Vintage Outfit Inspiration: Easy Fashion Trends to Emulate

by Sammy in Comment — Updated March 14, 2023

Before the holiday, I had a great conversation with my friends Meredith & Lindsay over at Cubicle Chic Blog.

The conversation? It was on creativity, and how creative individuals are inspired “to be creative” in the first place.

My argument? That creativity lies within the individual and is revealed when that person pushes themselves to do so. It is an “on/off” button that can be consciously channeled by the individual’s autonomous decision, and which always lives within and cannot necessarily be “taught.”

I still feel pretty strongly about that argument, only because of the basis of my work: Last year when working as a full time vintage curator, I turned the creative juices “on” when thrifting/buying and then selling vintage clothing to the women of Manhattan via the Sammy Davis Vintage showroom.

I again turned that switch “on” when styling photoshoots or working with women to maximize their wardrobe and feel good while looking good, too.

And in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day’s events — depending upon what activity I have ahead of me, whether it’s a lunch date or walking into a new thrift store to explore and engage for this site — I’m going to creatively choose the outfit of the day based on its planned course of events.

Cubicle Chic’s argument? Lindsay & Meredith argued valid points against my belief that creativity is born within and can be turned “on” and “off.” Their argument? That creativity is not a light switch, but rather, an oxygen tank. We can pump that oxygen tank with inspiration absorbed in various ways — whether it’s regularly shopping, browsing fashion sites and the glossy pages of magazines, visiting art museums or engaging in creatively stimulating activities, like travel or film or cooking.

Cubicle Chic saw creativity as something that’s absorbed through one’s environment and its activities, while I saw creativity as something that lives within and can be activated when challenged.

So who’s argument wins? Well, that’s the beauty of this entire blog post — there is no answer, and there are no “winners” — there is only creativity. And however you achieve that creative high is your own truth and your own prerogative. No one judges the origin of creativity — we just admire the creativity that is “created” from whatever that origin may be.

With 2011 upon us and 2010 officially behind us, I wanted to reflect on my creativity from the past year and pass along my findings to you for a fresh 12 months of vintage fashion inspiration. Because while I may be able to just “turn my light switch on,” some of you may prefer a bit of oxygen in your tank for a a few breaths of style inspiration.

And that’s OK! Like you may admire my creative origin, I equally admire yours, too.

Check out my favorite looks from 2010 after the jump and let me know if you’d ever channel any of these styles into your own wardrobe for 2011. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too, on what styles you’re looking to emulate in 2011 — maybe they’re not listed below, and YOU can INSPIRE me!

With love for feel-good style in 2011 and beyond!

xx, SD

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Boho chic, Summer ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: I was finding a ton of lingerie pieces in thrift stores that were so beautiful and yet so neglected during the daylight hours. The flow and softness of a nightie dress is so different from your usual cotton onesie that every other girl on the street can buy, wear, wash & recycle/repeat.

Note the floral dress in the left image and the off-white rose embroidered top in the right image: Both are bonafide lingerie pieces, and both give the overall outfit a very whimsical, bohemian feel.

CHANNEL IT: Visit your mom’s/aunt’s/grandmother’s lingerie drawer and pull out the most feminine/floral/soft/flowy pieces.

Ask [insert female relative here] the last time they wore [insert coveted pieces here]. They’ll probably reply [insert long time period here] and you can interject from there: “Well, if you aren’t wearing it to bed, can I have it to wear for day?” They’ll probably give you a [insert quizzical look here] but it won’t matter when they see how you creatively channel their old twilight nighties to daylight lovelies.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Bold printed wide-legged pants, Winter ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: Remember the high-waisted “mom pants” trend of mid to late 2009? Having such enormously long legs to begin with, I didn’t want any extra fabric adding length to an already-elevated frame. But skirts? Been there, done that —  for 2010, I still wanted to hop onto the pants-are-pretty-again bandwagon.

So whilst thrifting, I came across some totally pretty — and totally PRINTED — gems which when styled correctly, appeared as a member of the “high-waisted” fashion family, but weren’t actually hitting my belly button and portraying me as a jolly green, high-waisted giant.

CHANNEL IT: Look for those polyester printed blends probably lining the racks at your local thrift store this very moment.

Find a print you love — whether it’s more demure, like the left image, or more daring, like the right image — and pair it with a classic pair of heels and a solid basic top. You’ll have enough action already on the bottom, so avoid printed tees or shirts with extra fabric. Keeps things smooth on top and sassy below, and you’ve got one killer outfit that’s worth more “hot” than “mom” for 2011.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Menswear, Fall ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: I was asked by Glamour Magazine to style menswear-inspired outfits using scarves, ascots and ties to illustrate the magic in dressing an androgynous look. I’d never been asked to style a particular “look” for my own photoshoot before, so I welcomed the challenge and welcomed my resulting newfound love of all things gentlemen.

Since modeling for the shoot, I’ve re-styled my huge collection of scarves into neckties and bowties, dabbled with suspenders and remembered why suit pants are so dang comfortable.

CHANNEL IT: Find your nearest silk scarf. Hold it behind your neck and depending on the length, give it one extra loop or just tie it in a tight knot. Join the two ends into a bow, wiggle it around a little bit for just the right positioning and …. voila! You’ve got yourself a snazzy necktie worth emulating by the Fonzworth Bentleys of the world.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Fun, flirty hats, Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: When selling fulltime for Sammy Davis Vintage, I was asked to clean out the closets of a woman living in Long Island and moving to a new home in Upstate New York, and to help sell the vintage clothing of a deceased member of my stepmother’s family.

