Cooking Crafts

The Vintage Lifestyle and the Bigger Picture

8:34 PMDollie DeVille

I like to think that living a vintage lifestyle goes further than just wearing vintage clothing and styling our hair and makeup like they did back in the day. Although we may be living this lifestyle just because we like the look and are devoted to living as close as possible to how they did in the 50s, it also has some other perks we normally don’t think about, or consider a benefit of a vintage lifestyle. I have been putting more and more thought into this and wanted to share it with you. Whether we planned it this way or not, a vintage lifestyle is much better for our health than we may know. I just wanted to take a break from talking about all of the trivial stuff involved with the vintage lifestyle, and talk about some things that actually mater, like the health of ourselves, our family, and our environment. In some ways, vintage living is green living. I try really hard to live a simplistic, minimalist, healthy lifestyle, and I feel that can go hand in hand with living a vintage lifestyle. All of my readers are living varying degrees of vintage lifestyles, so I will just use myself as an example here, and you may or may not relate.

No disposable water bottles: In the 50s, they didn’t drink their water out of plastic bottles. They didn’t drink anything out of plastic bottles. They didn’t drink any type of fancy bottled water period. They drank tap, and they were just fine. If they drank anything out of a bottle, it was a glass bottle. I try and incorporate these thoughts into my life as well.

1961 Glass Container Ad ~ Vintage Milk Bottle

The more I read about the horrors of plastic water bottles, the happier I am that I never bought them for my home. Tons of chemical go into the making of those thin plastic disposable water bottles, and by drinking the water inside, you are ingesting all of those nasty little chemicals! They try and market bottled water like it is so much more pure and healthy for you, but in reality they are worse for you. Bottled water is not regulated by the FDA if it is bottled and sold in state, so most the time you are better off drinking home filtered tap water because the tap water is strictly tested and regulated.  Most bottled water is just filtered from a public water source, and if it is from a natural source, sometimes it is sourced without concern to the surrounding ecosystem. By drinking tap water that you filter at home, you are ingesting less chemicals from plastic, saving a plastic water bottle from ending up in a landfill, and saving a lot of money in the process! Better for the health of your family and the environment!

No plastic dishes: The same concerns go for plastic dishes and storage containers. If the plastic is not recyclable, then you can’t find the little triangle logo on the bottom indicating what type of plastic was used to make it. Without this info, you have no idea if there is BPA, PET, or PETE in it. Every time you put plastic dishes in the microwave and dishwater, they release chemicals from the plastic into your food. So you have to be very cautious about how you store and serve food to your family using these dishes. Ideally, you just wouldn't use plastic dishes. Because of my vintage lifestyle, I have no plastic dishes. I serve all food on ceramic dishes. I have a set of vintage atomic dishes, a set of occupied Japan fine China, and a modern set for everyday use. They work just at well as those cheap plastic dishes that my parents served me on in the 80s and 90s.

Glass refrigerator containers: Another unforeseen health perk of the vintage lifestyle is Pyrex. Yes, Pyrex! Who knew that putting all of your leftovers into those cute little glass containers would save you and your family a lifetime of chemical exposure? That’s right, because you are using vintage glass refrigerator containers instead of those cheap disposable plastic Glad containers you are ingesting less chemicals.

No Dishwasher/Microwave: A lot of vintage homes (mine included) don’t have a dishwasher. Our home was made in 1954, and there is just no room for a dishwasher in the kitchen. Even up into the 80s, most homes didn’t have a dishwasher, and now some homes are being built with two! Overkill in my opinion, but I guess that is just the way of our modern society! Like I mentioned above, if you are eating off of plastic dishes, then microwaving on them, and throwing them in the dishwasher after, you are causing them to release tons of chemicals into your food that you ingest. Now, that is not tasty! We wash all of our dishes by hand using all natural dish soap instead of those other soaps that pollute the water. Some vintage lifestyle enthusiasts even opt out of having a microwave for health reasons. I am not quite there yet, but I am trying to use it less and less. For now I at least try not to put any plastic containers into the microwave. Can’t live without your TV dinners? Just take them out of the tray and put them on a ceramic plate and cover it. It always works fine for me!

