How to Dress Vintage Chic Style in Everyday Clothes

Are you wondering how to look vintage chic wearing smart everyday clothes and fashion accessories? Do you want to change your usual dressing style for a sophisticated and classy look?

If you want to dress classy in a vintage-inspired way, even with some of your everyday clothes, you will find some helpful tips on how to achieve the style.

You don't really need to change your entire wardrobe, neither do you need to have a hefty budget for this. Rather, what you need are some basics in your clothing collections and a good number of accessories.

Classic Vintage Fashion Accessories (created by Viryabo@Polyvore)

We all know how accessorising can help dictate a vintage style; shoes, jewellery, hats, bags, etc... and as long as you take care of these finer details, you’ll be able to achieve that lady-like charm that’s so characteristic of vintage fashion.

So, how do you create the style of fashionable women of old with your modern clothing? By adding the most unexpected details to your ordinary looking outfits.

Let us see some of the basics first.
  • Wear items that are made with classic fabrics like cotton, linen, tweed, silk, wool, and linen. Clothing made of any of these fabrics always gives off an elegant flavour of their own. 
  • Bold patterns and prints are very vintage and work well for a stylishly sophisticated look. 
  • Neutral colours like black, white, cream, navy blue, emerald green, and grey are colours you must think of. You can, if you wish, dress head-to-toe in any of these colours but there is no hard and fast rule about your colour combination. Your combination can also be different shades or tints of the same colour (monochromatic dressing).
  • Your outfits must be tailored and form fitting so they can show off your figure and follow the curve of your waist. This is typical of vintage clothing. If need be, wear body form shapewear to give you the required curves. You can have some of your looser modern clothes altered to fit properly. If you are not a sewing enthusiast, get it done by a local tailor or seamstress.
  • Simple jewellery is the best way to go when aiming for a vintage chic style. 
  • Vintage fashion is synonymous with modesty. You can't wear crop or tank tops if you desire a classic style. Dresses and skirts hemlines should not go more than a couple of inches below the knee for day wear and full-length for formal wear and can be sweeping floor length for evening wear. 
  • Don’t underestimate the clothing you already have in your closet. You can integrate and combine owned items in many ways you didn’t think possible.
The following type of clothing will give you that vintage chic look you aim to accomplish. You don't necessarily require every item listed but the list will give you a good idea of what will work best for your new classic look.
  1. Tailored pants - Ankle, slight bootcut, straight, skinny, or wide-legged.
  2. Informal pants - Pedal pushers, culottes, jumpsuits, and shorts
  3. Skirts - High-waisted pencil skirt, midi, and ballerina style skirt,  full-circle skirt, swing skirt, flared, and wriggle skirt
  4. Dresses - Swing, shift, peplum, coat, and sheath dresses, ball gown, polo dress, shirt-waist dress, drop-waist dress, or flapper style dress.
  5. Tops - Long, short, cap, and sleeveless blouses, shirts with tiny buttons, cardigans, knit tops, puff-sleeve shirts, peasant tops and halter blouses.
  6. Jackets and Coats - Frock coat, blazers, faux-fur collar coats, wool long coats, swing coats, and trench coats, car coat, hooded cape coats, and vintage tweed coats in short jacket or long coat lengths.
Identifying features of vintage clothes include:
  1. Necklines  - square, sweetheart, cowl, and scoop necklines, collared necklines, V-neck, boatneck, or crew necklines.
  2. Collars - Peter Pan collars, embellished detachable collars, classic, portrait and boat-neck collars
  3. Cuffs - Traditional white cuffs, French, square and Mandarin cuffs, double cuffs, high 3 buttons cuffs or long pointed cuffs.

Vintage Chic Style with Classic Accessories

Nothing can throw off your vintage-inspired style than using the wrong fashion accessories. The shoes you wear and costume jewellery you adorn yourself with must round up your entire ensemble.

There are other good-to-haves too. Scarves, sunglasses, hats, purses, perhaps a parasol (if you want to fashionably dramatic), and purses are items that are best had in your vintage-inspired wardrobe because they are the finishing touches for all that's been spoken about.


If you endeavour to achieve a classy and sophisticated style, 'glam-up' your attires for that Va-Va-Voom look by investing in some classic style costume jewellery that fits within your budget.

Vintage inspired costume jewellery doesn't have to cost you much but you'll need some pieces because they are the easiest and most affordable items you need to create a vintage-inspired stylish look.

The following items are what you should look out for:
  1. Earrings - Small hoops, cameos, studs (faux pearl or Swarovski), and chandelier earrings.
  2. Bracelets - Cuff bangles, cha-cha bracelets, tennis bracelets, and a wristwatch with metal or leather band, name bracelets, charm bracelets, wrap, and clamper bracelets.
  3. Necklaces - Long gold or silver chains with pendants made of faux pearls, birthstones, cameo, diamond solitaire, or gold cross including choker necklace, lockets, or bib necklaces.
  4. Rings - Delicate or statement rings, thin bands, heirloom rings, art deco rings, and the cocktail ring.
  5. Brooch and Pins - Whimsical and flirty pins, cameo brooches, personalised brooches, and gem-set pins.



If you love to wear classic style apparel, you will love shopping for affordable vintage style shoes because you know that shoes (and handbags) make the most impressive statement in your dressing. Wear a nice suit with the wrong pair of shoes if a fashion faux pas.

Finding a fabulous pair of vintage-inspired shoes that fit in well with a wardrobe from another era is easy because there are lots of vintage-reproduction shoes that you’ll find to buy, the ones referred to as modern vintage shoes.

Women's vintage shoe style reproductions to look out for are:
  • Espadrille wedges
  • Sling-backs
  • Lace-up Oxfords
  • T-straps
  • Mary Jane shoes
  • Saddle shoes
  • Peep toe shoes
  • Patent pumps
  • Lace-up boots
  • Ballet flats
  • Kitten heel pumps or boots
  • A pair of red shoes
  • Animal print flats
  • Stiletto heels(for evening or occasion wear)
  • Loafers
  • Moccasins
  • Sandals

Handbags and purses

Either with modern apparel or vintage-inspired clothing, adding a vintage style handbag or purse to an outfit is a unique way to set yourself a fashion signature.

It’s a good thing that vintage style leather and beaded bags, and clutch purses are constantly in style. Classic handbags are popular and never go out of style so it’s possible that many die-hard vintage fashion enthusiasts have a couple in their closets.

Today’s reproduction of vintage handbags now has special pockets for cell phones and other modern devices as you will find in many of the following bags and purses.

Other vintage style fashion accessories that are good to have are:
  1. Vintage Style Sunglasses50s cat eye sunglasses and browline sunglasses, 60s over-sized and retro square glasses, 70s tinted lenses, 80s aviator sunglasses, and 90s round wire-framed glasses.
  2. Hats – 20s cloche, 40s hats and berets, 50s pillbox hat, cartwheel, boater, fedora, half hats, fascinator hats, and retro pagoda hats.
  3. Vintage style umbrella – heart, parasols, and pagoda umbrellas (ruffle-edged, plain, stripes, or polka dots).
  4. Scarf - Scarves in solid or monochromatic colours made of cotton, light silk, or wool and patterned with florals, green foliage, stripes, paisleys,  or block colours.
The vintage chic style demands that the clothes and fashion accessories you wear are neat, clean, stylish, but simple. Clothing should be wrinkle-free and colour coordinated and it is important not to over-accessorize for a vintage-inspired look.

Graphic Art and Illustrations of Vintage Fashion and Style

If you love the charm of vintage fashion and appreciate the art of fashion design of a glorious era of close to a century ago, it is certain that like many of us boomers, you'll love graphic art and illustrations of classic clothing and accessories designs.

Pictures of fashion as far back as the very early 1900s (a century ago) up until the 1960s are delightful images to behold.
Created by Viryabo@Polyvore

Hardly comparable to photo art and digital images of the 21st century, vintage art has a unique quality of its own . . . could be the fact that a good number are in black and white, some in sepia ("a reddish-brown colour associated particularly with monochrome photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries") while the majority are in colour, or as paper prints of sketches, including painted artwork.

There is royalty free vintage fashion graphic art you can find on Clip Art, Shutterstock, and Pixaby sites to mention a few. However, a majority of free sites only allow you use them for personal and not commercial use. So you can't really download such images, blow up the sizes, print them out and hang them on your walls!

You will also find (for sale) art illustrations of classic fashion and style that's not only unique and special but will make wonderful focal points in your living room, dining room, or hallway.

Prices of such beautiful art may range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, depending on a number of factors like if they are on canvas, are posters, lithographs, rare photographs, vector art, or prints.

Size is another factor that may determine how cheap, affordable or expensive haute couture artwork is.
From Victorian fashion styles to the Great Gatsby look; 50s women's chic to the retro and indie style, graphic art illustrations of vintage fashion and accessories displayed in interior spaces not only look classy, they speak volumes of the stylish attributes and taste of its owner.

Further Reading:
Famous Fashion Designers of the 1920s
7 Famous Fashion Designers of the 1960s
T-Shirt Styles Inspired by the Vintage Era

Dress Like a Silver Screen Goddess - Old Hollywood Style

Most of us know them on screen or have heard about them, the silver screen goddesses of the 20th Century and many will agree that these leading ladies of Old Hollywood helped shape and define fashion and style.

Not surprising because many movies of the early to mid-20th century were quite like fashion shows within a story.

Many of us who cherish classic styles all have some love for vintage-inspired clothing and accessories designs. This is hardly surprising as most of us grew up during the age of cinema visits and silver screen movies that not only gave us great stories to view but also showed us how glamorous men and women looked in their wonderful classic clothing designs.

If you ever watch classic movies, you’ll notice how well-groomed everyone looks. From the newspaper boy to the heiress, everyone looks so well dressed and stylish.

And the stars . . . Most times they look absolutely stunning, whether they wear casuals, day wear, office wear, or formal evening wears.

Screen Goddesses Who Were Fashion Icons

In the 20s and 30s, there were:

Louise Brooks - Of the 20s silent movies is an iconic symbol of the flapper style and for popularising the bobbed hairstyle.

Greta Garbo – A film actress from Sweden. Garbo was an international star and fashion icon in the 1920s and 1930s. She is best known for her acting career in both silent and talking movies

Joan Crawford - One of Hollywood’s greatest stars and a formidable legend who starred in the famous movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Gloria Swanson - Actress and producer. She was a silent screen legend and the epitome of early Hollywood glamour. She was perhaps the most glittering silver screen goddess of Hollywood's golden youth in the twenties.

These old Hollywood screen goddesses acted some of their most memorable roles and films in elegant and gorgeous attire, casual, sporty, and formal wear.

Beautiful outfits of some of the glamorous Old Hollywood stars - 1920s to 1930s fashion.

In the 50s, there were:

Audrey Hepburn – She popularised the LBD (little black dress) and made it an item. Until this day, every woman wants an LBD in her wardrobe.

Marilyn Monroe - One of the greatest, most recognisable fashion and beauty icons of all time. She defined glamour for a generation when she sang “Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend”

Grace Kelly – A silver screen actress who became a Princess. Kelly starred in movies such as “To Catch a Thief” and “Dial M for Murder”. Her screen outfits were some of the most talked about in old Hollywood.

Sofia Loren – This glamorous vintage movie star virtually defined the post-war look of continental sexual appeal.

Lauren Bacall – She had such provocative glamour that it elevated her to fame in Hollywood's golden age. Her fashion style, distinctive voice and sultry looks made her a very popular actress of her time. Bacall was named the “20th greatest female star of Classic Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute”.

Every woman and girl wanted to look like their screen idol and wear the same hairstyles she wore. They wanted the same make-up and clothes that their favourite star, who seemingly belonged to a very modern advanced world, wore.

From their bikinis and IT bags to their full-circle swing dresses and Dior's ‘new look’, the 20s and 50s were without doubt fashion's favourite decades. Some of the elegant styles of the time still continue to be points of reference by fashion designers and fashionistas till this day.

Further Reading:
How to Dress Like Women of the Fifties
7 Famous Fashion Designers of the 1960s
How to Dress Like a Greek Goddess

Images created by Viryabo@Polyvore

7 Famous Fashion Designers of the 1920s

For the fashionable and fashion designers, it was the decade of the roaring 20s and the jazz age, with fashion apparel and accessories that included cloche hats; Art Deco evening dresses, high heeled footwear, bobbed hairstyles, exclusive casual clothes for women (leisurewear and sportswear).

There was a lot of drinking, smoking, and partying, and it was so because it was a wonderful relief to deviate from those years of voluminous Victorian-style clothes, petticoats, and ‘rib-cracking’ corsets.
Fashion and Style of the 1920s
 In the twenties, fashion was finally becoming more relaxed with looser fitting clothes and defined by the camisole and chemise as undergarments, underwear that replaced the confining and tight-fitting corsets.

The famous fashion designers of the era include:
  1. Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
  2. Elsa Schiaparelli
  3. Jeanne Lanvin 
  4. Paul Poiret 
  5. Florrie Westwood
  6. Madeleine Vionnet
  7. Jean Patou
Of all these top fashion designers, illustrators, and couturiers, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, founder of the Chanel brand has the most lasting legacy of them all, continuing to be popular even until this day, 45years after her demise.

Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel

Coco Chanel was and still remains one of the biggest names in the fashion and beauty industry. After being unsuccessful in finding work as a singer, she finally went into the fashion industry by opening a boutique called ‘Chanel Modes, in Paris.

