November 7, 2018
Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by Dominique de MerteuilHome » Vintage Fashion Tips »
The Practical Guide on How to Dress Vintage When it’s Cold
How to dress vintage when it’s cold is a nagging question I’ve been trying to find an answer to for the past two decades, and I believe, I finally got it right!
It’s all fine and dandy to wear your favourite vintage suit or slacks underneath a lightweight coat if the temperature in autumn and winter is mild. When it gets to – 10ºC, however, and you have a very low tolerance to cold, the idea of swapping your stylish boots for a pair of UGGs sounds better and better the colder it gets.
I have a few ideas which hopefully will help all of my fellow vintage ladies to stay warm without compromising vintage style.
Vintage Outfit Ideas for Looking Stylish in Winter
It’s easy to say, I love you, winter when I’m snuggled up between the pages of Eugene Onegin in my 19th-century armchair.
The dream setting in front of a beautiful fireplace, positioned just so that out of the corner of my eye, outside my frosty window, I may glimpse the falling snow while dressed in a pink 1940s nightgown, my hair immaculately vintage, darling! Red lips, oh so glamorous! And most importantly, I’m protected from the cold, cold weather.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WEAR MEDIOCRE NIGHTWEAR
I’m wearing an original 1940s CC41 nightgown paired with a faux fur capelet from Helen Moore.
Oh yes, it’s all such a glorious winter wonderland when you have the luxury of being able to stay indoors. However, when you have no choice but to go outside and face the brutal harshness of those Arctic winds, you can Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, all you like but that 1930s hairstyle and red lipstick will start to look quite comical when your nose begins to resemble Rudolf’s.
Winter Styling Tips for a Vintage Maximalist
- Firstly, if you want to look stylish in winter, don’t confuse style with fashion
- In order to be stylish in winter and beyond, you need to develop a distinctive style
- You shouldn’t be freezing because you want to look stylish in winter, hence the importance of warm undergarments
- The beauty of a well-tailored coat for the stylish vintage girl
- Accessories are your best friend if you want to add some va-va-voom in winter
- Style inspiration is not a style imitation
- The winter care routine & vintage-inspired make-up for your stylish winter look
If you are a minimalist who adores nothing but beige, natural make-up and is fond of blending in with the crowds, this article is not for you. Just to give you a hint, the picture below depicts me in the most natural state.
Helen Moore’s faux fur pillbox hat, collar and wrist warmers in jet black, vintage Burberry coat, Wolford tights, and a vintage brooch are the perfect marriage between the old and the new.
Tips on how to dress vintage when it’s cold.
If, however, you follow my credo that life is too short to wear ordinary clothes and would love to learn a few of my tricks on how to look stylish in winter, you are in for a treat. Sit down, relax with a delicious cup of tea and enjoy the read.
‘No matter where you are in the world, you are at home when tea is served.’
Don’t Confuse Style with Fashion
‘Style – all who have it share one thing: originality.’
‘Fashion persuades millions of women that comfort and good lines are not all they should ask in clothes. Fashion swings the female population this way and that through the magic expression that “they” are wearing such and such this season and you must do likewise or be ostracized. Who thought up this idea that just because one-tenth of one per cent of the population needs a certain kind of clothes, I want the same thing? Fashion, my girl, he decided. He swipes ideas from style. (…) He hires press agents and advertising men to assure you that the bright cellophane wrapper is what counts.’
Hawes, Elizabeth. Fashion is Spinach.1938, p.10.
Top Tips on Dressing Vintage When it’s Cold
- Warm undergarments are a lifesaver when you don’t want to compromise your vintage look in cold weather.
- Tights – it’s all in the layers.
- Thanks to sheepskin insoles you don’t have to give up your pretty shoes that are an integral part of any vintage outfit.
- Vintage-inspired faux fur from Helen Moore will add glamour to your vintage look and keep you warm and toasty.
- Nothing beats vintage wool in winter! The 1930s or 1940s woollen skirt suit should be at the top of your shopping list.
How to dress vintage when it’s cold.
In the picture, I’m wearing;
- Original 1940s wool houndstooth tweed skirt suit.
- 1940s purse
- Lea Wolford tights
- Megumi-O sunglasses.
Vintage outfit ideas for winter. A 1940s skirt suit is always the right choice.Dominique de Merteuil
DISCLOSURE; As of October 2021 I’m part of an affiliate program, and I get a commission for purchases made through some of the links in this post. When you purchase a product via the link in my post you are helping to keep my website alive for which I’m very grateful!
My vintage outfit would be incomplete without red lipstick.
The Besame brand has the best vintage-inspired makeup and the most seductive shade of red. Use the code ITSBEYONDMYCONTROL at the checkout and enjoy 25% off the entire order!
