As nostalgic as I am for the ’90s, a decade I actually lived through, I’m even more nostalgic for decades that I’ve experienced vicariously through books and movies. I love to imagine myself as a flapper in the ’20s, drinking champagne out of coupe cocktail glasses, twirling my long string of pearls and dancing to jazz in a loose, beaded dress. Or as a housewife in the ’50s, riding my bicycle in a poofy dress and suede kitten heels, my blonde curls bouncing on my shoulders. Or as a turn-of-the-century explorer, crawling through caves in search of lost treasure and ancient tribes. Or as a journalist in the ’70s, tapping away at a typewriter to the tunes of The Rolling Stones (perhaps even at Rolling Stone).
It’s so easy to romanticize the past, even though you know that kissing your sweetheart goodbye while enshrouded in steam on a train platform in 1941 would be heartbreaking and terrifying in real life. If you’re old-fashioned, or if people often refer to you as an “old soul,” you can’t help but feel like you’re just not living in the right decade. If so, you’ll surely relate to all of the following. And for a more rational take on nostalgia, check out 17 Things You’re Nostalgic for But Shouldn’t Be.
You Own a Full-Length Nightgown
You look less like an heiress seductively twirling the tassel of her satin robe, and more like a ghoul haunting the apartment, but wandering around the living room in a long, silk nightgown makes the fantasy feel real. For why this feels so good, check out the 17 Surprising Reasons You Love Nostalgia So Much.
All Your Clothes Come from Vintage Stores
If you’re a woman, you’ve got hoop earrings from the ’70s, an A-line dress from the ’50s, a glamorous ball gown, and maybe even a mink coat (“It’s not wrong if it’s vintage,” you tell your animal activist friends). If you’re a guy, you know that suspenders are way sexier than belts, and you’ve got a wool waistcoat, a collection of cravats, and way too many Italian leather shoes.
If you’re a woman, you secretly wish you could wear a bonnet, but settle for an egregiously large hat that you insist is totally practical because it blocks out the sun. If you’re a man, you have a collection of hats that you desperately try to pair with jeans and a T-shirt so you don’t look like you stepped out of a time machine. You have to strike the delicate balance between looking like you wouldn’t be out-of-place in a photo from your favorite era without also resembling someone who just wandered out of a costume party.
You Have a Turntable
Yes, Spotify is way more practical. And while you defend your turntable by saying the “music sounds better,” the truth is that it’s just so much of a more beautiful medium. There’s something so thrilling about flipping through dusty old records, in search of gold, something so satisfying about the physicality of holding a vinyl disc in your hands, and something hypnotic about watching the needle latch onto the disc and then carefully weave around the grooves over and over again until it stops.
And Probably a Typewriter
Laptops are infinitely more practical than typewriters, not least of all because you can make changes in real-time and don’t have to worry about your wife leaving a suitcase containing the one and only manuscript of your book at a train station (*cough*Hemingway*cough*). But there’s something almost jazzy about the rap-tap sound that it makes, the way you have to hit each key so hard to get the letters out, and the little ding that indicates the words are about to fall off the page.
You Say Things Like “This Would Have Never Happened in the…”
You know there are a lot of terrible aspects of the decade you’re obsessed with, and that society is much better off now for a number of demographics. But you still can’t help but start sentences with the words, “This would have never happened in the old days,” especially when it comes to the awful abyss that is online dating.
Your Ideal Man or Woman Is from Another Decade
Maybe they’re just long gone, or even fictional, but you long for the chivalry and glamour seemingly espoused by older generations. There’s a reason why George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson, as the respective male and female embodiments of Old Hollywood, continue to be revered as the ideal man and woman. It helps that movie stars from the ’60s and ’70s have aged impeccably well and can really rock an outfit.
Your Witty Comebacks Come from the Dowager Countess
If the early twentieth century is your jam, then the likelihood is that you’ve watched Downton Abbey several times over and are beyond excited that they’re finally starting production on a movie version. Which means you also know that no one throws shade quite like the Dowager Countess, and you employ her dry one-liners when the situation calls for it.
After all, what’s better than responding to “Are you having fun?” with “At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.” Or, having heard your friend complain about her terrible ex for the millionth time, say, “You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do!”
You’d Love to Have a Debutante Ball
Yes, they are archaic and kind of sexist, but waltzing in white gowns with handsome men seems so much more appealing than making out with a drunk football player at a frat party. You probably also attend modern-day balls any chance you get, even though most of them are basically a nightclub in which everyone is slightly better dressed.
