The simple recipe to success is understanding your body shape. Any clothing choices can all lead on from there! I am quite small and curvy, so choose to have most of my clothes emphasize my smallest part, my waist. I would say every single outfit I wear comes in at the waist, so much so, that if I wear a more straight fitting outfit, it feels completely horrible! I have a little stomach (that I am trying to get rid of!) and so prefer something that skims over this. I also have a larger bust, so prefer clothing that allows for this and is not too tight around that area.
Knowledge of the body acts as the perfect base upon which to build your outfit. Knowing my shape means that I can then make well (I hope) informed choices for outfits that flatter and enhance the body. Most of my vintage clothing choices are very much the same shape, however look different by how I accessorise them or the print and material.
The key feature that I look out for in all dresses is the emphasized waist. I am also conscious of the length, preferring styles at least knee length; not just to please my Dad, but to keep a classy and 'true' vintage look. Remember that the fifties were still very conservative, and the forties even more so! I also look out for a quality material, you can tell this by having a good feel! You know you have hit the jackpot if the dress is lined too. I assess how much skin will be on show, for example, on styles with a halterneck or low neckline I prefer a longer length as no to show too much flesh.
There are two main styles that I generally go for. The more fitted styles, such as the Dollydagger Dita and Collectif Dolores seen below, are super flattering styles for all shapes. They are both centered around the waist, and finer details such as ruching and poofy sleeves exaggerate curves to the maximum for a wonderfully curvy look. I am also a lover of the more Swing and 1940s influenced shapes that flow over the hips, such as this Heyday Mary 1940s Dress. The swish when you walk feels super glamourous, but everything is held together by the emphasis on the waist. I adore the sleeves on this style, which cover any disliked areas and make it suitable for day or night.
L-R: Collectif Dolores, Heyday Mary 1940s Dress and Dollydagger Dita in Black Cherry
I have recently purchased quite a lot of skirts as I adore the chic look they give! I look out for a feature that conceals my stomach whilst also showing off my figure. Generally a clever print or textured material can do this, or a feature in the making of the garment such as pleats, darts or ruching on the hips. On my shopping list is a circle skirt, as these can flow out wonderfully, whilst also making the waist look tiny.
Late 1940s and 1950s fashion centered around the ability to accessorise. Their previous wartime budgets were beginning to increase, and great enjoyment could be taken from matching your hat, bag and gloves. I particularly love the thin leather belts, they are slightly more subtle than the thicker ones, and give a more vintage look. They can also be worn with more! The secret to any quality handbag is to take a peek inside. A classy interior reveals all you need to know about a handbag...it is one classy bag and one should buy it asap!
However, the main trick to looking fabulous in your vintage wares truly comes from within. Genuine excitement to wear your new finds will add an extra dollop of sparkle to your outfit, and you will be sailing down the street believing yourself to be Rita Hayworth herself (or is that just me?!). An outfit that fits correctly will not only look great, but feel fantastic and the beauty of vintage is that it is designed to flatter the body. Some styles nowadays are more focused on looking like the latest celebrity, or fitting in with the latest trends, but vintage style has stayed true to itself for decades and you can't go wrong with that!