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How To Wear Vintage Dresses in 2018

How To Wear Vintage Dresses in 2018
Carly Jacobs

I was crouched on the floor of my grandmother-in-law’s lounge room with crochet granny squares laid out all around me. I was mumbling to myself and shuffling the pieces around, measuring them and writing notes in my crochet design book.

I was trying to make a bell sleeved, granny square, festival style dress and it wasn’t going well. I wasn’t even entirely sure why I was making it because it’s not at all my usual style. I rarely wear more than two colours per outfit and those colours are usually grey or white but for some reason, this idea popped into my head early last year and it wouldn’t go away. This dress REALLY wanted to exist so I obliged.

I was trying to have it finished in time for New Year’s Eve but when I realised that wasn’t going to happen, I tucked it away in my project bag and vowed not to touch again until I was home in Melbourne. A few weeks ago, I felt brave enough to give it another crack and the problem I was trying to solve came to me immediately and I finished the damn thing that weekend. I haven’t worn it out of the house yet (it’s been a bit too hot) but I’m taking her out for a spin this weekend. She was earmarked for a few special occasions (a concert, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve) and she wasn’t ready in time for those so now she’s coming out for a dear friend’s 30th this weekend. It’s not even a big party, we’re just heading to her family’s holiday home an hour drive away but god damn, I promised this dress a special occasion debut and she’s going to get it. Even if only six people are there…

vintage dresses


Wearing dress made (if you want to learn to crochet I can teach you here!)

Shoes by Trippen

When I first started blogging, Smaggle was purely a daily style blog and a lot of the clothing I wore was vintage or second hand. It was the late noughties and ‘thrifting’ was really peaking at the time. I still op-shop and love looking in vintage stores but I don’t seek it out with the enthusiasm I used to when I was a uni student with more time than money. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make a vintage prom dress look super modern and cool so here are few tips from back in the day for wearing vintage dresses… oh and I know this dress isn’t vintage but it looks like it is so it kind of counts right?

Avoid wearing vintage head to toe 

If you want to look modern, try picking just one vintage item and pairing it with more recent accessories. Unless the look you’re going for is Betty Draper in Mad Men, then go for it! Pair that swing dress with a little pillbox hat, you bad thing. However, if you’re after a more modern, fresh look ditch the pearls and gloves when you go to put on your 50s frock.

Let the dress be the star of the outfit 

It can be tempting to over accessorise a vintage dress but the rad thing about vintage dresses is that they’re (mostly) so spectacular, they don’t need anything other than a simple pair of shoes that don’t steal too much attention. Yes, I get that I’m not displaying this super effectively in my above outfit but I couldn’t help it. My orange Trippens were practically begging me to be worn with this dress okay? I’ll let the dress shine next time… promise.

Don’t be afraid to mix eras

You can absolutely mix vintage pieces with modern pieces. I saw a girl wearing a 90s Courtney Love grunge style slip the other day with knee-high Gladiator sandals and she looked amazing. She mixed the 90s with the 00s and freaking nailed it. I also have a mate whose signature summer style is to wear vintage silk kimonos with 80s style cut off shorts and singlet tops and she always looks ace.

This outfit will be worn for a weekend away in the country for my mate’s birthday. We’re going to an art gallery, then staying at the holiday house (where I will make everyone play cards because that’s what I do) and then a fancy lunch and home the next day. Should be a pretty fabulous weekend if I do say so myself.

Do you own any vintage dresses? When was the last time you wore something vintage?

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  1. Michaela 6 years ago

    I have so many vintage items, I’m not even sure if I could count them all. Honestly, I love wearing them because I feel like I’m wearing entire generations of history and the power/wisdom that comes with that is pretty awesome!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Me too! I also love that you never know exactly what it’s story is. There’s always a bit of mystery in there.

  2. Chloe Bailey 6 years ago

    Wow that is a very creative dress! Thanks for sharing.

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