Written by fashion blogger Diana Thompson at Fashion Loves Photos
Modern Day Vintage – Heritage Chic.
Shopping for vintage clothing can sometimes feel like going out on a treasure hunt. As much as I enjoy the anticipation and excitement of finding the perfect dress, I’ve wasted hours rummaging through rails and suitcases only to come away empty handed and frustrated. Often I’ve struggled to squeeze my ample bosom into vintage sizing, and if the material doesn’t have much stretch, I’m doomed to eventually pop a button at the most unfortunate of moments!
Although it is possible to find great vintage items in size curve, those not close to larger cities with a variety of thrift shops and charity gems will often find themselves at a disadvantage. Lucky for us, there has been a huge sartorial nod towards “heritage chic” and a range of vintage inspired items have begun to drift from catwalk to shop front in a dreamy mesh of beading, lace and glamour. This makes it much easier to flit from flapper to prom queen on a whim, with Simply Be offering a range of designs to suit the taste of every vintage loving vixen.
The Jazz Age brought with it a series of fashions for some serious dancing. Flappers would sparkle under stage lights as the beading and tassels of their dresses jumped around wildly, whilst Coco Channel introduced pearls, glamour and a smart sailor chic which is still popular today. A signature look for the 1920s lady would almost certainly includes a drop waisted LBD paired with a wavy hairstyle, and I love the Frock And Frill Embroided Flapper Style Dress (£135) for recreating this look. The black dress with it’s beautiful silver embellished detail captures the art deco feel of the period, and will have you wanting to sip cocktails whilst doing the Charleston the second you put it on. To complete the 20s look, team with pearls, waves and a feathered or beaded headdress. Alternatively, add a smoky eye and a glossy red lip for a modern update with a 20s nod.
Fashion in the 30s faced an abrupt turn once the Great Depression hit America. The decadence of the 20s was long gone, but silver screen icons like Greta Garbo still held influence as movie goers flocked to cinemas in search of fun and distraction. The style of dress had completely changed – gone was the sequinned frivolity, and in it’s place were the budding ideas of simple glamour and elegance which would continue through to the 1940s. The 30s shape was often floor length, backless and with pads used to broaden the shoulders. Embellishments such as fabric flowers were also used to draw attention to the waist, and the Praslin Embellished Waist Maxi Dress (was £45, now £38) does the perfect job of recreating that idea. Team with a wide brimmed hat and finger waves for an authentic 30s finish. You could even add a faux-fur stole to keep both warm and glamorous.
The post-war glamour of the 40s was caused by necessity rather than whimsy. With material in short supply, dresses were made with the least amount of fabric possible. Step forward the wiggle dress in all it’s form fitting, knee skimming glory! Like it’s modern day incarnation the bodycon, wiggle dresses are elegant and simple, with the hourglass shape created by a girdle to help ensure a wow factor. Nylon stockings, red lips and victory rolls completed the look and the Lace Panel Bodycon Dress (£75) is the perfect modern day equivalent. It’s curve creating panelling negates the need for any sort of 40s style undergarments and is the perfect party dress for any occasion.
The 1950s conjure up images of ribboned ponytails, circle skirts and clean cut cuteness. Who doesn’t want to own Sandra Dee’s wardrobe and swoon over a car racing T-Bird? The Joe Browns San Pietro Dress (£45) is the perfect modern take on this iconic look, with it’s full skirt perfect for dancing the night away at your favourite milkshake joint. Whether you’re off to a summer wedding or a spring picnic, the kitsch print and bright colours are sure to get you noticed for all the right reasons. Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee? Yes! And I look fabulous!
The 60s saw a brand new must have wardrobe staple which would change the face of fashion forever. London said hello to Mary Quant’s sensational mini-skirt which launched the lift of hemlines all over the world. Paired with tights, knee high boots and Twiggy inspired hair, pins were on show in a variety of shift dresses and bold patterns. Simply Be have their own version of a 60s shape which encompasses another two key 60s trend – monochrome and dogtooth. The Dogtooth 60s Shift Dress with Leather Look Trims (was £50, now £30.50) has been given a modern update with faux leather touches along the neckline and pockets. Just add some wide eyed false lashes and a sleek bob to mimic the original 60s trends stomping along the Carnaby Street catwalks.
The 70s saw a clash of fashion styles, with disco, glam rock and boho chic all rushing to define a new generation of fashion and music lovers. Midi lengths and “hippy” style sleeves were a run on from the late 60s, with embroidery and flowing fabrics all making an appearance. Style icons such as Farrah Fawcett led the hair and make-up trends with her flicked out layers, and you can feel like one of Charlie’s Angels in the Red Lace Dress with Short Belle Sleeves (£65). The swing dress is perfect teamed with wedges and is the perfect item to run from office to bar.
Remember you can always layer another item on top to give your dress more bite. I love the Lovedrobe PU Zip Detail Jacket (£55, was £65) for doing just that, taking boho chic to rock and roll rebel in one easy step.
Fundamentally when looking at vintage styles, the most important thing is to have fun with it. There are no rules which can’t be broken and sartorial experimentation is to be encouraged. Who says you can’t rock a studded clutch with a 30s floor length evening dress? It’s nice to mix up genuine vintage accessories with off the rack clothes, and can often be a more affordable way of finding your own vintage style. Charity shops, thrift markets and even places like eBay can be great for hats, bags and other vintage items, but it’s always nice to know that a dress shape you love is in the size you need thanks to vintage reproduction and heritage chic.