A VINTAGE Metaphor, and What Our Clothes Say About Us


What do our clothes say about us? For the moment, my sweat pants, hoodie, and black glasses say I’m a scrubby writer. A few years ago, my track clothes and stop watch said I was a coach—someone who cheered others on to accomplish their goals. Last week, my suit jacket and heels said I was a no-nonsense professional. But it’s not just my own clothes I notice. I adore watching people come and go in Grand Central Station, or at the airport in different cities in their vast array of wares. Even packs of high school kids coming and going—the rich kids in their labels, the Goths with nose rings in all black, the emo kids in their skinny girl jeans and retro sneakers.

Clothing isn’t just about our sense of style or the clique we belong to, they tell a story. I can see why Susan would feel compelled to not only collect vintage items in her own store, so loved and unique, but to also craft a novel around characters who once owned them. In fact, she did a wonderful job of using clothing in her novel as a metaphor:

One, in the form of April’s journey: The return of a wedding dress she never wore, a path she would never embark on.

Two in Amithi’s: She rounds up a pack of saris from her closet that she wore while married to a husband, who, she discovers, cheated on her. Her life felt like a lie, so she shed this layer by selling those items to begin anew.

Three, Violet, the woman running her consignment clothing store, wants all the clothes. There’s a void inside her. (She married an abusive husband in her past). You can’t help but wonder where the hole came from, or if it can be filled by the relics she collects. Violet can redefine herself daily if she chooses to, and does on some level, but she must find who she truly is.

Even the title is metaphorical. VINTAGE isn’t just the store or the items therein, but the past—the past all three of the protagonists must confront to move forward.


What do your clothes say about you?  

Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around RomanceUniversity.org as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

6 Replies to “A VINTAGE Metaphor, and What Our Clothes Say About Us”

  1. “A few years ago, my track clothes and stop watch said I was a coach—someone who cheered others on to accomplish their goals.”

    I think you are still this, Heather. You provide so much support and positive energy for so many people in the writing community.

    1. Aww, thanks, Susan. That’s a wonderful compliment! I really enjoy cheering my fellow writers on–it gives me a lot of joy in a business where it’s so difficult to achieve. <3

  2. I love a good metaphor, and I love this post. What I especially loved about Vintage, and vintage items in general, is that oftentimes we feel pressured to let go of the past. We get all this talk of “living in the now” and “moving forward” with our lives, but I think that’s very one-sided. There’s beauty in embracing our pasts as we continue to move forward, which is what I love about Violet’s journey.

  3. I have a friend who only wears vintage. She is so gorgeous and retro-stylish. I love vintage, but I don’t seem to have the knack for it–if that makes sense. Wearing vintage is its own artform, I think — Violet is a great example of this.

    What my clothes say about me? Mostly: pet owner. Sad but true. 🙂

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