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Retro Festival: Get Into the Spirit with Some Awesome Retro Fashions (Women’s Edition)

Are you ready for Retro Festival 2017? Probably not, because we’ve got a while to go until it’s here, but that’s great news for the fashion lovers amongst you. Why? Because you have plenty of time to organise your outfits.

If you’ve been to the Retro Festival before, then you know how awesome it is. I loved almost everything about it. I love modern history, and the 20th century (the festival focuses on the decades from the 1930s to the 1980s) is my all-time favourite period.

It’s so easy to get into the feel of the festival. It’s family friendly, everyone’s warm and welcoming, and it’s so much fun. For this reason, I believe that it’s the perfect place to try out your vintage fashion skills.

Below, I’m going to look at a few key dress trends from the ‘30s to the ‘50s. Decide which one speaks to you the most and go for it. I promise you it’s an absolute blast, and you'll meet hundreds, even thousands of people getting into the spirit of things too. You can choose to wear things from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, but for me, they’re not quite vintage enough!

OK, so let’s take a quick waltz through the decades:

The 1930s This was a complex decade. At the start of the decade, women still held hugely traditional roles, but as the decade marched on, and the men went off to war, it all became a little looser. What did that mean in terms of fashion? Let’s have a quick look:

1. The skirts became shorter, but they weren’t quite at the stage of the mini-skirt – nowhere near it, in fact. To get this fashion right, choose a dress that finishes above the ankles but below the knee.

2. It was an era of decadence (at the start). WWI was behind them and there were feelings of frivolity. This is reflected in the light colours, the fancy patterns (polka dots, flowers), and the bling – thick pearl necklaces, lace brimmed hats.

3. They were slim. Very slim. The average size was a size 8 to 10!

Although the war loomed, this was an optimistic decade, so keep things light.

The 1940s Women had firmly found their place outside the home in the 1940s. The war effort had meant that they kept the industries working as the men went off to war. This is definitely reflected in the style of clothing.


Here are some things to note:

1. We almost have the mini-skirt upon us. The 1940s style dresses finished at the knee, with the calf on show – more so than the ‘30s.

2. Trousers became a popular choice of clothing for women. Unlike the skinny trousers we see today, these had a wide leg and a high waist. They're flattering, but they don’t show off the figure the way our skinny jeans do today.

3. The colours were somewhat more demure than the ‘30s. Yes, there were bright colours, but there were also a lot of greys, navies, and black – perhaps to signify the sombre nature of the war?

The 1950s Well, it’s fair to say that you can start to notice the people becoming plump again – although nothing by comparison to today. Rationing had/was coming to an end, and the hourglass figure became the epitome of the female form: it’s how the women aspired to look. Given this, you won’t be surprised to learn that the dresses began to flow out at the waist and bust – the previous two decades witnessed slim line, skimming dresses.


Colours and patterns began to come to the fore, in part because of the optimism of the time – we were rebuilding the world – but also because of advances in manufacturing, we were able to do a lot more with our clothes, and it really showed. To get it right in the ‘50s choose fun and interesting patterns in happy, light colours.

I hope that I’ve given you some food for thought in terms of vintage fashion for the Retro Festival. I will always recommend getting into the spirit of the festival because it is such a fun time!

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