Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vintage Cocktail Attire on a Budget

People often have the misconception that you have to spend an arm & a leg when dressing vintage; especially when it comes to dressing up.

I tell anyone that asks, that I keep my "dressy" outfits under $60. As several of you know, being in college doesn't give you enough room to have a big budget on clothing. I do wish I could drop a few hundreds on authentic vintage evening/cocktail attire. However, it would be unrealistically possible for me to do so.

I've been asked to offer a few tips on dressing "dressy" vintage on a budget. I've also chosen my most recent vintage cocktail attire looks as examples.

Also, please excuse my awkwardness & lack of quality on the pictures. I often forget to bring my camera.

I can't quite remember if I went to a fashion event or a family party when I wore this outfit. Sad, I know!  For this look I felt a bit inspired by the lovely Megan Draper. I decided to go for a late 1960's look and even beehived my hair.

Chandelier Earrings - Charming Charlie - $8
Dress by Romeo & Juliet - Bloomingdale's Outlet - (Orig. $127) On Sale & w/employee discount $12
1960's Mink Stole - Gift
1960's Purse - Random Antique Mall - $10
Shoes- Rack Room Shoes - $15

Total Cost ----$45

This outfit I distinctly remember wearing to a pre gala kick off party at the end of January. This outfit is true vintage on its own. I know that this outfit is over my budget. However, my mom bought me these shoes and it was before I ever had a job. I also think that for wearing real vintage, it's a decent price

Faux Fur Headband - Forever 21 - .99 cents
1960's Mink Fur - Garage Sale - $10
1960's Dress - Dolly Python - $30
1960's Deadstock Clutch - Garage Sale - $5
Jessica Simpson Shoes - Dillard's - $30

Total Cost ---- $75.99

This is actually my most recent outfit. I had just left work and had to drive to the other side of town to meet a friend and then go to a fashion event. I was crazy rushed when putting this outfit together. I don't think I would have chosen this hat for this dress. I honestly bought this dress because the sleeves have a real 1930's feeling to them and I think with the right accessories it has the potential to be 30's-esque. It turned out alright I suppose, I did get plenty of compliments. Oh! I also forgot to take a purse, so I had to use my mint green wallet as a clutch.

1960's hat - Flea Market - $3
Andrew Marc Dress - Bloomingdale's Outlet - (Orig. $288) On Sale & w/ employee discount - $38
White Rabbit Fur Coat - Gift
Wallet turned into unlatching clutch - Ted Baker of London - Gift
Sheer Tights - Target - $7
T-strap heels (Not Shown) - Marshall's - $10

Total Cost---$58

1) Don't limit yourself to just shopping at one location or website. Go everywhere! I seriously go from thrift shops to the mall to garage sales to outlet stores to checking my mom's closet to resale shops etc.

2) If you're someone that often seeks cocktail attire, it doesn't hurt to always keep an eye out. For example, I bought a 1960's shift dress for $18 at Buffalo Exchange 2 years ago & just recently wore it out for the first time. (From my last post)

3) Know your vintage silhouettes and motifs. Can this modern dress with an a-line skirt pass as a 1940's-esque or 1960's-esque feel with the right accessories? Remember fashion always repeats itself in one way or another; even through tiny details. Example, 1980's skirt suits happen to reminisce 1940's skirt suits.

4) Stock up on vintage and vintage inspired accessories!!! You never when that sequined little 1960's hat or 1950's embroidered gloves will come in handy.    

5) Don't judge a sales rack by it's messy appearance from afar! I recently found a 1930's/40's-esque dress that was originally $288 for a whomping $35 at work. I'd dug through the clearance before, but had never noticed that dress.(See 3rd photo)

6) If you get frustrated, take a break. Go on the web and look through outfits from the past; find your inspiration.

Good luck! Email or comment, if you have any more questions.



  1. Lovely! Adoring all of these classic feminine ensembles! & the fact that they're affordable bumps them up a notch! Looking forward to your future posts ;D

    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  2. Beautiful look! Very elegant :)
    White Stag Boulevard