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Monthly Archives: September 2017

  • When the old meets the new: how to wear vintage in the 21st Century

    vintage style dresses UK

    With vintage and retro clothing from each and every ear proving more popular than ever before, there’s no exact science to getting it right – and to wearing it right. But, let’s be honest, you can get it wrong; indeed, you could throw on a number of things from yesteryear and look like you’re on your way to a costume party. So, what can you do to make sure you’re on the right path? What tips should you try to follow to look chic and cool as well as retro and old-school…?

    Accessorise at first

    Kicking things off in a simple way is probably a good idea. How to do that best? Well, nothing beats starting small – and that means supplementing a modern outfit with vintage accessories. An age-old favourite fashion practice, for sure; but one that rarely fails. For instance, minimal effort and maximum effect in this way can be achieved by throwing on a simple white t-shirt with blue jeans and a stylish, attention-grabbing belt from back in the day. Moreover, if you’re on a budget, accessories can be a handy way to get into the world of vintage/ retro fashion by not making costly mistakes – belts, brooches, bangles, necklaces, hats and scarves aren’t shouldn’t cost you the earth.

    Look to today’s trends

    Lacking the confidence to trust your instincts fully and throw together an outfit from vintage items alone or vintage mixed with modern? You can find a middle ground between going for broke and the dull safe option of just going modern by letting today’s designer and media trendsetters guide you through what’ll look hot from among vintage/ retro pieces. Sounds unlikely? Don’t doubt it; what goes around comes around in fashion – it always has done; always will do. The vast majority of designers nowadays look back for influence and inspiration in looking forward, thus you may find it easier than you expect to match current trends with pieces from yesteryear.

    vintage style dresses UK

    Mix it up by mixing it together

    Once you’ve mastered looking urgent and current via vintage/ retro items, you can push further by mixing and matching old garments with their latest counterparts. Thanks to recycled trends, it’s – again – relatively easy to create an outfit by throwing together high-street clothes with those picked up from an online or shop-based vintage/ retro retailer, so long as you put some thought and care into it. For instance, how about combining an Edwardian blouse with a modern miniskirt? Or one of those classic ’50s-style vintage dresses with a plain t-shirt (or even a graphic-featuring one for a little more fun flair)? Plus, you can apply your accessorising skills – covered above – here; match not just clothes together but vintage and modern necklaces, brooches and scarves with your togs. The possibilities – so long as it looks good – are endless.

    Build an outfit around a ‘statement item’

    Touching on the last point above, how about picking out a single excellent vintage item and creating an entire outfit around it; make that item the stylish, flashy statement-making centrepiece and supplement it with current ‘lesser’ pieces and modern accessories? The trick here is about finding and blending together things that don’t offset but complement one another. For example, modern accessories will doubtless work well with one of those boho-bold vintage style dresses UK so long as they’re fairly basic and understated.

    Embrace different eras

    As mentioned, clothes designers aren’t afraid to draw their inspiration from the entire history of fashion, so why shouldn’t you? Again, so long as you deploy thought and care, why not mix together items through different decades? Granted; it may take some time to get this exactly right – and it’ll probably require the sort of confidence that comes with an (ahem) vintage veteran. But there’s no reason to think you won’t get there and aren’t capable of doing it. After all, just imagine popping out for cocktails in a 1950s- or ’40s-style dress with a classic clutch or retro handbag and completing the outfit with a stylish coat from the ’60s or ’70s on top? In the land of vintage, the world can be your oyster!


  • Monroe, Dior, prom dresses and more: 1950s fashion and today’s eveningwear

    Only a fool who knew nothing of women’s fashion would claim that vintage and retro weren’t in and it’s only about the high-street – vintage and retro are absolutely in and from no decade more so than the 1950s. Not least when it comes to the more formal end of the fashion spectrum. But why? Why are women of all ages turning to that era’s looks – and why have the ’50s always been a touchstone for eveningwear to hark back to…?

    1950s style dresses

    The context

    In many ways, the ’50s were about reconstruction; the West was putting itself back together in the aftermath of the Second World War. In the UK, this meant an age of austerity – sound familiar? – but in the US, by contrast, it saw booming industrial and economic development, more cash in people’s wallets (especially the young) and a desire for colour, style and self-expression after the previous decade’s restrictive war years.

    Indeed, fashion designers became genuine household names across the planet (the likes of Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy); they resurrected haute couture and rebelled against the austerity-influenced styles of the 1940s by producing clothes that thoroughly celebrated femininity and the female form. For that reason alone, 1950s eveningwear – with its elegance and oh-so easy-on-the-eye appearance – has remained a constant standard against which much of the eveningwear that’s followed has been measured, as well as influencing so much of what’s come in the decades since.

