Want to buy or sell something? Check the classifieds
  • The Fedora Lounge is supported in part by commission earning affiliate links sitewide. Please support us by using them. You may learn more here.

Wearing vintage accessories with good taste in a reasonably authentic way?

Apple Blossom

New in Town

I'm sorry if this has been posted before, I did try searching first and didn't find what I wanted but I completely understand if this thread has to be deleted.

I'd actually intended to ask for help in matching my accessories for Easter (and, I'm still on the lookout for a lovely Easter hat), but this is a topic that often leaves me scratching my head so I thought I'd ask more broadly about vintage accessories, specifically from the mid-1930s to about 1946 (before the New Look), and how best to wear them with good taste while being at least reasonably authentic to the era in question.

I've tried to find a good guide online but I end up sifting through blogger opinion after blogger opinion and, on looking at the way they put their clothing and accessories together, can't help but be put off by their way of doing things.

What I'd most like help with is the matching of non-jewelry accessories. Scarves, hats, gloves, shoes, belts and bags. I've always heard that matching your bag to your shoes is vital, or your gloves to your hat but so many of the films, photos and ads I've seen break that rule time and time again.

Then there are glove lengths - which length is appropriate for what style of dress? I'm sure your wool and leather gloves are better suited to fall and winter, and your cotton, lace and so forth are more of a spring and summer fashion. But the lengths do confuse me and, once again, I've more been met with modern opinion than anything from the WWII-era (or there abouts).

Shoes are another concern. What would a lady wear on a rainy day? What about snow? What sort of shoes are best with trousers vs. what's best with a dress?

To what other accessory do you match your bag? Is it your hat, your shoes, a belt or is there another method? Is it ever smart to have more than one color to your accessories, like gloves and a hat that match but a different, complimentary color for the shoes and bag?

Are there any good, reliable vintage resources that might help?


Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
The standard opinion in the Era was that your bag and shoes should match, but there were always exceptions. Nobody followed you around and gave you a ticket for failure to comply -- it was simply the "usual thing." Most people didn't follow "fashion rules" rigorously, and some took great pleasure in ignoring them completely. Elizabeth Hawes in "Fashion Is Spinach" (1938) gave the back of her hand to arbitrary fashion rules, and stressed her belief that women should dress to please themselves and nobody else. Good advice then and now, unless of course you were a WAC. In which case your shoes and bag were required to be a very specific shade of russet brown.

In rainy weather you'd wear rubbers -- simple stretch-rubber overshoes. This wasn't a fashion things -- shoes had leather soles then, and those were easily damaged by frequent soaking. In winter there were more substantial rubber galoshes that usually came to ankle height.

If wearing pants it was common to wear a low-heeled lace-up oxford -- brown-and-white saddle shoes were also very popular, and if you were on the younger side they were supposed to be dirty. Penny loafers became popular both with pants and casual skirts during the war years.

Gloves were largely a middle-class affectation, but those who wore them for fashion reasons usually wore leather gloves in the cold weather seasons and either cotton or very thin leather gloves during the warmer months. Mesh gloves were also popular in hot-weather climates -- you wouldn't see them as much in the North, but they were popular in the South.

Forum statistics

Latest member