Today I had an epiphany! Where’s my imaginary lightbulb? Just when I was wondering why I’m obsessed with shows most of my peers consider crappy, I realized they all style at least one character in a retro-esque or vintage-y way. Before I start defending The Carrie Diaries and Glee, I must explain the difference between vintage and retro. No, they’re not the same, boys.
So what exactly is vintage?
A vintage item is one that was made at least 20 years ago. It should fully represent and speak of the era in which it was made.
Your mom wants you to wear her late 1980s wedding dress with the big, poufy sleeves? Congrats! Not only are you getting married, but you have the opportunity of showing off a vintage garment—if you’re not intimidated by the cotton candy on your shoulders, that is.
A place to get great vintage dresses is Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique on Etsy. Check out thrift shops as well!
1950’s dress, Xtabay Vintage
Can I get a holey moly?
What about retro?
A retro piece is a modern item that revives a style from the past when accessorized correctly. An example of a retro item would be a neon green (first day with a cold, booger color) swing dress. Neon green, of course, wasn’t “in” when swing dresses were, making it retro, not vintage.
Warning: Retro can turn costume-y or look outdated when it’s not accessorized referencing the era you and your piece are trying to revive.
Tile and Tile Again Dress, Modcloth
Now that you know the difference between these two, I can now start talking about my favorite shows.
Glee, other than being awesome, mainly focuses on Rachel Berry, who is probably the most annoying character. If you’ve watched the show since the first season, you may have noticed that her style has changed—extremely.
They used to dress her in a preppy, yet retro way referencing the 1950s-60s and sometimes the Mod era. They rarely do so now that she’s in college.
Her style consists of sweaters and A-line skirts, mostly in a pastel palette. It’s perfect for teachers looking for vintage-inspired outfits that are also comfortable. Forever 21 sells many A-line skirts and button down cardigans for those girls on a budget, like me. If you have some extra bucks, aim for New Girl’s Jessica Day. As a matter of fact, you can be inspired by Zooey Deschanel’s everyday outfits. She screams Modcloth! Most of her pieces can be found there.
Jessica Day, New Girl Zooey Deschanel, true life
If you’re going for a fun, bright look, focus on Tina, who is now dressed in a very Mod way. Lots of go go boots, short skirts, bright colors and geometric patterns. It’s pretty odd because she used to be the goth one of the group. Maybe her style changed because she’s wanting to get those Rachel Berry solos?
Great for partying or tone it down a little to go shopping!
Want to look “muted” sexy? Just look at Miss Pillsbury (hopefully soon-to-be Mrs. Shue) for inspiration. She’s always covered up but is often dressed and / or accessorized to make her assets get attention. She’s sometimes seen with a bulky necklace or with a shirt that has an elaborate collar, making her chest the focal point or with a pencil skirt, drawing attention to her curves.
Her style is absolutely perfect for a first date. When having dinner, your date’s eyes will be on your face, but most definitely be on another body part when you walk away to powder your nose. Tone it down a bit and wear something like this for a job interview. Want her look? Modcloth is the place to go. You can also check eBay!
Love the 1980s? Congrats, VH1 might contact you pretty soon. It’s time for a remake of those “I Love…” marathons. After answering VH1’s call, you might want to check out The Carrie Diaries. For those living under a rock, it’s a prequel to Sex and The City. Viewers get to see young Carrie Bradshaw transitioning from high school student to fashion oriented woman.
If you want to dress with an 80s feel, go for bold prints, bright colors and tutu-like skirts. Don’t be afraid to mix certain prints.
Carrie’s look is a bit expensive. She’s sometimes dressed in actual vintage dresses. When she’s not, they almost always dress her in Modcloth, J. Crew and Nordstrom, but some of her looks can be emulated with Forever 21. Again, be sure to check eBay. You never know what you might find.
Too “in your face” for you? Want to go darker? Dorrit Bradshaw might be sporting the look you want—at least in the first half of the season.
A pretty helpful website for gals inspired by the fashion seen on TV is Worn on TV (wornontv.net). I found it hunting down a matryoshka print dress worn by Zooey as Jess in New Girl. Sadly, it’s almost $300, since it’s an Eva Franco. Early xmas present, anyone? Please?
Go ahead, have fun creating new outfits with pieces you already have in your closet and make a list of things you want to add to your collection… But please, put away the Giza Pyramids when you’re done.