How to create the Femme Fatale makeup look!
Invest in (Vintage) Winter Underwear
Don’t underestimate the importance of warm undergarments, because they will protect your derrière.
- Proper undergarments are definitely key to staying warm in winter. Although I don’t always follow my own rules and choose rayon or silk lingerie instead. I do, however, have several lightweight Merino wool tops and leggings, that I bought from an equestrian shop, for when the temperature outside hits -10C. And believe me when I say that they are real lifesavers.
- They are warm but thin enough to wear under my fitted vintage dresses, and they definitely don’t cause any undesired bulkiness. I also recommend underwear for skiing, as it will insulate you while wicking away moisture from your body.
- There are many patterns available on Etsy of the popular 1930s knitted cami knickers and vests. If you are skilled in knitting it might be a fun project, if not, you can always commission someone to make you beautiful and practical vintage-inspired knitted underwear.
- Woollen long johns, also known as union suits, are nothing new. You can find ads for them from as early as the 1890s. They are a great idea if you are wearing a long dress, skirt or slacks, but won’t do if worn with anything showing off legs.
- Knit underwear, be it vintage or vintage-inspired, is a great alternative to long johns. There are vintage patterns on Etsy that you can purchase for as little as $4.
- I found some of my warmest long underwear in an equestrian shop.
- A base layer made of merino wool will also help you stay warm and not cause bulkiness to your clothes.
I recently bought a pair of new old stock 1950s, early 1960s winter underwear and can’t wait to wear them in winter.
SHOP VINTAGE UNDERGARMENTS
Picture of long winter undergarments published in November 1933 issue of Przeglad Mody fashion journal.
Contemporary Winter Undergarments
How to Wash Your Vintage Undergarments!
If you would like to learn how to clean vintage, head to my post “How to clean vintage clothes headache free!”
I handwash all my vintage and contemporary lingerie and hosiery with Eucalan detergent!
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Tights!
Winter is a harsh mistress, making icicles of us all and sadly the vintage girl is not an exception. With the temperature dropping rapidly and way below my cold threshold, I need to take extreme measures to stay warm. Not an easy thing to do without compromising my vintage look, but I have a few more tips to share with you. So here is what I do when I dress vintage on cold days.
- Stockings are an integral part of all my vintage ensembles and winter is no exception, but I love to wear tights as much as stockings, especially when they have an interesting pattern. This is the reason why Wolford is always my number one brand when it comes to hosiery. They keep my legs warm and are the perfect accessory for any vintage outfit, giving it that slightly modern twist.
- Tights on top of tights ( in the picture below) seem to be the perfect solution when you want to stay extra warm. It’s a particularly good idea when the said tights are made of a large net. I like to wear a contrasting colour, in particular red.
Winter essentials for a vintage girl.
- Helen Moore’s faux fur pillbox hat, vintage collar and wrist warmers in jet.
- Vintage Burberry coat
- Wolford tights
- Vintage brooch.
Vintage Wool is Your Best Friend in Autumn and Winter!
- I buy a lot of the 1940s and 1950s skirt suits and separates made of wool. They are simply irreplaceable in the colder months!
- The new to me 1940s Koret of California suit, on the left, is made of 100% wool and so warm that I often don’t need to wear a coat on top of it.
- In the picture on the right, I’m wearing an original 1940s CC41 skirt suit made of wool, of course.
Vintage Inspired Cardigans to Keep You Warm in Winter
If you rather stick to vintage-inspired clothes, the Marie Antoinette cardigan from Wheels & Dollbaby is a great alternative to vintage pieces.
It’s so beautifully fitted, and decorated with dreamy, Rococo embroidery, that I believe Marie Antoinette herself would approve of it.
I’m wearing The Marie Antoinette Cardigan by Wheels and Dollbaby in the most perfect 18th-century bedroom of King Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
The moment I first put on my new Marie Antoinette cardigan, I knew that I would want to be photographed in one of my favourite palaces in Europe. The Palace on the Isle in Warsaw was built in the late 17th century as the summer residence of the last King of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski.
His recently renovated bed chamber is where the pictures were taken. I find it rather ironic that I’m wearing a cardigan named after Marie Antoinette in a room, which when re-constructed was modelled on that of Marie Antoinette’s bedroom in the Palace of Versailles.
Vintage and Antique Inspired Cardigans
Sheepskin Insoles in Vintage Shoes
- Finding winter-appropriate shoes that will go with my 1930s-1950s ensembles still feels like a mission impossible. The pretty ones are never warm enough and the warm ones are never pretty enough to pair with vintage garments. I did, however, find what seems like the perfect solution for wearing beautiful shoes and not freezing to death. Sheepskin insoles! You can find them in any size and they will keep your feet toasty!
