My grandfather always had the nickname of ‘Mr Fixit’ for the simple reason that he was thrifty and could make just about anything work. Granted, he’s the same person who would staple and glue his trusty slippers back together, but he was capable of just about anything. He added a fireplace to his home, reupholstered his own furniture, and sewed his own pants. One of the attitudes of the cohorts that experienced the Depression or rationing know the importance of working with whatever you’ve got. If something broke, you collected the means you had to fix it as best you could. Then another commercial shift happened where its acceptable to dispose of perfectly good or lightly tarnished things of all sorts when anyone wants new. This shift was accompanied with the interest that corporations have for preparing goods that are cheap to produce as opposed to carefully crafted or handled with too much care. I firmly believe this is why there has been such a retro revival in the first place; people of this generation are realizing what value there is in hard work and craftsmanship. In this newfound appreciation, they turn to antiques to satisfy the criteria. And golly, the antiques deliver!
So, with regard to fixing things, it seems like antiques and today’s goods have the same repairability as one another. Just as anyone can refurbish a piece, modern furnitures can get facelifts. Cobblers still exist to remedy shoes. Sewing is already an essential skill for girls whose proportions aren’t accounted for in the clothing world. Furniture and houses and vehicles of all sorts undergo aging that can seem un-graceful if not tended to. There is an inevitable pattern that emerges here. If we live in a world where if broken things are consistently discarded, we become less and less tactile or thrifty. We have amazing capabilities to change and create just about anything. Over time, it seems that through this very simple observation of pop culture, we have detached from this domestic skill. So, how is its revival going? Perhaps it is not as direct as it could be, but I do see some serious attempts in the business.
Arts and crafts are on the rise. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a college-aged young woman whose crocheting ability surpasses the skill of even seasoned needle-crafters. There are shows now on TV where the focus is on restoring old treasures and collecting interesting pieces. Entire towns on the lovely northeast corridor are praised as being the ‘Meccas of vintage wares’, which often now expand to include refurbishing services. Social media devote chapters of people to creative ideas and art forms. And people do go for this stuff. Hobbies flourish in a world where everyone yearns for leisure. We must, in order to stay lively in the likeness of a sunshiny era, seek spontaneousness and joy. Isn’t this basic idea of creativity and happiness what we’re supposed to be thriving for anyway?
It is often more work to fix things, but it conserves on the landfill epidemic and its something substantial to be proud of. One of the largest pieces of good, widely applicable advice that the depression and ration era cohorts have given us is that we should Spend Time, Not Money. Life is too short, but that doesn’t mean we should all be rushing through every task in front of us. Rushing and being overly conscious of efficiency only makes us less able to appreciate experiences and skills that we can acquire. The next time your furniture gets a scratch or your pants get a tear, roll up your sleeves and get creative! Encourage yourself to find ways to fix and improve things. Then, pass on your ideas to your friends, family, kids, and anyone else that you think could learn from it. You can pass on inheritance, but its so much more valuable to pass on skills and understanding.
So how does the vintage/retro/antique/(all other nomenclature here) tie in to this notion? Heck, Harpie; anyone can patch up some Ikea furniture and patch a pair of jeans! Certainly. The retro morale is amazing in this silly little way; it’s versatile and the values of the past can be applied to just about everything in modern living. It is not biased toward older things. But if you think about it, older stuff has already lasted this long, so it must have been created in the likeness of longevity and pride in the craft. The bottom line of this morality is timeless: Try your hand at fixing things before you leave them to the landfill. You’ll gain so much from just attempting, and it’ll save some green. Reconnecting with our collective thrifty spirit can make our lifestyle both more vintage-retro and more fulfilling all the same. ♥