Image Hosted by PicturePush - Photo Sharing

More home cooked meals: In the 50s, women put more time and effort into making healthy home cooked meals for their family. In modern times, wives often balance full time jobs with parenting and homemaking, not out of choice, but out of financial necessity. This leaves less time for fancy home cooked meals for us modern gals. So instead, modern families are eating more and more takeout and prepackaged, highly processed, over salted and over sugared foods. Some people say this is why the obesity rate is higher than ever, especially in children. I like to think that we vintage lifestyle enthusiast wives try to make home cooked meals more of a priority than our non-vintage counterparts. I know it is not always easy, but the health of our family is worth the extra work, no? If the 50’s taught us gals anything, it was the glory of the one dish casserole! So, at least once a week, whip out a casserole with lean protein, veggies, and complex carbohydrates in your vintage Pyrex. You will enjoy the leftovers too!

Less electronic appliances: Now-a-days, there is a fancy electronic appliance for everything. No need to chop, juice, crush, sweep, mop…a machine will do it for you! While non-vintage people I know have things like a Rumba to mop for them, most vintage lifestyle people do not. I mop the old fashioned way, by hand! That’s the same way I chop my vegetables too…all by hand! While things like a food processor are handy, they are just one more thing to sap electricity and raise our bills. The same with heated hair styling contraptions like blow-dryers and curling irons. I air dry my hair and wet set it to curl it. It is better for your hair and your wallet!  Because we live pretty minimally with electronic appliances, our electricity bill is sooooo low! It’s great to be green!

Staying trim and looking our best: In the 50’s, looks were more important to women then ever before or after in my opinion. How could women not try hard to look their best with women like Marilyn, Jacquelyn and Betty running around? We still look at them as some of the most beautiful women in the world. During that time women made sure to stay trim for their husbands. They set their hair nightly, wore makeup everyday, and never wore jeans to town. Could this be why the divorce rate was lower? We will never know, but I figure it can’t hurt to try and look our best for our husbands. If anything, it will at least make you feel more beautiful and confident, which will positively touch all other aspects of your life. As I mentioned before, this is harder then ever before with all of the things we have to juggle in our modern lives, but worth the effort.

Vintage Furniture/ Clothing: All of the furniture (with the exception of my modern queen size bed) is vintage, and therefore used. By buying used we are saving this furniture from ending up in a landfill somewhere, and because we are repurposing something already made, we save resources. The same goes for vintage clothing. Who knew that having a closet full of vintage clothing could be so good for the environment?  Like I said, vintage living is green living!

While living a vintage lifestyle maybe a little more work (like scraping the ice from my 1954 freezer weekly) it is ultimately enjoyable to most vintage lifestyle enthusiasts. At the end of the day, at least we know the lifestyle we are living is good for ourselves, our family, and our environment even if we didn’t initially plan it that way. Now that I got you thinking about it, what aspects of your vintage lifestyle unexpectedly turned out to be good for your health?


Ps. Please don't take my word for anything written here, as it is my personal opinion. Please conduct your own research regarding your health.

You Might Also Like


  1. Pretty sure the divorce rates were lower in those times because of the huge social stigma surrounding it, not because men were more enamoured with their perfectly made up wives! In fact I feel that era should be teaching women not to feel responsible for their husbands' infidelity if they don't look as good as they once did, because if those glamorous women weren't able to stop their men from slipping one to the secretary with looks alone, then how can we? We all get old, and our looks fade. Of course it is important to take care of oneself, as it shows respect, but if seeing you in your trackpants without makeup is enough to make your husband stray then I don't think that was the best marriage to begin with!