The Must-Have For Winter
Vintage-Inspired Faux Fur Hat Will Add Glamour to Any Outfit
The Pillbox Hat
- Cover your ears! Earmuffs appear to be the preferred choice for cold weather, for many of the vintage ladies I know. I, however, look rather terrible wearing them, so they are definitely not an option for everyone.
- Thankfully, my favourite faux fur brand, Helen Moore makes the prettiest and warmest vintage-inspired hats, scarfs and stoles!
In the picture by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a faux fur Pillbox hat and a Jet Faux Fur Vintage collar from Helen Moore.
A pretty faux fur hat, like the one I’m wearing in the pictures, will not only keep you warm but will also go with any style of outfit I can think of.
The Helen Moore Pillbox hat is suitable for every face shape and can be worn either straight or slightly tilted.
I choose the latter with all my headpieces as it’s most flattering to my rectangular face.
- The pillbox hat is not the only winter necessity I found on Helen Moore’s website.
- I like to imagine that it’s exactly the type of headpiece that Liv Taylor’s character in the film version of Onegin would wear. It’s what vintage girls’ dreams in winter are made of.
Faux Fur Collars & Stoles
- Their large selection of alluring vintage-inspired collars and shawls has left me wanting every single piece in every colour available.
- Helen Moore’s wrist warmers are my favourite winter accessory. I wear them on top of my coat’s sleeves to keep my wrists toasty. When it’s necessary for me to remove the coat, in a restaurant, for example, I put the wrist warmers on top of my jacket. It looks really beautiful!
- A faux or real fur stole is the perfect alternative or even a replacement for a hat and a scarf. A huge collar found in a lot of 1920s coats will protect the neck and head from harsh wind. I’m currently working on an idea, to make a giant, faux fur detachable collar.
When you still feel cold, despite following all my tips and suggestions, the last resort would be to buy a large piece of wool or fleece fabric and sew it into your coat. Alternatively, you can consider moving somewhere warm for the duration of the colder months.
Whichever option you choose, remember that Spring is only a few months away.
My Vintage Autumn Outfit
On this cold chilly autumn day, I opted for;
- A 1940s skirt suit made of burgundy and green wool houndstooth tweed I purchased from Bride Of The Fox. You can read more about that incredible vintage shop here!
- A 1950s hair snood is the perfect solution for keeping the vintage hairstyle intact during windy days.
- Winter bejewelled gloves from Her Curious Nature.
- Lea Wolford tights.
- Warm undergarments from an equestrian shop.
Photography; Gregory Michael King
How to dress vintage when it’s cold.
A 1950s hair snood keeps the vintage hairstyle intact regardless of the weather.
The Beauty of a Well-Tailored Coat
How to look stylish in winter! I found my dream 1930s-inspired coat for circa $92 on eBay. It’s definitely a find of the year! I’ve seen similar coats for $2500-$4000.
You Will Always Look Stylish in Winter in a Vintage Coat
A beautiful, well-cut, good-quality coat is one of the most important garments you should not feel guilty about splurging on, but as I demonstrated with my find of the year, you don’t have to break the bank in order to find one. Etsy, eBay and your local charity shop are great starting points. If, however, money is no object, take a look at my luxury coat recommendations in the, Best Coats for Autumn and Winter-Vintage style! article.
Do you see how similar the brown coat on the cover of “Przeglad Mody” is to the one I found on eBay? I dare say that the collar is virtually identical.
Vintage Cape for a Stylish Vintage Look in Winter
I simply adore capes and cloaks, and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve seen many contemporary designers copying the 1930s and 1940s styles. Some went as far back as the 19th century with their inspiration and I say, good for them!
Wearing a cape on top of a coat is an excellent idea. I’ve been collecting antique and vintage capes for years but a vintage-inspired one will also do the trick. Winter gloves and a muff are a must!
Mixing vintage fashion with contemporary designers. 1940s skirt, 1950s velvet cape, paired with faux fur hat from Helen Moore and Wolford Lea tights.
This Victorian mourning cape is made of silk and is definitely NOT a good choice for a winter stroll in the park. Instead, I wear it to the theatre.
- Velvet and silk capes are best left for spring and summer, although I do have a very thick velvet cape I wear in winter.
- A woollen cape is your best friend in winter and if you are lucky enough to find an original one from the 1940s, you won’t be disappointed. I suggest you opt for a nurse’s cape, as they are extremely warm!
Vintage Gloves-The Ultimate Accessory for Autumn and Winter
Don’t Be Afraid of a Splash of Colour!
