New vintage reference book and styling guide Wearable Vintage Fashion (Jo Waterhouse and Clare Bridge, Vivays, £19.95 or on Amazon) showcases vintage fashion and accessories from the Twenties to the Eighties.

Set up chronologically, each chapter features examples of daywear, evening looks, accessories and possible outfit combinations as well as wonderful original pictures of everyday women from each period. Sadly,the clothes aren’t presented on a dummy or models but made into collages that often fail to truly do justice to the splendour of the designs and colours.

There is also a rather confusing mix of decades where Sixties-does-Twenties hats, theatrical costumes, Eighties T-shirts as examples of Fifties nautical style or a Nineties-Fancy-Dress go-go shift are displayed alongside authentic period pieces. While there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching decades, this sort of presentation can be very confusing to someone completely new to vintage and makes it difficult to truly use this book as a period reference guide.

While the chapter introductions are knowledgeable and fairly informative, the styling guide aspect of the book is really let down by the icons section of each chapter, which aims to show how to get the looks of classic vintage style icons such as Marilyn Monroe or Louise Brooks. There is really nothing redeeming about the bad styling – ill-fitting wigs, badly lit photographs – which completely fails to capture the glamour and poise of the women it tries to emulate so that rather than celebrating past styles, it gives the impression of vintage as nothing more than fancy dress.

The last section of the book is devoted to showcasing modern vintage wearers and features many fantastic vintage bloggers and examples of contemporary takes on modern style as well as some less successful and seemingly random photographs of vintage events.

All in all Wearable Vintage Fashion is let down by its layout and lack of styling. The book feels amateurish with its crumpled clothes, un-ironed Fifties gowns and at times terrible photography and presentation. At nearly £20 the book isn’t cheap and simply cannot compare with similar titles such as Style Me Vintage Clothes, Vintage Fashion or the Fashion Sourcebook series.

 

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