    The fashion

    Specifically, 1950s dresses suitable for a night out on the town were all about figure-hugging shape at the waist and above but blossoming out with lots of fabric beneath. It’s a timeless look, all right, and understandably popular for women’s eveningwear today – for everything from formal events to school, college and university proms. Colour too was in; as bold and vivid as you like, or more delicate with vibrant floral prints. The emphasis then was on the silhouette (as so often with women’s fashion, of course), but in this decade it was firmly on celebrating the natural female hourglass figure. That said; a mini-revolution occurred with Dior turning his attention to slim-figure-favouring A-line dresses and the take-up once again of the notorious little black dress (LBD).

    The influencers

    Technically speaking, the multi-media age pre-dated World War Two, but it really kicked into gear in the 1950s, as the West recovered from that conflict’s widespread and deep destruction. Like never before then, the very biggest celebrities were fully-fledged multi-media stars; if they weren’t on the big screen, they were being interviewed on TV or being featured in several-page-long spreads in glossy, colourful, hugely popular and influential fashion magazines. Most of the time, of course, they were appearing in all three at once.

    To this end then, the female icons of the age were bigger fashion icons – and walking advertisements for the fashion industry – than ever before (and in a way we relate to greatly nowadays). Indeed, such icons are still revered today; perhaps more than anything else for how they dressed – so to say that fact didn’t inspire what became fashionable (and remains timelessly fashionable still) would be a big understatement.

    1950s style dresses

    But who were they? Well, we’re talking the likes of Grace Kelly (the Hollywood princess who became a real princess) and Marilyn Monroe (the sex symbol who wasn’t afraid to hide her vulnerable soul), both unforgettable in those voluminous dresses of the era; then there were the European glamour pusses that were Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren (both with their hourglass figures and on-trend fashion to match) and, conversely, the slim-lined gamine appeal of the adorable Audrey Hepburn (whom effectively served as Givenchy’s muse). These are unforgettable names today, the mere mention of which summon up visions of unforgettable images – and 1950s style dresses, of course.

    Thanks to all these factors then, it’s no surprise that stylish, elegant women’s fashion from the 1950s not only continues to influence the very best of today, but is turned to by women throughout the world when dressing themselves up to the nines whatever the special occasion. In short, you can’t beat the ’50s look – it’s a timeless era of fantastic formal fashion that’ll always be a touchstone, always be relevant and always be wearable.

  • Think before you click: tips for buying vintage online – and then wearing it

    vintage dresses

    No question, the rise and rise of vintage clothes shopping – both online and otherwise – is seeing more and more people turning to older garments (and retro-style brand new pieces) to solve fashion conundrums. Yet, as with all things, there’s a way to do it properly; a way to do it that’s smart, ensuring you avoid mistakes by purchasing as effectively as possible. Indeed, all you need is to bear in mind a few tips– and combine a keen imaginative eye with a common-sense approach as you browse for bargains…

    vintage dressesKick-off with a classic

    In starting out, there’s no need trying to climb Everest; that is, make you first vintage/ retro purchase something that’s far from the biggest challenge or risk to get you into the groove and off and running. We’re talking a classic here; maybe a 1950s-style beaded cardigan or an utterly timeless little black dress (LBD). Maybe one of those vintage dresses that you’re likely to reach for in the wardrobe time and again would be a good starting point.

    What lies beneath

    Here’s an all too easy-to-overlook tip – bear in mind underwear. Not vintage/ retro-style underwear, but the undergarments you’re going to wear with your new purchases. Yes, they can make a difference. Why? Because back through the decades, underwear was designed differently and looked different to today’s when worn, which in turn ensured outer-garments had a certain appearance – the body a particular silhouette – when you put them on over the top. We’re talking the likes of corsets, girdles and bullet-bras here; some vintage pieces just don’t quite look right without them being worn underneath.

