If you spend a bit of time looking at Vintage Enthusiast Blogs or Facebook pages it doesn't take long to come across a statement or comment by someone who wants to wear vintage, but doesn't have the confidence. I have also read many blog posts by gals who wear vintage daily (usually written around the time of their birthday) where they doubt their ability to pull off vintage style clothes because of their age. Put those instances together with all of the other assumptions made about vintage wearers ("It must take you so long to get ready in the morning", "Your wardrobe must have been so expensive", "You must have the best figure" and "You must be able to apply winged eyeliner flawlessly") and it makes vintage fashions seem like the most inappropriate garments ever designed. In my opinion the truth is quite the opposite. Vintage style isn't just Pin-ups and Poodle skirts (not that there is anything wrong with that).
I often think that people forget about the classic vintage looks that are quite wearable by normal standards even today. Bloggers and other Vintage Enthusiasts want to experiment with their style and are often quite comfortable with bold designs, unusual (for the current era) stylings and brighter colours. I have no qualms with this fact and I think that if you want to (regardless of the sub-culture) you can dress however your heart desires. However, for those who are a little unsure about vintage fashion for whatever reason, I want to inform you; yes you can wear vintage styles without looking too out-of-place.
In some cases I think that some of the more classic, timeless pieces that have survived the previous decades can be the most appropriate and the most flattering regardless of age, size or occasion. A little black dress for example, can take many forms and therefore be flattering on different ages and sizes. It can also be dressed-up or down to suit any occasion from a low-key dinner, to a more formal event. Making use of classic time-less pieces and a few other tricks means can also help to save money and time.
In this post I wanted to talk about vintage style for all ages and sizes, Vintage style in the work place, And how to take a softer approach to vintage if you are interested in trying out the style. This post will mostly focus on that last part as I want to show some simple and cost effective ideas for those who want to add a bit of vintage flair to their wardrobe. I am also hoping that some of these ideas may also be useful to those who are fluent in vintage style (aka those who wear it all the time and probably know way more than I do) for creating outfits for more relaxed occasions or for dressing with vintage flair on a rushed day.
VINTAGE FOR ALL AGES:
I honestly believe that vintage style clothing can be appropriate for all ages. I say "Can Be" because like most fashions there are usually exceptions to certain styles for certain body types or age brackets. For example: I would not suggest a Marylin style halter neck dress for any one over the age of 50 at least, and I also wouldn't suggest that style for anyone under the age of 16. I think the main concern is coming from the 30-40 age bracket who already wear vintage clothing and aren't sure if they should continue. I say go for it! You might not feel as confident in some of the shorter hemlines or funky patterns, but I honestly don't think that you should have to change your style completely (if at all). Wear what you are comfortable in, but don't stop wearing your favourite style if you don't want to. There are always ways around shorter hemlines (such as leggings or opaque tights) and if you feel that bright colours or patterns are too much, then try sticking to one bright statement piece or looking for similar pieces in more flattering colours.
VINTAGE FOR ALL SIZES:
Again with the exceptions, not all styles will be flattering on everyone, however I honestly believe that vintage fashions can be more flattering on a larger range of body types than some of the more modern styles. Some modern interpretations of vintage styles are quite loose smock - style dresses that are belted at the waist to create the illusion of an hourglass figure. If you are not really sure about what suits you I would suggest trying on some clothes in front of someone you know you can trust to tell you what looks good on. I would also suggest looking through Pinterest at some of the different eras of fashion and different fashion icons for ideas. You might be really surprised what styles are actually flattering for your body.
These Icons don't have to be authentic 50s ladies either. Women like Sofia Coppola, Taylor Swift, Zooey Deschanel, Lauren Conrad, Anne Hathaway, Kate Middleton and Lana Del Rey are sometimes seen sporting vintage-inspired looks. Because these are modern women, you can also see how the styles have been adapted to suit this decade.
VINTAGE - A SOFTER APPROACH:
If you want to try out vintage style and you are not confident with some of the bigger and bolder designs made by Vintage Reproduction companies then this is for you. While these things don't scare me (but hey I wore purple lipstick to the super market once) I find the prices a little daunting and I don't own a lot of that sort of thing for that reason. I don't believe that you have to spend a lot of money to get the classic look and think you will be surprised where you can sometimes find decent clothes. Here is Post About Saving Money On Style that I wrote a little while ago. I have since discovered that most of the clothes I own fall under the 'Vintage Appropriate' category. I'm not going to call it that in this post because I think the two different uses of the word Appropriate makes it a little confusing. To learn the different categories I suggest watching this video by Jessica from Chronically Vintage.
