Work it With Vintage
Apr 26, 2017 | by Ellen Dial
With spring comes change and as Sheryl Crow says “change’ll do you good…”. With that said, I’m finding myself with a bit of extra time on my hands (won’t go into the whole ridiculous story!). I really should be cleaning my house – but no, between interviews, talking with recruiters, searching and following up, I’ve been browsing Pinterest. Well, and binge watching British crime serials on Netflix. Naturally. I really loved “Shetland” and “Hinterland”, be sure to check them out!
Back to Pinterest.
I’ve found some delicious looking recipes and such. Checked out silly make-up recommendations (all manner of glittery nonsense) and watched some crazy (mostly totally fake) UFO and Bigfoot videos on the YouTubes (I know, right?). What I’ve really been doing is cleaning up some of my hoardy boards and looking at vintage fashion, especially from my favorite time period 1910-1929. The stuff of daydreams!
An easier time, to be sure. Of course, women couldn’t vote and were, you know, repressed. But I digress.
As I move ever closer to finding a job, I’ve been looking at vintage fashion with a “could I pull this off for work” eye. Yes, I have a nice collection of vintage pieces, and I’ve worn many of them to work in the past with success (many don’t fit now, but let’s not discuss that). Some examples would be my mod Mr. Dino sheath with high heel boots, the lovely cotton voile dress from the Armistice with spectator pumps and a mid-60’s LBD with tights and brightly colored heels. All good looks and an interesting take on the new and the old. I got a lot of compliments and was a sensation in one of my communities when I wore the Armistice dress, many of the ladies remember their mothers wearing dresses similar to it.
But what else could one wear and not look like you’re coming to work after raiding the costume collection from your local community theater? I mean, no more than usual, since leggings and an oversized, chili stained “I Love Bacon” t-shirt wouldn’t exactly meet corporate dress code recommendations, right? Right. So we all “costume” up to some extent.
In culling my boards, I came up with several couture examples that would suit the non-costume theme. Yes, it would be wonderful to own these pieces – who could afford them? Additionally, The Met might not be too keen in parting with them. But surely one can find something similar and take it from there.
Put on your favorite vintage outfit and let’s take a look at some gorgeous and relatable vintage clothes, shall we?
Vintage Dress Code | Paul Poiret Inc.
One of my hands down favorite vintage couturiers, Paul Poiret was surely a genius, my brilliant friend Becky talks more about Paul here. Such forward thinking designs, his garments are made for a woman’s body and the details! The fabrics! The drape!
Two of my dream work pieces would include his gorgeous pink and brown afternoon dress. Its’ silk and from 1920. Feminine without being fussy. The softly pleated skirt, self belt and easy, beautifully draped bodice would be perfect for the modern workplace. So, what could be done to bring it up to date? Depends upon your office! I’m thinking fun pink textured tights and a very on-trend pair of stacked heel pumps? Perhaps a metallic bronze or brown patent? Add some fun vintage beads and Bob’s your uncle – tuck your iPad case under your couture clad arm and hit the boardroom.
The second is the yummy fall-hued sweater and paisley skirt set. This ensemble dates from 1916! It could totally pass for the mid-80’s, right? Completely timeless. The wrap sweater is slimming and has a nicely tailored feel to it – the cream linen collar softens it up a bit. The skirt is gorgeous – and beautifully cut, it would drape perfectly and have great movement. A hot pair of stacked heel boots and a contemporary statement necklace would be fab. So ready for your client presentation! Plus, you have a great story to tell about your outfit, which is always a good ice-breaker.
Vintage Dress Code | Ms. Chanel Will See You Now
Ah yes, Chanel. So classy. Her offerings from the 1920’s are totally doable – the LBD’s and suits are all so timeless, are they not? It was hard to pick, her suits are so easy and classic. Beautifully tailored. The addition of interesting tights (or sleek bare legs) and some updated pumps would push these pieces into the 21st century.
I’ve highlighted one of her early LBD’s, which in the spring 1926 issue of Vogue were touted as the “must have” for the modern, sophisticated woman, I couldn’t agree more! Totally flexible. Belted at the waist, it could have a more casual, day to day feel. Or “funk it up” with a cool chain hip belt (so very Chanel!). Throw on your pearls, black tights and killer heels? Ready for the CEO’s site visit and post-meeting dinner. How elegant, professional and cool you would look. Definitely make an impression!
Vintage Dress Code | A Few Easy Pieces, LLC
Separates are always easy to pair with modern pieces. Always. Pencil skirts from the 40’s and 50’s are a good pick. Trousers from the 80’s, now that high-waisted cuts are in vogue? Blazers from the 70’s are awesome. Sweaters from the 1920’s through the 1950’s – a beaded cardigan, anyone? But what about before? OK. What about around the time of the Great War? Check out the beautiful cream wool skirt I found from 1915. Love, love the pleats and details. Such a beautiful piece. Truly. Simple, elegant and versatile.
How chic you could make it with a silk blouse, chain belt and heels. Or dress it down with a black t-neck sweater or belted cardi. Boots would definitely work, pick your funkiest pair! Make it yours!
My point? As we’ve all said here, what’s old is new and vice versa. Timeless is timeless. With the exception of my examples (yes, they are dream land, I know!) vintage clothes can definitely up your game. Highlight your inherent eccentricities without being too weird. Why look like everyone else who comes to work? Set yourself apart. Just because many workplaces are going business casual (oh the horrors!) doesn’t mean you don’t have to. Plus, with vintage – you don’t spend as much, the clothes are better quality (heck, the piece is 75 years old and looks new!), vintage tends to not look like everything else on the rack AND you’re living a more sustainable existence.
We all win!
Go forth! Hit your favorite consignment or vintage shop. Go online. Buff up your work wardrobe with some cool vintage pieces and make a statement.
Always stay vintage cool.
To our darling readers: Do you have any “go to”vintage pieces you rock for work? How do you style them?
The author would like to thank: the Pinterest community, metmusem.org and her own, somewhat funky point of view! And those who post their images freely on the internet.