Both experiences allotted me the chance to acquire vintage for a fraction of the thrift store price. Both collections gifted me with many a vintage hat. Before these closet clean outs, my interest in hats was small, choosing to emphasize shoes, bags, jewelry and scarves in my collection. Now, with a treasure chest of vintage hats, I had the opportunity to experiment with a look that wasn’t in my flywheel of fashion before.

CHANNEL IT: Like coats, hats are styled and designed for the season and it’s weather. Spring and summer hats are light and oftentimes emphasize a beach aesthetic or sunny weather with big, floppy rims and fabrics like straw or felt which fold easily into bags. Fall hats are sturdy and structured, while winter are fluffy, furry and fun — not to mention warm.

Vintage hats of truly historic eras — think 30s – 60s — are pricey and also, particular per outfit. In other words, you can’t wear a truly vintage hat unless your outfit matches.

I suggest visiting your nearest thrift store to see what more modern pieces are available, since just wearing a hat is “vintage” enough considering in eras past, wearing a hat everytime you stepped outside was not only commonplace, but expected.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Scarves worn as hair pieces — including turbans, bows, wraps and bands, Winter ’10 – present

CREATIVE JUICES: Around this time last year, I had a pixie hair cut. It wasn’t the most attractive style, but it was cute and it was cool for a girl to have short hair — not forgetting the fact that it was flat out EASY to manage.

What made the cut even easier: I could add a feminine touch with one of my dozens of head scarves that I had bought up thrifting or acquired through a closet cleanout session in the course of 2009. I couldn’t — and didn’t want to — dress to impress and wear a neck scarf everyday. But the one thing I could do with those scarf multiples to put them to good use? Wear them in my hair, and wear a different one in my hair

CHANNEL IT: The neck-scarf-to-hair-piece style works on every single lady reading this blog post right now. No matter your body shape or your hair cut, working a head scarf into your daily style routine is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Some warm-weather-scarves even work for the style too, especially if you’re looking to channel the recently-gone-popular head turban trend.

Try variations of the style to see which suits you best: I love tying bows at the side of my head with shorter, thinner scarves.

Position a longer, thicker scarf on the back of your head, crisscrossing at your forehead and bringing back to tie and let hang to the side or down your back.

Using a heavier, woven scarf, you can follow the same process to create the “turban” look by allowing some of that scarf to cover the top of your head. For some awesomely easy tutorials, check out this video on how to tie a head scarf by one of my favorite vintage-inspired online stores, ModCloth.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: Bold brights and mod cuts, Winter-Spring ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: Let’s face it: winter days are cold, dark and sans sunlight — and Sammy Davis loves nothing more than some sunlight in her life. So when it came to replacing those rays, I had no problem turning to the solution of my closet and its brights, like this canary yellow ’60s mod-inspired dress actually made in the 1980s.

CHANNEL IT: It happens to women in New York City all the time, and probably to the rest of you, too: we so often default to that “easy” color. For the ladies of Gotham City, it’s default black. For women of California, maybe that color is white. And for you mid-westerners? I’m going to guess brown is a go-to.

Whatever your personal default color, the next time you find yourself reaching for it during the cold days of winter, pull back and evaluate your closet for a color that seems “out of place” for the season. Yellow is a great example, as well as bright pinks, tropical oranges and neon greens.

Use the color appropriately so that you don’t blind your boss/romantic partner/brunch date. Just a touch of bright — maybe it’s a pair of tights or a purse — will skip your style up a notch and have you smiling way longer than the sunset this shivering season.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More
THE LOOK: Native American prints, pieces and accessories, Summer-Fall ’10

CREATIVE JUICES: I have to attribute these juices to my lady friends over at Stuff Hipsters Hate. For a video interview segment with, SHH founders Andi & Brenna gave me the low-down on hipster summer trends — one of which was anything Native American/American Indian inspired.

“Hipsters” are hip because through their alternative lifestyles, they ignite fashion trends that won’t hit your local H&M for at least another year or more. So when I learned that NA styles were full swing stylin’ in the land of Brooklyn, I sought out some pieces of my own at my local vintage & thrift stores.

CHANNEL IT: Native American “style” can be qualified in various ways. Maybe it’s a silk scarf designed with Indian headpiece feathers as seen in the right image above, or maybe it’s finding some killer leather moccasins in your Dad’s closet that he never wears past slippers for bedtime.

Stonewash jackets with fringe, brown leather or suede vests and anything that screams “western-pacific” [turquoise/silver jewelry, prairie dress and cowboy boots, to name a few] falls under this “Native American” header.

2011 Prediction: The hipsters will leave Native Americans behind and travel further south to channel Aztec-Mayan style.

Vintage Tag History: Levi's, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch and More

THE LOOK: A beautiful YOU!

CREATIVE JUICES: Whatever moves you to own style that feels good — it can be the music you put on first thing in the morning, the art on your walls or the feel-good vibes you get after a workout.

I like apple juice, you like orange juice — we all have our own tastes, and that’s OK! In fact, it’s more than OK — it’s awesome because we can continually change and be inspired by the tastes of one another, too.

CHANNEL IT: Never be afraid to be the real you. Remember that confidence is the best accessory — put that on with a capital “C” first, and the rest of the outfit is just icing on an already delicious cake!

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