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A-Z of Vintage Fashion Vintage

The A-Z of Vintage – D is for Vintage Dresses

April 20, 2023

It’s time for another A-Z of Vintage post and we’re on to the big one – dresses! If you know me in person or follow me on anything, you’ll know how much I adore dresses. They are my biggest weakness. I was always that little girl, who wore my party dresses every day. I’m no different as an adult, I love my dresses more than anything else I own. Having written this blog for a whole decade, I’ve certainly talked about dresses hundreds of times so dedicating just one post to the subject of dresses is a little overwhelming and I’m not sure where to start!

I’d love to share some of my favourite dresses from my own collection as well as talking about some of the things I have on the shop, I hope this inspires you to hunt out some lovely vintage dresses of your own and have fun, while dressing sustainably and finding your own vintage style. Grab yourself a cuppa, because this is going to be a long one!

Dresses Through the Decades

I thought a good place to start would be talking through the decades of vintage fashion. I’m starting with the 40s, because although the 20s and 30s count as vintage, I don’t really wear or sell anything from these eras so don’t have a lot to share.


I’m a big fan of classic cotton vintage dresses, which are comfortable and easy to wear. I only have a few 40s dresses in my collection, but they’d definitely fall into that category.

I absolutely loved this outfit, featuring a an original 1940s pink cotton dress, 40s Cordé handbag and my favourite Orla Kiely shoes. I love outfits that pay homage to the past, without being too authentically vintage in their styling.

I absolutely adored the print on this lovely 40s shirt dress and wore it a few times, but it was a little small so I decided to sell it a couple of years ago. I’m very glad I have a few pics wearing it though!

Another favourite 40s shirt dress. I love the unusual colour and beautiful floral print. I added a modern pink belt here, which really brings out the lovely colours in the print.

One of my absolute treasures, is this 1948 Horrockses dress with a fabulous print designed by Alistair Morton.


Who doesn’t love a gorgeous original 1950s dress! I adore the gorgeous prints, full skirts and flattering shapes. I’ve had lots of fabulous 50s dresses pass through my wardrobe over the years, here are a few of my faves.

Probably my favourite dress ever. I have such a strong attachment to this fun 50s dress. I have worn it SO many times. I adore the bright yellow leaf print and huge patch pockets. I’ll often keep dresses for a few years and then pass them on, but this one is staying with me forever. I bought this dress at The Classic Car Boot Sale, back when in it’s early days. It was love at first sight!

A little snap of my wearing it appeared in Vintage Life Magazine, spotted wearing it at another Classic Car Boot Sale!

This pretty green dress has always been a firm favourite too! Unfortunately she’s been sitting in my repair pile for some time, after I put my heel through the hem while putting laundry in the washing machine. How did those 50s housewives manage! When I finally get round to repairing her, I’ll be keeping her for best!

I bought this 1950s Berketex dress at a little vintage boutique near the seaside in East Wittering. I love the typically 50s floral painterly print, which also has little pagodas within the design.

Another dress that I will NEVER part with is this novelty fruit print dress by Swirl. I have a blog post all about this dress and a little history of the Swirl dress.

Here are some original adverts featuring Swirl dresses Images from The Vintage Traveller (used with permission)


I actually have quite a few 60s dresses in my wardrobe, but seem to have no photos of me wearing them! This one is an old favourite, that I bought at a car boot sale many years ago. She’s always been a little tight on me, but I love the fabric so much that I have to keep her in my collection. I often wonder if this is an old 50s fabric that was made into a dress in the 60s.


In recent years the 70s have become my favourite decade for fashion. I love the colours, the big sleeves and the long skirts! 70s fashion is so wearable and often very comfortable.

This dress is actually a 90s does 70s dress from Bay Trading in a fabulous Indian cotton. She ticks all the boxes with her lace detailing, full sleeves and tired skirt, in a fabulous earth toned block print pattern. As far as I can remmeber this one was a Depop purchase a few years ago. How fabulous is my 70s straw bag?! An absolute bargain for 20p at a local jumble sale!

This is one of my go-to dresses. I really love vintage polyester weaves such as crimplene, because they are easy to take care of and don’t usually need too much ironing. I’ve had this one in my wardrobe for years and although it’s needed a few repairs over time. It’s still going strong.

I bought this stunning dress on Depop a few years ago. It has the most beautiful huge sleeves and a very full maxi skirt. I just feel amazing wearing this one as all the details are so extra! The colours are just perfect for Autumn too.

Another fun 70s dress, I love the darker colours on this one and the bold floral print.


When I first started selling vintage, the 1980s got a bit of a hard wrap! Many dealers didn’t even like this decade described as vintage at all. Luckily as time has gone the 80s have become far more accepted as a great decade for vintage. Some of my most wearable pieces date from this era. I love picking up cute 80s dresses very cheaply and wearing them as easy every day pieces of my capsule wardrobe. Many styles from the era were heavily influenced by the 40s and 50s, so even if you’re not into power dressing and shoulder pads, the decade still has plenty of classic pieces to offer.

I love the 40s influence to the pretty bow print on this lovely 80s dress. I wear this one all the time. I’ve just thrown it on with a pair of trainers for a trip to the park here.

Another 80s dress from my wardrobe that gets a lot of wear. I love the simple design of this dress, but mostly I love the gorgeous colours and painterly style floral print.

Brand Spotlight – Laura Ashley

As a seller there are particular brands I try to look out for. But above and beyond all others I adore Laura Ashley. The brand produced the most beautiful dresses in a huge range of floral print. You can find really special pieces dating from the late 60s to mid 90s. Earlier pieces from the 60s and 70s with the “Made in Wales” and “Made in Carno” labels will cost the most money. And for good reason, there is nothing more beautiful than an original Laura prairie dress.

Here I’m wearing beautiful 80s-90s cotton floral dress from Laura Ashley paired with a 1950s cardigan and a pair of boots.

Here are just a few of the lovely Laura pieces that have passed through my shop over the last couple years. I think I’ve sold over 50 Laura Ashley dresses on the shop so far, which just goes to show how popular they are at the moment! I’m always on the lookout for more!

To see the full range of fabulous vintage and to shop vintage dresses, visit The Vintage Frills Shop.

For more vintage fashion inspiration check out the Fashion section of the blog, check out my vintage outfits on Instagram and to stay up to date with brand new additions to the shop follow the Vintage Frills Shop Instagram. You can also sign up to my newsletter for updates on all things Vintage Frills.

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