fashion history

Using Accessories to Change Up Your Look

1970's inspired summer look

I rediscovered this guest post that I wrote for Jessica of Zella Maybe back in 2016, and decided that I would like for it to have a home here too. Someday it would be nice to do an updated version of this post with new outfits and photos, but in the meantime here is the post from nearly five years ago!

One of the things that I love most about vintage style dressing is that it really is as varied as the people who lived before us. Within the vintage subculture there are so many vastly different and wonderful styles- from pinup, to rockabilly, to 60’s mod and so on. . . I have never been able to choose one signature style for myself though. There are just too many styles and eras to choose from! Seldom a week goes by where I am not being inspired by something different and deciding I need to dress more like a 20’s flapper or a 40’s land girl, then the next week it is the 1950’s movie-star or a 60’s housewife. . . (Maybe this is really just a clue into how indecisive I am?) However, with something as fun as fashion- why choose only one style?

The best way to wear all of the unique and different vintage styles you encounter would be to have a wardrobe the size of Barbie’s, with dresses and outfits and accessories for each occasion. Unfortunately, I do not have a wardrobe to rival Barbie’s, and I doubt that you do either. However, accessories are a great secret weapon! Some garments lend themselves well to being styled as different eras, and it is amazing what changing your hat, scarf, shoes, makeup or purse can do for completely transforming an ensemble. So today I will show you how I took three different outfits as starting points, and by switching a few pieces was able to create an outfit with a completely different look and mood.

The first outfit is this one, consisting of wide legged navy trousers and a hip length mustard yellow cardigan.

1920's inspired outfit

The wide legged trousers are a great starting point for a 1920’s inspired look as trousers first really came into fashion for women in the 1920’s. (They were quite a scandalous style for the “modern woman”!) I don’t have the figure for the straight willowy 1920’s ideal, but by pairing the trousers with a long cardigan I get the illusion of that silhouette. Tucking in my silk top shows that I do, in fact, have a waist, while the blowsy fabric gives softness. A pile of sparkly necklaces, earrings and an exotically wrapped turban results in the classic 1920’s feel. Of course no 1920’s look is complete without makeup, so I added a dark burgundy lip, smudgy eyeliner and gold eye shadow.

1940's WWII style outfit

Keeping the trousers and the sweater, but switching out the top for a collared cotton patterned shirt instantly turns the look into a 1940’s style. Here I have tied a turban from back to front with a large bow, for a Rosie the Riveter/ working-girl look. (See- I even have a massive wrench!) Lace up boots, minimal jewelry (just ear studs), and a natural makeup look with a hint of pink lipstick gives a softer, minimal look perfect for the era. I have curled my bangs here as well, for a more 40’s style hairdo- as my hair is quite short and that is pretty much all of it I can style! It is amazing how simply switching out the accessories takes this trousers and sweater set from “flapper” to “make do and mend”.

1940's ladylike styled outfit

For the next set I have a navy crepe dress with pearl buttons at the neck. This is a 1940’s reproduction pattern (Simplicity 1777), but it is really one of the most versatile garments I own, as almost everything goes with navy.

I first styled the dress as 1940’s, by adding a black straw saucer hat. Tilt hats were quite popular in the 1940’s, and if you have long hair, curling it or adding a victory roll would be the perfect touch. I can’t do that, so I tucked my hair back to make it look a bit more styled, and again curled the bangs. A small black patent handbag, and black suede pumps with a classic cuban heel, coordinate nicely with the hat, and for a ladylike look like this, gloves are a must. (No lady in the 1940’s would consider an outfit complete without her gloves!) For makeup, a natural face, with a sophisticated red lipstick gives a classic 40’s look.

1960's inspired outfit

Now I have opted for an early 1960’s take on the dress. The early 1960’s is one of my favourite periods as it was so fun, yet still elegant. It retained much of the style of the 1950’s New Look, while losing a lot of the stuffiness. I mean, what is not fun (or funny?) about this ridiculous 1960’s hat? It is like wearing a tulle cake on your head. The bodice on this dress is a bit more fitted than would have been popular in the 1960’s, but by adding a boxy cashmere coat, the silhouette suddenly becomes straighter with a more secretary/twinset look. Classic peep-toe pumps in navy, and a navy “Kelly Bag inspired” structured purse are a perfect match. By teasing my hair into round shape, adding lots of mascara, blue eyeshadow and a paler coral lip, I get that iconic 1960’s look. (Although you can’t really see my makeup in the picture.) A bouffant or beehive hairstyle would also be classic 1960’s, and false eyelashes would be perfect touch for the wide-open eye makeup style of the era.

1940's style picnic outfit

For the last set I have this navy gingham pinafore dress. (Originally this dress was a horrific 1980’s baggy housedress that I refashioned into a pinafore.)

Pinafore dresses were quite a popular style in the 1940’s and the slimmer gathered dirndl skirt on this one suits the style of the 40’s “make do and mend” better than the 50’s pinafores, which usually had fuller skirts. Peasant style tops were also very popular in the 40’s, or as an alternative, you could wear a short sleeved collared shirt. A large stiff-brimmed straw sunhat, a small straw handbag, and white peep toe heels coordinate perfectly. Again, I have rather minimal eye makeup and a tawny coloured lipstick. All ready to go on a summer picnic; 1940’s style!