  2. While in general I agree with you, especially about glass vs. plastic & dishwashers/microwaves, there are a lot of aspects of the 1950s you seem to be forgetting. The 1950s was the beginning of EVERYTHING that you (& myself) now perceive to be "wrong" with society. It was the beginning of truly processed packaged foods, of planned obsolescence, of ready made clothing, of gadgets in every corner of the home - really, the Dishmaster? It is quirk and the definition of gadget....why on earth did anyone NEED that? Most of the 1950s was not about was about the War is over and we can have whatever we want now.

    As for women in the 1950s - NO. NOT every women set their hair, did their makeup and never went to the store in jeans. Jeans have been worn as casual wear since the 1930s. Our modern view of the 1950s, which is very tainted by nostalgia, suggests all women were like that...but are all women nowadays dressed like Jennifer Aniston 24/7? Or some other celebrity? Well, no. They aren't. Why would you think it to be any different back then? Also, the reasons behind women having home cooked meals and that "look" were not necessarily because they WANTED to, but because at the time it was what society expected of them and they may not have had another easily accessible choice. Lucy Ricardo is a good example of this, look how hard she fights Ricky to be a part of show business...but HE won't LET her.

    To say the divorce rate was lower then because women dressed up for their men? Come ON have you missed the ENTIRE feminist movement? Divorce rate was lower because divorce was looked down up by SOCIETY. Not because women made themselves look pretty. It wasn't LEGAL in most states expect under extreme circumstances; everyone had to move to Reno for 6 weeks instead to meet residency requirements before they could apply for divorce. Divorce was the LAST resort for women and was much more stigmatized than it is now.

    You make some good points, but you also need to brush up on your social history of your favorite decade a bit. It was NOT all sunshine and roses and to perpetuate that is just lying to yourself and others. I love the 1950s, but I love it despite its problems.

  3. I'm with you on all but the dishwasher. A dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand, plus that is a task I do not enjoy. But then again, I hate emptying the DW also, so it's a lose-lose for me on that one! :P

  4. I couldn't agree more! My family has been living a "vintage" lifestyle out of necessity since I was a baby! Glass baby bottles, cloth diapers, pyrex dishes are cheaper than their disposable counterparts. For the baby stuff, even after baby is grown up, cloth diapers make the best cleaning rags and bottles can be recycled. Plus, I hate washing plastic!! It gets stained by spaghetti sauce, ends up all greasy and when you scrub plastic, it ends up with scratches, which leave tiny breeding grounds for bacteria. YUCK! Home made cleaners, home cooked meals, sewn clothes an all is good for the environment and our families but I'll be honest, I do those things because it saves so much money! If it weren't for that, I don't think I'd be able to stay home with the kids. Kudos to you for going dishwasher free! I don't think I could live without mine right now. When my kids grow older and I have more time, I would love to go washer/dryer free. I love that smell of line-dried sheets :)

  5. Emmi- So true! I was only joking about the "keeping your husband thing". I hate when people can't hear my sarcasm in things. Ha ha.

    1. I didn't see it as sarcasm and I actually think you are right. What's wrong with women keeping themselves nice for their husbands? I've always done that and that is one of the things he and my children have always appreciated about me. Also, when I look good I want my house to look good, too. Nothing better than coming home to a well-groomed, sweet-smelling wife/mommy and a warm, safe, beautiful home.

  6. Reuby, thank you for your loooooong well thought out comment, but please don't talk to me like I am an idiot. Any writer conveniently leaves out details that don't prove the overall point of the topic, a la any documentary you watch. If I had included both side of the story and all te correct historical details, well then the post would have been way too long. What I wanted to talk about was the plastic water bottles, but thy doesn't really fit the concept of this blog. Therefore I turned it into some stupid vintage health post. As all of my writing is, it's full of humor and sarcasm. I don't write a history blog if you didn't notice. I know the facts you bring up, but like I said before, that wasn't the topic of the post. Thank you for taking all the fun out of this post.

