Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making Vintage Work in 2012

{by Rachel Coker}

Vintage. As a fashion lover and quirky individual, that word is music to my ears. It makes me think of breezy summer sundresses and soft fur coats and hand tatted lace. Of bright, swingy skirts and hats mysteriously dipped over one eye, and red lips opening in a smile. Oh, yeah and jumpsuits and spandex and mom jeans. And all those other horrendous fads that hopefully fashion designers will never think to resurrect.

With so many varying styles and trends ranging from decades upon decades, how can the modern fashionista decide what still works and what needs to leave even Goodwill stores forever?

Believe it or not, I am a firm believer that vintage fashion is still relevant today. An elegant 50s cocktail dress will never lose its appeal. A long flowing sundress will forever be the epitome of comfort and chic. And a classically tailored coat will always serve you well.

Despite the ever changing fads and trends, there are a few things from the past that will always remain stylish—even for the 2012 fashionista.


Things that still work:
Cloche hats
Sequins and silk
White linen
Loose fitting dresses

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
Drop waists
Severe black bobs


Things that still work:
Pretty floral prints
Glamorous evening gowns
Flattering jersey dresses
Silky, feminine nightgowns—even if no one else sees them ;)

Things that you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
Dresses made out of flour sacks
Knee length panty hose
Shoes with holes (Although I guess you can’t help it if you’re in a Depression)


Things that still work:
That gorgeous wavy hair
A-line skirts
A classic trench coat
Shirtwaist dresses

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
Shoulder sleeves. Never shoulder sleeves.
Penny loafers (personal opinion)
Socks with penny loafers


Things that still work:
Red lipstick
An hourglass silhouette
Button up shirtdresses
Pencil skirts

Things that you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
Nothing comes to mind. The 50s was the perfect decade.


Things that still work:
Hair with height (if done right)
A-line dresses with tights
Wide leg pants
Long hair and braids
Maxi skirts

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
Go-Go boots
Excessive paisley
Pillbox hats (Unless, you know, they are your thing. Then wear them with pride!)
Five layers of fake eyelashes


Things that still work:
Wide leg pants

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:
White pantsuits
Afros, feathered hair, and every other bad hair craze of the 70s
But mostly mullets

I’m not even going to make an attempt at the eighties or nineties, mostly because they are decades of fashion that should just be forgotten. Period. But I encourage all of you to rifle through your closest vintage stores or even your grandma’s attic for vintage pieces that will look fabulous when paired with today’s fashions!


  1. This was fabulous! Thank you so much!!

    -Noelle, a fellow vintage lover

  2. Ok this is why I love shopping with you, Rachel - you can always tell if an outfit or piece of clothing is "so 1920's" or 50's or 60's etc. Haha so much fun :) Thanks for another fabulous post!

    Also, you're right: the 50's was basically the perfect decade.

    1. Ha ha, yes! Unfortunately, I do seem to have a reputation for doing that. ;)

    2. Not unfortunate - it's awesome!! It makes shopping educational ;)

  3. Love this! Thanks Rachel for sharing your expertise and ideas with us :D

  4. glad you left out the 80s and 90s. Biggest mistake. It was like everyone was having a big gym themed slumber party and didn't own mirrors. The messy ponytails with big scrunchies are especially annoying to me. Okay end rant. This was a very enjoyable read. I agree with most of the Dos and Don'ts. Very helpful.