When it comes to wearing vintage, there is no one single path to travel. Everyone's interpretations of what is right for them is different, as well it should be, but how do you determine what is right for you and where do you find your inspiration?
Perhaps you are just setting out to dip a toe into the vintage pool, or perhaps your vintage look just isn't working for you any more; there are a few things you can do to create a look that is uniquely your own and find your vintage groove.
Firstly, and most importantly, you need to decide WHAT you are dressing. Are you dressing to suit your shape, disguising any flaws and highlighting your favorite features? Are you dressing to emulate a certain era in the best approximation possible? Are you choosing vintage solely for its sustainable fashion perspective? Are you trying to find a more creative side to your personality by finding a look not dictated by current trends and styles?
All of these elements may play a role in how you choose to dress, either exclusively or as part of a whole; but you need to know which of these factors is the most important to you before going forward.
Let's assume that your first priority is dressing to make the most of your figure. This will play a key role in determining which era of vintage is right for you. For instance, if you have a more curvy figure, are amply endowed, and like your clothes to skim rather than cling; you'll be looking towards the 1950's for your shape. Dresses that are waisted, flared skirts, shawl collars and cinchers to create a waist shape if yours needs a little help.
If you are tall and slim with killer legs and not much waist to speak of, you'll be looking to the 1920's and late 1960's for your style inspirations. With flapper dresses, bias cut jersey (thank you Coco) or even a pair of Go Go boots and a mini skirt; all of these elements can play to your body shape. Getting the picture?
Dressing for your best features is one of the quickest and simplest ways to determine your vintage style, as each era is known for focusing on key features of the figure. It's just down to you to put in a little research to mix and match those eras to your shape. Also, remember that in the latter part of the 20th century, fashion began taking it's cues from the earlier years. Thus the 1980's did its own versions of the 1940's and the 1950's, which means you can still get the silhouettes you're looking for at a lesser price and with more laundry friendly fabrics.
Once you've figured out your vintage motivation, it's time to get cracking on creating a look all your own. A vintage look is more than just a 40's floral dress hastily paired with some brogues or a cherry print dress and a flower in your hair. The variations are infinite, and it is up to you to make yours something special. A great place to start is by collecting images of your favorite silver screen icons from your chosen era.
It is likely that you'll find yourself gravitating towards the big names like Monroe, Twiggy or Hepburn. But once you have these in hand, it is time to do a little more digging. Thank god for Google, because here is where it comes into its own for creating your look. Start searching for movies made around the same time, with lesser known actresses/ actors, foreign film titles and advertisements. What you'll begin to see is much more variation on the styles within your chosen era. Marilyn and Audrey had a signature look all of their own, and it certainly isn't a one size fits all. So it is up to you to create your own signature look, pulling the elements you love from the looks you're researching.
Remember too, that what you see on screen is not always achievable for your everyday look, so keep in mind to search for candid shots off set. Another great resource is to search people's old family photos on Flickr to see what your everyday gal was wearing to the beach in 1951. Trust me, it is an eye opening exercise and will shatter many of the myths around what it means to dress vintage.
Once you've sorted all this out, create some collages of your inspirations, or simply set aside an image folder on your computer to store all your favorite pics and have a simple 'go to' file for those moments when you feel your inspirations waning. If you're going for a true emulation of your chosen era, there isn't much more to do other than follow through on creating the subtleties' of your look; hair, makeup, shoes; and committing to it. (No, not much at all Ha!) But if you're seeking a unique look that has the stamp of your own personality woven into it, now is your chance to go wild!
You can pick and mix pieces from your chosen eras and hair from another. Have a thing for cats? Find some great cat print fabric and have a vintage pattern made up in that. Start collecting vintage brooches in your theme and attach them to the hats you find. Have a favorite colour? Choose to go monochrome and develop your wardrobe into a collection of harmonious pieces in a single shade. Don't just stick to the clothes, choose all our accessories in that colour and go wild with parasols, handbags, glasses frames and the rest. I think you're starting to get the idea.
Whatever your motivation for dressing vintage, the interpretations are endless. Don't be dictated to be the current fads for certain vintage eras, nor by big name labels (unless yours is a serious investment collection). The beauty of dressing in vintage and living in the now, is that we are limited only by our imagination. Set yours free!
Read more of Super Kawaii Mama's fabulous vintage style tips at SuperKawaiiMama.com.au!