vintage clothing info

Vintage Hats & Handbags

Vintage outfits enable women to escape to an era that reflects their own outlook and personality. Possibly the most important part of the outfit is co-ordinating vintage hats and handbags.

The early years of the twentieth century led from the highly-structured wide-brimmed hats of the 1900’s to the cloches and feathered fascinators of the Roaring Twenties, but it was in the 1930’s that women’s hat styles really began to multiply. Sailor-style hats came into fashion along with perky small-brimmed hats adorned with ribbons.

If you want to get ahead, get a hat

The late thirties brought the snood, crocheted in silk and adorned with beads or sequins for evening wear. Throughout the war years it was popular as day-wear, hand-made in wool or cotton. Women found it invaluable in keeping their long hair away from dangerous machinery. Simple head-scarves of the type often worn by the Queen today were also popular.

vintage hats

The post-war era was a time when class and style were synonymous. Fabric shortages meant styles were kept simple but chic. Dresses and coats were cut to flatter the female frame; forties’ vintage hats blend feminine style with practicality. Felt hats were worn at a jaunty angle, to set off the gently waved or rolled hairstyles of the day.

Fifties’ women left austerity behind and courted glamour. Exotic turbans, sometimes decorated with gemstones, were worn for evening. The pillbox hat became popular, often adding a touch of mystery by incorporating a veil covering the top half of the face. Pancake hats lay flat on the head, while wide-brimmed hats embodied elegance.

The sixties’ was a time when youth reigned supreme and dolly birds would wear their op-art mini-dresses with a cheeky peaked cap, made in denim or corduroy or even crocheted. Berets were also popular, as were knitted hats. Vintage headwear from this era carries an air of youth and love of life.

Seventies’ hippy chic brought out the gipsy in every woman, as shawls in vibrant swirling colours proliferated. The “Romantic” look appeared, with floppy hats in rich shades of velvet. The late 70’s also spawned the punk era, when hats were often adorned with skulls and crossbones.

The eighties saw a resurgence of romantic styles, possibly inspired by Diana, Princess of Wales, who usually completed her stunning outfits with an equally stunning hat. Fifties’ veiled pill-box hats also became stylish once again.

The ideal vintage hats may not be hard to locate. Not only have shops selling vintage clothing sprung up in most town-centres, but many Internet sites sell vintage garments of every description.  Vintage hats give you the opportunity to explore previous decades to discover the styles that are perfect for you.

“A handbag?” said Lady Bracknell

Given the changing whims of fashion and the seasonality of modern design, fashionistas’ seemingly potent desire for the latest designer handbags is often short-lived and ultimately very expensive. For women with a more personal sense of style, one way to get a high-quality and stylish accessory that will work with an individual, classy look is to investigate the wide range of vintage handbags that are available.

There are now specific resellers who focus on vintage accessories, including bags, and these are generally available online. Many vintage stores will also stock some of these types of accessory, although their ranges may be more limited

The term vintage can be applied to bags manufactured between the 1920s and the 1990s, although it may be used to represent the style of the bag when applied to a more recently-produced item. The price of genuine vintage handbags varies widely, and depends on the bag’s materials, provenance, designer, condition and any cultural factors that may influence collectors.

For a vintage bag that you wish to use as part of your daily outfits, it is important that you look out for signs of good condition, ensuring that any wear is cosmetic rather than structural, and that care has been taken in any refurbishment.


Many vintage handbags are of classic, timeless design, and provide a way to get designer labels at a reasonable price. Fashion houses including Dior, Hermes, Gucci, and other designers who are still producing desirable modern work are often featured in handbag listings on websites that carry vintage items.

Vintage is therefore an ideal way to remain fashionable without slavishly following single-season trends. Of course, with a bit of perseverance, it is also possible to source one-of-a-kind pieces like fabulous beaded ’20s clutch bags or space-age silvery pieces from the 1960s, adding even more uniqueness to your personal style.

There is a booming trade in replica vintage bags, and unfortunately these are sometimes presented as the real thing, rather than as a cheaper substitute. When buying vintage items, always make sure that you are buying from a reliable, knowledgeable source who will guarantee (to the best of their ability) the provenance of the item.

A well-kept vintage bag may not show many signs of wear, but details like fading on labels and stitching, the smell of the item, and the weight and quality of manufacture can all be clues about the genuine nature of an older piece. Be aware that prices that seem to good to be true generally will be, and (if buying online) ensure that the retailer is aware of distance selling regulations that will allow you to return the item for a full refund if you are dissatisfied.

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