Fashion Vintage

10 Hot Vintage Catwalk Looks You Can Easily Get From Thrift Shops

vintage catwalk looks

By Chere Di Boscio

There were a lot of retro styles to be seen on the catwalks last fashion week. We saw long, layered 60’s bob haircuts, colourful, patterned Mary Quant style tights, and even the return of the veiled hat. It definitely seems that what’s old is new again! But the best part about these vintage catwalk looks is that you don’t need to splurge on new designer clothes to look up-to-the-minute chic; these styles are easily copied by hitting your local thrift or vintage shop.

Here are some of the hottest vintage catwalk looks we found in Milan, London, New York and Paris this season that you can easily get more authentically and cheaply from vintage stores. Oh, and if you haven’t got any great vintage shops near your house, there are plenty of gorgeous online thrift stores that you can shop online here. And don’t forget to follow our tips for snagging the best vintage deals here!

1. Kitten Heels

As seen at: Bottega Veneta

Vintage history: The kitten heel sounds so feminine, but actually the history of this shoe stretches back all the way to the time of Louis XIV of France – and they were mainly worn by men!

In his time, the diminutive Sun King upped his stature through his trademark red heels (waaaay before Christian Louboutin). The heel-wearing trend in both a chunky and kitten style spread to other aristocrats, and the look became so popular, eventually the king forbade members outside his court to sport them.

The style made a huge comeback in the 1950’s, and was seen again recently in pastel shades and black.

How to wear it: This is a ladylike shoe that goes well with midi skirts and dresses; perfect for the office.

vintage catwalk looks

2. Boxy Bags

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: Reflecting the general Art Deco aesthetic at the time, geometric shaped frame bags were plain and undecorated in the 1930s. The beauty was found in the materials or the shaping that mimicked the smooth and polished style of the Art Deco movement.

Though they look simple, 1930s handbags were designed with multiple hidden compartments, built in cosmetic holders and sometimes watches. Adding a monogram drifted in and out of fashion during the 1930s. At first it was about displaying the owner’s initials. Later initials were used to brand certain designers. In both respects, purses demonstrated a woman’s identity.

How to wear it: This no-nonsense geometrical bag says you mean business at work. Looks great with a pair of power trousers, or you can soften it up with a dress.

vintage catwalk looks

3. Cat Eye Sunglasses

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: These absolutely scream ’50’s starlet’! Winged out glasses had been worn by Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor, but throughout the 50s and 60s the style was more accessible to a larger amount of women through the addition of tinted lenses – i.e. ‘sunglasses’ – which were pretty much a new thing back then!

How to wear them: These sunnies make a big statement! Demure, understated clothing allows your accessory to shine, without looking over the top.

vintage catwalk looks

4. Fedoras

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: This is a hat with a feminist background! According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term “fedora” originated in 1887 from a popular play in which actress Sarah Bernhardt played a headstrong Russian princess named Fédora Romanoff. Since then, the hat was associated with strong women, and female icons such as Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo to Beyonce and Kate Moss have been snapped wearing them.

How to wear it: The fedora lends an air of mystery. In heavier materials like felt, they look wonderful with a trench coat, or if yours is made of straw, pair it with a tank top and shorts.

vintage catwalk looks

5. Disco Platforms

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: The disco platform may evoke images of Bianca Jagger dancing in Halston at Studio 54, but in fact, the history of this shoe goes back beyond the 70s.

In the early 1930s, a pair of heeled platform shoes were designed for the actress Marlene Dietrich, and the style soon became popular amongst Beverly Hills elite. In 1938, The Rainbow was a popular platform sandal designed for Judy Garland by famous shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo.

In the 1940s, platforms were designed with a high arch, but as exemplified here, they originated with the heel elevated only slightly above the toes. The platform brings a heavy looking foundation to the wearer that is in direct polarity to the chunky heel.

How to wear it: We love this style with a maxi dress; the shoe gives the illusion of height, and the block heels actually make them quite comfortable and easy to walk in!

vintage catwalk looks

6. Dandy Ruffles

As seen at: Gucci

Vintage history: The ruffled collar first became popular for both men’s and women’s fashion in the 18th century. Portraits of any number of famous 18th-century figures reveal how much of an all-purpose accessory the ruffled collar, also known as the jabot, could be. From the royal opulence of Marie Antoinette to the radical fervor of American revolutionary Alexander Hamilton, the ruffle was worn by everyone.

