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  • Writer's pictureEmma

Vintage Guide: A Tour Through the Decades.

Whether you’re new to vintage clothing and are still trying to establish your style, or have been collecting and wearing vintage clothing for years – this interesting and informative guide will take you through the most popular styles from each collaborative era through the vintage fashion decades…

Pre 1901

This broad category includes everything from the high-waisted frilly necked dresses of the early part of the 19th century to the bustle gowns and lace tea dresses of the Victorian era. If you like your vintage clothing from even further back then you may be looking in the wrong places. These are antique items so search for sellers who stock clothing labelled as Renaissance, Regency, Romantic, Victorian or Antique.


The wonderful and ever-popular Edwardian era, which of course also encapsulates the fashions of World War One. Vintage clothing from this time showed influence from Eastern fashion and notably the infamous designer Paul Poiret. Popular pieces include embroidered Edwardian blouses and of course figure altering corsets, as well as garments made of linen and lace. There was also the introduction of bejewelled and beaded evening wear as the wealthy upper classes became more flamboyant with their attire. This was a dramatic and heavily styled era, if this is something you want to recreate then look for long lengths, tailored fits and little or no flesh on show!

Black and white photograph of six women dressed in the high fashion of the 1920s
A collection of fashionable women in the early 1920s


A time when fashion radically changed, these two decades transitioned at absolute polars. From the extravagances and excesses of the rip roaring 1920s (the beaded flapper dress and cloche hat) to the more reserved clothing of the Depression era and 1930s. Vintage flapper dresses can be very detailed or super simple, but are very collectable and therefore expensive. Also look out for masculine tailored trousers and embellished evening bags in clam shell shapes for subtle vintage style.

An original advertisement for ladies suits from 1943. Four women in pretty 2 piece skirt suits.
A fashion advertisement for womens suits from 1943


During World War II, fashion switched from chiffon dresses and fitted jackets to taffeta, satin and lace eveningwear. Also popular were hats and the Hollywood high style of the 1940s. This is the era that first hinted at a curvier frame and women were allowed to have hips! It’s impossible to embrace the 1940s style without scarlet red lipstick and victory rolls, making this style the most popular amongst the burlesque babes of today. Track down vintage clothing items listed as WWII, 1940s, wartime and glamour.

A stunning fashion photograph of a Christian Dior model wearing a pink swing dress and hat with the Eiffel Toer in the background
1950s 'New Look' from Christian Dior, in Paris.


Clothing style changed once again, as women took their fashion cues from Jackie Onassis: one- and two-piece dresses and the boxy jacket and skirt suit. And lest we forget the 1950s vintage prom dress! Whether it be plain candy colour or polka dot, floral, fruit or chequered print fabric, the fitted strappy top, cinched waist and voluminous swing skirt create the ideal vintage dress that completely personifies the 1950s! Knee-length pleated skirts eventually gave way to miniskirts, mini dresses, and hot pants. If you’re a fan of this era, seek out vintage clothing that’s labelled new look, rockabilly, swing, 1950s or rock ‘n’ roll.

Twiggy dresses in a colourful striped mod dress, orange tights and flat shoes in the 1960s.
Twiggy modelling in the 1960s


This era usually dwells on the natural and ethnic styles, with bright colours, floral and psychedelic patterns, denim, and bell-bottoms. Not forgetting the mod clothing and more pixie style of Twiggy and alike. Look for vintage clothing from Gunne Sax, Bus Stop and Mary Quant as well as vintage clothing described as mod, boho, renaissance, hippie, or disco.

Four different models in a collage of clothing from the 1980s.
Examples of eccentric 1980s fashion


This most recent period exhibits the punk rock and new wave influence—leather jackets and leather skirts, ripped jeans and T-shirts, and so on. Not forgetting huge hair with tonnes of hairspray, tacky plastic beads, huge slogan tees, rara skirts, lace gloves, frilly blouse and power suits. If you like to walk on the wild side of fashion, look for vintage clothing marked as punk, New Wave, or 1980s.

We hope you enjoyed that wander through the vintage timeline and whatever vintage era you prefer, remember to experiment with various pieces of vintage clothing until you find the look that really suits you.

Don’t forget you can shop 24/7 online for vintage clothing gems at or come and visit us at our vintage shop in Lancashire for even more vintage clothing, accessories and jewellery.

Emma x



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