My favorite time period for fashion is the 1950s and 1960s. I was lucky enough to come of age during the 1980s, where (like right now) it was all fluorescent, colored and acid washed jeans, leggings, shoulder pads, and ghastly cuts. (Shouldn’t the 1980s revival be over by now? I feel like it’s been dragging on forever.) I was in high school and college in the early 1990s, when grunge became all the rage. I never wore skirts or dresses or anything remotely cute. It was jeans, rugby shirts, button downs over t-shirts, and Doc Martens. So, of course I pine for the time when women dressed up in a way that was pretty, yet modest.
This is part of the reason why I adore watching Mad Men. The clothing is absolutely to die for. Not only do I love everything mod, I also love the party dresses and matching shift dress / coat ensembles. I’ve bought some actual real life vintage outfits on eBay, that I do wear from time to time, believe it or not. The ones I wear aren’t too costumey, although sometimes I wonder if I’ve crossed an invisible line. Although, I will say this – whenever I wear anything from the 1950s or 1960s, I never fail to get multiple compliments from people, including complete strangers. I should probably post pictures of some of my outfits in the future. I'm thinking of dressing up as Betty Draper of Season 1 for Halloween this year, since I can finally fit back into some of this stuff!
Anyway, as I said, I’ve bought a lot on eBay. The trick to buying vintage to actually wear on eBay is to (1) find a trusted seller who takes a lot of pictures so you can gage the wear in the item; (2) rely upon measurements, not sizes (a size 10 in 1958 is not the same as a size 10 today); and (3) expect to make some mistakes along the way. Here’s one – pay attention to the material of a dress. Although double knit polyester isn’t used much today, it was used a lot in the 1960s and 1970s. I made the mistake of buying one dress made of this horrible material and quickly learned my lesson. (Double knit may not bother some people, but I just can't wear it.)
In addition to eBay, there are a lot of shopping sites where you can get retro style clothes or retro inspired clothes. This means they are new, but aren't designed to look old. This can be a good thing if you are grossed out by wearing used clothing. I'm not. I actually enjoy thinking about and wondering what woman wore the dress in 1963 that I am wearing today in 2012. Retro inspired clothing is also good for fit purposes.
Let's start with Plasticland. Nearly everything on the site is retro inspired, and I love their dress section. I mean, come on, isn't this little sundress to die for?
And don't forget to check their shoe section. Loads of unique heels, like this one:
I am an absolute sucker for a lucite heel!
Moving on, Bettie Page Clothing is another great site for retro clothing. Like always, I'm drawn to the dresses. The models and props they use really add to the appeal. Look at this super cute black circle skirt dress:
The dresses at Bettie Page are -- unsurprisingly -- the pin up type! Also, lots of cute dresses you could easily picture Joan from Mad Men wearing.
Obviously Mod Cloth is a major player in this market., which pages and pages of cute, retro dresses, such as:
And, finally, Stop Staring Clothing has even more, like this cute little number:
Oh, I sometimes wish every woman dressed this way. Oh well, at least I can!