    1. Der Miss Dollie. I ahve been living this way for years and didn't even know it. I was born in 58, so 60' and 70' were fun for me! I have collected purses ad cothing since I was 12years old mostly from relatives :) ow that I am older and for the first time I am living in a house built in Sept 1950 & I am doing my best to bring as much as I can back to orginal. Paint, Furniture etc. But I do turn into a 50s girl aftr work, Shopping, Banking if I can. Socializing and I find it much better. nd yes the big debate is when the kitchen is done is "Is she really not going to put a dishwasher in here? Welll unless he's 6 foot 4 and blonde then probably not lol. Keep up the blog I am loving this

  7. Dollie-LOVE this post! I agree totally about the plastics. It's something that Nikki educated me to a couple years ago and I have been taking steps since to rid my life of as much plastic as possible.

    As far as the "divorce rate" comment. I read that to be completely tongue in cheek and thought it was cute.

  8. Thank you Angel!!! I love you and Nikki. You are Da Bomb!!!

  9. I loved your post and found nothing wrong with it. There always has to be a downer in the bunch. Women in the 50s were just that - WOMEN. Society nowadays leads us to believe it's okay to look like we just rolled out of bed when we go out. Does that mean I follow it? Ummm, no. Good grief!

  10. Miss Dollie...Wonderful post!!!! I agree & love the way my home feels trying to raise my baby chicks with vintage goods & principals! Adorable photos kitten!

  11. When I was a kid no one sold bottled water (read rip-off there's nothing in it was the mentality) but when we were thirsty we bought pop/juice/or even little milks in cartons -water would have been a better choice.

    I agree about the glass containers at home though -plastic wrap is the one that really annoys me. My containers have reusable lids or I put plates on top (like my gram) but I've seen people who saran wrap every dish that goes in their fridge.

  12. I want to switch from plastic to glass containers, but not till I get a dishwasher! I must admit, I would rather clean the bathroom 3 times a day than wash the dishes once. And I'm such a klutz, if it were all glass I would have to go soooo slow! haha

  13. Michelle- hand washing glass IS dangerous!!! Zachary just cut his hand bad when a glass broke. It bled for days!!!!

  14. I wrote an english paper very similiar to this, last semester. Everyone was looing at me like I was nuts! lol :)

    XoX Sandy

  15. Excellent post! People were also more polite and respectful than nowadays!

  16. Gee, people sure do get their panties in a knot when sarcasm doesn't translate well. ;)

    I really enjoyed this post 'cause it's true, re-using vintage everything is green! My roommate and I were having this discussion last week about where all unbought modern clothes end up... it's a scary thought. She used to work at H&M and what they would do is they would shred the clothes with scissors, and throw it in the garbage to be packed in the landfill, I kid you not!

    I have never used a dishwasher and at work, I get funny looks when I wash my dishes by hand. My mom raised us to wash dishes in the sink because she refused to use the dishwasher ("It doesn't wash them right!").

    xo Corinna

  17. Miss Dollie, you're woman after my own heart! I think the world definitely owes us carbon credits for all the recyling we've done!! We are so green we have a NEGATIVE carbon footprint!! I especially hate it when people complain about my 1962 car not being very green - it runs on unleaded petrol and I reckon it's paid for itself several times over when you consider the amount of carbon emissions created when producing a modern car!

  18. I agree with you all the way and really enjoyed the post. People just need to lighten up, if they need to correct your blog then why are they even reading it? You just have to laugh, becuase you can definately see the person writing about divorce probably isn't in a happy relationship, and the other crazy, just needs to get a hobby. Keep up the great writing, we love it here.

  19. Sorry Dollie, your sarcasm was not very clear! I see a lot of people on blogger who really do think the 50s was some kind of utopia so I took your post at face value. We really need a button to convey tone, I've run into similar problems before!

