Retro Chick is taking a well earned holiday, but never fear, she has arranged some fabulous guest bloggers to keep you entertained.

Today Laurie Callsen talks about how to get a vintage look using modern day clothes. Laurie blogs about modern day journalism while dressed in her Golden-Era inspired garb over at Retro Reporter


I would like to thank Retro Chick for allowing me to guest blog for her. I discovered her blog in the winter of 2010 while looking for tips on cutting my own fringe and that’s what started me down my vintage path.
As a child, I always wanted to live in the UK. I was driven by the romanticism in the old architecture, the beautiful books I always had my nose in and the hopes I would meet my own Mr. Darcy and fall desperately in love. As I grew older, not much changed but now I’m pining for a different love – the love of a tight-knit vintage community and a closet full of vintage clothing.
I live in Camrose, Alberta, Canada – home to 17,000 people, mostly seniors and students.


Population of vintage lovers: approximately four.

There’s me, the lady that runs the vintage shop (but I must admit that she is more ‘80s than ‘40s for me) and a couple I just met who wore vintage to the high school graduation. In Alberta, let alone Camrose, there doesn’t seem to be a tight-knit group of vintage aficionados here like in the UK. Which means there aren’t a lot of vintage shops in my area, so I mostly wear modern clothes. In fact, I think the oldest piece of clothing I own is from the late 80s.

I do have a few repro pieces from the closest repro shop (an hour north in Edmonton), but the bulk of my wardrobe is made up of modern day pieces. I’d say my style is an eclectic mix of retro, folk and rockabilly. In my closet I have leopard print skirts hanging next to plaid blouses hanging next to flowery dresses. I keep the rest of my style consistent by wearing my hair curled, my lips red and keeping my iPod tuned to the Andrews Sisters as much as possible.

I don’t know if it’s the recent resurgence in the vintage look lately, but I’ve found it rather easy to get a retro look without vintage pieces. If you are fortunate enough to be able to wear vintage or repro all the time, then I’m jealous. Here are some tips for those of us who can’t:

1. It’s all about the shape

When I look at clothes to add to my wardrobe, shape is the first thing that comes to mind. One of the main reasons I like to dress vintage is because I have an hourglass figure and I find that really helps in giving me a vintage look.


Caption: Dress: ~$30 - Twig (Camrose) | Shoes: ~$40 - Payless Shoes (Camrose)

To get that hour-glass look even if you don’t have one, try finding clothes that are nipped in at the natural waist instead of under the bust (empire waist). If I wear something with an empire waist I look pregnant, which isn’t something that I think anyone would want to promote if it wasn’t true!

Credit to The Library of Congress Flickr

You can also get that nipped in look and feel by adding a vintage belt or scarf to the ensemble – which also adds visual interest to any outfit.

2. Fit goes a long way too

When you looked at what the lovely ladies of the Golden Era wore, a lot of it was fitted and structured, especially in the factories where you didn’t want clothes to get caught in the machinery. Office workers also wore fitted skirts, where the more poofy of wardrobes were probably saved for special occasions. Also, fuller skirts meant more fabric, a hot commodity during the war.

Credit to The Library of Congress Flickr

For day-to-day work, I also try to keep the fullness of my skirts down. I usually will wear a blouse and pencil skirt that sits at the waist or just below it that also skims the knees.

Polka dot top: Divine (Edmonton) | Bandeau: $12 - Twig (Camrose) | Skirt: $50 - Rickis (Camrose) | Shoes: $40 - Spring (Edmonton) | Hair flower: $5 - H&M (Edmonton)

For my more casual days at the office I wear fuller skirts, like this leopard print number.

Grey Tee: Rickis (Camrose) | Leopard Print Skirt: $7 - Joe Fresh (Camrose) | Black Bow Pumps: ~$30 - Payless Shoes (Camrose)

Length is important to note here. Most dresses from the 1940s and 1950s were at least knee length if not longer, so look for those when you’re out perusing the shops. I find looking for longer skirts more and more difficult, but if you have stubby little legs like me, it might not be a problem.

I’m beginning to find that if I don’t wear a dress or skirt that long I feel horribly exposed. In my line of work (an over-active journalist/photographer) longer skirts provide better coverage when you have to bend down and sometimes contort yourself to get a good photo.

3. Be comfortable and be yourself

This is the most important of all fashion advice. If you don’t feel like yourself in what you’re wearing, stop. Take note of how *you* feel, not how other people say you look or should look.

but perhaps leaving the house like this is too far......

The first time I wore my hair in victory rolls and red lips, I felt nervous about how others would judge me. I loved how I looked but I was scared that people would think I looked ridiculous, so I only wore my hair up when I didn’t have to leave the house. But as I fell in love with my look more and more I realized that what other people thought didn’t matter. If they felt that I looked strange, well they didn’t have to look at me. Luckily most people have been more than wonderfully supportive, so my fears were all for naught.

xo Laurie