Published in Vintage Life Magazine, Issue 78 May 2017.
Do you often long after the looks of rockabilly babes or beautiful pin-ups, but simply don’t have the time to give it a go yourself? If the answer is yes, then you’re on my kind of wave length. Despite having worshipped Dita Von Teese and her wardrobe since my early teenage years, I’m ashamed by my lack of skills when it comes to curlers and suspenders. I know I could master these things with a bit of concentration, but running my own business, it’s often hard to fit it all in.
It’s not just the styling, but the fashion too. I can’t tell you’ve the number of times I’ve been tempted to chuck out all of my modern-made garments and go 100% vintage. However, the cost of bulk-buying can add up quickly, not to mention how easy and practical a pair of jeggings can be every now and again…
I believe that vintage should be worn and enjoyed every day, and that’s why I founded Viva Soul London. The website specialises in unique and affordable vintage pieces with a range to cover any day-to-day activity, from a pub brunch at the weekend to wedding attire.
If you’re at the beginning stages of building your vintage wardrobe, here are my five essential items for giving your look an effortless retro makeover:
When I was small, my grandmother would sit me in front of her drawer of silk scarves and I would play all day long. Not much has changed there, and you can still find me rummaging through trunks of them at fairs. Vintage scarves are often unique, usually very reasonable and so versatile; wear them around your neck, head, waist or strung through the belt loops of a coat or dress (particularly handy if it’s missing its original belt). These also apply to the gents too, with small scarves making excellent pocket handkerchiefs.
A print shirt
My all-time favourite vintage buys are print shirts from the 60s and 70s. The patterns used in these decades, whether they’re floral, geometric or illustrated, are unlike any of those you’ll find in shops today, and often the colour combinations are superior too. Let’s not forget also the fantastic dagger collars and bell sleeves that often come with them. Paired with jeans or a classic cut skirt, I find they add some flare to an otherwise simple outfit.
The great thing about a vintage coat is, no matter what you’re wearing underneath, you’re always going to look vintage when you step out of the house. Macintoshes, capes, even fur coats can be picked up at good prices, made by top quality names. A great vintage coat can last a lifetime, over even be passed through the generations as happens in my family.
Maxi dresses always offer a real “Wow!” factor, with heaps of material and often added capes and frills. They can also easily be dressed up or down, depending of the accessories you wear with them, and with layers they’re suitable for a range of seasons.
An evening dress
If I’m attending a special event, the last thing I want to do is turn up looking like someone else there. Depending on my mood, and of course the nature of the event, a fantastic vintage frock can allow me to be flamboyant or elegantly simple. Vintage fashion is all about the details to me, and that’s what can really make an evening dress shine.
Written by Lydia Jones, Founder of Viva Soul London