Vintage Christmas Party Looks: Great Gatsby Inspiration

Fashion in the 1920s took a huge turning point. Skirts grazed the ankles and came below the knee, waistlines dropped to liberate women from discomfort, corsets were gone for good and women took opulence to a whole new level. This was a time of serious glamour, which is why we think it’s the perfect look for this year’s Christmas party season. To give you some inspiration, we’ve taken images from the 1974 movie, The Great Gatsby, starring fabulous ladies Mia Farrow and Lois Chiles.

If you love 1920s vintage, here’s how you can get that Great Gatsby glamour for your upcoming Christmas party…

Mix Diamonds and Pearls

great gatsby style

The Great Gatsby era was all about glitz and glam and there really is no holding back. Don’t feel torn between diamonds and pearls; choose both and layer on the jewels like you’re royalty. Team with a simple drop-waist dress or stylish silk slip for 1920s perfection.

Wear Head Pieces

great gatsby style

Don’t be afraid to experiment with head pieces and headwear. Go for sequins, feathers, forehead bands or sparkly hair clips. It’s all about accessorizing!

Get Signature Hair

great gatsby style

If you don’t have it, get it. Because without that Gatsby signature hair, your look is nothing in the 1920s. This stunning vintage hairstyle can be achieved with “finger wave” or “pin curl” techniques – these are long processes but definitely worth it.

Wear an Embellished Dresses

great gatsby style

Beading and embellishments were all the rage in the roaring twenties – and the more beads the better. If you’re not great at styling accessories but you want to get that Great Gatsby look, embellished dresses are a must!

Go Back to Black

great gatsby style 6

You don’t need colour to get that look-at-me glam. Black was a huge trend in the 1920s but it was far from boring. This era is all about texture and beading so go all out with your embellishments and don’t hold back on jewellery.

To get more updates on vintage fashion, sign up to the Style By Portobello newsletter now. Or register your details online for our monthly subscription box of vintage goodies, with a selection of up to 3 items delivered to your door every single month. If you don’t want to have a full subscription, you can also get a one-off box from our website. Enjoy!

SBP Team x

Ultimate Winter Glamour: Vintage Handwarmers & Muffs

vintage muffs

If you’ve never been a big fan of winter fashion, this will probably change your mind. Winter fashion leaves everything to the imagination because it’s too cold not to wrap up warm in big coats and woolly scarves. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style and glamour. There are still so many accessories you can work with to make your winter outerwear look wonderfully chic and seductive. From fur hats and luxury stoles to signature earrings and hair accessories, there’s so much diversity in the winter wardrobe. Especially with vintage items!

If you’re looking for the ultimate in vintage glamour, we definitely recommend a vintage handwarmer or muff. It was a favourite winter accessory for so many female icons from decades passed, including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Joan Crawford.

vintage fur muffs

But the vintage muff / handwarmer came about long before these TV stars graced our screens; the first ever muffs were created back in the 1400s (Renaissance period) so they’ve always had their place in history for the aristocracy. In 1670, in the Stuart Period, muffs and handwarmers were introduced to middleclass Britain by the Hudson Bay Company. They were soon popularised for women everywhere and fashion hasn’t looked back since.

doris nolan

Actress Doris Nolan was styled with a vintage fur muff and simple black ensemble in the 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story. Teamed with fabulous pearls, this look is extremely sophisticated and ladylike. Ideal for just about any occasion.

vintage fur muff

Marilyn Monroe turned up the heat in the 60s by teaming together an oversized fur stole and fur handwarmer with an evening gown. This is the perfect black tie / formal dinner combo .

marilyn monroe muff

Marilyn also sported a more daytime friendly look with a modest day dress and a leopard print muff.

These looks are all truly fabulous if you are looking for ways to keep warm and stay stylish this winter, and a vintage fur muff is ideal for both day and evening attire. Generally, vintage fur (faux and real) keep quite well and are often very well looked after when being passed down through the generations – but just be sure to check for marks, smells or other damage before you commit to buying.

For more tips and inspiration on vintage fashion and vintage shopping, sign up to the Style By Portobello monthly newsletter.

SBP Team x

Christmas Party Season: How to Inject 80s Bling into Your Party Outfit

80s bling

The Christmas party season is so exciting; it’s the one thing that keeps us in high spirits despite the gloomy mornings, dark nights and drizzly weather. (That, and the knowledge that Christmas Day will be bring turkey ‘n’ sprouts aplenty, all the Christmas cake one can desire, and an endless supply of spiced mulled wine.) If like us, you’re counting down the days and filling your afternoons and lunch breaks with party dress shopping then you’re going to love our little ode to 80s bling. Every A/W brings a flurry of sparkle and sequins but we like to take it back to where it all began; the 80s! If you want to inject some 80s inspired bling into your Christmas party outfit this year, here’s how…

Go Crazy for Glitter

80s makeup

Don’t hold back on the glitter this A/W. There are so many vintage items (including dresses, shoes, jackets and bags) which have been blinged to the max with embellishments. If you can’t find any glittery accessories to make your party dress pop, use loose glitter to add drama to your eye and lip makeup.

