Style Me Vintage by Naomi Thompson
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Cindy: After Lynn found this book at the public library and foolishly loaned it to me, her overdue fines would have purchased a Bakelite bracelet set. I’ve finally returned the book to her so we can get this post published. Style Me Vintage: Clothes: A Guide to Sourcing and Creating Retro Looks ( Pavilion 2012) is not a teen book, but it is sure to have appeal with teens. It’s part of a series that includes vintage looks at Hair, Makeup, and even Style Me Vintage: Weddings.
The clothing volume starts with this distinction in terminology: “Purists would say that ‘vintage’ is pre-1960, and post-1960 is ‘retro.’” The book then looks at decades starting with 1920 (Downton Abbey fans will see many familiar fashions) through the 1980s. Each chapter starts with a great quote. For instance:
The 1960s: “There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.” – Lily Tomlin
The 1970s: “Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress in the woman who is wearing it.” – Yves Saint Laurent
I was a teen in the 70s and while it is a fun decade for retro looks now, most people focus on the bell bottoms and halter tops and forget that we had to endure smock tops and polyester three piece suits. I had a mint green polyester pants suit with vest and I thought it was fab. Shudder. The chapters include a day look and evening look list of distinctive decade styles and several photos or drawings of some complete looks.
Recently Lynn and I attended a Mad Men themed wedding shower for one of our past students. We could have used this book, but we did all right on our own. My mother’s old silver cat glasses surprisingly turned out to be the perfect prescription for me! Cool.
Lynn: Vintage clothing shops are doing well in our little town and a great shop just opened downtown that features a fascinating combination of vintage and current styles. it is a popular place with our teens and college students and Style Me Vintage is a great introduction for people interested in buying vintage clothing wisely. Each decade gets a chapter and each chapter examines daytime and evening wear, main shapes, looks and influences, what was new and even the underwear necessary for the right look. I especially like the “shopping lists” that provide a great summary of what defined the style of that decade. For example, the 1950′s list includes: beaded cardigans, nipped in waistlines, box handbags, bobby socks and saddleshoes.
The book has terrific illustrations that include advertising and fashion photography from period magazines. Thompson includes practical information on how to repair and maintain vintage clothing, labels to watch for and recommendations on where to shop and online resources. Appealing and wonderfully organized, the book is a treat for anyone interesting in fashion and design as well as those serious about vintage clothing.
I also really enjoyed the “Top Tips for Buying Vintage” that included some familiar advise on shopping in general. A long time ago when my children were very young we moved to a new town and into a neighborhood where other young families had settled. Many of the women were doctor’s wives with a lot more spendable income than I had and they were serious shoppers. They took me under their very fashionable wings and gave me excellent advise that I still follow today AND that is echoed in Style Me Vintage. First buy the best you can afford – fewer good quality is better than more poor quality. Secondly, dress carefully to shop! Wear things that you can slip into and out of easily but also dress so that whatever you try on won’t look ridiculous. It’s hard to know what a great dress looks like with sloppy socks and crocs! Best of all, is the excellent advise on developing your own style, something important for whatever decade’s styles we favor.
Now…about those overdue fines…