Christian Dior launched his 'New Look' collection on 12 February 1947. After the austerity of utilitarian wartime fashion it was a relaunch of glamour and femininity. Dior himself didn't come up with the 'New Look' name, that was coined instead by the then editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar Carmel Snow who exclaimed: “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look.”
The style was characterized by a full flowing skirt and a tiny nipped in waist. War time fabric restrictions were still in place at the time and the idea of using 20 yards of fabric for just one outfit was considered scandalous*.
* In stark contrast, the average wartime dress used just 3 yards of fabric.
The society ladies and magazines went crazy for the elegant new style, but reaction wasn't all positive. At a photo shoot in Paris the models had the outfits torn off them
by angry women who were enraged by such excess at a time when the general population had so little.
The British press were also scathing of the new wasteful designs, and American women saw the restrictive waistlines and impractical skirts as a step backwards from the emancipation of wartime practicality.
However by the time the 1950s arrived the glamour of Dior's New Look had worked it's magic and become the style to wear. It was worn by Hollywood stars and royalty (Princess Margaret was a real champion of this style in Britain). The style of dress would influence fashions throughout the 1950s and create the definitive silhouette of the decade.
Here are some of my favorite New Look-style vintage dresses in store at the moment. You can see the whole collection of 1950s vintage dresses here
. Don't forget to leave me a comment letting me know which is your favorite!
If you'd like to introduce a little vintage into your wardrobe, a pretty vintage handbag is a great way to do that. They are usually quite reasonable, and on top of that, no one else will have one exactly like it.
From the bigger shopper totes of the 60s and 70s to tiny beaded evening bags popular in the 1920s and 30s, vintage purses are such a lovely thing to own!
1920s and 1930s
In the 20s and 30s purses tended to be small, pretty and intricate. They could be made of metal mesh, satin, beaded, embroidered or appliqued, but they were always little works of art. One of the foremost and collectible labels of the era are Whiting & Davis, makers of beautiful mesh bags.
Handbags from the 1940s evoke that age of Hollywood glamour and style. Leather was popular for daywear and velvet and satin clutches for evening wear. Wicker and bamboo bags were also popular for summer and beachwear. Whimsy was also the theme for many bags of the era, in colorful designs and unusual materials.
Purses from the 1950s vary wildly from the iconic leather Kelly bag to super-sophisticated clutches and also some really fun and whimsical fashions. What do you think of the Whole Alligator Bag below, complete with head, legs and tail?
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Vintage Whole Body Baby Alligator Purse Organizer Shoulder Style 1950s[/caption]
1960s and 1970s
The Sixties and Seventies were a great time for quirky fun fashion, and this shows in the wonderful choice of handbags from this time, I particularly love the wooden bag which looks like a miniature sideboard!
The wonderful thing about vintage handbags is that each one is so individual. You're very unlikely to come across another person with the same bag as you and that makes it all the more special!
The 1920s is one of the most inspiring decades for wearing vintage fashion. Not only does it feel really special to wear genuine 1920s vintage, the fashions of the Roaring Twenties were just so stylish!
Here's my guide to what to wear and how to wear it for a 1920s day look and a 1920s flapper-style evening look. So get inspired by Gatsby and Downton Abbey and embrace your inner flapper!
Day dresses were longer than typical flapper dresses and often had pretty delicate prints. Popular features were sailor collars and a straight shape with a dropped waist.
See more 1920s dresses here
Any bright young thing worth her salt would be wearing a cloche hat during the day (a close-fitting bell-shaped hat). These could be plain or as fancy as you liked - just look around and find something you adore!
See more vintage 1920s hats
Evening Wear: A Flapper Dress
A common misconception is that flapper dresses were bottom-skimming mini-dresses. It was only really in the 1960s that dresses became this short (unless you were a showgirl or an actress). Flapper dresses were generally risqué in different ways. They often featured mesh panels, beading, lace and fringing which were revealing when you were busy dancing the Charleston. They are generally drop-waisted and can be as embellished and beautiful as you can imagine!
See more 1920s dresses here
If you get the accessories right, it will really make the whole outfit 'pop'. For evening long strings of beads were really popular and also stacks of bangles worn high up on the arm. Pearls were popular but also new materials like Bakelite in bright and beautiful colours.
See more vintage 1920s jewelry here
Bags were small and fancy, sometimes beaded, sometimes metallic but always tiny and beautiful.
See more genuine 1920s vintage bags here
Don't fall into the same trap that fancy dress shops seem to - very high heels just weren't worn in the 1920s. Go for a medium or low heel with a Mary-Jane style strap and spool heels (hourglass shaped heels which are wider at the top and bottom of the heel and narrower in the middle).
See more genuine 1920s shoes here