Styling Retro Spring Dresses
Styling Retro Spring Dresses
Written by Hannah Mae Webster
Spring dresses are seasonal wardrobe staples, with many modern designs subtly influenced by vintage style. Whether taking inspiration from iconic decades, or looking at Hollywood stars, the possibilities for styling a retro spring dress are endless.
Collecting the Inspiration
Styling vintage spring dresses can be challenging due to the magnitude of inspiration. It is important to compile and refine these inspirations before selecting outfits that seamlessly enhance your closet.
An interesting place to start is the 1970s. The decade’s relaxed styles can be a great source of inspiration when choosing a 70s inspired spring dress. Popular dress types included prairie dresses, tied-waist dresses, caftan dresses, and wrap dresses. Bold colors and prints were abundant throughout the 70s. In terms of styling dresses in spring, true vintage or vintage inspired oversized sunglasses are the perfect accessory, offering practicality and style. Round, square, geometric, and butterfly shapes were popular during the 70s as sunglasses developed further into style statements over functional pieces.
A chic piece that can easily inject 70s style into a spring wardrobe is a shearling coat. This highly versatile piece can be styled with vintage spring dresses and platform boots, or even worn with bell bottom jeans. Spring’s slightly unpredictable and transitional nature makes a 70s shearling coat the perfect addition.
For some further spring styling inspiration, take a look at these 70s style icons:
- Olivia Newton-John
- Joanna Lumley
- Diane Von Furstenberg
- Stevie Nicks
- Jane Birkin
Bold and experimental styles filled the 60s, with highly respected designers such as Mary Quant André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin, and Emilio Pucci. The era was defined by youthful style developments such as rising hemlines and the introduction of psychedelic prints. When selecting a 60s inspired spring dress, mini dresses, shirtwaist dresses, and tent dresses are great options.
Try to incorporate the bold accessorizing style of the 60s by including a pair of colored tights under a mini dress, statement sunglasses, and colorful jewelry. Instead of a spring dress, a mini skirt is a vintage inspired alternative that is highly modern-looking.
For an understated spring look, try a basket bag, inspired by Jane Birkin’s relaxed accessorizing style during the 60s and 70s.
If pushing style boundaries is your thing, why not incorporate Space Age elements into your outfits by investing in a 60s PVC handbag or pair of white leather boots for a futuristic monochromatic spring look.
For a chic 60s inspired look, try our Twiggy Mini Dress. Its classic A-line shape and minimalistic design is the perfect spring closet addition. The styling possibilities are endless!
If bold and colorful designs are not quite your style, why not take inspiration from the 50s? Highly feminine shapes grew in popularity in the 1950s, following Christian Dior’s 1947 debut collection, and the hourglass shape was incredibly desirable. To achieve a 50s inspired look this spring, select full-skirted dresses with cinched waists to create the hourglass illusion.
Our Victoria Cotton Petticoat is essential for adding volume to midi dresses.
Another way to emulate 50s shapes is through adding belts to accentuate the waist and curves.
Throughout the 50s, Marilyn Monroe developed into an unforgettable style icon, popularizing trends such as halter necks, wiggle dresses, and sheer dresses. Some of Marilyn’s off-duty looks can also serve as great style inspiration.
Examples of Marilyn’s style:
This photoshoot featured Marilyn Monroe wearing a pale blue spotted midi dress with a cinched waist and full skirt. For a look inspired by this photoshoot, choose a dress with a dainty print such as dots or even gingham and a fuller skirt.
This hot pink off-the shoulder style midi dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Niagara” can be a source of inspiration if looking for a minimalistic, curve hugging style.
Halter necks are another subtle way to incorporate Marilyn Monroe’s style into your spring outfits.
“Always be yourself. Retain individuality; listen to the truest part of yourself.”
Inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s enduring style legacy, you might just fall in love with our Marilyn N°1 Linen Midi Dress.
"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart."
When studying Audrey Hepburn’s vast filmography, her style moments are, arguably, some of the greatest in cinematic history. “Roman Holiday,” 1953, featured an array of laidback, casual looks including belted skirts, white shirts, neck scarves, and flat sandals. This relaxed collection of looks can be easily recreated this spring.
As a starting point, check out our Ann Linen Shirt, inspired by “Roman Holiday.” It can be effortlessly styled with a belted midi skirt for a chic alternative to a spring dress.
A neck scarf can also be worn for a chic Audrey-inspired look.
“Fashion may not be a weapon of the woman but at least it gives her the ammunition.”
Brigitte Bardot popularized the wide, shoulder-revealing neckline that was named the “Bardot” neckline. The style is slightly revealing in the chest area and remains popular today.
Researching necklines for your preferred era is another way to achieve a subtly vintage look.
Brigitte Bardot photographed in 1956 during the Cannes Film Festival.
She wore a midi dress with a fitted bodice and a voluminous skirt with an exposed petticoat.
Sharon Tate’s 1968 bridal look was unforgettable. She paired a puffed sleeve babydoll mini dress with dainty hairbows and flowers. For a beautifully feminine look wear spring outfits and shoes with hair accessories in the style of Sharon Tate.
As well as her bridal style, Sharon Tate had many other memorable fashion moments. One of her most iconic looks was in Paris in 1968.
Love this iconic mini dress? Try our blue Sharon Babydoll Dress.
60s inspired collared mini dresses can be a classic wardrobe addition and can be worn in spring with some boots or Mary Janes, and in winter with tights, boots, and a long sleeve top underneath.
Depending on the season, layering is an alternative method to style vintage dresses in a modern way. Layering a boxy, oversized jumper or cardigan can easily avoid an overly dated look. It is important to incorporate minimalistic pieces alongside vintage if wishing to achieve a more understated and subtle look.
Alternatives to florals for spring
Although florals are a classic spring print, some may prefer a less feminine and traditional look.
Vintage-inspired alternatives to florals:
- Polka dots
- Psychedelic prints
Alternatives to dresses in spring: