Making Vintage Work in 2012

{by Rachel Coker}

Vintage. As a fashion lover and quirky individual, that word is music to my ears. It makes me think of breezy summer sundresses and soft fur coats and hand tatted lace. Of bright, swingy skirts and hats mysteriously dipped over one eye, and red lips opening in a smile. Oh, yeah and jumpsuits and spandex and mom jeans. And all those other horrendous fads that hopefully fashion designers will never think to resurrect.

With so many varying styles and trends ranging from decades upon decades, how can the modern fashionista decide what still works and what needs to leave even Goodwill stores forever?

Believe it or not, I am a firm believer that vintage fashion is still relevant today. An elegant 50s cocktail dress will never lose its appeal. A long flowing sundress will forever be the epitome of comfort and chic. And a classically tailored coat will always serve you well.

Despite the ever changing fads and trends, there are a few things from the past that will always remain stylish—even for the 2012 fashionista.

Things that still work:

Cloche hats

Sequins and silk

White linen

Loose fitting dresses

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

Drop waists

Severe black bobs



Things that still work:

Pretty floral prints

Glamorous evening gowns

Flattering jersey dresses

Silky, feminine nightgowns—even if no one else sees them ;)

Things that you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

Dresses made out of flour sacks

Knee length panty hose

Shoes with holes (Although I guess you can’t help it if you’re in a Depression)


Things that still work:

That gorgeous wavy hair

A-line skirts


A classic trench coat

Shirtwaist dresses

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

Shoulder sleeves. Never shoulder sleeves.

Penny loafers (personal opinion)

Socks with penny loafers


Things that still work:

Red lipstick

An hourglass silhouette

Button up shirtdresses


Pencil skirts

Things that you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

Nothing comes to mind. The 50s was the perfect decade.


Things that still work:

Hair with height (if done right)

A-line dresses with tights

Wide leg pants

Long hair and braids

Maxi skirts

Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

Go-Go boots

Excessive paisley

Pillbox hats (Unless, you know, they are your thing. Then wear them with pride!)

Five layers of fake eyelashes


Things that still work:

Wide leg pants



Things you probably shouldn’t try anymore:

White pantsuits


Afros, feathered hair, and every other bad hair craze of the 70s

But mostly mullets

I’m not even going to make an attempt at the eighties or nineties, mostly because they are decades of fashion that should just be forgotten. Period. But I encourage all of you to rifle through your closest vintage stores or even your grandma’s attic for vintage pieces that will look fabulous when paired with today’s fashions!