Have you ever just been walking down the street, and suddenly felt like you’ve been transported into another era by the beautiful vision (or visions) standing before you, dressed head-to-toe in gorgeous ’40s and ’50s garb?
If not, then you’ve never met the Retro Bunnies! It’s a name some have given to themselves in an FB group, in light of the amazing retro and vintage fashion revival so many of us modern women have fallen in love with.
Even better? The classic retro style seems to appeal to just about all ages, and looks amazing on any figure – as the Bunnies themselves have proved. In reality, anyone can be a ‘Bunny’, whether they belong to the group or not.
So, some of you may have guessed by now…
A little introduction to me
My name is Bronwen Winter Phoenix, and I am a massive retro and vintage fashion fiend – a ‘Retro Bunny’ if ever there was one. I love the style, especially combined with more alternative, quirky and modern twists; and don’t get me started on spooky Halloween prints!
So, what got me started? Well, I came from the Dark Side; in fact, once upon a time, I used to be much more of a goth, in floor-length velvet dresses and elaborate tops and skirts. Not that you’d know (for the most part) from looking at me now!
Mostly, I still stick to dresses, but occasionally I mix it up a bit with cute tops, skirts and even occasionally dungarees!
And there are so many modern brands out there to cater to my obsession; PinUpGirlClothing, Hell Bunny, Collectif, Miss Fortune, Unique Vintage, Vixen by Micheline Pitt and Voodoo Vixen to name but a few. These brands do nothing to help my dress obsession, and are constantly releasing new designs to die for!
So, just why are so many women in 2023, wearing dresses, skirts and outfits so heavily inspired by the 1940s and ’50s? Well, of course, I had to ask the Bunnies for their input.
Some of their responses were highly relatable (at least to me), whilst others were heartwarming, inspiring and just generally lovely to read.
Here are just a few of them:
Nicole (22), says that retro fashion makes her feel comfortable in her everyday life:
“I chose retro fashion because it’s just where I feel comfortable. I’ve always worried about my curves and typical high street clothes just made me feel worse. Shopping would always end in tears. Through Facebook I found a dress I loved, got it, and I finally felt at home!
I found this Retro Bunnies group, and together these clothes and the women in this group have slowly built up my confidence. I love going shopping now, and I’ve made some amazing friends.
I once exclusively wore jeans, never daring to wear a dress, and now it’s the opposite! My wardrobe isn’t exactly massively retro and I’m still finding my style… But I’m getting there! I still get funny looks when I go out in public, but the vast majority of comments are lovely and people seem to enjoy the colour I inject into their day!”
That’s fantastic, Nicole! I sometimes get funny looks, too, but the compliments usually outweigh any of the negativity!
Kelly (38), opened up about how vintage style really helped her find her true identity:
“I never really had an identity, and never really knew who I was. Since biting the bullet and embracing vintage style, it has helped me find myself. I feel different when I am in a full swing dress and petticoat; I hold my head up high and smile, happiness shines out of me! I always get so many compliments, too.”
Glynn (45), says:
“I love vintage fashion. I feel far more confident in vintage and vintage-style fashion as opposed to high street fashion. I like that I can make vintage style my own, and it is distinctive. It’s versatile and you can dress it up and down – and it’s easy to adapt to different occasions and seasons.
“My friends and family often compliment me on my style and I often get positive comments when I am out. I like the way this style suits my shape.”
Don’t we all, Glynn!
By this point, I was really starting to see quite a pattern emerging in the stories of the Retro Bunnies, and that pattern seemed to mimic exactly how I felt about the fashion phenomenon.
It was really interesting to see how it was shaping the lives of so many women like myself, and making us feel much more confident and daring in our attitude to fashion.
But by far one of the most heartwarming stories I’ve heard so far was from Sophie (27), who says:
“I live in Portsmouth, and last year the council ran a big free event to remember the war. I went along in my Hell Bunny ‘May Day’ dress (made the belt into a matching head band) and got lots of compliments from all ages -but the best one was from an older gentleman who was a veteran.
“He asked so kindly to speak to me. He had seen me a couple of times going past and wanted to speak to me and thank me. I asked him why. His reply: “You look just like my girl did the day she welcomed me home. That was one of the happiest days of my life, so thank you for bringing back that memory.
“His wife had sadly passed away, so wasn’t there, and I was so touched and emotional. He was such a lovely man, and we even had a quick dance. That day made me realise it’s not just a style, it’s a reminder of people’s lives and memories; it’s so amazing what seeing someone in an outfit can do.
“That comment made me emotional but [I also felt] strong and empowered. Since then, I’ve started wearing my dresses to work. I often get told how nice they are – I’ve been told I look like I’ve just stepped out of a catalogue! The memory of that older man stays with me and shines through whenever I wear my dresses, and there’s nothing better than that.”
Here’s what Layla (30), has to say about the way retro fashion makes her feel:
“I never really fitted in anywhere, and embraced alternative styles when I was just a kid. I didn’t feel pretty, but I loved the amazing things that could be done with fabric, so I would go to charity shops and buy retro things to give a new lease of life.
“I love to combine vintage cuts and shapes with modern prints, and just having the beautiful items around me makes me feel better in myself. Retro fashion can be so versatile, and I can fit it to any occasion or event, as well as combining it with other styles like gothic or lolita, and always make it into something that feels completely like me.”
There were so many more stories that I would have loved to share on here, as I was completely overwhelmed with responses from the amazing group of women I’ve recently come to grow acquainted with over our mutual love of retro fashion.
I’ve made a lot of friends on the Retro Bunnies group, and I’ve also discovered many more amazing dresses (oops!), but I’ll never forget the way the Bunnies have made me feel – like I’m part of something really special; a support group where we can all just be ourselves and build each other up.
Otherwise, who else will?
Wearing retro fashion has made such a difference to my life, and now I don’t feel like I have to try and choose something from the rack of modern high street stores, just because that’s what everyone else is doing.
So, if you don’t feel you have confidence in your everyday wear, or like you don’t fit in or truly ‘belong’ to any kind of style, I’m hoping the stories above will help inspire you to achieve the happiness and confidence you deserve – whatever your chosen look may be.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.