Now I’ve been vintage and/or thrift shopping since before Macklemore made it trendy, and it has been advantageous to me well beyond the benefits of unique items and salvation from financial ruin. Second-hand clothes shopping has taught me how to find pieces that suit my shape, or to move on.
With vintage-inspired clothes (the bulk of my wardrobe) and authentic vintage clothes alike, one only needs to find the cut, the style, or the period to fit them best. Body shapes go in and out of style just like fashion. Some people are lucky enough to fit within the beauty standards society prefers at any given time, but what’s in vogue is always in flux. However, my height, my body, and my look…kind of aren’t.
So why not find a time in which my body type was the height of popularity so I take some style tips from that period? Or better yet, get some actual clothes from that period.
I’m no fashionista, so I won’t even dare tell you what is chic. But I do have my own style that I have developed as I have grown up, and that’s a perfect fit for me. Everyone else has different tastes when it comes to their look, and that’s the great thing about vintage styles–there is a style for everyone to feel confident and gorgeous.
Here are a few handy tricks to get the most out of your potential vintage style:
Know Your Measurements
As we all know, sizes can differ from store to store, and the parameters of dress sizing, you may have guessed, has changed now and again in the last 100 years. I know. I, too, was astonished.
It’s best to just ignore labels sometimes and either try things on or go straight for measurements. My waist will be the same number of inches around in this skirt as in this other skirt, so who cares what the number says?
Sometimes that’s difficult. A vintage dress pattern labeled me a 14 when I was generally a present day size 6, which stung a little. But then I thought: why should that bother me? This totally arbitrary number hasn’t–poof!–made me bigger or skinnier since reading that size label. It doesn’t change my body or more importantly, my worth at all.
This tip is helpful for all clothes shopping, actually. We’ve all had the jeans debacle where you can’t get one pair up over your thighs, and the other pair that you’re swimming in–both seemingly the same size, according to their sellers. Well, skip the middleman and just check what the measurements of the specific store’s sizing charts read.
Know Your Era
Remember how I said how body types could go in and out of fashion, too?
Well, finding a decade or two that flatters your body type can be the way to go to find cuts that compliment you, not detract from your beauty and rockin’ self.
The Christina Hendricks
For women who have more or less balanced full busts and full hips, with a smaller waist, head back to Marilyn Monroe’s era, the 1950s. Try cinched waists, tight sweaters, and pencil skirts to show off those curves.
If you aren’t feeling like hitting up a tea party, perhaps the bodycon dresses and colorful spandex hip-huggin’ works of art (or insanity) of the 1980s, dude.
Take a moment to look into the 1940s pin up style too, and find some waist-embracing outfits in fun prints and patterns to brighten up your look.
A lined dresses a la the 1960s can be very flattering to a girl with hips and thighs. They can gloss right over that mid section and the beginning of your enviable gams, but be wary of length.
Speaking of length, check out a 1970s maxi dress or skirt if you want to go in a different direction. Most every hippy style can chill with your body shape, barring bell-bottoms.
Heck, you could go all the way back in time and hit up the Regency era for some Pride and Prejudice inspired empire waists and lengthy dresses, or even some Victorian fashion with a queenly high necked blouse or ruffles.
The Jennifer Hudson
For my ladies who have an amazing bust line and some shapely legs, shoot for a decade that doesn’t emphasize the waist first and foremost. The drop-waist frocks of the 1930s will look killer.
Conversely, anything with an empire waist will flatter, such as a 1910s dress like Rose’s wardrobe from Titanic. Empire waists bring the attention up to the girls, too.
The 1970s might also be your jam because there were loose fitting flower child clothes, but also styles that tended to hug in all the right places for the disco. Assets were the name of the game and they knew how to make them work!
The Keira Knightley
You might already know this from Halloween or a fancy dress party, but the 1920s flapper style can do you no wrong. The Jazz Age was all about the boyish, androgynous look, so you can rock an inspired thin-legged pant, too.
The 1960s mod era is also right up your alley; it’s practically made for your body shape alone. Those rectangular shift dresses and mini skirts will look fabulous on you and can be paired with some amazing boots, if you so choose.
Bonus: Know how to Alter/Sew (or Find a Pro)
Simply knowing how to do small alterations can be all you need. A hem can change a dress on a shorty like me from Little House on the Prairie to a flattering frock. Some darting on the bodice of a shirt or dress can add the impression of curves or pull in loose fabric. Even just knowing how to change the length of a strap can be the difference between a top suiting your bust or dipping too low for comfort.
While these are all handy tips in theory, not everyone has the time or ability to pick up sewing. And that’s okay! There are people who are way better at it than you who will do it– it’s their job, even. Find a tailor or seamstress and bring them your this-close-to-amazing pieces so they can make it fit like it was made for you.
Fashion is supposed to be fun, but it can often be a hassle. Trying on dozens of items and having them not fit perfectly can hurt your self esteem, even though it’s not your fault. Trends don’t always flatter everyone or every body type. But you still have your one body to work with every day, so why not rock it in some duds you feel amazing in? You don’t have to be on the cutting edge to be stylish. Confidence is way more attractive–in any year!
By: Claire McCrea