My new virtual friends

I have met new people while isolating at home in my farmhouse in the hills of the Catskills. Well, not exactly “met;” but I’m getting to know them just the same. And I’m rediscovering things I loved, with their help.

The whole YouTube phenomenon was one I skipped until now. All I knew was people like the Kardashians were making a fortune from it. It held no interest for me.

Then I discovered a little slip of a woman in New York City who studies historical dress, sews using historical techniques, and pretty much lives in vintage clothes. Bernadette Banner completely charmed me, from her adoption of antiquated expressions and refusal to use contractions, to her acknowledgement that her perfectionism in finishing techniques is, in fact, pretty funny. The added bonus is she’s incredibly talented — she makes remarkable things. And she introduced me to the world of vintage fashion.


Bernadette, who is holed up in her apartment, is solidly in the Edwardian period, which is my favorite, too. I’d nearly forgotten.

From there it was a short hop to Rachel Maksby, whose channel features instruction in turning thrift shop finds, including curtains and tableclothes, into vintage fashion. She is, to be fair, not the meticulous sewist that Bernadette is. Her forte is hair. She is a wizard in recreating vintage hairstyles. She favors the 1940s, for the most part.

The next inevitable step had to be Cathy Hays, a British woman who appears to be the corset guru, and the founder of something called Foundations Revealed. It is a global community of people, male and female, who love vintage fashion and want to learn and share techniques. Cathy’s videos are frequently motivational, encouraging her viewers to push through setbacks and pursue their dreams.

They are geeks, in the best sense of the word.

They’re a lovely crowd, these vintage fashion geeks. They have a passion, and they’ve built a worldwide community of people who feel the same way. Rachel recently posted a video with the women I mentioned as well as many other people, discussing why they love vintage fashion, and why their motto is “Vintage style, not vintage values.” They’re diverse, they’re accepting, and they share their knowledge freely. They don’t care about your gender, your age, your sexuality, your race – what they want to know is what vintage fashion you love.

Thanks to Bernadette, I now know the proper way to finish a seam. And I’m getting better.

And it’s not just historical clothes. I’ve got new dancer friends who guide me through ballet workouts online, too. I’d forgotten that I loved ballet. There’s a pretty good chance, if I keep it up, I’m going to like the way I look in my Victorian suit when it’s done.