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!


14 comments:

  1. You've covered this topic beautifully, Bianca. Personally, I am drawn to clean, classic lines across the decades. It takes years to develop your own personal style, and even then, as you change, so does your style. Nevertheless, some elements of your style stay constant. I would also recommend looking at any piece of clothing you wear year after year, or actually wear out. Even if it is just that pair of black pants, there must be something about the garment that is just you, and figuring it out can help you define your style.

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    1. Thank you Piper! I would say black dresses remain a huge constant in my wardrobe, there are just so many ways to style them!

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  2. My sense of style is influenced by other decisions I make in my life. For example, I don't shave, as I get terrible ingrown hairs (tmi, sorry). But I teach, and so for all that I'm in a liberal area, I don't like to flaunt my body hair. So I often wear long skirts, even in the summer (I just swap over to linen for the summer).

    My husband and I keep our house as cold as possible (55F or so) and we don't have a car so I walk to my student's houses. This means that I wear layers and layers and wool and cashmere all winter. I have, of necessity, found ways to make this cute and attractive.

    Because of these two factors alone, my clothing is more vintage inspired than modern, but I don't ever really aim for vintage. My sole exception? I sew a 20s dress once a year and find ways to wear it. This year's was a bridesmaid dress, so I feel like I should make another one to really get my fix.

    Also, I try to look to the 20s and 30s for my lingerie inspiration. Gorgeous silk slips (currently wearing the first slip I ever made! I love it), stockings with garters (I have knit the tie-on variety as well as buying modern garter belts), and kimonos and robes for lounging around the house (I have no fewer than 3 red robes. It's a problem).

    Since it's often difficult to fully define one's own style (being too close to the subject as it were), my impression of your fashion sense is this: perfectly put together. Very Dovima. Even when you're doing casual, it appears that not a hair is out of place. Classic and classy. :)

    Tegan

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    1. Thank you Tegan! I promise I often do have a hairs out of place but I'm glad the illusion is otherwise ;) Temperature is a big thing for styling certainly, I hate being too hot so my devotion to sleeves can be occasionally irritating in the heat of summer but I just stay inside where the air conditioning is and try and dream of fall. I really want to buy some casual Kimono or similar robes for lounging around as they are so elegant!

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  3. I adore your take on this! My style definitely leans very 40s heavy though I love dabbling in the 30s. I've been diving into Colette's Wardrobe Architect series to try and pin down my style a bit more. The dream is a wardrobe where most things can mix and match (and a hell of a lot of novelty print blouses).

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    1. Thank you Nina! Novelty print blouses (and novelty print, well everything) are the best!

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  4. This is a great post! I've recently started a new job in a warehouse so I can no longer wear my normal "fancy" clothes. It's made me really do some hard thinking about how to translate my personal style into more casual clothes and still feel like I'm being me

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    1. Thanks Shauna! I know just what you mean, I work as a seamstress in swimwear production and running around the production room or sitting and sewing at the industrial machines are sadly no place for cute vintage heels and fitted pencil skirts so I have a more casual look for work too :)

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  5. Love this post! In recent years I became more aware of what I was wearing more of, which was western wear and "adventurer chic" as I called it, which you wear so well too! And after moving to California I began to embrace late 60s and early 70s fashions more, and morphing them to my more tailored tastes. Sure, I'll go for a more 40s or 50s strict look every so often, but it's so much fun to play with different eras and looks, and find your own personal groove.

    xoxo
    -Janey

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    1. Playing with different eras is too much fun, it begs to be done! I love your adventurer chic outfits so much and they have definitely inspired me to want to add more pieces in that style to my own wardrobe <3

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  6. Stellar post and topic. Like yourself, I can never settle on just one decade or strong stylistic leaning (a topic that I covered in one of my personal favourite CV posts ever a few years back now, called How Many Personalities Does Your Wardrobe Have?). I lean towards the 1940s, 50s, and very early 60s most of all, but also adore sporting Victorian and Edwardian influenced styles, and occasionally let my boho side run free and wild (fittingly :)) with late 60s and 70s style. And then there will always be that part of me that go bananas for genuine 80s fashions, as they were the first style memories that I have. Within these decades I love so many different looks and influences. Sometimes I take things in a massively feminine direction, others, I want to be preppy (looking) or channel my perpetual inner goth girl. I adore cute novelty prints, but also go weak in the knees for crisply tailored vintage suits. My wardrobe and style tastes, like so much in my life is wholly eclectic and you know, I wouldn't have it any other way (variety and experimentation really are two of the best spices of life).

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. My wardrobe certainly has many personalities indeed! I find whenever I lean bohemian it is in the 20s area of my wardrobe, layers of beads and embroidery are so beautiful from that era! I totally have days where I want to go full goth too, well vintage vampy goth :) Why choose one style when many are so fun <3

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  7. This is a great read, with so much to think about. It made me feel inspired and excited to work on making sure everything in my wardrobe fits in with my style goals and to keep these in mind whilst making or replacing garments.

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  8. I know my own style within vintage pretty well. I tend towards "The New Look". I stay within the 50s, venturing a bit into the late 40s and early 60s. This is because a-line skirts with a fitted waist tend to look best on me and I just love poofy skirts! Within this, I tend towards pastels, bows, lace, and florals with very few blacks or browns. My every day look is very house wife with a bandana tied around my head and very little or no makeup (depending upon if I have break outs or not). When I go out, I plan my outfits making sure they match and have balance. I even prefer vintage styles for sleeping in. But, I'm always in curls (or curlers), skirts, stockings, shoulders covered, modest necklines, and have something on my head.

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