I think the best way to "Try Out" vintage style would be to look for wearable classic items to mix in with what you already have. You may have some of these things in your wardrobe already. Not all of these items are necessary and some of the more basic items should be pretty common in department stores. Most of these items will be helpful for creating a casual look (read further down for work wear and special occasion suggestions). If you aren't confident wearing full-on authentic vintage looks or pin-up looks I suggest skipping petti-coats, bullet bras, pin curls and gloves. Start of with the basics first.
Items to Look out for:
- Striped tops/sweaters
These have been very popular throughout the years. Especially with Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn.
- Basic singlets and T Shirts.
Great for layering or for wearing with a summer skirt.
- Plain Cardigans (especially if they finnish at the waist)
Long sleeves are great for winter and shorter sleeves are great for spring.
-Boat neck and crew neck sweaters
Will look great layered with peter pan collars or with pearls.
-Tops with collar, bow, bib and/or button detail
a little bit of detail goes a long way.
-Peplum tops and tops that finish at the waist.
-A blazer and a coat.
Timeless and much needed in cooler months
For wearing with Tunics.
-Straight leg/flaired High-waist pants/jeans.
Great for a 1940s look.
-High waisted shorts.
If you are confident wearing them.
-Knee length to Maxi Length skirts in styles that flatter your body (especially if they are high waisted)
Great for a variety of looks. Unfortunately in this day and age it can be quite difficult to find a nice knee-length or three quarter length skirt without paying too much money. I have resorted to online shopping and op-shops to provide me with skirts of those lengths.
-Shirt dresses or Wrap dresses.
Are very practical garments to own.
-Dresses that come in at the waist.
To emphasize or create the illusion of a waist.
-A little black dress.
Everyone should own one.
For creating the illusion of a 1950s waist.
For a hint of colour or pattern.
Practical and Elegant, though some cheaper brands only sell these in canvas or faux suede which isn't really practical for rainy days or dirt...
-Moccasins, Brogues and Oxfords
- A Satchel bag or other Timeless style for everyday use
A vintage style handbag is the perfect way to pull your look together.
-A nice Clutch
For evenings out.
-Vintage inspired sunglasses or glasses
If it's good enough for Coco it's good enough for me.
-Knot earrings and other stud earrings.
These were very popular as they were suitable for most hair lengths and they don't look too OTT.
Can add a touch of glamour to any outfit.
Colours and Textures to look for:
In my honest opinion the best colours to go for a nautical colours, neutral colours and colours that you like. Colours like camel, navy, grey, cream, white and black will go with most peoples wardrobes. These are also colours that will make you stand out less and that will make putting an outfit together seem less daunting. If you wear a lot of green then you can buy green things if you want. The idea is to be able to use what you already have as well.
As far as textures go I'd say whatever is comfortable. It doesn't matter too much. I think lace is really pretty but some people find that it makes them itch and some people don't like the complex and feminine patterns. This will also be a budget thing.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for leopard print, floral and polka dot fabrics. Again this is your wardrobe so if you don't like spots or florals then you don't need to buy them. I have seen a lot of checkered and cherry prints worn in the pin-up style, but these two prints can be a bit bright and they can attract attention. Black/white and brown monochrome checkered prints are a more neutral version if you want to try out that print.
Incorporating Timeless pieces with your own wardrobe:
I just wanted to give a few brief outfit ideas (though there will be plenty of pictures later on in this post) that could be created with timeless pieces. As I mentioned earlier you might want to think about looking at pictures of how modern style icons incorporate vintage inspired garments into their look. Most of these outfit ideas fall under the "casual" category.
-Over sized button up blouse worn with skinny jeans/leggings, belted in at the waist, headscarf, blingy earrings of choice and flat lace up shoes.
-Stripey sweater/shirt worn with your favourite pair of jeans, a pearl necklace, stud earrings and ballet flats.
-High-waisted shorts with a fitted singlet top worn underneath, vintage style sunnies of choice, bangles and sandals.
-Printed/slogan T-shirt tucked into a long skirt (worn on the waist), with low heels or flats of preferred style and a brooch pinned to the shirt.
-A vintage style dress of choice worn with stockings of choice, closed toe shoes a small pendant necklace.
If these ideas are still too wild for you then I suggest taking the Coco Chanel approach and removing an accessory from the outfit. You could also choose to just wear one vintage inspired piece or to wear vintage inspired accessories with modern garments. One of my favourite ideas is to belt your waist when you are wearing clothes that don't really have a shape or to wear clothes with longer hemlines.
