Guest post: Emileigh of Flashback Summer on Finding Your Vintage Niche

Hello everyone! Today I have a special post for you, written for your reading pleasure by the lovely Emileigh of Flashback Summer.

Emileigh has written a brilliant post that I know Past Taygan, who was just getting into vintage, would have loved to have stumbled across, and even now I can still take on a few of her (Emileigh's, not Past Taygan's) tips.

Make sure you head over and check out Flashback Summer! I've been following for a little while now - Emileigh's blog has an emphasis on uniqueness, craftsmanship, and authentic relationships through vintage lifestyle and hospitality, and as well as this she is quite the wiz on the sewing machine and has some greatly inspiring outfits!

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Hello friends!  I'm Emileigh from the blog Flashback Summer, and Taygan has graciously allowed me to write a guest post to share with all of you!  I discovered her blog somewhat recently, and I fell in love with her style pretty much immediately.  I love the simplicity and versatility of her pieces that, when combined, make the most marvelous outfits!  She has the gift of ensemble-creation, I think.

Then, as I thought of ideas for this post, my mind circled back to different people's styles in the vintage world.  Although vintage is considered a fashion "niche", there's a lot of diversity on how it is worked out in the wardrobes of individuals.  There's rockabilly, hipster, hardcore 1940s, head-to-toe 50s, twinge-of-60s, and so many other style representations.  How do we in the vintage world come around to finding our own "niche" in the vintage niche?  I thought I'd share my personal journey with you guys.

To start, I love a head-to-toe 1930s/40s look for everyday.  Hair, shoes, clothing, underclothing too, if I can get it.  However, I sure didn't start out that way!  When I first pondered the idea of actually wearing vintage, here was my idea of a great vintage outfit for myself:

And it was fine, but now this is a typical everyday outfit for me:

I've moved in a very different direction since those first outfits.  (Now, the 60s isn't even on my radar.)  Below, I have three stages (the Baseline, the Building, and the Box) that have helped me narrow down my "niche" in the vintage niche:

The Baseline - Building a foundational starting point
- Education:  To know what vintage styles look best on your body type, you have to know what trends were popular at which points in time.  I was helped a lot in being able to find vintage clothes I preferred by first learning the trends then discerning which ones initially appealed to me after seeing pictures of them.  Personally, I love the simplicity of the 40s and the flouncy, slinky looks of the 30s.  I don't particularly love the boxy, Jackie Kennedy-style suits or mod looks of the 60s.  I discovered this in simply looking at examples of these decades and following my gut reaction.

- Measurements:  I became very familiar with my own measurements and body type and the challenges and strengths associated with it.  For me, it can be easy for my larger hips to "outweigh" my top half in proportions.  I combined this with my knowledge of decades that can be "hip-focused" (such as the 1920s and 60s with drop waist trends) and contrasted them with decades that are "hip-friendly" (like the 1940s with its large-shouldered silhouette that would balance out my pear shape).  Although garments' individual looks varied vastly, decades tend to have certain trends nonetheless.  Knowing which eras are more likely to have more garments that would flatter your body type can help you choose a niche you love.

- Investment:  The next thing I considered was how much time and money I am willing to spend on my wardrobe.  I ADORE the 1920s, but it simply isn't in my budget to buy 1920s dresses to wear every day.  I also love very va-va-voom, fitted 1950s wiggle dresses, but they're a bit high-maintenance with undergarments, fit, etc. if I want the very wasp-waisted, Marilyn look I like.  This made these kinds of clothes impractical for me.  However, the 30s and 40s are both highly fabric-efficient in their patterns and involve a "make do and mend" element that is friendlier to my budget.  They don't require such special undergarments, and they are somewhat easier to find.  This lower investment of time and money make these decades more appealing to me.  (Remember, though, that it takes a long time for most people to build a whole vintage/vintage-style wardrobe.  Most people can't do everything all at once.)

The Building - Constructing your unique wardrobe
- Trash everything I just said:  Well, in the case of if your initial preferences for a decade don't seem to match your measurements.  Are you a pear shape but still love the 1930s?  A bit on the lean side but love a sexy 60s look?  DO IT.  There was every type of body shape present in every decade, so it isn't impossible to shore up an era's trends in a way that flatters your body type.  It may just take a bit more experimentation and creativity on your part to find the garments that do so.  But if you love it, it's worth it!

- Involve your fixations:  So many vintage wearers have discovered that they just adore certain things, maybe even for no reason!  Pick some things in the vintage world that you can fixate on, collect, and love to death.  For some it is a Lilli Ann suit; for others, plastic novelty brooches.  Personally, I'm a sucker for a 1940s tilt hat.

- Incorporate your memories, personality, and passion:  Don't just recreate period-accurate catalogue reproductions!  Even women back in the day infused their outfits with personality.  Include things that show off where you've been in life or something you're passionate about, all in a vintage-friendly way.  I used to live in the Middle East before college, so I am crazy about Middle East themed novelty prints, like in the skirt in the picture below.  I've begun collecting Middle Eastern and ancient Egyptian-themed vintage pieces for my wardrobe.  I also incorporate modern and antique pieces from the Middle East into my vintage outfits, like the bedouin necklace and bracelet below, too.  It gives me a focus and makes my wardrobe something specialized and unique, even in the already specialized vintage world.

The Box - Putting together your wardrobe without putting it in a box
- DO WHAT YOU WANT:  Who says you can't mix vintage and modern?  Who says a 40s tilt hat can't go with a 60s sexy secretary dress?  Who says you can't knit a 30s sweater with tiny hedgehogs around the neckline?  Who says you can't wear cowboy boots with an Edwardian gown?  No one.  There are no vintage fashion police.  Do what you want.

By finding what you prefer, what flatters your body, and what you're willing to invest in your wardrobe, you create a good baseline from which to work with.  Then, as you get to know vintage more and would like to personalize and tailor it to your unique self, you can incorporate your counter-intuitive era choices, fixations, and passions.  This gives you a personal, unique element to your clothing.  Then, lastly, you do what you want!   Don't be bound by unsaid rules or regulations you think the vintage world has; there are none!  Stay true to yourself and create a wardrobe inspired by yesteryear's trends that is uniquely all your own!


  1. Some great tips here, thanks!

  2. It was really interesting to read your approach to wardrobe building. Some fabulous outfits here!

    1. Thank you very much! I appreciate the kind words!

  3. Great tips! Although now I may have to add "knit myself a 1930's sweater with hedgehogs" to my to-do list. That sounds so cute :)

    1. Well, now if you're going to do that, you might as well knit two because I'm going to want one, too!!! :)

  4. A fantastic article, really enjoyed reading it. It always a long while with vintage to really get into and hone your style and your tips are brilliant

    1. Thanks so much, Selina! I'm glad you found them helpful!

  5. Here,here! No set rules. Wear what you love!

  6. Absolutely excellent guest post! I was nodding in vigorous agreement the whole way through.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you very much, Jessica! I am glad you agree!

  7. This is a fantastic post. Lately, I've been thinking about almost everything you wrote here, and it is nice to get "permission" from someone else in the vintage-loving community.


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