There is something about a vintage dress that never fades. I don’t mean the colour of course, I mean the style. The fashions that were oh-so-chic in their day maintain the same sense of class and sophistication today. Modern designers constantly revisit the popular styles of yesteryear and more and more of us find ourselves drawn into little vintage boutiques in the search of these retro treasures.
The embers of the vintage revival were reignited by Camden beauties such as Kate Moss. The forever-youthful supermodel seemed to feel a kinship with the style that aged as flawlessly as she did, realising that any dress you find in a vintage store is unlikely to be worn by anyone else. It’s simply the fastest way to a bespoke wardrobe.
But if you’re a newcomer to vintage dresswear, it’s sometimes a little confusing. So many eras, so many fashions. It’s not easy to know what to look out for. There are a few classic styles and silhouette types that make the most beautiful stand-out items. So, let’s dive in and take a tour of the most recognised and important vintage dress styles.
The flapper dress/1920s shift
This class creates a slim silhouette and incorporates beautiful beading, precious fabrics and longer length layered hems. All about the flapper dress.
The A-line dress
A-lines cling to the waist and fall into a fuller skirt. They are great for hiding fuller hips. A classic style that recurs through the decades.
The rock and roll swing dress
Think full-circle skirts and fitted bodices, a strong silhouette that emphasises a woman’s shape, oozing femininity.
The maxi dress
This was a 1970s favourite. Loose fitting, floor sweeping and unspeakably bohemian. Whether it has thin straps or long sleeves, the maxi is a summer staple.
The sheath dress
The sheath is a fitted slinky style that makes the perfect evening gown. The sheath style has been associated with most decades, with skirt lengths and sleeve details adding variation.
The shift dress
This is a 1960s classic. The straight cut doesn’t cling to the body, but the short hemline adds a touch of glamour. Great for girls who want to flaunt their pins but may be a little body-conscious.
The wiggle dress
The wiggle is the ultimate 1940s/50s secretary style dress – typified by Marilyn Monroe’s look. Fitted, sexy and uber feminine it radiates vintage charm. The wiggle dress is fitted right through, usually ends at the knees with the skirt being equally as tight.
The shirt dress
Popular through the 1930s to the 1960s in various guises though usually features central button fastenings, a belted waist, a fuller skirt and a crisp collar. There is a playfully feminine feel to this twist on a classic man’s shirt.
Top Vintage Styles
- Flapper dress
- Swing dress
- Maxi dress
- Sheath dress
- Wiggle dress
- Shift dress
- Shirt dress