In the 19th century, a style known as dandyism was the hottest thing ever. With his immaculately tailored coats, tight pantaloons, and elaborately tied or ruffled cravat, the dandy is most well known for his use of ruffles. From Lord Byron to Beau Brummell, the early 19th century saw the rise of the fashion-obsessed “decadent” man. Later ridiculed as essentially effeminate and shallow, it was a short-lived trend. By the end of the 19th century, simple, unadorned collars or neckties were the norm for men – but now, it seems the ruffled collar is making a comeback, and once again, it seems to be a unisex trend.

How to wear it: With a pretty blouse. You can dress it down with jeans, or dress it up with a skirt. Also looks great under a blazer or simply cut jacket.

vintage catwalk looks

7. Mary Janes

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: The name of this shoe actually comes from the footwear seen on Mary Jane, a character from the Buster Brown comic strip which first appeared in 1902. Little girls everywhere were shod in them, and until the late 50s, they were the most typical shoe for both little boys and girls – in 1934, Shirley Temple skipped across the screen wearing white Mary Janes in Baby Takes a Bow, and nearly 30 years later John Kennedy Jr saluted his dead father’s casket in a pair.

Mary Quant revived them in the Sixties, and put childlike Twiggy into black tap shoes and a smock, taking Mary Jane back to her roots, and bringing the “little girl” look on to the catwalk. Courreges, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior later followed suit.

Courtney Love and her ‘baby doll’ look brought them back in the 90s, and now, Dolce & Gabbana has revived them for this season.

How to wear them: These are shoes that are meant to be worn with dresses or skirts of any length. They also look wonderful with tights and bare legs alike.

vintage catwalk looks

8. Ladylike Purses

As seen at: Fendi

Vintage history: Clutches and pocketbooks dominated the handbag trends until the 1940’s – but after the war, women were working more, going out more, and needed a roomier bag for their stuff when they were away from home. And thus, the purse as we know it today was born.

For awhile, in the 90s and naughties, handbags got huge. Like, enormous. And I guess we needed them to be, since we started carrying around more stuff, like phones and laptops. But they hurt our backs, and looked a bit unruly at times. So, welcome again the ladylike purse, which is just the perfect size for your essentials – minus the laptop!

How to wear it: These literally go with anything, from casual to office and even evening looks

vintage catwalk looks

9. Brooches

As seen at: Dolce & Gabbana

Vintage history: If ever there was a piece of jewellery you’d associate with your grandmother, it’s probably the brooch – but actually, they go waaaay back in history. Brooches were worn by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the Celts and Vikings. Back in those days, these were functional: they would pin the drapes of your toga, for example, or perhaps they were used to close a cape style coat or a wrap. In later years, they were very sentimental, and would depict scenes of mourning if someone passed in your family, landscapes of your hometown or favourite places, or would be cameos of someone you loved. Today, they’re worn as statement pieces to really make an outfit stand out.

How to wear it: Tradition says brooches should be worn on the left-hand side of your dress, shirt or jacket. They look best with structured, well-cut  clothes to keep the jewel in place – it’s best to pin brooches to sturdier, tightly woven fabrics, avoiding silk or jersey knits.

But of course, you can break the mould and use a brooch any way you like: to ruche a sleeve, to cinch the waist of your dress or as a suggestive cleavage enhancer.

vintage catwalk looks

10. Oversized Hoop Earrings

As seen at: Jil Sander

Vintage history: The hoop earring has been around almost as long as civilization: the ancient Sumerians wore them, and they’ve been in and out of style ever since. Different variations of the hoop have been adopted by a range of cultures around the world, from the Hmong women of Vietnam to the Gadaba tribe of India, and of course, were also a huge favourite for women in the USA in the 1960s, when oversized accessories made from acrylic and plastic (both new at the time) were much coveted. Today, there’s a revival of that 60s mod look, as you can see below. Bigger and bolder is better – coloured hoops are cutting edge right now.

How to wear them: This is an easy style to pull off – they go well with just about any outfit or hair do, though they may overwhelm women with small faces.

vintage catwalk looks

All images from the brands

Chere Di Boscio

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