10 Vintage Fashion Wardrobe Staples

I have an eclectic vintage fashion taste. While some dress to one era (which I am quite envious of) I prefer to mix it all up. I love my fashion too much to stick to one era, I love the fit and flare styles of the 1950s, but then again I love a 1970s peasant top! And I often want a different look from day to day, depending on my mood, what I’m up to or even the weather! Then add modern clothing into the mix, it’s fair to say that I have a wardrobe bursting at the seams!

Fashion blogs and mags often talk of a capsule wardrobe and that if you get this right, you will always have what you need for any look. Think cami tops, a pair of well cut jeans, a black work trouser and a fine knit. Yeah, yeah….but wouldn’t life be boring if you wore fine knits every day!

So what about a vintage capsule wardrobe? What items should be in your vintage wardrobe? Here are my top 10 vintage wardrobe staples in no particular order.

1. A circle skirt

A wide skirt, just below the knee is the perfect summer skirt. Whether it is a 1950s full circle, a 1980s version of the same skirt or maybe even a slightly narrower 1970s version, every vintage wardrobe needs a wide skirt. It works with bare legs and clogs/converse/flipflops in the summer and also with long boots and tights in the autumn. And if you want a smarter look, this skirt looks great with kitten heels or something slightly higher.

1950s vintage cotton circle skirt by Kate Beavis1950s vintage cotton circle skirt by Kate Beavis

2. A beaded cardi

Ok I promised no fine knits but a beaded, angora cardigan is a great thing and a “must have” vintage staple. They are often quite boxy in shape, so it may take you a while to find the perfect fit. But when you do, wear with a circle or a pencil skirt, over the top of that blouse and even to add some slight sparkle to your casual trousers.

3. A pretty blouse

A blouse is the vintage lovers friend, I indeed have a wardrobe full in pretty shades. What is great about a pretty blouse is that they are often sheer and in nice colours such as pale pink or cream. They can be worn with your circle skirt, a pencil skirt or as I often do, with a great pair of modern jeans. I like to dress down my blouse with denim or with a leather jacket. Keep your eyes peeled for ones with interesting detail such as a ballooned sleeve, a pussy bow neckline or even some pearl buttons. Here is my mega pleated sleeved blouse!

1970s vintage pleated blouse by Kate Beavis1970s vintage pleated blouse by Kate Beavis

4. A pencil skirt

Add some glamour into your wardrobe and life with a pencil skirt.  I would choose black so it goes with everything and go high-waisted. As they can stretch make sure you buy one that fits snugly to begin with. Wear with heels for that extra glamour.

5. Wide leg trousers

Wide leg, preferably high-waisted trousers are great for all shapes and sizes. They elongate your legs and thin out the thighs as well as looking cool. You can add a skinny knit for a 1930s look, a blouse for a 1950s look or a kaftan kimono style top for a 1970s vibe. Bingo, you look great and cover all eras!

6. A peasant top

A cheese cloth or cotton top in a smock shape works brilliantly in the summer with your jeans or maxi skirt. They often have cute embroidery on adding a touch of colour to proceedings and are perfect for the 1970s look (that is in fashion this year, but hey we don’t worry about trends do we?). Interestingly they also work well with a 1950s circle skirt, tucked in; a look that was popular in America at the time.

vintage 1970s peasant top by Kate Beavisvintage 1970s peasant top by Kate Beavis7. A leather jacket

A cool black aviator jacket dresses down a vintage dress if you want to create a less pretty look. Make sure it’s worn well, lots of creases and love to it! Choose a fitted style and wear with anything and everything. If leather is not your thing, choose a denim jacket instead.

8. A princess coat

For the winter choosing a vintage coat can be tough as there’s so many nice shapes and styles out there. I would choose a princess swing coat, one that fit and flares, possibly with a belt. You will ooze glamour and style and definitely brighten up the school gates. These were made in most eras: hers is my 1970s Windsmoor one.

1970s Windsmoor vintage princess coat by kate Beavis1970s Windsmoor vintage princess coat by kate Beavis

9. A Tea Dress

A classic 1940s or 1980s does 1940s tea dress is a great smart style of vintage frock that is perfect for the office but also for an elegant meal out. There are also some great reproduction versions out there as the originals are often quite small. Choose a classic colour such as navy which can be worn with tights in the winter and kitten heels in the summer.

10. A maxi dress

The perfect summer dress surely is the maxi dress and there are none better than original 1970s ones. To be honest from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s we loved our long dresses, wearing them to parties and not just on holiday. I say this is a great look and I have quite a few. Often A line in shape they are also quite flattering but try to keep away from anything with a too fussy neckline. Choose bright colours, cotton if you can and wear with cute flats.

1970s vintage maxi dress by kate Beavis1970s vintage maxi dress by kate Beavis

Then add a great pair of sunglasses, Swedish clogs, a stack of bangles, some cute hairclps, a splash of lippy and both a Kelly bag as well as a leather saddle bag and you are ready to go vintage!

vintage handbags and clogs from Kate Beavis

So do you agree? Have I missed anything out? Oh and remember wearing vintage is about having fun, wearing what makes you happy; but if you get the basics right you can easily wear vintage every day to anywhere!


Check out Lovelys Vintage, Ginger Megs,  Alexandra Vintage,  Love Miss Daisy and Catwalk Creative for some fine vintage fashion.



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  1. Colette
    15 April 2015 / 2:50 pm

    An excellent list, I would only add my go to 1950s fit n flare shirt dresses x

    • Kate Beavis
      15 April 2015 / 3:08 pm

      It was the tea dress or the shirtwaister fit and flare. Tried to add a bit of 40s but you know what? I couldn’t live without my 50s cotton day dresses!

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