Opt for Bold Metallic Accessories

80s accessories

If sequins and glitter isn’t really ‘your thing’, a great way of getting that 80s bling look is to go for smooth, reflective metallics. Go for mirrored court heels or a gold crackle effect on your clutch bag; there are so many alternatives to glitter.

All Gold Everything 

80s gold

If you’re after that go-all-out Studio 54 esque look for your Christmas party outfit, opt for a head to toe gold dress or jumpsuit. This look is so unapologetically blingy and it’s reminiscent of the wild, hedonistic New York clubbing period of the late 70s and early 80s.

Team Shoulder Pads with Gold Jewellery 

80s shoulder pads

If you don’t want to go too heavy on the metallics, we recommend shoulder pads, killer heels and some statement gold jewellery pieces. This look is tres Joan Collins / independent woman / power dressing; just team together black and gold to achieve a slicker version of the 80s bling style.

Style Your LBD with an Embellished Jacket


For those who can’t seem to tear themselves away from their little black dress (why mess with a winning formula, right?), an embellished jacket is a great way of turning an ordinary LBD into a Christmas party sensation. These jackets are true show stoppers and will sure to turn some heads.

If you love vintage fashion as much as we do, why not sign up to our Style By Portobello newsletter for all the latest vintage gossip. And to get one of a kind vintage bags, scarves, belts, jewellery and accessories delivered to your door each month (or as a one off gift), register for the Style By Portobello subscription now.

SBP Team x

The Vintage Scarf: Christmas Gift Buying Guide


A vintage scarf makes a great investment piece, especially if you have a penchant for quality wool, silks or cashmere. They also make fantastic gifts for a loved one too; but when it comes to shopping for vintage accessories, there are a few things you may need to bear in mind. The beauty of shopping for vintage pieces is that you will find one of a kind designs and items of amazing quality; the downside is that things won’t always be in great condition. But that’s all a part of the whole vintage shopping experience, right?

If you’re looking for a good quality vintage scarf, here is a quick buying guide to help you find the perfect Christmas presents.

1. Brush Up on Different Vintage Scarf Styles

Understanding the styles from each decade is the first step. Believe it or not, even scarves have huge variations from decade to decade and there are so many looks / trends to consider. The 1920s was a time of stunning silks and satins whilst the 1960s was a time of Mod vs. Rocker fashion. And just remember, the older the scarf dates back, the more chance of imperfections; so always be sure to check for wear and tear before you buy.

vintage scarf buying guide

2. Consider Designer Classics

A typical Burberry cashmere scarf (new) goes for over £300 today, which can seem quite a stretch for an accessory. Shopping vintage sometimes means that you get to pick up some serious designer bargains; what’s even better is that your piece will be unique and no-one else will be able to find your scarf on today’s high street. So consider looking for some classic designers; whether it be the iconic camel plaid Burberry from the 1960s, Jacqmar scarves made during the Second World War, or the classic paisley Dior scarves of the 1950s.

3. Consider the Material

Being aware of vintage scarves and their materials not only helps you determine quality and pricing, but it will also help you understand styling practices and the best fabric care. For instance, genuine Hermes scarves are made from hand-rolled silk so they will crease when you fold them (but can be gently ironed out), making them harder to style for daily use whilst nylon scarves can go into any fold/shape without creasing.

hermes 1930s

4. Check the Scarf for Imperfections

When it comes to buying vintage scarves, we like to conduct a bit of a three point check. Firstly check for holes, rips or general wear and tear (this includes snags or pulls, secondly check for stains or dirt, and lastly remember to hold the scarf up to the light to see if there’s anything you might have missed (including sun damage and fading). After doing the three point check, look at the material to consider how you might be able to mend/clean the scarf if need be.

5. Look for Care Instructions

If you’re lucky, you might be able to pick up a vintage piece which hasn’t been worn or used. But if your vintage scarf has been worn before, it’s very likely that labels and care instructions have been removed. If there are no instructions, always be careful with how you clean your fabric. Just remember that although most silks (especially older vintage) can be put in the washing machine, some are dry clean only – and don’t forget that nylon scarves shouldn’t be ironed with a high heat. If in doubt, take your scarf to the dry cleaners!

