This summer I spent a fair amount of time at estate sales and tag/garage sales searching for inventory for my vintage Etsy shop and also just because I enjoy browsing for unique decor for my own home. My tastes lean towards eclectic with a mix of vintage and modern. For example, my living room contains a modern looking white leather sectional and glass and chrome shelving mixed with early-to-mid century pieces, including a 1920s reupholstered armchair, an antique clock, and midcentury marble-topped side table (one of my summer finds).
I love finding interesting pieces that become focal points and conversation pieces in a room. And I relish the search. It’s so much fun to browse when you never know what you might find.
Here are a few of my favorite recent finds. Some link to current listings while others are things I kept for my own home or have already sold.
I’ve recently ventured into vintage fashion in my Etsy shop, which now includes a small but growing selection of vintage hats and purses in addition to vintage housewares. As a result, I find myself revising the styles of decades past. I have to admit it seems strange to see the styles of the 1960s and 1970s making a comeback. Truth be told, I have often thought we were well rid of some of the looks we sported when I was a kid! However, it’s worth looking back on some of our fashion influences.
Denim was big and we all wanted to look casual and cool — your clothes were supposed to look like you’d lived in them for a while. Nothing new and shiny. Pure white sneakers were an embarrassment as were stiff, unfaded jeans and overly coiffed hair. Stars of TV sitcoms tended to be highly influential to tweens and teens. Remember, this was back before cable, videos, or DVR, so we watched a lot of TV shows and when the regular broadcasting season ended, we watched them again in reruns (no summer programming).
Here are a few of the trends I remember.
The 1960s Denim Craze.
Personally, I’m old enough to remember when denim cutoffs were just that: our old jeans that we actually cut up with scissors and wore as shorts in the summer. Back then, no one was selling new jeans made to look old and beat up, so we designed them ourselves. We waited and waited for our new jeans to turn old and faded so we’d look cool. Then when they got threadbare they got a second life as shorts. We used the discarded scraps for patches.
What was cool: Long flowing hair, frayed bell bottoms, jean jackets, wide buckled belts.
1960s Capri pants.
Mary Tyler Moore rocked these on the Dick Van Dyke Show, and it turns out she had to do some lobbying to wear them on screen. The producers thought housewives should be seen mostly in dresses but Mary argued that no one she knew wore dresses around the house (yeah, Mary!) and proceeded to wear them on the show. According to IMBd, it was because of Mary that capri pants went on to become a huge fashion craze in the early part of the decade.
‘Who can turn the world on with a smile’? Love Mary as Laura in Dick Van Dyke. (Image from Violet Gray)
The mystery of 1970s fashion.
I was a kid in the 1970s and remember some very odd fashion choices, many of which can be seen in the photo below of the Brady Bunch (which ran in perpetual reruns). Wild colors, wide lapels, bell bottoms with patch pockets. And everyone’s dad had a “leisure suit” with matching turtle neck.
The feathered hair, unzipped look.
The Partridge Family was another one of our favorites in the 1970s. We loved sexy Keith with his long feathered mane and sensible Laurie with her long, straight (unfeathered) locks. (It often seemed like Keith took more trouble with his hair than Laurie). They played in the family’s rock band but acted as if they had normal teenage problems, too. The biggest fashion faux-pas here, by today’s standards, has to be Keith’s ribbed sweater with long, open zipper. At least to me it looks pretty lame, but maybe that look is coming back too.
Few of us can be as stylish as 1950s celebrities Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn but we can all add some vintage style to our look. Here are 5 tips to creating your own vintage style.
“Vintage” is sometimes equated with “old” but what it really conveys is lasting quality–that’s what I think of when I see Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly in old movies. Like fine wines, they seemed to acquire more style and grace with age.
Miriam Webster notes “vintage” can be used to describe “something that is not new but that is valued because of its good condition, attractive design, etc.”
They could have placed Hepburn and Kelly’s pictures beside that definition as examples of vintage in human form. These two actresses defined chic sophistication throughout their lives.
How can we mere mortals borrow some of that style? Here are my thoughts:
Embrace shorter hairstyles. Grace Kelly’s swept, back hairstyles appear so soft and natural. While you may not be able to achieve this exact style, there are a few basic takeaways: shoulder length, no bangs, highlights, waves. Audrey’s perfect facial structure allowed her to rock a pixie cut. While you may not want to go that short, you also don’t need to hide behind your hair.
2. Don’t over-accessorize. Who doesn’t want to look like Audrey Hepburn in the wee hours of the morning gazing through Tiffany’s display window? Besides the perfect black dress, what’s most memorable are her signature hat and sunglasses. She had a masterful way with accessories. Lesson for us: you don’t need a lot of makeup or flashy jewelry to look elegant. Find a couple of stand-out accessories to define your look.
3. Forego the knife. Audrey and Grace didn’t have access to a lot of the cosmetic procedures used by stars today but they were still elegant and attractive as they aged (sadly, Grace only made it into her 50s).
4. Invest in quality. Grace and Audrey were stylish but never trendy. A few quality, signature pieces defined their look. Think Grace’s Hermes bags or Audrey’s orange, double-breasted coat worn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Lesson: Build your wardrobe around a few quality pieces instead of buying a lot of cheaper items based on passing trends.
5. Wear Flats. Although 1950s and early 1960s fashion often conjures up images of form-fitting, cinched waist dresses and sleek stilettos, you can achieve a vintage style in flats, too. Personally, I have never gotten used to walking in high heels so even though I realize they look attractive, I think of stilettos as pure torture. Audrey and Grace often wore flats or 1 or 2-inch heels with both dresses and casual outfits.
Do you like vintage style? How do you achieve it in your everyday or special occasion wardrobe? I’d love to get your input.