Many years ago a designer friend explained to me that when a “retro” style is revisited something significant has been changed from the original version. This doesn’t always mean that a high–quality and classically elegant vintage piece goes out of style. It simply means that this year’s boho dress is not the same as the 1970s version.
That’s because fashion in every era reflects the times in which it’s created. For example, let’s look at these two 1970s-era fringed jackets. The first one looks like something right out of Daniel Boone’s closet.You saw a lot of them on rock ‘n roll icons of the time like Neil Young and Roger Daltry. The second one implies Native American dress. (Well, Neil has some claim to this in that he is in fact Native American.) When you think about the 1970s it was a period where a generation wanted to “get back to the land” like pioneers and as did many 1970s commune dwellers. It was also a time of awakening about the multicultural identity of the US, which explains the references in this garment to that of Native American garb.
Now let’s look at the revision of the fringed jacket, popular today. The first one has an almost minimalist vibe to it. It says “I’m hip but not a hippie.” The line and drape are less structured, more refined, and more classic in their expression of naturalism. (This particular piece actually would work well on somebody who has a lot of both the Classical and Natural style type.)
The second one is more about art than about political statement, although in its own way it is making a pretty strong statement. It implies a bold, fearless, and feminist wearer. Back in the 70s you’d typically only see this long a fringe on a man’s jacket. This girl is like the love child of those 70s parents. She’s doing it her own way—more edgy and plugged in, as is the nature of our current times. (This one works best on someone with winter’s Bold coloring and Dramatic/Theatrical style.)
This last one, from Roberto Cavalli, is the high-end of contemporary hippie chic and crosses multiple style types. Because of the lower neckline a Romantic could wear it. The color and short waist works well for a Youthful, and the fringe says Natural. But because of its somewhat other-worldliness it also has an Angelic Quality to it too.
If you’ve had something sitting in the back of your closet for a couple of decades that now seems to be back in fashion, examine it closely before you dust it off and wear it out the door. Sometimes vintage really is outdated.