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Vintage Inspired Dresses

© Flickr / Joelk75

Ready for retro? While it’s perfectly all right to be cool and contemporary on the daily, there’s nothing like the charm of a dress from a by-gone era to bring a little whimsy and romance into every day. Is it even possible to have a bad attitude when you’re wearing your favorite fanciful frock? No way. Try frowning in a pretty floral dress. Just try.

Designers are obviously onto the same concept this season, with the likes of Chanel and Chloe sending exquisite, 50’s style mid-length gossamer and poplin dresses down their Spring runways. Then there’s the mod-squad: Technicolor dream-dresses at D&G and Christian Dior, and bright minis with neck-ties and keyholes at Paul & Joe all conjure images of 60’s glamazons and their sassy, free-spirited attitude.

Ladies of the past didn’t have it any easier (hello, pre-women’s liberation era) but in their neat, colorful dresses, they sure didn’t look like they cared. Incorporate a little “old world” glamour into your summer look with these new-wave dresses, vintage-inspired but crafted from modern fibers (no nasty 70s polyester, please) in updated silhouettes.

Boutique by Jaeger, ASOS, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Anthropologie© Boutique by Jaeger, ASOS, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Anthropologie

When don’t think this stripey, sixties-style Rainbow Flower Print Dress from Boutique by Jaeger could get any sweeter, until we realized the stripes are actually impeccable rows of teeny-tiny daisies. Love the wide straps, open-back, and full, feminine skirt, too. Wear this one with ballerina flats or fresh, slim-line sneakers, Lucite bangles and a big straw hat for effortless throw-back style.

Swing towards the opposite end of the spectrum in a sleek white shift, like the ASOS Abstract Shift Dress. The style is quintessential 60s, but this super simple dress can be styled a myriad of ways. Go classic in pearls and flats, or add tall, wooden platform sandals and a low-hanging pendant necklace. Or, bring it up to speed in ultra-modern ankle booties and a cropped jacket.

Look to other decades for style inspiration, too. This Colette Floral-print Cotton Dress from Marc by Marc Jacobs is equal parts glamour and grunge. The ladylike shape is reminiscent of vintage, mid-century dresses, but the micro floral and puffy sleeves make us think of 90s art school babes, doing the dress-with-Doc-Martens thing. Reinvent that look for 2011 and pair the dress with a leather belt and suede combat-style boots – possibly in chocolate suede, or covered in silver studs. Opposites attract.

Or go full-on fifties in this darling, dotted Across the Land Dress from Anthropologie. Key-hole neckline? Check. Sky –blue silk? Check. Swooshy, swirly skirt? Check. This dress has it all, and easily does daytime with peep-toe kitten heels (or even navy-blue or bright white Keds) or nighttime with some gold button-earrings, patent leather pumps, and matte red lipstick.

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