Whether you’re beaching it, enjoying a night on the town, going to a holiday party or a wedding, a cute vintage dress is sure to make you stand out.
Vintage dresses vary in style, from peasant top to polka dots, from flared to fitted, and formal to casual. Dressing like a star can be pricey, but today there are many affordable places to find cute vintage dresses.
Vintage designer dresses
If you’re looking for high-end fashion from a bygone era, there are plenty of places to find preowned, authentic vintage dresses.
Whether you’re wanting a retro designer wedding dress for your special day or are a fashion collector, you can find elegant and cute styles that made a splash in their day.
Vestaire Collective, for example, allows customers to buy and sell luxury clothing that is authenticated by experts. You can find cute, one-of-a-kind dresses from the decade and designer you want.
Then there is the good old vintage thrifting. If you’re on a budget and don’t need designer dresses, you can browse the selection of vintage dresses at your local Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Every second-hand store has a unique selection, so don’t give up if one of them doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
If you want to expedite the process of finding a vintage dress for cheap, browse second-hand websites like thredup.
Vintage Dress Styles
If you’re looking for a specific decade, such as for a decade party, you’ll need to know what styles were popular.
Similarly, you might know the style you like but aren’t sure what decade it’s from. Take a look at the dress styles by decade below to help you out.
One of the most well-known and popular dresses from the 1920s is the flapper dress. The flapper dress is straight, knee-length, and sometimes has a low neckline and fringe on the bottom.
Other dresses from this period include floral day dresses or fancy dresses with beads and sequins. Some are made from satin and velvet, and have unique cut-out patterns.
Retro stage has a gorgeous collection of dresses that scream “golden age” for that Great Gatsby party coming up.
Some 1930s dresses were flowy and soft, made with a bias cut (cutting the fabric on the diagonal instead of along the grain).
Famous designers such as Jean Patou and Coco Chanel emerged during this era, revolutionizing women’s fashion with sleek evening gowns and the famous little black dress.
Some of the dress features during the 1930s included shoulder pads and butterfly sleeves, both designed to make a woman’s waist look smaller. This decade in women’s fashion also revived Grecian, Edwardian, and medieval-style dresses.
You can find some authentic or handmade 1930s cocktail dresses on Etsy.
In the 1940s, women’s dresses continued to sculpt the body in an attempt to create an hourglass silhouette.
Fit and flare dresses became popular, accentuating a woman’s curves with their fitted tops while wrapping the hips in a luxurious, flared skirt.
1940s dresses often had small print or muted colors. You can find many 1940s dresses with cap sleeves and rounded, square, or sweetheart necklines.
One style that became popular at this time was the shirtwaist dress, a bit longer than knee-length and made to mimic men’s button-up, collared dress shirts.
You can find great picks like a Pinstripe Manchester Swing dress with a large front bow detail at Dapper Dolls.
If you want an authentic 1950s dress, you’ll want to look at polka dot and tartan patterns.
These dresses have sweetheart or halter necklines, fitted tops and cinched, high waists. The midi dress length was popular, in swing style or with a flared skirt.
If you want to capture the classic Hepburn-inspired look, check out this cute classic black dress at Retro Fairy.
In contrast to the more conservative 1950s styles, the 1960s brought mini dresses and bright colors.
Some cuts and styles that became popular in this decade included -line, empire waist and shift dresses (which fall straight from the shoulders and typically has a high neck).
Vintage Dancer has some fabulous hippie dresses from this decade.
If you’re looking for an authentic 1970s dress, look no further than the always-appropriate maxi dress. Bold patterns and bright colors are evocative of this fashion era. These dresses were either airy or flared, made with lightweight fabrics. It’s no wonder they are still so popular in the summer!
For a more regal 1970s look, try a long, tube-style satin evening gowns in a simple tube design. Another popular dress style from the 1970s was the peasant style, which sometimes had long, billowy or bell sleeves.
If you want a more modern take on the bold patterned mini dress from the 70s, look at what Lucy in the Sky has to offer.
Some 1980s vintage dresses stand out with their bright neon colors, while others such as the prairie dresses are tasteful and classic. The prairie dresses are usually lightweight, have elbow-length sleeves, and ruffles or lace.
One 1980s dress trend was the sweater dresses with a thick, plastic belt. Many dresses had big shoulders, too.
The 1990s popularized button up and belted dresses. Some 90s vintage dresses have billowy, loose tops, floral patterns, and muted or pastel colors.
The fitted mini dress, collared dress, or wrap dress are all cut choices from this decade. If you’re looking for something casual, you could even break out a Jean jumper!
Modern Vintage-inspired Dresses
If you want something specific or are a unique size, you may want to shop for modern dresses that are inspired by vintage designs.
There are brick and mortar stores, such as Modern Millie in Salem, Ma, which also have vast online selections. They sell both authentic vintage and modern vintage reproduction clothing. You can find cute plus-size vintage dresses and ones that look great and won’t break the bank.
There are other places to buy vintage-inspired clothing offering inclusive sizing to make every woman feel beautiful.
Whatever the occasion, there are many places to buy great vintage-style dresses from every era.