Vintage Fashion Guide


Whats On This Page


Here you will find original fashion illustrations of the period, knowledge and tips on how to identify and

get 'The Look'.

In addition, tips on how to use what you might already have in your wardrobe or by buying low-cost modern items to achieve

'The Look', on a budget.

Also I have posted about the page

'Etiquette Tips' which are useful for both

men & women.

Please note:

This page only gives information on

'Antique' and 'Vintage Fashion',

1910 to 1950.

If you want information and tips on the

1960s ,1970s and 1980s fashions

 see the link below


Retro Fashion Guide.

Tip One 

One fundamental key for achieving 

The Vintage Look, is to research and use the appropriate colours and forms. Once you know this for your chosen period fashion, you can create it by using , things you already have ,modern and original items put together.

Since My Best Girl Turned Me Down - Bix Beiberbecke
00:00 / 00:00

The 1910s saw  for the ladies the revival of the higher empire waistlines from the earlier Georgian period and the revolution of being bustle-less!

And the invention of the brassiere enabled women to be corset free!

In addition the corset was losing its grip by the mid 1910s. And by the end of the 1910s skirts were much shorter, going from floor to ankle to mid calf in one decade, after centuries of floor length attire for women, this must have been liberating!

Words like avante garde & bohemian were associated with fashion for the first time

Women's fashions were more loose, floaty and fluid.

Fabrics were light and ethereal, adorned with embroidery, beads and other embellishments.

The look was subtle and pretty,

almost Nymphe-like. But by the end on the 1910s fashion was emerging as an art form.

For gentlemen too the look became free-er.

Men were experimenting with fashion, which hether too was a prerogative of women only.

Top hats, spats, bow ties of all colours and patterns, boaters ( straw hat) small ties and turned down collars, sports coats , dinner suits and lapel adornments. Georgian cravats, monocles, pocket watches,walking canes from their grandfathers were mixed with, trendy new plus fours and suits  from the continent, sport coat or blazer.Cloth caps, the sign of a working class man and fur coats, the sign of a rich man, two opposites were put together, all for show not for necessity, to make a point, this was the modern fashionable man!

1912 Men in Straw Boater hats
previously only worn by women!


Although I do not consider myself an expert of Vintage Fashion, I have been interested since I was a teen way back in the 1970s!

And as such have taken in a lot of study and information on the subject, as well as practice and so I now think I can say that I have enough knowledge to pass on tips for your benefit.

With the advent of the internet and the world wide web, research with illustrations is at our  fingertips and since I have used a home PC since 1994, that's also a lot of information my brain has collected.

In addition, I do hold an Advanced Diploma

 in Heritage Interior Design,

although it is not about fashion,

one does have to have a sense of style and flair

to design and the aptitude to learn

about design history.

Anyway, please enjoy the information and illustrations posted here for your pleasure.

Finally, I hope perusing this page will give you passion and love for all things Vintage!


The Countess

Click on the phone
to see where you
can buy Vintage

All Rights Reserved on this website.

©L R Farmer 2016

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: I do not own the images, video's or the music used on this website.

All such material belongs to their respective owners. In addition some historical information was sourced by internet websites and as such I have tired to site these sources.

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use", including non-profit, educational or personal. No copyright infringement intended .

HOWEVER: I do own the assembling of the information on my personal ancestry and family lineage and the photos of immediate family members and the website's design features.

Continental fashions for men
This double breasted suit is from Spain 1918

Tip Two

Learn the etiquette for which accessories

to wear with what and at what hour.

 See ,Etiquette tips dotted about this page.

These are good to read for both

men and women.

Etiquette Tip

Going out for Dinner?

Dinner for Two at a Restaurant at Night

Ladies as you enter let the waiter or your gentleman, take your coat but not your hat & gloves or handbag. Be seated, wait for the gentleman to pull out your chair and then sit, he should then push your chair in but not too close only enough so that you can reach the table but also place your napkin on your knees, which you do just before eating.Then you remove your gloves at the table, lay them alongside your place setting. Your handbag should be stowed away under the table. You keep your hat on. Never cross your legs, put your knees together and direct your feet slightly to the right. Sit with your back straight and do not lean on the chair back or even touch it with your back! 

If you should need to adjust your lipstick, replenish your perfume, powder your nose, pick your teeth,relieve yourself or make a phone call, go to the Ladies Lou to do it, do not do these things at the table. Excuse yourself and wait till the gentleman rises first, then leave the table. Once you return, apologise for keeping him and settle back down to conversation.

Conversation at the dinner table.

Never speak about , religion, work,politics, rude things, your clothes or toilette, your mother, your girlfriends, sex , or yourself.

Do ask him about himself. Be engaging and polite, smile a little sweetly( but not broadly, unless he makes a joke then laugh appropriately)

If he asks about you, answer him truthfully without bragging or rudeness.

If he is rude, excuse yourself and leave the table, taking your gloves and bag with you.

