When people think of “retro style clothing” they usually thing “old” or boring. Today’s retro clothing take cues from the past, but have a sassy sophistication that goes way beyond boring. There are so many choices that it may be difficult to decide what to wear!
Dresses are a great retro choice. They are versatile, comfortable, come in every size, and most of all always fashionable! Some tips on choosing and coordinating your retro dress:
1. Color of the dress
Keep in mind that the color is usually what draws a person to something: it’s the first visual contact.
Do you know if you’re a warm or cool colored person? Warm people tend to have dark hair and cool people tend to have light hair. Warm colors include red, yellow, gold, and orange, and cool colors include blue, green, violet, and silver.
To find out what color to wear bring a clothing item up to your face in the natural sunlight and see if it’s color brightens you up. One thing to think about is that your color may change between summer and winter months because of your skin tone. It can also change if you dye your hair.
So, how do you know which color will work for you? Some ways to tell what works:
- What color do people say you look good in?
- What color are the worn out favorites you can always rely on in your closet?
- What’s your eye color? Match it!
- If you’re really unsure stick to black and white. The little black dress remains a favorite.
The classic neutrals that you can rely on to pair with colors are: black, white, gray, beige, navy, brown, and olive green. The color that is said to look good on everyone is pink. Nearly any shade of pink will also go with any of the neutrals!
Be aware of prints too. If there is a particular pattern you like, you can usually find it in a dress version whether it’s stripes, polka dots, flowers, or solids.
2. Shape of the dress
The shape is basically the outline. This includes sleeve length, hem length, pleats, pockets, etc. It’s creating illusion with the outside lines of the dress.
One thing to think about is How to Dress for Your Body Type. The four shapes are the “H silhouette”, “O silhouette”, “A” and “X”.
- “H”‘s and “O”‘s are basically the same shape dress. If you are an “H” you are petite with little waist definition. If you are an “O” you are large framed with little waist definition. Both are characterized by: Slim legs, broad shoulders, narrow hips. So the goal in finding the right shape dress is to find one that defines your waist and shows off your legs. The best necklines for broad shoulders are V, U, or a scoop neck. Any fitted at the waist dress will work that is knee length. You don’t want the length to cut you off at the largest part of your leg; you want it be at the narrowest, which is at the knee. Otherwise you create the illusion of a thick leg.
- Next are the “A” silhouettes commonly called the “pear” shape. These women have wider hips than bust and tend to wear a larger size in bottoms than tops. The goal of this group is to hide hips and make the top portion look bigger. You want to emphasize the small waist so you want a dress where the waist is fitted. The neckline can be a V, square, boat/ ballet, or halter.
- The “X” silhouette is curvy on the top and bottom, but their goal is too look long and lean. A person with this shape can wear practically any dress, but in order too look long wear heels and again avoid the hemline hitting at the thickest part of the leg.
If you’re unsure about your shape and how to find the right dress shape stick with an A-line skirt style dress. It can add hips, hide hips, and show off curves. The great part about dresses is that there are so many styles: shirtwaist dress, strapless, sundress, halter, flutter sleeve, flutter dress, jacket dress, shift, and empire. If you really want to hide flaws wear an empire waist dress. It can hide a big stomach! Plus they’re really in style right now.
Don’t forget about fabrics. Choose a fabric that will work for your event. If it’s going to be 10 degrees don’t wear a linen/ cotton sundress and if it’s going to be 90 degrees don’t wear a wool dress.
Luckily today’s retro styled clothing is made of modern blends of cotton, spandex, and other fibers that wear well and are flattering to all body types.
Keep in mind that you can buy one retro dress and still create many looks. Take a dress from morning to night and casual to dressy with a few simple accessories:
- Belts: simply add a belt, change a belt, wear a belt with a fitted cardigan/ tank/ pull-over, fitted shirt, or suit jacket over the dress.
- Shoes: wear flip-flops, slides, or strapped heels with the same dress.
- Add overs: tanks/ cardigans/ pull-overs, shawl, shrug, over size shirt, suit jacket.
- Add under: tanks or fitted shirt.
Of course there’s always jewelry to add as well!
Where to shop
Once you’ve figured out your body shape and colors you like, you’re ready to shop. There are a variety of brand names of retro style clothing available.