    Don’t forget your decades

    When you step into the world of vintage/ retro fashion, you’re taking a step back into the past – and the past is, well, vast. For the most part, you’re going to be drawing on fashion that’s from the 20th Century; but, let’s face it, you could end up attracted to – and therefore buying – something from practically any of that century’s decades. That’s a lot of different eras of style to draw from. So, it’s important to consider what was in and what was out in these different decades – do you know your 1950s rockabilly looks from your 1960s Swinging mod outfits, your 1920s flapper dresses from your 1970s maxi dresses? Be aware too that the younger the garment – the more recent decade it’s from – the easier and more comfortable fit it may be.

    vintage dresses1

    Research pays off

    This maxim could be applied to the above paragraph, of course; but it’s critical when it comes to parting with a lot of dosh for something that’s not brand new. Granted, if you’re thinking of splashing the cash on one of the many vintage style dresses UK available from online retro retailers rather than splurging on a vintage piece that’s half-a-century-old, it’s not such a big deal; but if the reverse is true, research into the item definitely pays off. So, learn how to recognise condition issues, what vintage/ retro fashion really suits your body-shape best and always seek out the advice of the retailers themselves, the more candid the better.

    Don’t be afraid to tailor it

    Finally, there’s no need to be shy about altering a vintage item you’ve bought. Yes, it may be decades old, but you’re buying it to wear it, not to hang it on the wall. And that means you shouldn’t put up with it not quite fitting as it might and not achieving that knock-out look you want when you pop it on. Investing a little extra in having an item tailored to totally fit you can really make the difference and so prove properly worthwhile. Mind you, specific items from some eras (especially the older ones) won’t be possible to alter in this way; so, learn to recognise items’ limitations in this regard – and, again, which items from which fashion era suit your body best.

  • The age of vintage: why is vintage fashion so popular?

    Vintage is everywhere. When you think about it; that’s rather a silly statement. Of course, vintage is everywhere – as soon as something’s been around for a while it effectively becomes ‘vintage’, being replaced by something newer that’s the latest flavour of the month. By definition then, vintage is everywhere – of course it is!

    Indeed, just we all get older, when young people replace those nearing middle-age as the younger generation, you might argue the older generation has then become ‘vintage’; not that they’re time is up, not that they’re past it and certainly not that they’re no use to anyone anymore. The world and life – thankfully! – doesn’t work that way.

    And, in fact, neither should clothes; garments that have been around for a while need not be thrown away or adjusted and recycled if they’re still in good condition – their time shouldn’t be up as they’re not past it. And it’s the waking up to this fact by millions of people that’s led to the rise of so-called vintage fashion; the realisation that older clothes are still wearable because they still look great – in fact, they’re not just wearable; they *should* be worn!

    But does that alone explain why vintage clothing is enjoying a particular boon right now? Or is there a little bit more to it?

    The celebrity factor

    Like or not, in the past few years, the renaissance of vintage may in part be attributable to the fact so many celebrities have been photographed and appear in newspapers and magazines and on the Internet happily wearing vintage in public. This, in many people’s minds then, has helped underline the reality there’s no barrier at all to wearing vintage and looking entirely with-it and modern – and with that, using vintage clothes to help carve out and express one’s own style and individual dress sense.

    And tied to this is the fact that, increasingly, people may be coming to the conclusion – inevitably then (to explain the above point), celebrities among them – that modern, up-to-the-minute high-street fashion is becoming rather generic, a little too homogenous. To wear a good deal of today’s new fashion is too often to look like everyone else. By contrast, when worn with care and imagination, vintage fashion – or newly made retro fashion – can transcend time; if it was smartly worn back in the day and looked cool, elegant, beautiful or simply sensational, why on earth wouldn’t it now? After all, trends on the catwalk and (supposedly) new fashion in the high-street outlets are forever influenced by past trends – what goes around comes around. And that means, conversely perhaps, that one never looks more on-trend than when subtly wearing vintage or retro.

    The opportunity for self-expression

    Maybe most of all, though, vintage/ retro is enjoying an undeniable time in the sun right now because it’s an enabler – it ensures its enthusiasts can be enthusiasts of themselves; that is, of their own sense of style and fashion and how they wish to be seen – how they want to present themselves to the outside world and what about their own personalities they want to share through how they dress. It can be – flying in the face of homogenous high-street garments – about self-expression. And, through that, about liberation and free-styling.

    vintage clothing onlineMany people turn to and develop an interest in vintage/ retro through seeking out or, by accident rather than design, discovering that one piece that they have to have, which becomes that favourite in their wardrobe they constantly pull out and mix and match with so many other things. That, of course, is wonderful, but it can lead them further into the wide world of vintage clothing online; it can become a door that opens them up to all the possibilities out there.

    vintage clothing online1To use the wardrobe as a metaphor then, that one piece can open the door into a magical Narnia-like world of opportunity that’s vintage/ retro fashion. But, unlike Narnia, the marvellous thing is that you can return to the modern day and sport your vintage garb along with today’s fashion because they all mix together so well; after all, fashion fads and trends come and go, but vintage is forever – it’s everywhere.

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