    Anyway, I'll have to agree with Kim when she says people were more polite in those days - probably because they didn't have the option to anonymously comment on the internet! And that's all I'm going to bother to say on that :)

  20. Yay i could not agree more! except i am keeping my dishwasher lol but getting rid of the microwave!

  21. I am impressed with your dedication to living a vintage lifestyle. I agree that in this modern age we have stepped too far away from home cooking, and natural living. As a working mother and wife, I relate to the struggle you mentioned in maintaining these practices, but I to am committed to teaching my children how to live more healthfully. I am wondering? Have you ever wanted a career of your own? have always dreamed of being a wife and mother with no further desire to have a career outside of the home? I tried to be a housewife, but was so bored I thought my brain was going to ooze out of my head!!

  22. Kimberli,

    Thanks for your comment. I am guessing you just found this because of the show on TLC. I know the show made it out to look like I don't work, but I work 50 hours a week at a very successful career. I support my household financially 50%, even down to food. I spoil my husband with gifts on Christmas. That TLC stuff is all fake. I'm way different in reality! :)

  23. Dear Miss Dollie Deville,

    I found your Web site after watching the TLC program.

    TLC seemed to start out just fine and then in a clear attempt to usurp Bravo and its "Housewives" franchise (which BTW I refuse to watch) they moved on to overtly faked situations and reactions. I kept watching just hoping to find those moments that they left in that were truly about all of you.
    I cannot tell you how much I would love to see a documentary on the real vintage lifestyle.

    I grew up in the 50s, and even though there were many things that have changed for the better, I can’t communicate to others that weren’t alive then just what the wonderful differences are.

    I feel sad for young people today who do not get to experience the more slow-paced, earth-connected, healthier feel that was life before the 1970s. (My mom never bought into the new, modern conveniences being introduced though she could totally rock a crinoline skirt!. Stores delivered your purchases to your house after a day of shopping; doctors came to your home at all times of the night; food was seasonal and untampered with - it was exciting when "apple season" came; kids could play for hours anywhere and my mom always knew there were responsible eyes watching; sheets smelled delicious after being dried outside without artificial perfumes; oh, and looked out of the window of our car at real life and its beauty and not at the back of a headrest’s and its electronic world. =-P

    Also, my mother and father were not there to be "liked" as so many parents feel today. My mother's mantra was "I'm not here to be liked. I'm here to raise you to be a responsible adult" - my sister and I loved her to death!

    And it wasn’t about lack of fear in the world either. In class we practiced trying to save our tushes from being fried by a nuclear blast. If an air-raid siren went off, you checked the sky for planes and looked for the nearest ditch or fallout shelter.

    People shouldn’t think women were mamby-pamby push overs in the 50s either. My mom was a strong, well-educated, go-getter. Laws put restrictions on her behavior, but both my mother and mother-in-law worked hard for their goals. She taught me that I should try and achieve anything I wanted no matter the obstacle. Remember they had just come out of WWII where for the first time women worked in traditional men's jobs (other than on farms where women like my grandmother could swing and ax and fire a gun as well as any man) and many liked it.

    Hopefully TLC (um, the LEARNING channel) will get a clue from the negative feedback and tweak the show to be something you ladies can be proud of!

    Sorry for going on so.

    Warmest regards,

  24. You hit the proverbial nail on the head!
    About 2 years ago I started living a vintage lifestyle. As I emptied my home of all the modern junk and started to take on more traditional "home maker" duties. Out of the blue one day I decided to get rid of the ugly plastic containers and dishes. Plus the next day I decided to try and "go shopping" like a vintage house wife would have.

    End result...
    I lost 30lbs without going on a diet. I just stopped being hungry. All my life I've been "chunky" and now I'm skinny. It was the plastic in my diet that made me constantly hungry. I know this because if I eat something that's been touching plastic... I get hungry and binge eat.

    Thanks for the article !

