Friday, August 12, 2016
Vintage Style & Personal Style; Finding your niche within a niche
When it comes to style, were someone to ask me how I describe my own, I would say I aim for a vintage style, but what does that really mean? I have talked a bit about vintage style before, but what about personal style? Though I dress vintage most of the time, I also feel I have my own style within the umbrella of vintage/retro. Surely all women in the 1940s (or 20s, or 60s, you get it) had their own personal style too, silhouettes they preferred, colors they wore more than others, and ways they did their hair and make-up that were special to them. So how does a modern retro gal define her own personal style within the spectrum of vintage?
Well some gals prefer retro style that leans more pin up, others purely art deco, and some are vampy while others are girlish. Vintage style is not a monolith, but it can take time to figure out what niche of vintage works best for your own personal style. Sometimes I can really appreciate the beauty of a vintage piece but know the style know it isn't for me. I am certainly still figuring this out myself, but there are a few things I can point out that perhaps set my style apart and can help me shop or sew things that I know I will end up loving and wearing often. So what are some things to take into consideration when curating your own personal style within vintage?
Firstly of course there is the question of era, which decades do you love and wear the most. You may have noticed I can never decide, so my style tends to jump decades daily, but perhaps your style is more firmly rooted in a particular span of time. Whether your style leans towards Edwardian with lots of white lace, 20s and 30s art deco, or full bombshell 50s glamour is up to you!
Then their is the matter of how casual or formal your prefer to dress. In this day and age when leggings are regularly worn as pants, really anything goes as far as how casual ones clothing can range. Perhaps like the ladies above you prefer to go full formal, with the hat, gloves, stockings, and underpinnings all contributing to a very put together result. Then again perhaps some cuffed denim and a WII style bomber jacket is more your speed. One must dress for the occasion naturally, but people usually tend to favor either a more casual or more formal manner of dressing.
Then there are the more specific choices. For example I always prefer a sleeve, I just don't like my upper arms much, we all have our insecurities. Plenty of authentic vintage styles involve strappy styles or even strapless styles, but I have none of either in my wardrobe. I also like a midi length skirt or dress as opposed to anything knee length or shorter. I just feel like longer skirt lengths work better with my personal proportions. Figuring out what silhouettes and cuts you feel best in is an important part of defining your personal style.
Though I have talked about authentic versus modern styling when it comes to dressing retro/vintage, it is indeed another aspect to consider. Perhaps you are more inclined to style one vintage piece with the rest of your outfit being modern, or the opposite, or you like looking as period accurate as possible. Your wardrobe will have different needs and holes to fill depending on how dedicated to a decade you wish to be and present.
Then there are the accessories to consider, do you always wear a larger hat, or big Bakelite earrings, or small dainty pearls? Do you prefer one piece of jewelry or to pile it on? Perhaps you have a signature piece, a ring you always wear or a belt you pair with everything. These are all aspects of your own personal style.
Another good way to define ones personal style is through colors. I tend to prefer darker colors and bright saturated midtones, and you will notice I never wear pastels. Perhaps you find yourself constantly drawn to blush pink, or notice your closet is predominately all black (been there). Finding colors that really "work" with your coloring and make you feel great is an important step in the development of personal style. Colors can also help if you are aiming for a period specific look too, as research can show you which colors and tones were more popular in certain decades.
The last point I'll question is how mature you wish your style to be. I've had my own mother call some of my outfits matronly, but I don't care because I feel great in them! The same goes for liking ruffles and feminine frills that may be considered girly or young, wear what you like and feel best in! I do feel like some level of age appropriate dressing is important, but elements of either mature sophistication or fun youthful styles can be incorporated into the wardrobes of ladies of any age.
My biggest tips for figuring out your own personal style are to make yourself a pinterest board of what you'd like to go for, and to take a good look at your closet to spot outlighers. That billowy chiffon blouse you think is pretty but never wear could probably go, or perhaps instead it represents a style you would like to move towards rather than away from. A good closet clean out never hurt anyone so dig in!
What do you think are your biggest personal style quirks? I am working through refining my own style a bit, mostly by making more informed decisions on what to add or remove from my wardrobe in the future. Not that consistency is in any way a necessity, but it would be nice to have a style all ones own even if it falls under the umbrella of "vintage". Tell me your thoughts on personal style below as I'd love to hear how others feel about the topic!