When talking of vintage style and fashion we must remember that’s not all about the clothes. It’s also the all important accessories that support, accentuate and sometimes even make the outfit. Angel Middleton has explored the key vintage accessories that helped define style throughout the decades.

egyptianThe Twenties was the decade of the flapper and the era of a luxuriant and extravagant look for a new and empowered woman who could drink, smoke and vote. Costume jewellery, long strands of pearls, made popular by Coco Chanel, beaded headdresses and headbands in the evening to adorn the shorter hairstyles favoured by the flappers as well as cloche hats were adopted for a chic style.

Egyptian jewellery became fashionable with the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, so scarab beetles, the eye of Horus and other Egyptian symbols were in style.

In the Thirties, fashion took the lead from the previous decade however there was more emphasis on coordination and a more feminine form. Matching ensembles of hat, glove, bag and shoes ensembles were introduced, often in striking colours.

Jewellery had an art deco feel and brooches were becoming increasingly popular. Gloves were a vital fashion item with an option for every potential situation, with short styles in fabric or leather for daytime and long elbow length ‘opera’ gloves for a refined evening look.

Headwear was still important with hats decorated with veiling and snoods making an impact.

setThe Forties saw a more toned down approach to accessories with a lot of homemade craft and false flowers.  Bakelite jewellery, ankle strap shoes and neck scarves all served to add something to the muted fashions of the time.

The Fifties was the decade in which rock and roll became a huge influence on the way young people dressed and with the music came the accessories to match. Bobby socks  were the essential counterpart to the popular full-skirts for the sweater girls. These were paired with winged horn-rimmed spectacles and popper beads. RayBans were a must have for the sunshine and these were paired with berets for the beatniks.

pillboxAccessorising became less important in the Sixties as the look pf the time was all about being either natural and carefree, or smart and elegant. Flowing scarves, tons of bangles, love beads and chain belts were popular for the hippie look of the late Sixties, while  pill box hats and fur accessories such as stoles and wraps became the main trend to be worn with suits.

Due to emerging trend of travelling and exploring the world, the Seventies saw an influx of accessories from foreign lands such as Indian silk scarves and kaftans. Wide-brimmed floppy hats were worn with catsuits or trouser suits, with higher-than-high platform shoes or go-go boots to create a long and lean look. Neck scarves and feather boas were popular, as were safety pins for the punks.

The Eighties has never been an era that many people remember fondly regarding fashion. Leg warmers and headbands were worn in what was known as the ‘Valley girl’ style which was aided by the popularity of aerobics. Madonna managed to combine almost every trend at the same time, exemplifying the classic look with Doc Marten boots, worn with ripped fishnet tights, short lace fingerless gloves, finished with strings of pearls and rags in the hair for maximum volume.

The way we dress is an extension of who we are, or how we want others to perceive us, belts, bags, shoes, hats, jewellery and gloves provide yet another way to project this. They can certainly add interest to a look, maybe a splash of colour, a vintage feel to an otherwise modern outfit, a subtle and classy embellishment or an outrageous statement that says ‘look at me’. Whichever way you wear them and whatever you are trying to say, or not, accessories are a simple facet of fashion that everyone can wear for an individual and completely personal style.

2 Responses

  1. Mary Kincaid

    What a nice trip through the vintage accessory timeline! Lots of ideas for things to look for and collect from each decade. And accessories are such a fabulous way to dip your foot into the vintage clothing water and start integrating some vintage pieces into a contemporary wardrobe.