What flatters you
Now that I've expressed a bit of a carte blanche attitude about what vintage one could and should wear, I need to take one step back. I do believe you can wear what you feel good in, but you may feel better (and look better) in some vintage styles more than others. It is good to cultivate a sense of what flatters you.
Because “vintage clothing” has been defined as any garment twenty years old or older, you have a pretty big range to choose from!
Do you know what your best features are? Consider not just your figure, but your face, your hair, your neck, your ankles, your shoulders...heck, even your knees. There is an era and a style that is going to show off your best. In a general sense, the 20s and 60s favor a straighter, younger, thinner shape, while the late 40s through the early 60s was the hourglass era. I consider 1939-46 a somewhat more natural (neither straight nor exaggeratedly curvy) era, same with most of the 70s.
Take a look again at some styles I've shown from the 20s through the 80s:
One caveat: Before I get anyone too excited about very vintage and antique (defined as 100+ years old) clothing, let me caution you: Rare and delicate items need to be treated with respect and care, and may not actually stand up to wearable use. A great example of this, particularly because popular culture is currently mad for it: 1920s beaded silk dresses. These gorgeous creations are everything good except durable. The weight of the beading, sequins, and/or metallic threads applied to fine silk has just not stood the test of time in many cases. If you find such a dress in wearable condition, you should seriously consider (and I know this hurts) not wearing it, or just wearing it briefly for a photo. Clothing is in fact ephemeral.Next time: Alternatives to authentic vintage items