I have received many wonderful photos, links, tips and thoughts from readers, and I want to share a few with you. Kudos and many thanks to these expressive and stylish women!
Reader tips and ideas
And of course every woman who has responded to my request for photos and tips for the 40+ vintage wearer has a different style...each her own, each laudable.
Sarah is a vintage fashion aficionado (with a most amazing collection of vintage Western wear) and shows herself dressed in all-out vintage. When I asked her whether she sees any challenges in wearing vintage at over 50, she replied that some people have problems wearing age-appropriate clothes whether they are vintage or not.
She makes a good point: One thing that doesn’t necessarily work is wearing exactly the same style you wore when you were young. I know I’m really attracted to the clothing that I loved when I first got into fashion as a teenager, but I have to be careful not to wear exactly the same things that would have been perfect on me in 1974. Also, trying to
young with your dress can be a self-defeating effort. Let’s just say it is a careful balance.
Sarah wears her magnificent clothing collection with such flair and self-assuredness:
Speaking of self-assuredness, Denise says: “When I started wearing vintage in my 20s there were some things I couldn’t pull off because I didn’t have the panache that I gained by my 50s. For example, the Bette Davis off-the-shoulder black dress in All About Eve...I would have looked silly attempting it back then. But now baby...watch out and do fasten your seat belts!”
Cherith of The Gypsy’s Closet is 45 and wears vintage from the 1960s and 70s daily. She writes, “Vintage is not popular where I live but I don’t care... It makes me happy!
...It’s funny because I met an older woman when I was a very young woman who inspired me, she had a small vintage clothing shop here in New Hampshire. I used to visit her every day, have tea and buy vintage clothes. I thought she was the coolest woman I had ever met; she didn’t care what anybody thought or what anyone else was wearing. I aspired to be like her...She totally rocked it in a classy way!”
See what you can do for younger women when you share the love of vintage and keep caring about style?
Marcy is 66 and dresses in 1920s-50s with occasional 1910s or 1960s-80s. She’s a member of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and finds lots of vintage events in L.A., as well as people dressing vintage around town. Unless she’s with some of her head-to-toe vintage-wearing friends she usually will just go with a vintage dress and purse mixed in with other items from her wardrobe. She makes the point that you may have to be ready for attention (photo requests included!) when you go all-out vintage.
Not a bad thing for some of us, as Romona (who is turning 51 in December) writes: “I wear vintage or retro 40s and 50s nearly 100% of the time! It’s timeless and classic. My friends say a little too ‘costume-y’ but at my age, frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn!” Confidence with your style is so important—Romona really owns her look!
Laurence of the amazing Lost in the 50’s blog and Instagram is not quite to 40 yet, but she feels the age differential when she notices that lots of girls in their 20s are more into repro clothing than real vintage. Her style is evolving, even in her mostly vintage wardrobe. “I think you must choose your clothes to make you happy not to be part of a group or show something to someone else...You know, I think I’m preferring my actual self more than my 20s one.” I hope that preference continues to grow for you Laurence!
Karen has been wearing vintage 30 years, since she was 16. She mentions that her style has changed through the years, mainly due to personality whims, not age. Certain things have come with her maturing interest in vintage fashion: “I’m much more interested in quality, well-made pieces and responsibly produced clothing. So aside from the vintage sourcing I do for my job [the great Small Earth Vintage], I shop much less than I used to, and vintage has become even more important to me.”
I’m with Karen—I’m to the point where shopping for new clothing (with some exceptions) is anathema to me. Real vintage can spoil a person!
Monica has also been wearing vintage since she was a teenager. She sees herself as giving these glamorous and well-made fashions a second life, as well as giving her co-workers a view of something interesting and distinct from the usual business attire.
Carol, who is 55, proudly wears vintage day dresses to work at “the coolest office in Sacramento, California.” She wears 1960s and 70s day dresses the likes of which some of her favorite vintage TV heroines wore on programs like Bewitched and The Dick Van Dyke Show, mixing them up with some funky modern accessories.
She buys most of her vintage online, and says it is pretty easy once you get the knack, cautioning to choose by measurements not size, and to carefully read the details about items including flaws, because these may not be obvious in photos.
She writes: “I consider the day dresses historical pieces of wearable art. I admire the details and craftsmanship on each garment; features like darts, side zippers, ornate buttons and pleating are not as common in today’s mid-budget dresses. I have bought many vintage dresses online and have had really good luck with my countless purchases.”
My friend and colleague from the Vintage Fashion Guild, Liza of Better Dresses Vintage, often is seen modeling her clothing for sale and wears amazing complete outfits for historical events and as a movie extra.
Here she is (on the right, with her friend Sarah) dressed in late 1910s clothing from top to bottom, inside and out. I can vouch for Liza’s sense of humor and drama...she was born to take vintage out on a crusade like this!
However, when it isn’t for an event or a movie shoot, Liza usually wears one or two vintage pieces mixed with modern pieces and modern hair/makeup/accessories. She says that she finds vintage looks better, flatters more, and is aligned with her values; she’s been avoiding newly made, mass-produced fast fashion clothing for more than a year now.
Jean, of Bop and Awe, also does her own modeling as a vintage seller, and wears vintage in real life. She writes “I have opened some eyes here in my tiny little world of Corpus Christi.”
I really appreciate what she writes in her Etsy profile: “I love anything old (myself included) and with a history (myself included) and turning it into something individual and glorious.”
One of my favorite vintage fashion mixers is Isabelle, who lives in Nice, France. Apparently vintage is not so much a
there, but by mixing vintage, modern and handcrafted items in her unique way, she is no doubt turning heads and getting many compliments!
This outfit mixes modern and vintage elements in a fall color palette:
Isabelle is a connoisseur of details, for instance loving the just-for-the-wearer detail of a beautiful printed lining. She seems to know every vintage nook and cranny in her area, and frequents the vide-greniers (flea markets) where she gets to know the sellers, who sometimes save out things she might especially like. She has an arrangement with a vintage shop owner who will let her trade vintage that she no longer uses for new-to-her vintage items.
Getting acquainted with sellers is a great tip, no matter what one’s age!
Here is one of her colorful outfit mixes including an item she got in trade from the vintage shop:
I especially admire her ability and ambition to save vintage treasures and repurpose them into wearables for herself. About this jacket project she writes “half the tapestry was dead but enough was left to carry on my back this picture!”
What got Pam hooked on vintage was wearing one of her mother’s novelty print 1950s dresses (shown on the right below) for a play in the 1980s. What started as a costume soon became a wardrobe staple which set the tone for her interest to this day.
Pam still loves finding vintage novelty prints to wear, and at 52, unapologetically wears vintage almost daily. Her blog (about “all things groovy and mystical”) is called The Mid-century Mystic, appropriately enough!
When 45-year-old Sara checked in she was debating wearing these vintage barkcloth culottes with heels and a simple t-shirt for an event that evening:
Sara is attracted to the nostalgia and uniqueness of vintage from the 1950s-70s, and also to items because of their graphic and/or whimsical prints (such as horse print culottes!). She doesn’t wear vintage every day, but often—usually pairing one vintage piece with a modern twist.
Melanie would second that modern twist aspect. As she writes: “I keep my hair and makeup modern because I don’t want to look like I’m trapped in a decade or going to a costume party.” She prefers what she calls loud, flattering vintage from the 1960s and 70s, such as Lanvin shirt dresses or mod colorblock garments.
Here is Sarah again, with a friend. She says: “We have both been wearing vintage since our late teens so are very comfortable with our own style.”