Fave Vintage Style Bloggers: Interview with Amelia from Heart Shaped Rose

We think that Amelia Breading is a bit of a young superwoman in the making. At just 21, she’s on her way to becoming a Speech and Language Therapist (currently in her 4th year at university), she’s a successful style blogger (and has been blogging since last year), and she’s something of a fashion icon too in the Style By Portobello office. We love her sense of style and the way she fuses together vintage pieces with high street, and she quickly became one of our favourite bloggers after styling some ‘Bello box vintage pieces on her website.

If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Amelia’s super cool blog, Heart Shaped Rose. Or read on to see what she had to say during our interview with her…

Q1. When did you start taking an interest in vintage fashion?

Since I was about 16 (I’m now 21). When I was younger, I only ever wanted to wear things that were brand new, because I was worried about what other people would say if I had clothing on from a charity shop or vintage store; but I think attitudes towards vintage clothing have really changed in recent years! Now I couldn’t care less what anybody has to say. I wear what I like and I love what I wear! I just get so much more joy out of vintage items as you know that what you’re wearing has been pre-loved by somebody else! I also love the fact that rather than clothing going to waste, it’s being reused or upcycled.

(Above: belt and scarf from Style By Portobello)

Q2. We love your style! What are your tips for mixing vintage and high street together?

I think the best way to mix vintage and high street is to have key vintage pieces such as a belt or a bag that you can use with multiple high street outfits to give it a bit of an edge! It’s a really easy way to incorporate vintage pieces into your wardrobe.

Q3. What are your best tips for shopping vintage?

Definitely go to London! There is such a variety of vintage shops, that you could easily spend a whole day vintage searching! Also I would say don’t be afraid to search in charity shops. You never know if you’re going to find something decent or not,  but I have found some amazing vintage pieces in charity shops before – for ridiculously cheap prices! Oh yeah and make sure you try things on, because sizing can vary greatly between different items and decades!

Q4. What are your AW15 style tips for our readers?

For me, I think that a pair of thigh high boots are an AW15 essential! I know that thigh highs emerged last year, but they’re still a major trend for this season. I literally wear my thigh high boots with everything! Browns and oranges are key colours for this season, but for me it’s important to have a varied colour palette all year round, so if you’re getting bored of seeing the same old stuff in high street stores (which I find happens a lot) then it might be worth taking a trip to a vintage shop!

Thanks so much to the fabulous Amelia for answering our questions about vintage styling. You can follow her on Instagram or Lookbook, and if you would like to receive vintage accessories like Amelia did in her vintage subscription box, make sure you sign up to Style By Portobello now.

We now offer one-off vintage boxes, which are perfect as Christmas gifts or just as a treat for yourself.

SBP Team x

The Vintage Party Clutch: Christmas Clutch Bag Inspiration

And so the Christmas party season is upon us…..colleges and universities are already planning their Christmas balls and workplaces across the country are already booking in their office Christmas parties. But that really is just the start, right? Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and NYE are the main events in the Christmas party calender and no doubt, there will be celebrations-a-plenty in between. So when it comes to perfecting that Christmas party season wardrobe, we have one trick up our sleeves which could make outfit building a doddle.

Vintage clutch bags are a party season must-have and once you have one of these beauties, it should see you through the entire Christmas party period. If you need a little vintage clutch bag inspiration, take a look at some of these amazing clutch bag styles that you just have to look out for the next time you’re shopping for vintage. Or for your chance of getting a one of a kind vintage bag from the iconic Portobello Road in London, sign up to our vintage style subscription now.

The 1950s Lucite Clutch Bag 

Lucite and bakelite bags don’t come cheap. In fact, these bags are real finds and if you get your hands on one, don’t let it out of your sight. This style of vintage clutch bag works amazingly well with plain and simple party dresses; because sweetie, it’s all about the bag!

Style with: Your best LBD or a simple yet show-stopping maxi! 

The 1930s Art Deco Clutch

art deco clutch

Art deco is one of the finest artistic movements of the late 1920s / 1930s and although it has an air of elegance about it, there’s also an element of masculinity too. Perhaps this goes hand in hand with women wearing drop waistlines, ankle grazing skirts and bob hairstyles to liberate themselves from the fashion back in the early 20th Century.

Style with: a structured dress or a tuxedo jacket + jeans + killer heels for an edgy party look! 

The Flapper Clutch Bag

Think beading. More beading. And even more beading. Add some pearls, feathers and fringing and there you have it; the 1920s flapper clutch bag. This style of vintage clutch bag is the perfect partner in crime for the vampy red lipstick, making it ideal for Christmas parties or New Year’s Eve cocktails.

Style with: a luxurious silk dress, red lippy and go all out with plenty of sparkly jewellery. 

The Studio 54 Clutch Bag

This style of clutch bag is DR-IPPING in gold and it’s not even apologetic about its ostentation; the days of Studio 54 in the late 70s / early 80s were all about hedonistic fashion and plenty of fun to go with it. This vintage YSL clutch bag is the perfect example of Studio 54 style and it’s a show-stopping piece for anyone who likes to party until the early hours of the morning.

