For many of us our love of vintage clothing is a defining part of our style, whether this means choosing a retro mini over Daisy Dukes for a day at the mall or wearing overalls and a cute blouse instead of sweatpants and a tee to do the housework. Yet sadly it can be extremely difficult to get a genuine vintage buy with all the knock-offs flooding the market, and dressing vintage can be hard for those new to this particular corner of the fashion world. Fortunately, we at Back In Style have some tried and tested advice for shape styling and spotting genuine vintage pieces. And, worst comes to the worst, we have some great customization tips that would make newer, mass produced items fit right in in your era of choice, no matter if that is the swingin’ sixties or electric eighties!
Finding your Look
Vintage style is a hugely broad category and many people make the mistake of thinking that the “vintage” look consists of a flapper dress and headpiece. Wrong! Vintage, in its most literal form, means either new or second hand clothing from a previous era – meaning that even certain fashion disasters from the 1990s could technically be included in this group. It is essential, then, to figure out what look you would most like to style yourself upon before hitting the stores.
Putting together a “look book” is usually a great place to start. Say you like the style of Audrey Hepburn and want to find that LBD from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – cut out a picture and stick it in your look book! Then comes the accessorizing, another important aspect of vintage fashion. Your take on the Audrey look could stick with the classic pearl necklace, or step up the glamour with some drop-diamond earrings; for the more daring, maybe even a feather boa! Vintage is fun and fierce, and should reflect your personality as much as it reflects the feel of the era you are channeling.
The Perfect Fit
When it comes to vintage, knowing what style will suit your shape is a huge advantage when figuring out what era to choose. Pre-seventies items, for example, were made for butts and breasts, so if you have an hourglass figure dresses from the forties, fifties or sixties are more likely to love your curves and flatter you. If you have a more androgynous body shape, the empire line styling of seventies dresses will sit better, and can be accessorized with belts and scarves to highlight your best bits!
Also, it is probably a good idea to throw away the size chart used by department and chain stores today. People were, as standard, smaller and thinner back then so grabbing a selection and seeing what works best is usually the best advice for someone new to the vintage world.
Finally, if you find your perfect piece but it doesn’t fit just right, never fear – a session or two with a tailor will fix that problem right up. As many women in previous eras made their own clothes, and often spent weeks on one piece, vintage pieces are often made to specific measurements but can be easily altered to fit you just as well as they fit their previous owners.
The Genuine Article … Or Not!
Vintage has now become so popular in the mainstream, thanks to movies and television shows like The Great Gatsby and Mad Men, that everyone seems to want a piece of the action. As a result, people are often prepared to travel for great vintage stores that come highly recommended – and of course this has created an opportunity for those who wish to make a quick buck from knock-off pieces. There are a few checks you can make, however, to ensure your piece is true vintage. First of all, check the stitching, as vintage pieces tend to be of a higher quality than the mass produced garments of today. A loose thread here or there does not mean an item is a rip, but poor quality materials or clumsy stitching says otherwise! Also, if you like your sixties vintage keep an eye out for plastic zippers – as these only entered into circulation in the 1970s, a non-metal zipper on a 1960s dress is a sure sign of a fake.
Of course, checking your item is vintage is great if you have the perfect piece in your hands, but what if you have a vision for a look and can’t find all the items you need?Simple – fake it! For example, if you have a gorgeous vintage jacket which would look amazing with a slip dress, but the slip dress is missing, buying a modern day equivalent and blending the looks is not the biggest fashion crime in the world. Vintage fashion can also be hugely expensive, especially if you are courting couture from fashion houses such as Chanel or Givenchy for that Grace Kelly elegance. In that case, choosing one expensive genuine piece and accessorizing around it keeps your look both stylish and affordable. You can often get a great deal on modern pieces by cutting corners on aspects of your outfit and, as long as the signature piece is the genuine article, your look will remain vintage with only a slight modern twist.
Above all, fashion is supposed to be fun – so browse, mix and match your pieces until you find a style which is right for you.
The post Revitalizing Retro Styles – Making the Most of Vintage appeared first on The Vintage Fashionistas.