Vintage at Night
Turn on Turner Classic Movies — or stream any flick starring Faye Dunaway in the 1970s or Grace Kelly in the 1960s — and one bit of fashion history is glamorously clear: Ladies dressed up more (and with more flair) at night than we do now. (Think Audrey Hepburn in that iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” little black dress or Miss Kelly in countless ball gowns.) That’s why vintage evening clothing can add star quality to modern date night or evening ensembles.
“There are many vintage pieces that are festive,” says Kristen Guiter, principal at KKG Arts + Culture Communications, who often sports dazzlers from past decades to arty parties around town. “I like the 1950s, and there are also so many fun, glittery pieces from the 80s and 90s.”
Still, the same rules for wearing vintage during daylight apply at night: Don’t don it head to toe, or you’ll risk looking like a mid-century historic re-enactor.
“You need to mix it up and wear modern accessories or shoes,” says Lisa Rowen, owner of Beltway Vintage, who sells “Mad Men”-era jacquard cocktail frocks, sparkly 1970s maxi skirts and other bash-worthy styles at her brick-and-mortar Brookland, D.C. shop, Analog. Shelly White, owner of Alexandria vintage boutique Amalgamated agrees: “There’s nothing cuter than a vintage dress with a contemporary bootie!”
One of my favorite ways to do vintage in the evening? Metallic, fur-trimmed or printed silk jackets. Thrown over a modern black jumpsuit or a pair of dark, skinny jeans, they’re conversation starters — and a near-guarantee that you won’t be wearing the same outfit as anyone else at the party. This time of year, I’m rocking a silk, 1950s duster coat with pink and green beading (from Amalgamated) over my LBD and a cropped gold shantung number (scored at the worth-the-drive Richmond vintage temple Halcyon with a cream cashmere sweater and leather leggings).
For old fashion newbies, vintage accessories can be a subtle way to dip into the concept. This might mean rhinestone earrings from the “Grease” era or a 1970s Whiting & Davis mesh metal collar (so disco!). “And purses are easy, and I find so many metallic gold and silver ones that people fawn over,” says Rowen. “They’re a shiny piece, and they’ll fit your cell phone.”
That sounds like an ideal mash-up of new and old to us.
For more expert vintage looks from the pros — plus scoring the best vintage in town — join us for our Vintage Meets New workshop on May 17 at 2 p.m. — Amalgamated Clothing & Dry Goods in Del Ray. Register on Eventbrite today!
Post by DC Style Factory stylist, Jenn Barger. Jenn has more than 15 years of experience working as a fashion and design journalist in the nation’s capitol, including serving as the founding editor in chief of the Washington Post’s FW magazine. Today she works with DC Style Factory clients, injecting polish and personality into their wardrobes. You can read more about her on our website.