You’ve found the perfect vintage outfit and are ready to show off your look, but what should you add to make it Revival ready? Frankly, it comes down to the accessories; a pair of authentic 1940s brogues, a dainty ‘50s hairpin or those colourful ‘60s dangly earrings – these are all part of the finishing touches. Here’s everything you need to know, depending on your favourite era. And remember, our Revival best-dressed judges will be watching…
Your guide to accessories for your next Revival
Accessories in the 1940s
If you’re a fan of sharp, tailored outfits with exquisite attention to detail and larger-than-life shoulders, then the style of the ‘40s could be just the ticket. Keep your eye out for the following pieces on your next vintage rummage.
The tilt hat
The tilt (affectionately known as the pancake hat) is a thin, round millinery piece that slants atop of the head, secured with pins, elastic or a headband. These rigid hats were constructed of silk, satin, straw, thick cotton or velvet and customised with flowers, netting, faux fruit, delicate bows and decorative pins.
If a hat isn’t your thing but you still want to tame those flyaway hairs, then a snood is the next best thing. Designed to keep curls firmly in place, it was one of the 1940s greatest hair accessories. Team it with flowers or a pin, for an added touch of elegance.
Not only were a pair of dainty gloves the perfect way to complete an outfit, but they also helped with hygiene – worn to protect against frequent disease and illness. During the war, material was rationed and cotton and rayon were the most affordable. One tip: it was the height of fashion to match them with your handbag and hat, so look out for the right shade in time for Revival.
With make-do and mend firmly at the forefront of women’s minds in the ‘40s, practicality was the order of the day. Leather handbags with handles to hold all of life’s essentials, including makeup, diary, purse, pen, gloves, handkerchiefs, were built to last for years. In the summer, crotchet and straw bags led the way, while the evening bag took on the form of ruched, shell-shaped, box, and reptile-skinned clutches.
Oxford or Brogue lace-ups were worn with a classic pointy toe and are still highly desirable today. With detailed upper stitching and layered brown or black leather uppers, they are the hallmark of a man. White buckskin oxfords were paraded in the summer by those that could afford them – the real height of luxury.
Before the waist-belt took centre stage, braces were all that a man had to serve his 1940s trousers. Find braces with patterns, stripes, bright colours to bring a dash of dapper, as the leather loops complete the ultimate ‘40s look with not a clip-on in sight.
Today, men in hats are a rarity, but in the 40s you were undressed without one. Timeless styles included the Trilby, Fedora and Homburg. In summer, a Panama would keep you cool, but a straw Boater is the winner. These classic styles are still being made today by Lock & Co. Hatters, the world's oldest hat shop.
Other must-wear accessories for men in the forties included cufflinks, ties, cravats, key chains, pocket watches, ID bracelets and signet rings. And for women? Master your forties look with seamed stockings, corsages, knit turbans, bakelite combs, pompadours and pillbox hats.
Accessories in the 1950s
The 1950s was brimming with glamour and elegance, with fun accessories completing the look. Colour matching and co-ordination were the rave and even simple adornments, such as a patterned head scarf could transform a whole outfit. Worn in many seasonal styles, Audrey Hepburn apparently knew 17 ways to tie hers, stating, “When I wear a silk scarf, I never feel so definitely like a beautiful woman.”
Post-war, a new ‘higher class of plastic’ emerged in the form of Lucite. This more durable material was something entirely unique and contemporary. Box type bags, often detailed with diamanté or even initials, were made with clasps, similar to a jewellery box, and carried by a delicate handle. Sometimes translucent or made in opaque pastels, they still look just as eye-catching now.
Is it a headband? Is it a hat? Well, something in between actually. Whimsies were the ultimate ‘50s hair accessory, that clip in like a thick headband. Try adding a flower corsage, bow, netting or diamanté clip for extra effect. Hats were still popular for going out and adapted to the hairstyle of the moment including the bicorn-bonnet, pillbox, beret, lampshade, flower crown, bucket, Juliette caps and plate hat.
The Mule Springolator
Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfeild showcased the shoe of the time – a glamorous boudoir slipper with heel, that quickly emerged into outerwear, despite the loud clack they made and their tendency to fall off! Shoe doyenne Beth Levine worked to make them non-slip, no-clack and called them springolators. Designs came in Lucite, leather, satin and embedded with – you guessed it – diamantés.
The skinny tie
A thin 1950s tie can change an outfit from dull to dapper in a flash. Painted ties were popular (and are now collector’s items) while neutral with patterns, stripes and a new synthetic knit called Dacron, were all worn with pride.
Horn-rimmed and browline glasses
Whether you want to look like Cary Grant, James Dean or Buddy Holly, a pair of horn-rimmed or browline glasses is a must for a classic ‘50s touch.
After World War II, cufflinks began to show a little male flamboyance. Gold, silver, etched, initialled and patterned were seen as idiosyncratic accompaniments to a gentleman’s evening out.
If you’re looking to emulate an authentic ‘50s look for Revival, then consider patterned scarfs, lace gloves, clutch bags, cat eye glasses, drop earrings, parasols, handkerchiefs, hat pins and fans for women. For men, other additions include a silver cigarette case, personalised hip flask, key chain, braces, cravat and fedoras.
Accessories in the 1960s
Fashion threw out the rulebook when it came to style in the 60s and bolder fabrics and styles were the go-to. Many items that were worn for social etiquette were also discarded and adventurous man-made fashion ruled the decade.
Mary Quant tights
Bye bye stockings, hello tights. Trailblazing designer Mary Quant’s bright patterned tights were an instant fashion hit. Colours and designs to suit every occasion included dots, glitter and lace. Bright opaque colours were worn as frequently for day and evening wear.
‘Bug eye’ sunglasses
Oliver Goldsmith pioneered sunglasses in the 1960s and paved the way for the space age 'giant O' design with thick chunky frames. Some would affectionately nickname them ‘bug eyes’ but they are more commonly known as mod glasses. Match them with your favourite tights to channel your inner Jackie Onassis.
The saying, ‘more is more,’ could never be truer than for bold earrings in the 60s. Pierced ears became the norm and larger exotic jewellery began to take centre stage. Button earrings were popular, but drop earrings were the model of the moment. Made from gemstones and rhinestones or of course big bright plastic – the danglier the better.
The kipper was designed in 1966 by aptly named London fashion designer Michael Fish. Its broad design became the style of the decade. Made with prints, (fine and large) check and tweed, many would team the kipper with their outrageous Tommy Nutter suit for the complete Savile Row look.
Often referred to as a tie pin, clip or clasp, this understated accessory, showcased a permissible masculine jewellery made for outdoor sporting and social events. Invariably made in silver or gold, its practicality in preventing the tie from blowing around was present all through the ‘60s.
While conservative men still wore Oxfords and Brogues, the more fashion conscious loved a winklepicker. This pointy footwear came in shoe and boot forms, originating from medieval ages but had a surprise reprise in the ‘60s. And true to its name, these long pointy shoes took the toe to the extreme.
Other 1960s accessories to complete the look are the indefatigable city umbrella, the casual-man-loafers and short brim trilby hats. For women, the Hermés scarf, plastic handbag, vinyl bucket hat, plastic bead necklaces, lace gloves, babydoll hair bows and newsboy hats as well as shiny PVC by the gallon.
Wanting to get Revival-ready early this year? Then see our curated guide on how to shop for vintage at auction.
Photography by Toby Adamson, George Gunn and Edd Horder
The official Goodwood Revival Collection
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