Category Archives: How to wear vintage

The Ultimate Princes Coat – Historical Pieces

For my last post, I had searched far and wide to locate the perfect quintessential princess coat with fur trim all around, but I had a lot of trouble finding one.  I figured it was because they had recently been in high demand for Christmas and winter, but it is true that they are somewhat rare as well.  I forgot, though, to look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, silly me!  I stumbled upon this piece of theirs on Pinterest, and thought I would post it here so that we could all revel in it’s beauty. It is perhaps unwearable but still worth adoring!

Circa 1968, i.e. approaching the decade of the princess coat and was designed by Shannon Rodgers.


They also have a few other princess coats in their collection that are  lot of fun to look at as well.  Voila:

Circa 1955, Traina-Norell


Circa 1970, George Caplan


Circa 1970, Norman Norell


Circa 1967, Oscar de la Renta


Circa 1970, Arnold Scaasi


Circa 1972


Circa 1970s, Yves Saint Laurent


Circa 1968-69



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Filed under Fashion History, How to wear vintage, Trends

The Princess Coat

We just got 43 centimeters of glorious fluffy snow here in Montreal.  This in itself is a vintage experience and reminds me of the snowfalls we used to get around here back when I was a kid and of those my parents described playing in when they were young too.  This kind of scenery puts me in the mood to talk about vintage winter fashion and the first thing that comes to mind is the princess coat!

Princess coat?  What is a princess coat you ask?  Well, you won’t find a definition of such a thing anywhere, but in the vintage scene, it is well understood.  The first characteristic that defines a princess coat is that it is flared at the waist.  Next is fur trim; this can come in many variations with the most quintessential pieces having trim along all the edges of the coat.  They come most commonly in wool, leather, suede or shearling with fur of various kinds.  The most glorious pieces are of course the ones from the 40s to 70s. Here are some available on Etsy:





Fur trimmed:





There are many shearling princess coats available from the 1970s, the decade that really embraced this style.  My favourites are the little short ones with fur trim all around but there are several variations and they are all fashionable and cozy!







Another popular version is the Russian princess  coat.   These are more a-line in cut and are double breasted like a pea coat or some variation on that theme.  They usually have fur trim on the collar and/or cuffs.  The red and black versions of these are truly classic Russian style, but all of these coats are amazing and are great timeless investments.  Keep in mind too that you could add trim yourself to a coat that you already have.  Faux fur is available in any fabric store, and you can always find real fur cuffs & collars in vintage shops.







If you prefer not to wear real fur you are not out of luck, and you will be far less out-of-pocket (usually ;)).






What is the perfect companion to a princess coat?  Clearly a fur muff and hat set!

Happy winter & HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Filed under Fashion History, How to wear vintage, Vintage trends

Chevron Stripes

Stripes have a reputation.  Horizontal stripes in particular have long been blamed for having a widening effect.  Which is why, I hypothesize, that they have been relegated to socks with such popularity. These days though, there are a lot of great stripe variations that are really nice and wearable.

However, there is one particular fool-proof solution: the chevron stripe!  Just like the road sign, this means stripes in a V-shaped pattern.   There are some variations to the chevron stripe.  One that is fairly popular for home decor right now is the zig zag stripe but I am not a big fan of this one for fashion items:


Rather, I recommend going with the ones that are a single “ ” down the middle, either with two colours, a selection of colours or a gradation of the same colour; the stripes can be the same thickness or vary in that as well:

images          gdozer2011         MintOmbreChevron2_shop_preview         justrite133

Today, many fabrics and knits are made with chevron striping already.  However, a chevron can easily be acheived by sewing striped materiel together on the diagonal which is how the many of vintage pieces were made. This requires some degree of care as you must match up the stripes, which necessitates the kind of dedication that  many manufacturers no longer bother with.