Finally make him pay  for the dinner,always 

The Appropriate Attire for a Formal Dinner

Ladies- A long evening gown, ( keep to one colour) long gloves, evening purse and shoes, which should be sandle type, jewellery especially around your neck and ears.Layered pearls or diamantes ( diamonds if your lucky)with earrings to match. If its winter a fur coat, if its cool but not winter a fur stole, if its summer a silk or satin stole,this can be patterned or a co-ordinating colour, but not tarten ( unless it is a Scottish affair) or a' country fabric'.

Smoking-If you smoke socially use a cigarette holder and only smoke cigarettes offered to you by your gentleman. Never completely finish your cigarette and never smoke alone, it is for socialising.

Gentlemen- A black dinner suit with black bow tie and black shoes with cufflinks and a white handkerchief.Rings can be worn on the ring or pinky fingers but not both together, this is too much.

Smoking-If you smoke socially use a cigarette case and matching lighter. Always offer your ladies a cigarette first ( if she smokes)Never smoke alone, it is for socialising.


For a Simpler dinner

Ladies- A cocktail dress, shoes with a moderate heel, elbow ( forearm length) gloves, bag, hat, jewellery- single strand of pearls or cocktail necklace and earrings to match

Gentlemen-A day suit with tie ( not bow), appropriate to the weather, dark colours for winter and autumn, light colours for summer and spring. 

Discourse- here you can talk about most things that are deemed appropriate by yourselves.

For a Picnic

Ladies- wear a day dress like a tea dress, or wide legged trousers  and a blouse,short gloves, summer hat( straw)hand bag, simple jewellery & sunglasses  in the shape for the period.

Always be the one to offer the food. Heres the time to show off your baking skills ( most foods should be home made by you)It times gone by this was done to impress a future husband!

Gentlemen- wear a nice shirt ( open necked) a cravat ( if desired) or open necked, trousers ( not jeans), sunglasses, a hat if desired

( straw or cloth).

Lay out the blanket and let the lady sit first.

Always pour the wine/beer into a glass for the lady first. In fact you should bring the wine or beer and the blanket would have been stored in your motor car, anyway.

Do not help yourself to the food, wait to be offered and handed the food by your ladie.

Discourse-Here you can talk about love romance, nature, hobbies, sport and all things happy.Get to know each other.

1910s m
1910s  ..[
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Chiffon & feathers 1920s
capes and gowns 1920s
1920s chic evening gown
Flapper Style 1920s
evening gown 1920s
Smart cocktail, dress
Details on Gown 1920s beads,etc
Show More
1910 Paul Poiret's Avant Garde Outfit
Example of 1910 Bohemian look
Kimono Dressing Gown

Tip Three

For guessing the age of a piece,

take a look at details. Certain periods had certain patterns, motifs, designs that were voque for the period.

See examples above

Typical fashionable Art Nouveau pattern for fabric
in 1910-14 French Silk designer Paul Follot
1920s Bohemian Scarf 'Oriental' style  in 
Silk crepe georgette batik
Designer:Ragnild d'Ailly

Tip Four

Some later decades had revivals of previous styles

For example The 1970s is known as the

a Fashion Revival Decade by some, although the 2000s have now taken that title I think!

The 1970s revised the Bohemian look by coping 1920s Art Nouveau,'Oriental & Bohemian fabric styles and incorporated a soft flowy look to form, added long beads and wide brim & cloche hats and hey presto! 

You have it the  1920s look.

The mid 1970s saw the return of the Edwardian high collars, mutton sleeves and the long dress

called The Maxi

And then in the late 1970s we saw the return of 1930s looks, wide leg trousers, a-line flowy dresses, cross over wrap dresses, etc.

And then in the 1980s The wonderful Lady Di

brought back to vogue the 1920s drop waistlines, Peter Pan collars and hats!

The late 80s  & early 90s saw the return of dreaded 1940s shoulder pads only much bigger!

All this makes it cheaper and easy to find the look you want by getting later versions of the original, that still have the right patterns , colours and form.

For example,a 1920s dress is very expensive but a 1970s 'version' might be a 1/4 of the price!

For suggestions on using later 'revivals'

See below.

1930s Womens Hats
What to get the look?
Click the button above or below
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Coco Chanel,
The inventor of The Little Black Dress
and suits for women.
And the use of costume jewellery,
made Vogue 

Chanel Classique


Black dress with piles of colourful costume jewellery.( 1920-now)


Square cut skirt suits ( 1950-60s)

Wide leg black trousers with side zip or

'double breasted' buttons and a white, navy or black blouse with pussycat bow, brooch, costume jewellery.

Chanel Style Accessories

Black fedora hat

long beads

wide bangles

stud earrings

Fairly big brooches

Necktie or cravat for women

Black court shoes.

Tip- With Chanel the clothing is the stage the costume jewellery are the actors( they must stand out, the stage not so much) In essences this is early Chanel. In the 1950-70s it was the cut of the suit ( the form) that was to stand out with a simple costume brooch.

With the advent of the women's vote,

women strove for equality by doing things traditionally reserved for men. Like driving a car, playing golf, smoking and drinking

or even travel to far off exotic places!

The fashions also reflected this emancipation. Women were not only wearing trousers more often but were actually wearing men's trousers and sports jackets, plus fours, cloth hats, etc.

