Choosing to live in a time warp and yearning to become a domestic goddess, a 24-year-old woman who calls herself ‘a 1940s housewife in training’ told how she has ditched modern pastimes, preferring to bake, sew or read.
Instead of binge-watching Netflix after work, housekeeper Lydia McKenzie-Stephens cooks retro recipes from scratch for her garage worker boyfriend Scott Friend, 27, or runs up a stunning vintage-inspired outfit on her old-fashioned 1950s sewing machine.
Dressing like a Forties starlet every day, in an ideal world Lydia, of Halesworth, Suffolk, said she would ditch the 9-5 and become a full-time housewife, explaining: “I’ve always been obsessed with the glamour of the 1930s and 1940s, so love dressing that way myself. Everyone just made a real effort back then.”
Then, aged 16, she bought her first item of retro clothing – an enormous petticoat – which she snapped up for just £5 in a charity shop and happily wore to the college she had just joined, after leaving school and the confines of uniform behind her.
But not everyone appreciated her quirky style, which attracted some bitchy reactions.
She said: “I’d wear petticoats every day to college and I did get some stick for it – not so much comments, but some people would laugh at me when I walked past.
“Teenagers can be pretty blunt and, at that age, everyone wants to be cool and to look like people they see in magazines.
“But I’ve always been very comfortable and happy with who I am, so it didn’t bother me.”
Lydia (PA Real Life/Lacuna Aspect Photography)
“Some people don’t even know how to sew on a button, whereas I can make a whole outfit in less than a day.”
She added: “Often, if something goes wrong in the home, the modern solution is to call someone else in to fix it and pay them an enormous amount of money in the process. But you really can learn to do it yourself.”
As virtually all her clothes are secondhand, she estimates she only spends around £50 a month on them – lower than the national average for women, which is £74, according to the Great British Wardrobe Report.
“I also do my hair and makeup in a 1940s style. If I’m at work, I’ll tie it in a headscarf, like a land girl, but when I’m out and about, I like to wear a lot of hats, so I’ll roll it up and pin it at the back.”
Lydia continued: “Scott, like me, loves the vintage look. When I first saw him, he looked like a 1930s train driver, which I loved. He’ll be suited and booted every single day, always wearing a waistcoat.”
“Nowadays people just constantly have their heads down, attached to their technology which is something we’d like to change.
“Scott and I don’t tend to go to many vintage re-enactments, as we find that the people there do this sort of thing for fun, once in a while. To them, it’s a costume, whereas we live like this every day. But online, I’ve met some really positive, like-minded people.”
The young couple have also talked of marriage – and are already adamant that their wedding day will be a traditional affair.
“It’s beautiful and, thankfully, fits me perfectly. My body type seems to match well with the clothes of the time, which is lucky,” she said. “We aren’t engaged yet, but it’s good to be organised and know I’ve got the dress. I’m desperate to find some shoes to match, too.
“When we do tie the knot, it’ll be very traditional. Neither of us drink, so it won’t be some rowdy party – more a church do, then tea and cake.”
Press Association 2018