VINTAGE AT WORK:
A lot of "casual" clothes from the 1950's are a lot like office clothes today. A button-up shirt, tucked into a nice skirt, closed in shoes and maybe a few small accessories. I can't say for sure what I think would be a good idea for the workplace because I don't know what kind of job you have. If you work in a retail business you might be required to wear trendy clothes, clothes that are sold by that business, or a uniform shirt paired with black bottoms. Office or business style jobs usually require a modest, yet practical blouse and skirt combo, Or a uniform top and skirt of choice. For women in more industrial or rural workplaces uniforms are more about safety and practicality. Jeans teamed with a Polo shirt or high-visibility long sleeved shirt.
I think the best (and most practical) way to incorporate a vintage look into your work outfit is to:
- Wear flattering skirts or trousers with your uniform top.
(again this is not always easy to accomplish on a budget)
- Wear classic jewelry whilst keeping it to a minimum.
- A vintage inspired handbag, sunglasses and shoes.
VINTAGE FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION:
I think one of the things that stands out for me with vintage style evening gowns is the subtle details. The dresses are usually quite simple in design, modestly cut and made out of pretty fabrics. Small details like lace trims/overlays, small sections of beading or bow/flower applique. If you are not used to wearing vintage inspired styles I recommend going for a shape and colour you are confident in, that has a simple design and pairing it with minimal accessories.
A few things to remember:
-Modesty is important especially if you want to be comfortable at the event. A reasonable length hemline, suitable undergarments, undergarments that aren't visible, a reasonable neckline etc. Here is a post I wrote about wearing suitable undergarments.
-While there are plenty of amazing 1950s (and earlier) styles with amazing detail and numerous features, sometimes the most graceful choices are the plainer ones.
-Heel height is required to be comfortable. While you may want to wear strappy high heels there are plenty of designs out there that are more comfortable and suit the vintage look.
- If you can't find a vintage-inspired dress you can wear a dressy skirt and top combo or pair a modern dress with vintage style accessories and hairstyle.
HAIR AND MAKE-UP:
Vintage inspired looks don't have to be accompanied by liquid eyeliner and victory rolls to be complete. While I love these kinds of make-up and hair looks they can take a fair bit of effort, talent and time to create, which isn't always practical. Read on and I will list some ideas for time-effective hair and make-up that will complete your look.
- If you don't have a lot of money to spend on make-up and hair stuff I suggest reading this: Blog post.
- I like this toned down make-up look by Lisa Freemont Street: Video here
- I strongly suggest picking up a copy of Retro Make-up by Lauren Rennells.
- I think it's up to you and what features you want to accentuate. If I don't want to wear make-up I will usually wear lipstick alone. On a typical work day there is usually a little bit of eye shadow in a natural colour, brow definition, some face powder, lipstick and clear mascara. Keep in mind that I am kind of addicted to make-up... You save a lot of time once you take blending foundation in, Or applying liquid liner out of the equation.
-I also recommend trying out different kinds of eyeliner if you really want to master the winged look.
-You could pull your hair up into an Audrey Hepburn style pony-tail.
-Pull it back into a head-scarf or hairband.
-Wear it half-up like Brigette
-Get a flattering haircut and wear it out
-Clip front section back with a retro style barrette.
-Wear it in a low bun.
AND NOW FOR THE PHOTOS....
If you want to look at some more of the modern style outfits I suggest using keywords like "preppy", "romantic" and "mod". I know I didn't use a lot of older or larger examples here and I am sorry, but I honestly think it's up to the individual and what they feel comfortable in. I wasn't really successful at finding images for this on Pinterest, but maybe you might have a style icon that fits the description who wears a softer vintage look well?
Basically where I was going with this whole post was to help out people who want to try out vintage looks (or anyone who wants to tone down their usual vintage look) in order to feel confident and be dressed appropriately for work, a special occasion or a low key event. I feel like many of the timeless designs with more of a streamlined silhouette and worn in neutral/nautical colours can be more appropriate than anything because it is modest, practical and feminine. I feel like many of the designs worn by Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly fit this description and are still quite wearable today.
This post is not intended to be disrespectful to those girls who put all of the effort into their Rockabilly outfits or Authentic 1930s sewing projects. I commend you for having the confidence and the creative ability to make it work. Personally my dress sense floats between Vintage-Inspired and more of a modern vintage fusion, For me, not wearing authentic vintage looks usually comes down to the price and availability of items, a lack of historical knowledge and my own personal flair.
Lastly, I would like to remind you that I am not an expert, that I definitely have no intentions of offending anyone (with my writing standard it is bound to happen) and I know that my high school English teacher would have torn this apart. Sometimes it's hard to get your ideas accross in writing. I hope this is useful and gives you all some ideas.
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