But evening wear still was the domain of femininity.

However,designs were more daring and sexier.

Thinner materials and satin like feels with dazzling beads and diamante, dangled beads that drew attention to the bust and low backs that accentuated the curve of a woman's back. Even the new brassiere of the 1910s was abandoned to a thin camisole or nothing at all!

Perhaps to refute the hecklers who said that women were trying to be like men, these  women wanted to flaunt their feminine sexuality, freely and without restraint and  

the evening gowns reflected this.

For men  the look was sporty.

Hunting, fishing, golf, tennis, driving, flying a plane, travel,the pursuits of rich men became available to ordinary working class guys as the

weekend and holidays became available to workers.

Swimming, gymnastics and sports were

popular pursuits and so the fashions reflected this

'sporty look' for men and women.

Plus fours no longer reserved for golf were worn as a fashion statement saying  

 '' I have time for leisure''

Cloth hats and driving gloves, leather jackets were the clothes of a modern man who drove a motor. Tweed, stripes and houndstooth patterned fabrics gave everybody a feel of the upper classes.

Exoticism was also a highlight in fashion due to the 1928 discovery of Tutumkarmens tomb by archaeologists. All things Egypt was Chic!

As too was Chinese fabrics as travel became a pursuit of the many.


The 1920s above all else, was  to this post war generation, primarily about youth and optimism.

The 1930s was a decade of plenty.

And what the young like to do was DANCE!

With new inventions rapidly improving our world, there also came new fabrics which in turn could make creations of new styles possible. Improvements with Raylon and the invention of Nylon in 1938 are just a couple of examples. These fabrics looked and felt like richer

fabrics but were much cheaper.

And all the smart girls had them!

Jazz continued to dominate the music scene.

However there was a new thing on the horizon.

 Latin themed music re-created new dances like the the Samba and  the Rumba for the young who flocked to the dance halls in their droves.

And later in the decade the Lindy Hop and Swing started to make an appearance in the west.

And being so,clothes had to become more practical for dancing. So no longer were you expected to wear a full length gown to a dance, now you could wear a cocktail dress even after the cocktail hour!

In addition the Latin flair came into the fashion designs for both men & women.

Just as Egyptology had influenced fashion in the last decade the popularity of Latin America and Spain was hip in the 1930s. With the revolutions in Brazil in 1930 and Spain in 1936.

Egyptian Inspired Outfit 


And with the great wave of European immigration (1870–1930s) there established a strong relationship to The Argentine.

The news was all things Latin.

And so we had , flamenco gowns that hugged the hips, culottes, bolero jackets, butterfly and balloon sleeved blouses, peasant blouses and sombrero for women and baggy pants, two tone shoes,

fedora and Panama hats, slick down hair with Brylcreem & thin moustache  for men,

just to name a few influences .

The Cinema was also a big draw in the 1930s with the advent of the talkies.

Every body wanted to look like the Film Stars.

The evening fashions reflected the Hollywood Style. Decadent fabrics of satin and silk were copied with the 'new fabrics' of rayon & nylon. They were rolled out in their yards to form long flowy slinky dresses that skimmed the feminine form.

The invention of nylon & rayon gave cheaper options of fabric & meant that most women could have a satin like gown.

Men too got swisher! Baggy legged trousers with high waistlines and loose fitting suit jackets, showed no expense in fabric was spared!

Sports still featured highly on the youths calendar and new lines in sportswear came into view.

1920 Orientalism
Princess Diana does 1920s
low back gown
Spanish polka dots, flamenco hem
Bohemian still in 1930s
1930s Hollywood
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Mountain Lake
Beach Huts
Ferris Wheel
Palm Trees
City Cycle
Misty Slopes
Fire Wood
Foggy Pier
Cafe in Autumn
Show More

TIP -Style Revival Match- ups

1910 & 1970s ( Mid)High collars, mutton sleeves, the maxi- Laura Ashley look.

1920s &  1970s ( early)Bohemian & wide brim hats, & 1980s ( early)Lady Di look, drop waists, Peter pan collars, Hats

1930s & & 1970s (late) & 1990s-2000s Tea Dress, beret,pleated skirt, wrap dress

1940s & 1980s &1990s(early)Shoulder pads, fur coats

1950s & 2010s ( Pin up style,Hipster)

NB: The 2000s saw revivals in fashion styles from the 1950s, 60s, 70s & 80s as 'Vintage' was trending in the world.

This trend persists today and has grown into a way of life for some.

Now we can say it has become a movement!

Laura Ashley sewing pattern 1970s  does 1910s

Almost perfect reverb!

Tip Five
If you are a handy person who can sew, why not make your own. There is a plethora of vintage sewing patterns out there. Saves you a lot of hassle trying to find the right dress in the right size.
Get a cheap 1980s pattern to do 1940s
or 1970s L wrap dress pattern for 1940s daytime look, or Lady Di style dress pattern for 1920s
1980s sewing pattern does 1940s
only short hems. Just adjust the hem length to mid calf  and soften the shoulder pads by making them smaller and you have 1940s look !
1980s sewing pattern with 1920s drop waists
Modern Pattern does 1930s