I am suddenly old enough to be able to identify recycled trends -- and, more surprisingly, to remember the first time things were hot or cool. In other words, I was old school before it was old.
Some looks -- neon, for example, and acid washed jeans, and pretty much everything from the 1980s -- should never come back. But there are other retro styles that transcend time and place, and that work forever. Here are my favorites.
I'm a sucker for a vintage gown, even if it's just vintage inspired. The key to this look is to go over the top in all the right places. Drew Barrymore -- who is a master of retro chic -- showed up for the premier of HBO's Grey Gardens in a 20's inspired Alberta Feretti gown and "vintage Fred Leighton jewelry, a Dior marabou wrap and a sequined Roger Vivier clutch." And a veil, of course.
This look works for black tie events; it relies on drama (the veil, the strong red lipstick) and a strong sense of what's sexy. You can go long or short, and necklines can plunge or cover, but curves are essential to this look. Perfect for any event where you're in the mood to be a diva. Not appropriate for your sister's wedding, unless you're looking for a way out of that relationship (she'll never speak to you again).
The maxi dress is back, and it's time to revisit the Summer of Love. Pair a long, flowing skirt with simple hair and makeup, or toss a tunic on over your shorts, if you're not into ankle length hems. But don't over do -- a peasant blouse and a Stevie Nicks skirt are too much together. Instead, keep the look streamlined and embellish with funky craft jewelery.
The Bohemian look is perfect for post-pool lounging; your maxi dress can go from swim coverup to cocktail attire without any effort at all. But leave the patchouli in the past. I'm begging you.
Michelle Obama has brought style back to the White House, and she's channeling Jackie Kennedy. Mrs. O has revived the sheath dress, but with a modern edge; instead of the shapeless sacks of the 60s, this new sheath has shape and texture. Look for a sheath that defines your waist, either with a belt or some ruching or by pairing contrasting colors on top and bottom. Add a strand of pearls for a Rose Garden ready look, or pile on the funky chains for something a little more edgy. The sheath dress is everywhere this year, at all price points; H&M has some great options, for under $50.00.
The key to making classic retro looks work is both to throw yourself into them and to find a modern, individual take. After all, these looks got to be classics in the first place because, in their time, they were new and different. Give old school style a new twist with your own details.
Jessica Clare points us toward Mac's Barbie line, which includes a cool retro can of product. I'm still not sure how I feel about Barbie makeup for big girls, but the package is pretty neat.
Photos courtesy of InStyle.com.
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