In 2008 Channel 4 aired a documentary entitled ‘Time Warp Wives’ in which four female retro enthusiasts spoke about their decision to ‘live in the past’. The programme showed the women baking, cleaning, and talking about the joys of housework. This documentary is just one example of the increase in the value of domestic practices associated with past lives and is part of a wider turn to retro femininities evidenced by growth in WI membership, baking groups and knitting circles.
Using ethnographic research conducted with retro enthusiasts from 2006 to 2009 in the UK this paper will explore this trend. It will focus on the fantasies of past home life that often accompany the consumption of retro style and discuss these fantasies in relation to the division of domestic labour within retro homes. By doing this, the paper will consider the extent to which the turn to retro cultures is retrogressive in terms of gender identity.