A colleague of mine, who is a total doll and also happens to enjoy my breed of occasionally snarky cynicism, inherited a beautifully funky vintage 1970s dress from her grandmother a few years back. The dress is an incredible and truly unique piece, featuring a high-neck that comes to an almost mock turtle collar, a short skirt, a hugging fit, and bold neon green, neon pink, deep plum, and chocolate brown stripes. Not completely symmetrical and parallel, the stripe pattern is almost evocative of zebra print, almost, in its nuanced shape and disarray, but is not a blatant animal print and, as such, is more original.
Though not typically her style, my colleague was excited to wear something new, which broke her traditional wardrobe mold, and simultaneously celebrated the memory of her grandmother. For the office, she paired the dress with nude hosiery and square camel heels, as well as a jean jacket and a chain-link gold belt. With the colder air moving through the atmosphere, bringing autumn and hopefully morphing leaves, the jean jacket was a great addition, as the dress is sleeveless.
She asked my advice on how to potentially style the dress for an upcoming reunion event; I feel the dress would be a good fit for her personality, because it is adventurous and whimsical, without any of the brazen or ephemeral or bohemian qualities those sensations can at times connote. Reunions, at least as I understand from cultural references and anecdotes, having never physically attended one, can be quite stuffy affairs, especially as one grows older. Or so I imagine. This dress would provide the perfect antidote to that dreaded atmosphere, while potentially serving as a great catalyst for conversation with some of the more estranged or strange invitees. Even in grocery checkout lines, great vintage pieces have served to initiate discussion, whether I wanted one or not.
Since the dress has some neons, which are fun, however, tend to dominate any palette and can be difficult to partner with typical neutrals, one suggestion I had was to wear deep plum hosiery, to complement and to serve as a more colorfully toned neutral. With the dress being a bit shorter, I saw tall, flat, deep brown leather riding boots as a good choice to balance the proportions and to give a greater depth to the driving aesthetic force. Chocolate brown hosiery, paired with either the tall leather riding boots or perhaps suede ankle boots, with a slight chunky heel, would also be good options to create a streamlined, monochromatic leg. Adding contemporary elements to the outfit, with the choice of shoe and jewelry, is important, to prevent the vintage dress from appearing to be a costume. This is always an imminent and salient concern when styling vintage pieces; borrowing from another era can lead to some creative ideas, but without some modern sensibility, one is bound to look like Cher, during at least one of her fashion phases.
(image taken from Tell Us Fashion)