best. Sponge rollers for wet sets are very practical as you put the rollers in in the evening and you’re all set in the morning. I have a lot of hair that is quite thick as well, so using a curling iron while I’m on vacation is not an option to me. It takes me 2 to 3 hours to curl my hair this way. Using hairnets is a good idea, too because they keep your hairdo in place. Regarding make up, take waterproof eye-make up with you and a long lasting lipstick, powder and foundation. It’s understood that you move around a lot when you’re traveling, so it’s quite possible that your hair or your makeup don’t stay in place the entire day. But you usually don’t have enough time to fix either throughout the day, so prevention is key to keep your hairdo from loosening up and your makeup from running or smudging.  An additional piece of advice: pack your suitcase wisely. You don’t always have the option to iron your clothes when you’re abroad which can be a nightmare if you take lots of 50s style swing dresses with you. When I pack that kind of dress I usually place it in front of me and flip over the skirt alongside the waistline, so it covers the top of the dress. That helps preventing creases.”

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