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Donning vintage office wear is back in style today – and easy to do!

April 26, 2019

For vintage buffs, integrating vintage office wear into your work attire is easily done – especially if you are open to embracing vintage styles at the office.


It’s not just the “old folks” that are wearing vintage workwear styles to office these days. Men and women in every profession and from all ages are embracing it with zest. Even millennials are taking a fancy to vintage office wear today. We’ll show you how easy it is to pull that vintage office goer look.

1940s Men's suits

1940s Men’s suits

Vintage Office wear styles at office – A blast from the past

How often do you see office workers – young and old – in the tube, on the bus, in the streets – decked in vintage office wear, heading to a hard day’s work?  The answer: Pretty frequently. An isolated blast from the past, perhaps? Not really! Vintage office outfits have been “fashionable” for some time now, and that trend is catching on.


Before we talk about a few ways that you can create your own personal vintage office wear look, just remember the basics:


  • Whatever you wear, it should be situation appropriate. Don’t wear a pair of 1940s Overalls if you are a bank teller!


  • Since many of us spend a lot of time at the office, the vintage styles that you choose should be comfortable


  • And finally, you need to respect how your vintage office wardrobe impacts your fellow office mates. A man, wearing a dress shirt with 4 front buttons undone might not be well construed by female co-workers


So, the idea is to choose vintage office wear that is right for you, and that’s right for your work environment. Most especially, the vintage styles that you choose shouldn’t make it look as though you just dropped out of a time machine – straight to work!

1940s two peice tailored suit with pencil skirt

1940s two peice tailored suit with pencil skirt

The Vintage Pencil Skirt Look

When Christian Dior created his H Line designs in 1954, he ushered in a whole new era of vintage office wear for women. Until then, women were relegated to ‘back office’ roles, where fashion and style were never seen. Office-going women wearing skirts from Dior’s H line vintage styles changed all that!


This was the first time that women could actually show off their looks and display their shapes. It was no wonder then that Dior offered his new vintage office wear as part of his New Look collection!


There are many ways to pull off that vintage office style using a pencil skirt. The idea is to look beautiful, yet professional. A black pencil skirt paired with a white top – either a shirt or cardigan – was common among vintage styles worn by office-going women in the 1950s and 1960s.


If you are wearing a shirt, make sure it’s crisp and tucked into the skirt. You could accentuate your curves by using a belt around your waist to perfect that vintage office wear look. Top up your look with a fitted navy-blue blazer or a light jacket in a contrasting colour. While heels go well with pencil skirts, you could also pull off this look with a pair of black flats.


To find authentic vintage office wear pencil skirt, try searching online at sites like Festival of Vintage – UK. You’re sure to source everything you need right there.

Make do and mend poster,1939-1945

Make do and mend poster,1939-1945

Men in vintage styles

There are many options for casual yet comfortable vintage office wear for men. You could go with a preppy look, without offending anyone at the office. Pull on a vintage cricket sweater over your white dress shirt and khakis. Other vintage styles for office-goers may include cable knits or even a Grandpa cardigan.


Of course, you can’t wear this to a client meeting or in a formal corporate setting. These are ideal work-casual ideas to consider.


For vintage office wear that are somewhat formal (though not overly so!), you could go fir a pair of wide-leg and high-waisted pants. Make sure the pants aren’t too baggy, or they’ll ruin your entire vintage office look. If wide-cut isn’t your thing, classic-fit or slim-fit pants from the 1950s and 1960s should do just fine too.

Prophet Francis Marion Jones, wearing zoot suit, hand painted tie and white shirt, 1944

Prophet Francis Marion Jones, November 1944


For semi-casual vintage office wear, choose a dress shirt with a wide color. Vintage-era shirts were often loose fit, so keep that in mind. The best vintage styles for work can be created with shirts that have single or two chest pockets.


Make sure your shirt is neatly tucked into the waist of your pants. A classic vintage office touch would be to stick a retro fountain pen (something classy – perhaps a Sheaffer or Parker) in one of the pockets. For a truly work-casual look, leave the top collar button open.


Many vintage office going men would wear suspenders to hold their high-waisted pants. However, if suspenders aren’t your thing, you could opt for a black or brown belt to keep those pants in place. Wrap things up with a pair of vintage two-tone shoes. To jazz up your vintage  styles, you could top things up with a fedora.


It won’t take you too long to convert that semi-casual look into formal vintage office wear. All you really need is a tie – either plain or stripped. Men from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s usually wore contrasting colored ties – but choose one that goes well with your pants. And to complete that formal vintage office going look, throw on a tweed jacket or loose-cut coat. Now, you’re ready for that meeting with the client – or your boss!

Vintage office wear

Vintage office wear

Vintage Office Wear styles for the masses

But women don’t always need to wear pencil skirts to work, nor men always seen in semi-casual dress pants. For both gals and guys, pulling off that vintage office wear look today can be as simple as pulling on your favourite pair of dark coloured jeans, and a tucked-in dress shirt, a fitted top or Tee.


To add some zing to your personal vintage styles, consider a cuffed-up pair of jeans. And instead of dress shirts or formal tops, add a Polo Shirt or a Cashmere buttoned-up sweater as part of your vintage office wear get-up.


You could round off that look with a pair of high-top Converse or penny loafers or a pair of flats or heels.


Links [i] [ii] [iii] [iv]










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