Coco soon became a famed fashion designer as she revolutionised the way women wore clothes, paving a new way for the fashion brand, she, being a fashion icon herself. Her simple but elegant styles changed the course of fashion history.

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel
 Some of her popular styles include:

Trousers for women – Her choice to wear sailor’s pants made the style spread so quickly, with her die-hard fans emulating her almost instantly.

Little black dress (LBD) – Most women associate the little black dress with Audrey Hepburn because she wore it in the famous movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However, it was first designed by Coco Chanel in 1926. A calf-length simple black sheath, it was labelled “a frock that all the world would wear”. The style has become a wardrobe essential for every woman ever since.

Suits for women – She created iconic suits for women, being inspired by menswear; specifically men’s suits. Jackets were collar-less with fitted sleeves, embellished buttons, and were cut stylishly boxy with an accompanying skirt that was slim-cut and trim. Chanel suits were very popular among famous celebrities like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

Quilt stitched handbags and ballet flats
– Not unlike the ballet flats of today, one of her popular styles in footwear are the two-toned ballet style shoes and the quilted bags with chain straps that both continue to remain a staple in the fashion scene of today.

Coco Chanel was known to favour mostly black and white colour combinations, especially stripes. Till date, some fashion designers of contemporary labels continue to introduce replications of her creations, fashion season after season.

Elsa Schiaparelli

She was an Italian fashiondesigner and a great rival of Coco Chanel. Regarded as one of the most prominent figures in the fashion scene between both World Wars, Schiaparelli's creations were influenced by surrealists like Salvador Dalí (a skilled draftsman and prominent Spanish painter), and Jean Cocteau (a French writer, filmmaker, designer, artist, and playwright).

Elsa Schiaparelli
The designer’s famed fashion styles include:

The wrap dress – Inspired by aprons, the design of the wrap dress was made to flatter the female silhouette. Originally conceived as women’s beachwear, the dress was popular as a design for everyday easy-to-wear clothing.

The divided skirt – This style was really a forerunner of women shorts and it shocked the tennis world when worn by Lili de Alvarez at Wimbledon in 1931.

2-Piece evening wear - Evening gowns with matching jackets.

Speakeasy Soiree dress – Popular during the 20s to 30s Prohibition era in the United States, the speakeasy dress was designed with a hidden pocket that was meant for a flask to conceal alcoholic beverages.

Clothing with visible zippers - Zippers (zips) was a key feature of her fashion designs. They were made of some form of plastic, bold and chunky, visibly clasping dress necklines and running down sleeves, dresses, and even skirts. She designed wardrobes for a good number of movie stars including Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mae West.

Jeanne Lanvin

Born in Paris in 1867, Jeanne Lanvin who founded the Lanvin brand, was a French Haute Couture fashion designer who was not only famous in fashion designing, but was also the famous founder of Lanvin Parfums, a beauty company and perfumery. She is known to be the founder of the world’s oldest fashion house.

She started on the fashion scene by being a milliner (hat maker) but soon became a fashion designer and couturier.

Jeanne-Marie Lanvin
Jeanne Lanvin designed wonderful clothing for her daughter Marguerite, something that inspired her on and was the actual driving force behind her design creations. The beautiful designs of the dresses she made for her daughter was so admired by women, there grew a demand for adult versions of such exquisite clothing. Lanvin soon after created clothing lines for women and young girls, becoming well known for her mother-and-daughter outfits.

Her famous designs include:
  • Empire-waist chemise dresses
  • Robe de Style - Bouffant style clothing for larger women (a design that became her signature piece)
She loved to work with expensive fabrics and embellishments like delicate trimmings, embroidery, exquisite beadwork, ribbons, ruffles, lace, mirrors, and flowers. Jeanne also used ornamentation such as appliqué, quilting, 'couching', pearls, corals, tiny shells, and sequins.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have a public/limelight image like her industry rival Coco Chanel who self-promoted her fashion designs. Karl Elberfeld once wrote about her . . . “Her image wasn’t as strong as that of Chanel because she was a nice old lady and not a fashion plate”.

The House of Lanvin is still very much alive today, going from strength to strength. Indeed, a wonderful legacy for a talented fashion designer.

Paul Poiret

Probably the most fashion conscious of the early 20th Century fashion designers, Paul Poiret was particularly noted for his neoclassic and ‘oriental-ish’ creations with clothing designs that are cut along straight lines and rectangular motifs. The structured cuts represented a beginning of ‘modern fashion’, something quite welcomed, especially after the era of women clothing that always required wearing voluminous dresses with constricting corsets.

