I have a lot of fashion books, not all of them about vintage. From time to time I pull them out and re-read one.
The latest on is following on from my previous post of putting together the perfect wardrobe – “The One Hundred” – a guide to the pieces every stylish woman must own – by Nina Garcia (Elle fashion director and Project Runway judge). She lists 100 items that every woman should have in her wardrobe – they are the classic items that will work for every occasion. I am not going to list all 100 as there are certain items that I don’t feel fit in with my vintage style (and I don’t wear jeans or converse!!)
So over the next few posts I will give you my A-Z of wardrobe must haves with a vintage twist.
So here is the first instalment – A – F.
A-Line Dress – it is one of those little dresses that works for all occasions, you can dress it up or down, it is the ultimate dress of every 60’s It girl – think Twiggy, Penelope Tree, Edie Sedgewick, Mary Quant and Jean Shripmton. Have one in black as your just “in case” dress – wear it with opaque tights in the winter, knee high boots and in the summer with sandals.
Animal Print – this print is never far from the catwalk and an animal print accessory is an opportunity to be a bit bold with a slight element of danger but a full on leopard print dress on the other hand means you are no wallflower! Beware there is a fine line between looking chic and looking like a bad version of Bet Lynch when wearing animal print.
Too keep it chic:
- Wear only one piece of animal print at a time or you will end up looking like fashion road kill!!
- Keep everything else simple – pair the print with neutrals such as black, white, camel and khaki.
- And animal print does not come in pink, blue or yellow
Ballet flat – chic and timeless. From the sexy Bridget Bardot to the elegant Audrey Hepburn and every starlet in between. Although you can’t go wrong with basic black, have a couple of fun bold colours to go with your pretty summer dresses or add a pop of colour to your outfit.
Bangles – the style staple that lets you play around. They are available in precious and non precious materials. They can be bold colours, plain or highly decorated. Try out different versions mixed together – vintage versions in Bakelite in bright colours, hunt them out it vintage shops and flea markets.
Belts – a belt can make you look slimmer, pulled together and accentuate you curves. A thick black belt on a black dress instantly narrows the waist an highlights your figure. A skinny belt on a trouser makes you look polished. Think of your belts as jewellery – look out for unique designs, styles and fabrics. Try an animal print or bright green or red croc one on a white dress?
Brooch – it is the accessory that allows you to show off your creative side and one of my favorite things to wear. They are easy to pick up in vintage and charity shops fairly cheaply and can make an impact on an outfit for very little outlay. Put them in your hair, on your hats, on unexpected places on your clothing – wrap your cardigan around your waits and add a brooch to cinch it in or add one on each shoulder of your LBD. Group 3 together on a jacket or dress.
Camel coat – a true classic coat that looks both elegant and expensive. It is the ultimate uptown coat that will make anything you wear look chic.
Cape – this can be elegant and practical. It is the perfect way to add drama, hides a multitude of sins and a great option to pair with an evening dress. Keep everything else fitted when wearing a cape, it is best worn with tailoring underneath. Find a vintage one in a knit or wool and try a fabulous velvet one over your dress.
Clutch – this is the item that will let you show off your sense of whimsy and glamour. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and materials. A clutch in a bold colour adds excitement to a black outfit. Try beaded, python skin, bright colours, brocade and silk.
Cocktail ring – flashing a big bold vintage ring on your finger makes a statement. It doesn’t have to real in fact some of the best rings are costume – if you can get hold of Kenneth Jay Lane who is the costume jewellery king – the prices are going up now but it may still be possible to pick up something fabulous on eBay.
Cuff – it always makes a statement and will never go unnoticed. Try mixing several together, channel you inner Wonder Woman with one on each arm. Think of Coco Chanel with her Maltese cross cuff – they were made by Fulco di Verdura and are still available today but obviously very expensive but you can take inspiration and find your own costume version.
Driving shoe – rather like a loafer but with a softer sole. Great for wearing with khakis and white shirt – thin Grace Kelly in High Society. Go for a classic tan or skin – you can pick them up fairly cheaply if you ever get a chance to go to Southern Italy and Spain as they are sold in little shops all over.
Evening gown – never buy an evening gown when you need it as it will be an impossible task and you will endlessly hunt for the perfect dress and not find it. Keep an eye on the sale rail and vintage shops for the perfect dress and buy it when you see it not when you need to – the invite will come and you will have the outfit ready to go, don’t forget you can add accessories to change it up for different occasions.
Exotic Skin Bag – this will make you look instantly lux. Search out for a crocodile tote or snakeskin clutch (your can go faux if you like but there is something stunning about a real skin – sorry but my philosophy is that it has been dead a while and better to re-cycle rather than put it in landfill and I would never buy a new one but vintage is OK in my book).
Fishnets – originally worn but questionable ladies of the night but in the 20’s they were made fashionable by the flappers and Marlene Dietrich made them all the rage. They are at their most powerful when just a glimpse of fishnet is shown – a flash at the knee, or centimeter at the peep toe. Choose a fine mesh and pair with sophisticated clothing – a blouse with a pencil skirt or pants with just a flicker of fishnet at the feet.
Fur – whether you decide on real or faux, make sure that it is fabulous either way, it has to be glamorous and gorgeous otherwise it is pointless. Daytime coats look wrong at night but a fur stole adds drama and keeps you warm. It always adds glamour to a winter coat when draped around your neck.( I have the same feelings here as I do with skin bags – I would rather wear a vintage fur than dump it in land fill and it was from a time when they weren’t aware of the issues, again I would never buy a new one but vintage is fine with me – sorry!!)