You’re Obsessed With Visiting Castles and History Museums
The ones that still contain all of the furniture from the turn-of-the-century are the best, since you can wander around and briefly really imagine yourself as the Lord or Lady of the house. But, really, any excuse to escape into your favorite time period works. Shoot, Hancock Shaker Village will do in a pinch. And if you’re really obsessed with castles, here are 25 Castles So Magical You Won’t Believe They’re in the U.S.
You Will Watch Any Movie That Takes Place In Your Favorite Time Period
Doesn’t matter if it sits at a 29 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You’re not here for the plot or the dialogue; you’re here for the setting.
You Actually Enjoy Immersive Theater
You’ve probably gone to see Sleep No More a dozen times, and you’ve gotten annoyed at friends who pull you out of the opportunity to actually feel like you’re in the 1920s by breaking out their iPhones or talking about modern television, so you prefer to talk to the actors that are staunchly in-character.
You Don’t Know Any Songs from the Last Decade
Bieber? Who? You’re all about the Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Metallica. And you never miss an opportunity to play one of your favorite albums, sigh and say, “They don’t make music like this anymore.” Then you think with horror that someone will one day say that about Justin Bieber.
You Write With Actual Pen and Paper
You use a fountain pen, because you love the way the ink bleeds onto the page, as though the words themselves are coming straight from your veins. And when you want to write something truly emotional, you prefer actual letters over email.
You Own a Smoking Jacket
“They make a great robe!” you tell your roommates, as they beg you to at least put on some pants. You wish you could wear it as it’s meant to be worn, in a den, smoking a cigar, playing poker, and whirling whiskey around in a glass while playing poker. You’ve probably even considered smoking just for the optics, but have resisted because you know that even having as little as one cigarette a day will shorten your lifespan.
You’re a Member of an Old World Club
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Harvard Club, the Explorers Club, or some other private social club. The important thing is that you have a place where you and other like-minded individuals can break out your tuxedoes and forget about reality while lounging in leather armchairs for a few hours.
Your Home Décor Can Best Be Described as “Indiana Jones’ Library”
You’ve got old-fashioned maps as wall art, a globe bar cart, a collection of leather bound books, and maybe even a Berber dagger that you picked up at a flea market in Morocco. You wish your landlord would let you install an indoor fireplace because, while it would be wildly impractical, it would look so perfect in between the wingback armchairs where you read your adventure novels. In your smoking jacket.
You Have a Study in Your House
Before there was technology, people would entertain themselves with the works of such authors as J. D. Salinger, Henry David Thoreau, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And though you have the option to binge all the latest Netflix shows, you’d choose sitting down with Shakespeare in your study over a Breaking Bad binge any day.
You Use a Polaroid Camera
Nothing captures vintage charm quite like a Polaroid camera. And as a true vintage fanatic, you won’t settle for those knock-off Polaroids that they sell at Urban Outfitters. No, you need the authentic ones—the kind that people in the ’60s were using and that now cost a fortune to operate. Nobody ever said that living in the past was cheap!
You’re Obsessed With Vintage Cars
Doesn’t matter if it’s an Aston Martin, a Corvette, a Volkswagen Beetle, a Cadillac, a Roll-Royce, or even a Model T. Man, a DeLorean gets you excited. Nothing is better than when you tour a historic mansion and find out you can visit the garage.
You’ve Tried and Failed to Recreate a Vintage Hairdo
You asked the hairdresser for “Brigitte Bardot” but instead got Elvira. Your attempts to create an elegant updo have left you looking like Medusa. You’ve burned your hair trying to crimp it properly. You have used up an entire can of hairspray to attain ’80s rocker chick chic but instead ended up looking like an extra in The Lion King. Still worth it. If you’re looking for a stylish, yet modern, look, check out the 15 Best Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.
You Have a Beard
It’s not to “cover up your chin.” We’re onto you. You also secretly think you could totally rock a mustache and/or a monocle if it came to it.
You Went to A Really Old University
Let’s be real: you didn’t apply to Oxford or Yale because of their impeccable academics. You did it so you could feel like you are part of history, and you avoided applying to any school, no matter how great the education there was, whose library was built after 1925.
You Go to ’80s Night at Skating Rinks
Even if your version of “skating” consists of standing on the rink and waiting for the wind to blow.
You Hate All Technology
You don’t need all of the health-tracking benefits of a smartwatch. You’d rather have a real watch, and you’re not alone, since watch sales are up right now. You avoid getting an international data plan when traveling to other countries, even if it means you have to navigate your way around a new city with a fold-out map, because it means you can delight in the thrill of getting lost and discovering a little cafe you know nothing about. You’re secretly thrilled when you’re in an area that doesn’t have cellphone service. Yes, it’s a little out-of-the-ordinary, but at least you’re hopelessly addicted to social media.
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