And by fashion we mean the only category of fashion on which The Roving Home considers itself an authority: dressing for the flea market.
I know. You’re thinking: why bother? Who wants to consider their clothes at 6 (or 5, or whatever crazy in-the-o’clock-you-are) in the morning just before heading out to a dusty field to peruse the detritus of a bunch of other people? It might seem as though, of all places, the flea market is the one destination where you can arrive approximately five minutes after waking up and donning a pair of sweat pants or too-small shorts. But just because something seems true doesn’t make it so. In fact, for the flea market aficionado, clothing is a carefully considered part of the equation.
A caveat: if you treat going to the flea market as a mission of sorts, with the goal the acquisition of a whole bunch of stuff, then you dress accordingly. Cargo jacket with lots of pockets for tape measure and notebook and pencil, giant bag or shopping cart on wheels, big floppy hat, et cetera. This look qualifies more as utilitarian than fashionable and as such deserves a respect that transcends the vogue approach to flea-marketing. Mary Randolph Carter, the godmother of American Junking, is the embodiment of this look and out of respect for her place in the pantheon of flea market greats (and the fact that this look is just a given for any junker worth their big floppy hat) Utilitarian Vintage Flea Market style is left out of the discussion altogether.
But back to flea market fashion. Last year I went to a vintage market in Boston several times and, while the fashion was people-watching-worthy, much of it was just a variation of hipster, along with open-toe gladiator sandals (this was in June), exposed legs, and lots of tattoos. Lots and lots of tattoos. I think everyone in Boston under the age of 35 is tattooed. This is not always an attractive look (especially when combined with the gothic sub-variant of hipster attire) as you head into the thickets of middle age. I’ll just leave it at that.
I went to my local flea market yesterday, Todd Farm, which is well away from Boston, and made the happy observation that, even in what is known as a suburb, flea marketers are holding their own against their urban brethren. While we have hipsters a-plenty of our own (and we love them), we also have Vogue readers, self-aware mothers, and at least one Chloe Sevigny-inspired un-ironic clotheshorse (see photo of girl with the red leather fanny pack). Most of these people managed to get up early and pull themselves together in a way that pays tribute to their own sense of style and to the very point of a flea market: discovering the great find. The one that makes your friends — or perfect strangers — sit up and take notice, to say, not without a little envy, “Where did you get those sunglasses? That scarf? That smokin’ red leather fanny pack?” And you can look at them and say, “Why, at the flea market of course.”