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Compiled by Savithri Rodrigo

From the demure to the bold and beautiful, dressing vintage is no longer about wearing someone else’s leftovers

Modern wardrobes have a hidden style – so unearth the frills and bows, petticoats and pencil skirts, and you’ll have a good thing going. Dust off those rather prim Edwardian blouses to pair them with a straight skirt and block heel pumps.

Don that A-line shift with a cluster of pearls and hair piled high, topped with a tiara à la Audrey Hepburn or go mini with those colourful tights, large sunglasses and a beret. You’ll be the subject of ‘curiouser and curiouser’ but hey, turn those heads – that’s what dressing anachronistically is about!

Dressing vintage need not be incongruous. In fact, it can be quite exciting.

So first, what’s the look?

Would it be the 1940s with its strict rationing of fabric that brought on an austere almost military feel though emphatic on the silhouette mien? Nipped waists, padded shoulders and knee length skirts are in.

But pull out the stops on the neckline, softening the rigidity with sweethearts, keyholes, squares, slits or even wraps. Whether it’s a suit or dress, if you’re blessed with a tiny waist and full hips, the look will fit you fine! But you can be a tad more daring for the evening with spaghetti straps or halter tops with shoulders revealed while the cleavage is kept mild.

And for you dapper gentlemen, get that WWII military look with trench coats, bomber jackets, chinos and aviator glasses. Is it any wonder that the whistles of Frank Sinatra will follow you down the street?

Oh and if you’re donning a suit, stay with tweed, checks and ‘overplaids’ for a single or double breasted jacket that’s tapered slightly at the waist… but do ditch the vest. It was considered a waste in such ascetic times.

Or maybe you’d like to step back into the 1950s, celebrating the end of the war, and the resurrection of everything large and voluminous. The ’50s woman was super sexy but with the licence to be a tad flirty.

Leading the charge is Christian Dior, making silhouettes fashionable as well as the alphabets à la mode from the A-line to the Y-line with its wide dolman sleeves and tapering slim skirt. Pull out that shift, top it with a crew neck cardigan, paint those lips pillar box red, and add a waist cinch belt and chiffon scarf… and yes, you’ve got the look!

If petticoats are your thing, then rock ‘n’ roll with a petticoat supported circle dress, bullet bra and halter neck.

The look for men in the 1950s was about emphasising the all-male T shape: narrow brimmed hats, natural shoulder shapes, pleat free pants and textured fabric – basically everything was narrower.  Find those corduroy pants and tweeds, add a little print and texture, and project the ’50s peacock fashion look. The American influence of the 4 Cs – colour, comfort, correctness and casualness – has arrived.

Two fashion icons – Jackie Kennedy and Twiggy – etched their signatures in ’60s fashion with styles that juxtaposed well put together pearls and tailored suits to ‘there’s no such thing as too short!” by the middle of the decade.

Very different looks from which to choose included simple, well-fitted, modest and perfectly matched accessories like Jackie O or the tacky, cheap and old that articulates either freedom or an ‘I don’t care’ attitude reminiscent of Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot, as well as Mary Quant who autographed fashion as fun with her very short dresses and bold colourful prints.

As for the fashion conscious male, you remember the Beatles, James Bond and the swinging ’60s, don’t you? Staples to the office are modelled on Don Draper of Mad Men with his single breasted suit, textured tie, pocket square, Oxfords and fedora.

Or for those extra sartorial embellishments, look towards the adventurous Roger Sterling, and our ultimate poster boys James Bond (for sheer panache) and John F. Kennedy (for his effortless Ivy League persona).

And if you prefer the Mods, get into that youth subculture of the Beatles with their slim fitting narrow pants, polo shirts and penny loafers; and if it isn’t too hot, a cable knit jumper. As for the icing on the cake, go way too cool with tortoiseshell wayfarer sunglasses!

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