I’m always amazed when I hear women complain about having to wear gloves in winter. And then I realize that it’s because they stick exclusively to wearing black, and that’s a mistake or at least a wasted opportunity of adding oomph to your winter ensemble. Personally, I love to play with different colours, the more shocking the better. Also, I wear gloves all year round, as I find them to be a very elegant accessory, and they are great for slowing down the ageing process of your hands.
If, however, you are not fond of gloves you can always opt for a faux fur muff to keep your hands out of cold weather harmways.
Jewellery-Not Just For The Evening
There was a time when wearing statement jewellery during the daytime was considered bad taste, but to quote my favourite American poet Dorothy Parker; “Bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika.”
I rarely leave the house without an antique or vintage brooch pinned to my coat. The bigger the costume jewellery the better. It doesn’t have to be expensive either, most of my 1940s and 1950s pieces cost $30-$60, and most importantly, their sparkle always brightens a gloomy winter day.
Style Inspiration for Your Vintage Look in Winter
When I need a little bit of inspiration in choosing my outfits, I look at my favourite paintings, mainly from the 19th century, I re-watch one of my favourite 1930s or 1940s films, or I look at pictures of some of the most exciting women of their time.
Just like Cleo de Merode (1875-1966) who was a French dancer, a muse, an icon of style, and one of the most beautiful women of her generation. She is also the inspiration behind several of my ensembles.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to imitate anyone, after all, that wouldn’t be very original, and originality is what personal style is all about. Rather, I focus on one particular detail I like, be it the colour of the fabric, I see in a painting, the type of fabric, or perhaps the shape of the sleeves.
My Tip For You!
- Start a folder on Pinterest with nothing but your favourite winter fashion in paintings, not photographs! You will be amazed after you add 20-30 pins at how much they all have in common.
- What is it you like most about them? Is it the hat or the gloves? That’s how I started my Pillbox hat obsession!
What’s Underneath Counts!
Sensual Aubade Ligne Soie d’Amour. Photography Gregory Michael King.
How to dress vintage when it’s cold.
- I can’t leave the house without a beautiful piece of lingerie or a slip regardless of how cold it is. Even if it’s on top of something warm and more practical than luxurious silk.
- If you would rather stick to cotton during the winter season, slip into something special the moment you get back home. My sexy Aubade Ligne Soie d’Amour (silk of love) set, hot chocolate and a great book always make me feel warmer and forget about the dreadful weather outside.
- To add a bit of glamour with a dash of extravagance, I highly recommend that you get yourself a pair of beautiful shoes this winter. They will go perfectly with everything but especially with silk pyjamas and a film starring Marilyn Monroe. After all, it was the platinum goddess who said,
Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world
Related: How to wear 1950s clothing in autumn!
The 1950s autumn dress.
SHOP MY FAVOURITES
The Winter Beauty Routine
A truly stylish lady knows that even the most glamorous piece of couture will not deflect from unhealthy-looking skin, so get into the habit of a daily skin routine!
I’ve recently published an article about Best Winter Skin Care Products 2023 which you should take a look at if you struggle with your skincare routine in winter.
Not so long ago, I discovered a brilliant Polish cosmetics brand Dr Irena Eris. I’ve been testing products from several of their lines; AQUALITY, CIRCALOGY, CLINIC WAY and ALGORITHM and I already have my favourites!
In the Morning
- The Radical Renewal Day Cream SPF 20 from the AQUALITY line is what I use nowadays first thing in the morning. Like all the other products from this line, it improves skin elasticity and visibly reduces wrinkles! Dr Eris is a genius in the field of cosmetology and I’m not sure exactly how she did it, but surface to say, she created a line of products that could probably replace Botox. I say probably because when it comes to ageing, it’s all about prevention.
- Dr Eris Clinic Way Ultra Sensitive Skin Anti-Ageing SPF 50 cream is what I use when it’s very sunny outside. I can tell you with all certainty that this will be my day cream in the summer!
- Currently, my No. 1 night cream that gives a Photoshop effect to the skin, is Dr Irena Eris Impressive Recovery Night Cream from the ALGORITHM line. The deep line I had between my eyebrows nearly completely disappeared! I also use the Ordinary AHA 30%+BHA 2% peeling solution twice a week so it is possible that the magical disappearance of my fine lines is the result of me using both products. One thing is for sure, the cream fills fine lines and hydrates the skin. If you were to buy one product from the ALGORITHM line that’s the one to choose.
- Let’s not forget about the eyes, after all, they are the window to the soul.
The Splendid Wrinkle Filler Eye Cream from my favourite ALGORITHM line is exactly what the name suggests. The Lipofiller reduces the appearance of already existing wrinkles around the delicate eye area and its gel-like consist
If Dr Eris brand is not available in your country, I strongly and wholeheartedly recommend Shiseido cosmetics!
My All Time Favourite Shiseido Products