You can find chevron pieces from many decades however, it is really a style that is associated with the 1970s.  It must have been a pretty major fashion trend back then because you can find so many pieces from this decade, including most of the examples that I feature here.   Perhaps because of this, the 70s is the decade that does the the chevron best and provides the most beautiful examples.

The direction of the chevron can be either right side up () which most pieces are, or it can be upside down ().  Here are a few examples available on Etsy that demonstrate how these two versions can look:

Right side up (⋁)



Upside down (⋁)

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While we are on the subject of direction, my absolute favourite chevron pieces are the dresses that have both directions.  So, the top is an upside down and the bottom is a right side up , and a diamond is created at the waist.  You can find these from time to time in 70s dresses but they are not that common… so if you find one that fits, grab it!  Here are a couple of classic example:



The reverse is even rarer and can be pretty amazing, this dress on Etsy being an incredible example!


You can also find some dresses where the skirt is a chevron but the bodice is horizontal or vertical.  In some ways I suppose this can widen the chest and slim down the hips if that is the sort of effect that you are looking for.




From all of these examples, you can really see that the chevron was a staple in skirts during the 70s.  But I also really love it for shirts and the top part of dresses.  It can be a really flattering look!



The chevron did prevail for a while during the 80s for tops as well and you do start to see some examples from then, especially in the bat-wing armed sweaters that spanned the late 70s into the 80s.




To get this look, have a look at some great pieces that I have grouped into some Etsy treasuries: skirtstopsdresses and even more dresses.

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Filed under Fashion History, How to wear vintage, Vintage trends

How to Wear a Vintage Peplum

Many designers are doing peplums today, and now it’s not hard to find a peplum top or dress in a fast fashion shop.  However, it is always more fun to wear an original!  Have a look at my last post, The Peplum Through History to see how they have developed in modern times. After this journey back through time, you are probably now wondering how in the world you can pull off a vintage peplum piece for this trend? But, it’s easy!

First, a few notes about cut.  Indeed you will probably want to try a few types of peplums to figure out what looks best on your shape.  For example, a short (~1 foot) very ruffled peplum would look better on narrower hips1, while a flatter uneven or gathered peplum may highlight curvier ladies. What is fun about the peplum is that, if you have hips and a waist it accentuates them, and if you don’t, it gives you them!  Some people say that not everyone can pull off a peplum, but to them I say pshaw. A little trial and error may simply be required to find the perfect one for you.  Or, to heck with that in general and wear whatever you like!

In choosing pieces from the 30s and 40s, avoid those with the longer peplums, these are pretty frumpy. This piece from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection, beautiful as it is, is a perfect case in point:


Uneven or gathered peplums are especially lovely. Below are few examples of highly wearable and beautiful pieces from the 30s and 40s that you can get on Etsy, and I have a few more posted in my treasury, Wearable Peplums From the 30s and 40s.








Though I mentioned in my last post that the peplum largely disappeared between the 40a and 80s, it did pop up now and again.  If you dig the prairie style dresses from the 60s, which are really poplular these days, my absolute favorite versions are the ones with peplums!  Here are a couple lovely examples on Etsy:



One must tread carefully if one plans to wear an 80s peplum since some of them are just too far out.  But that said, there are many awesome examples, mainly in party dresses.  Here are a few from Etsy that I really love and check my treasure Wearable Peplums of the 80s for more.








Simple peplum jackets are amazingly beautiful too, particularly those made of wool or pared with a matching skirt.  The more subtle versions have in fact been around rather constantly throughout time.  Buying one of these is a great investment because it is classic, and you would likely wear it for the rest of your life. These are good examples of what I am talking about.  They aren’t easy to find, so if you do see one, and it fits, go for it!

Photos from blog pics

There is another quick way to get the instant peplum look… with a detachable peplum!  Have a look at my next post to see how.




1. Sewing Made Easy; New Revised Edition.  By Marie Lynch & Dorothy Sara. Garden City Books, ~1955. USA.



Filed under How to wear vintage