He was actually more popular in the first decade of the 1900s, more than he was in the 1920s when his popularity started to wane.

Poiret’s flamboyant designs which generally came in in brilliant colours – shades of red, blue, green, purple, and blue include:
  • Lampshade tunics
  • Hobble skirts
  • Harem pants
  • Turbans
  • Draped evening gowns
  • The empire style
Poiret was particularly noted for reviving the empire style and advocating the replacement of corsets with the ‘modern’ bra. His clothing still features prominently in the collections of fashion museums worldwide.

Florrie Westwood

Relatively unknown but very talented, Florrie Westwood is who we can describe today as a fashion illustrator. As a London fashion designer who was very active in the early 1900s, not much is known about her apart from the fact that she creates wonderful designs through her drawings which were mainly elegant high-end conservative styles.

Westwood’s fashion drawing illustrations emphasised the new fashion of the time . . . the linear silhouette and ankle length clothing. The coat designs also showed the new shape, a higher neck covering and greater shoulder coverage of fur collars and cuffs.

There were hundreds of now-anonymous dressmakers and designers like Florrie Westwood who existed in towns and cities across the country until the mid-20th-century when mass-produced ready-made (ready-to-wear) clothing came to dominate the fashion scene.

Madeleine Vionnet

Though Madeleine Vionnet was a popular name in the 1920s fashion industry, however, unlike Coco Chanel who is still popular until this day, she is no longer a household name.

Illustration created by Viryabo@Polyvore
Born in 1876, Vionnet was a French fashion designer who got her training in London but returned to Paris to start her fashion house in 1912. After the First World War, she soon became one of the top French fashion designers of her time, up until the late 1930s.

Her signature creations showed a woman’s natural silhouette, unlike earlier fashion styles that rather than flatter a woman’s body distorted her shape.

Her elegant clothing designs which literally floated freely around the body was popularised by the:

Grecian style dresses – Popularly referred to as the "Queen of the bias cut" Vionnet is best-known today for her elegant Greek style dresses (she was inspired by ancient Greek art) and for popularising the bias cut.

As an expert couturier, Madeleine Vionnet designed her dresses with the bias cut, aiming to create sleek, body-flattering, body-skimming apparel that eventually revolutionised women's fashion, thus careening her to the top of the fashion world and making her one of the most famous fashion designers of the 1920s and 1930s.

She is credited with inspiring a number of today’s fashion designers with this unique design feature.

She hardly changed her designs basically throughout her career as a fashion designer but by the 30s, the last decade of her profession, her dress designs became a little more closely fitted to a woman’s body.

Vionnet passed on in 1975

Jean Patou

Patou was a perfumer, a debauchee, and fashion designer. He is recognised as the one who invented the "designer tie" in the 1920s and his famous cubist cardigans with matching hats, scarves and gloves. These two creations were some of the most popular trends of the 1920s.

The designer tie is simply men ties made in the same fabric as the women's dress collection. The style is still prominent among modern fashion designers like Timmy Everest (a bespoke tailor and designer from Wales), Paul Smith (a famous British fashion designer), and Louis Féraud (a French artist and fashion designer).

Patou marketed his clothes mostly to the rich but with the stock market crash affecting the purses of the wealthy more than most; the House of Patou continued to survive through its perfume production.

He was the innovator of ready-to-wear clothing which marked a new direction in 1920s couture and the concept of off-the-rack designer wear that we know today. His other creations include:
  • Knitted swimwear
  • Sportswear – In comfortable yet stylish designs that personified the fashionable "new woman” . . . those who wanted to look stylishly sporty, even if they did not participate in any form of exercise.
  • Tennis skirt – Below the knee and knee-length skirts. He, notably, designed the then-daring sleeveless and knee-length cut tennis wear for Suzanne Lenglen, a famous French tennis player who won 31 Championship titles between 1914 and 1926
  • Cubist-inspired jumpers - An ultra-modern motif that was also applied to matching skirts, bags, and bathing costumes
  • Robes d’intérieur – Negligées
  • The triangular sports scarf – An accessory worn knotted at one shoulder
  • Bell-skirted, high-waist evening dresses - In 1929, he raised the waistline of the skirt and brought it back to its natural hemline, a style that Coco Chanel immediately followed)
His evening wear was usually made in Georgette crêpe and beaded, delicately embroidered, or embellished with fine lace.

In the mid-20s, Jean Patou started a perfume business which is still thriving and well-known even to this day, eighty years after his demise in 1936. His early death made him one of the most undervalued but famous fashion designers of all time.

Further Reading:
How to Dress in 1920s Flapper Style
7 Famous Fashion Designers of the 1960s