Style with: a seductive jumpsuit (preferably gold), metallic gold heels and dazzling makeup colours that scream “look at me”. 

So here are four styles of vintage statement clutch bags that could transform your Christmas party wardrobe this year. If you’re in love with vintage accessories and want a chance of getting a clutch bag or other pieces sourced from the famous Portobello Road, make sure you sign up for the Style By Portobello subscription today.

We also have a one off box available to order; a perfect treat for yourself or a Christmas gift for someone you love!

SBP Team x

Vintage Designer Focus: Mary Quant

mary quant 1960s

When you think of people who changed the course of history, you may think of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Marie Curie, maybe even Princess Diana or President Obama. But who would you think of if we were to say “the course of fashion history”? A few names would spring to mind; Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, perhaps even Christian Louboutin or the Blahnik family. But in our hearts, there’s only one lady who reigns true as the leading gamechanger in fashion. And that has to be the one and only Mary Quant! Coco Chanel and Christian Dior may have changed fashion attitudes and shaped the industry, but Mary Quant gave women liberation. And freedom of expression.


Mary Quant – now Dame Mary Quant – was an instrumental figure in the 60s. She was at the forefront of the Mod and youth fashion movements of that decade. But what we remember her for is much more than just a trend of that time; we have Mary Quant to thank for the mini skirt. The mini skirt is one of the most iconic garments of the last century, not only because it’s a wardrobe staple for every woman in the world, but also because it changed the way that women felt about fashion forever.

The mini skirt and mini dresses of the 1960s were liberating and fun. It gave women an empowering feeling of freedom and we could finally express ourselves without the social restrictions which were still very apparent in the 40s and 50s.

The 1920s saw skirts and dresses dusting the ankle and below the knee, and women started to cut their hair short, ditching corsets for loose and comfortable fabrics. The 20s was a huge turning point for women’s fashion. And although there were many changes throughout the 30s, 40s and 50s, it wasn’t until Mary Quant’s launch of the miniskirt in the 60s that female fashion turned a real corner.

mary quant 1960s

Mary’s dream was simple. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to objectify women or turn female sexuality into a fashion statement. She simply wanted to create something fun and free, which allowed women to run for the bus.

But Mary insisted that she didn’t create the mini skirt alone: “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.’”

mary quant award 1960s

She taught us that fashion isn’t frivolous, she taught us that fashion should be fun and personal to each person, she taught us that we should feel free to be comfortable always, that we should always be able to run for a bus. And she taught us, that in fashion or not, every single one of us should wear exactly what we feel like wearing – and do what we feel like doing.

Thank you Mary Quant for the miniskirt. And also the life advice. What a vintage icon!

If you love vintage fashion as much as we do, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and check out our vintage subscription (just in time for Christmas!).

SBP Team x


Vintage Waistcoats: The Unsung Hero of Vintage Fashion

Vintage waistcoats are perfect for the AW season because they make the ideal items for layering. And when it comes to nippy weather, it’s important for all fashionistas to master the art of layering. As the autumn leaves come tumbling down on our beautiful Portobello Road and the rest of the UK, we’re starting to search the vintage stalls and shops for winter-worthy pieces that can keep us both warm and stylish. And we think we’ve found the unsung hero of vintage fashion; this week, our #vintagefind is the stylish vintage waistcoat.

The waistcoat is a timeless and genderless classic. It knows no gender, it knows no age, and it knows no discrimination against body shape. Because the faithful waistcoat can be worn by everyone. Women look just as great in waistcoats as men and they look ultra-chic with a pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots. The waistcoat also meshes perfectly with different trends and it is not restricted to seasons – so you can layer up with shirts and knits in the winter and wear on its own in the summer. It’s just so versatile!

If you’re looking for the perfect AW15 vintage purchase, don’t overlook the vintage waistcoat. If you need some styling ideas, here are some moodboards to help inspire your next shopping trip…

The Tweed Waistcoat

how to wear vintage waistcoat

This country-inspired look is quintessentially British and we love it. It’s perfect for teaming with skinny jeans and some killer heels for that day-to-night look.

The Tuxedo Waistcoat

how to wear vintage waistcoat

This look is all about androgyny and it’s very empowering. A vintage tux waistcoat is a great way of layering up a simple LBD for added edge. Or team with tailored trousers and court shoes for some 80s power-dressing. #girlpower

The Casual Waistcoat

how to wear vintage waistcoat

Vintage waistcoats come in so many different fabrics and styles so if you’re looking for a more casual look for the weekend, lookout for 60s knitted waistcoats, 70s suede waistcoats or 80s denim numbers.