    Madame Vintage

  25. Great Article Dollie. My Mothers Name. You are Definitely on to something GOOD. My Friends think I'm nuts But I'm going back even more than the 50s I'm a Victorian Reenactor. Being in the Antique Business and Never Ever Buying New Furniture. We live in a 1889 House. Yes we have lead paint. (We teach our kids not to EAT any Paint) But it was the overall Lifestyle. Not any one thing that Makes me Realize they were healthier in many ways. we have a Victorian Fence Surrounding our Garden. A garden with No Pesticides or Chemicals I might add. One acre and a half but in the City. Had Chickens for a while. The Children Learned So Much from that experience about where our food should come from. The Children Play in the yard. They catch bugs and snakes. They play in the Water Sprinkler When I have it on. We fix things that Break. We swing under the 200 year old Oak Tree. There have been a Zillion Inventions since the 1890s And many have made instant Millionaires BUT! Only a few have actually improved Life for Us Humans. We. As a Society are Being Pushed into thinking we need to Update Everything We Do. These are not Time saving Convenience's But a Distraction on Simple Good Living. We are not an Overly Religious Family (And I believe that Religion Can be Very Good) But if Most People just Followed the Ten Commandments, We'd be A Lot Better off no matter what Era We Love the Most. Dolly, If I had the money. I would love to have a Variety of Purest Vintage Homes in many different Eras. And I would love to bring Modern Children into all of them to see how Man has Evolved? I've never Written into anything like this before. But I feel as though I have to let this out of my Head.

  26. Hi enjoyed reading your blog, I love vintage items. May I borrow your words on the pyrex glass? Let me know. Thank you

  27. i just posted something did it work?

  28. I really enjoyed how you incorporated the green living with vintage living. It makes sense how it can be better for your health especially not using plastic bottles and using the microwave. I don't live a vintage lifestyle but appreciate the music, vintage clothing and probably most things that were made in that era because it was build to last. Now most things are built to last you a couple years before they need to be replaced. This too can contribute to land filled waste. Great read!

  29. Great Read, I agree except for the dishwasher thing... My grandparents were the second owners of their home that was built in the 1940s... My grandmother always had and used her dishwasher. She had a "1940s modern" kitchen and i loved it. I never used or had a microwave, and we use as little plastic as possible (mainly because it doesn't clean as well as people think and it holds so much bacteria).

  30. I enjoyed your article very much but of course I have a different take on the reasons divorce is so high these days, marriage isn't respected as it once was our morals suck, I have been married 42 years, my Parents were married 70 until the death of my Father but over all your article was fun to read. My Wife hand washes the dishes, her choice but I do admit we have the same stainless pots and pans since we have been married and they look brand new which wouldn't happen in a dishwasher. I am anti Social Networking and cell phone but I do have a Go Phone to use while traveling and hiking. I do Photography as a Hobby and use 1950's cameras and film, my life is very simple and mellow due to my rejection of the need for gadgetry, I guess the computer is quite useful but that is just about the extent of what I like in this century... Nice article, Thanks !

  31. Wonderful thought-provoking article! I have long been proud of spending money on vintage clothing rather than contributing to dangerous and unethical child labor in developing nations, but never thought about the great environmental benefits that come with. Thanks for your thoughts-- keep it coming girl!

  32. I have a collection of vintage cookbooks from the 30'same to the 70'same that are now for sale if anone is interested in buying. It's time to downsize. Please share and email me at if interested. Thanks!

  33. I enjoyed your post! I started to embrace the vintage way a little over a year ago. The plastic in my house is disappearing as I can afford to buy pyrex and corning ware. I use my dishwasher once a week (on the weekends). I am slowly... as I can afford... to phase out modern stuff. I find antiques last longer than stuff made recently.

    I wear dresses or dress pants... jeans are just not for me... they seem so masculine. My husband loves that before I leave the house I am dressed up and make up on. I even do my housework like my grandmother did back in the 40's and 50's (she taught me when I was a little girl). I actually enjoy polishing my silver and mopping my kitchen floor. We never bought a microwave when we recently moved... haven't missed it.


Let's get social! Your comment will appear on this page after moderator approval. Thank you for your patience!

Contact Form