1970's inspired sundress outfit

And now for something completely different, I have this 1970’s outfit. Gingham was very popular in the 1970’s too, and pinafores swung back into style, with the resurgence of the romantic, prairie girl look. Pairing the pinafore with a sleeveless tie-neck blouse makes the pinafore looks like a summer sundress. As headscarves were another popular style of the era, I have tied a scarf on my hair, and topped it with a floppy sunhat. The floppy soft brim of this hat makes this outfit so different than the 40’s look with the straight brimmed hat. Large hoop earrings, a patchwork bag with wooden handles, and a stack of gold bracelets give a boho look. And of course no 1970’s look would be complete without platforms- chunky wooden heels are perfect for the 70’s!  For makeup, I have switched to a lighter pink lipstick, darker eyeliner and soft light blue eyeshadow.

So, there you can see how I took three different starting points, and simply by switching the accessories, was able to turn three outfits into six different vintage style outfits. (You can also see that the 1940’s is a very easy era to replicate, as I ended up with three different 1940’s looks!)

Obviously we restyle our pieces all the time , but it is easy to fall into a style rut and always grab the same things over and over. I hope this has given you some inspiration, and that you can look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes to see what you can do to switch it up. If you are just really bored with your wardrobe, because you have worn everything in it a million times, then perhaps all you need to do is change your hat, add some gloves, or try a new makeup style. And, if you want to play with your style, the next time you think, “I wish I could do the 20’s or the 40’s or the 60’s etc”, all you might need to do is pair different accessories with the clothes you already own.

There is no need to commit to only one era. Fashion is really so much fun, and there are so many great vintage styles out there, so I hope this can inspire you to have fun choosing what to wear, and accessorize with each day!

1920's Inspired outfit

Vintage Covers: Vogue August 1953, A Splash of Colour

my vintage cover reproduction of an original august 1953 vogue cover, the artyologist

Add a dash of drama to your look with a bright pop of coordinating fuchsia lip and nail colour. Against a background of soft neutrals, the result is striking. 

vintage august 1953 vogue cover

On the second last day of the month, here I am with my vintage cover for this year’s #myvintagecover challenge…. just squeaking in at the end with no time to spare! I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the challenge again this year, and so when August came around, I didn’t bring it up. However, when Tanith asked if I wanted to do it in September, I agreed…and then got so busy right after then, that it took me until now to finally get it done. I’m glad I did finally get around to finishing it up though- I saw this cover last year, but didn’t have time to do it, but it worked out so perfectly as I already had all of the components for this look (with a bit of photo editing to make the lipstick and nail polish the right colour!) And, again, I ask myself, how do these models make these poses look so effortless? They are anything but!

A New Look

new-look-feature

One of my favourite iconic vintage garments, is the Bar Suit by Christian Dior, from the 1947 collection. After the austerity of WWII, Dior’s designs must have been a breath of fresh air to women- although it is interesting, if you read about the time period, that not everyone thought that the new styles were a good change!

I’ve always loved this silhouette; maybe because it’s one that really works for me. I love so many of Dior’s designs from the late 1940’s through the 1950’s- the so called “New Look” of the era. Interestingly, the image below, often cited as from the 1947 collection, is actually an image taken in 1957 of a newer version of the suit. It has a few changes and, while the look is very similar, it is a bit looser than the 1947 version, which was more tailored, featured a padded hip to accentuate the waist, and a smoother line on the jacket without the peplum flare. Personally, I like the 1957 version more, and I love this image, so I decided to try and recreate it myself.

new-look-then-and-now

I’m not very good at replicating the pose, as it turns out. . . I guess this one won’t be going into the #myvintagecover annals!

As to the title of this post – yes I was alluding to that New Look, as my outfit was definitely inspired by the Bar Suit, but I was also referring to the fact that I got a new haircut, so it’s a bit of a “New Look” for me too! You probably can’t tell in these photos, because of the hat, but I got the sides trimmed (actually shaved) quite short and then left the top long and layered. I had a cut similar to this a few years ago, and it was the best cut I have ever gotten. This one was with a new hairdresser, and although I do really like it, there are a few tweaks that I will get her to do next time to make it perfect. It’s so hard to get a perfect haircut, isn’t it? I personally find it so hard to communicate what my vision is- when their vision might be quite different from my own!

walking-away-and-yellow-trees

Back to this outfit, though, I wore the same ensemble back in the spring, but never got photos. As soon as the weather started cooling off enough to wear wool, though, I decided to wear it again- and this time get photographs! The photographs were taken the day after I wore this outfit, and I didn’t actually wear the hat when I went out, because it was raining and windy- and I have no hair to pin the hat too! So, the hat is purely for styling purposes 😉

new-look,-arch-of-trees

We got snow quite early this year (September 15!), and even though it melted away again, it’s been quite cold. I was a wimp and didn’t go and get very many photos of the fall leaves. . . these are actually the only ones! But, there are still some trees with leaves on them, so maybe I can get some more this weekend.

Well, I’m off to my family’s place for the weekend . . . to all of my fellow Canadians: I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Did you know that there were two Bar Suits made? (I learned that just recently!) Have you ever tried to recreate an iconic vintage outfit or design? And have you had a nice Fall where you live?

archway-and-portrait

shoes-and-leaves

twirling-and-sidewalk-of-leaves

belt-and-jacket-detail

walking-through-leaves

Vintage Covers: Vogue April 1963, A Chic Accessory

Vintage Covers: Vogue April 1963, the artyologist

What is more chic for Summer than the classic straw hat? With a rounded brim and soft golden colour, this piece is perfect for the season, no matter where you will be.

Vintage Covers: Vogue April 1963

So, it is already August 8th and I still never announced whether #myvintagecover is happening again this year. It is.

You can read here for more info (it’s exactly the same as last year: just insert 2018 instead of 2017). Oh and check out the instagram hashtag too- there are already lots of amazing posts. It’s been lovely seeing people join in! I was planning to only do one cover this year, because I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to do another, but this one went together relatively quickly, so maybe I will get around to doing another one after all? Do you plan to join in and recreate a cover?