You see, the point of not using your lens wide open is deep. You must understand how the aperture works to see it. If you shoot wide open for whatever reason, you either don't undestand the meaning of the aperture, either you seek a "special look" you were talking about.
The "special look" is OK with those, who like it. But I have a better method then shooting wide open.
When I want to give my slides a certain old and a bit "washed out" look, I underexpose them and then overdevelop them a bit. They get pulled and acquire this particular uncontrasty look. Depending on the subject you shoot, It can be really great sometimes. It's a pity I do not have a scanner to show my work.