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The Vintage Guide To London | February 18, 2018

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How to wear vintage

How to wear vintage

It would be fair to say that vintage is rather in vogue at the moment. But if you are treading the retro waters for the first time it can feel like a bit of a minefield on where to start. Do you go for the Fifties/Sixties Mad Men look, or late Sixties/Seventies chic? How do you know what suits you, and how do you put a vintage outfit together?

“I don’t think there is any reason why you should necessarily stick to just one era,” says Esther Freeman, the Creative Director of Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe. “The collection in my online store ranges from the Forties and the Sixties as I think these periods were amazing for classic cuts, quality tailoring and feminine designs. But at the end of the day it all comes down to personal taste.”

One thing you might want to think about is your body shape. Esther explains: “I love Sixties mod style shift dresses as I have a straight up and down figure. Kind of boyish. And there’s such a variety to choose from either original vintage or reproduction. My favourite in store at the moment is a gold space age number. It’s perfect for the party season.”

But shift dresses can be difficult to wear if you’re a bit on the curvy side. “The Fifties full skirt dress was a godsend to ladies with a bit more on the bums and thighs. It disguises a multitude of sins and celebrates the hour-glass figure.”

Many find the waist and bodice on original Fifties vintage a problem. But for there is a solution: “There was quite a resurgence in Fifties styles during the Eighties. Laura Ashley did some beautiful reproduction Fifties vintage during the Eighties, which is worth looking out for. I’m also working with some designers for a new collection next spring, which will be Mad Men style, using vintage fabrics, but with a modern twist.”

Another look that can hide a multitude of lumps and bumps are Forties tea dresses. “It’s very difficult to find original Forties clothing, but that’s not to say it’s not out there,” explains Esther. “The good stuff will probably come from the States, as rationing was in place throughout the decade in the UK, so quality clothing was in very short supply.

However in the Seventies there was a resurgence in Forties styles and some of them are really good. I love this vintage inspired dress from the Seventies. The colours are just beautiful. And it’s a good style to hide legs, bums and tums if you feel that’s a problem area.”

But what to wear with your vintage? Esther believes there are no hard and fast rules. “It all depends on whether you want to go all out vintage or mix it up with a bit of modern. If you want to go all out vintage then a nice pair of stilettos is essential for any Betty Draper wannabe. Knee high boots look great for any aspiring modette.

But don’t be scared of mixing it up a bit. I worn a pair of Twenties-inspired Mary-Janes with a Sixties dress the other day and it worked well. But if all else fails, a nice pair of ballet pumps usually go with most looks, and are a great basics wardrobe item that I think every girl should have.”

Just have a go!


  1. Emma Oldfield

    I am a student researching for my dissertation on the rise and success of vintage shops and how there has been somewhat of a role reversal as fashion magazine and high street shops are being influenced by the niche market of vintage and retro shops.
    Some of the points you make in the above article are based on the same topic and I wandered if you could email me if you would be willing to express your opinion and answer a few questions for my project?
    Kind Regards
    Emma xx