Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Granny chic

Forget about the purple rinse, mothballs and baggy hosiery; granny chic is back and with a rose-scented vengeance. For the last few years dressing like someone of pension age has made its mark as a major trend in young, edgy fashion circles, with nightclubs and cooler-than-thou hotspots of London filled with an eclectic – if not a bit shabby – mix of fashion from decades past. It’s all about dressing like you’ve raided your Nan’s wardrobe after a sherbet binge, adding a playful ladylike elegance and a touch of costume to an otherwise humdrum noughties wardrobe. Young twenty-somethings can be seen proudly in pretty floral tea dresses, fox furs, nylon stockings, fishtail pencil skirts, lace-up shoes and 1950’s box handbags, their hair wafted up into pompadours and pouts smackered with pillar box red lipstick – the perfect attire for heading down the WI for a jive masterclass or a drink at the Black Gardenia. And let’s face it, what lady doesn’t want to dress like Diana Dors circa 1958?

And the catwalks have followed suit. Old-lady friendly staples – herringbone, paisley, hairnets, pearls and knee-high socks – are everywhere. We’ve seen tweed twin-sets, cat-eye glasses and netted gloves at Luella, pastel coloured dresses and quasi-orthopedic shoes at John Galliano and Betty Jackson, the fairy god mother of whimsical grandma chic, had a collection splattered with cheery ditsy blooms, a touch of lace and 1920’s inspired accessories.

Although today it’s practically impossible to miss this thrift-chic aesthetic, vintage only really began to get style status a decade ago with Kate Moss bucking the ‘current season’ trend and dressing her supermodel self in incredible designer one-offs – a beautiful one-shoulder canary yellow frock being her first foray. And now models, actresses, musicians – girls all over the world – are all over vintage like a rash. Alexa Chung is forever adorned in her little 1940’s floral tea dresses, doily cardis and tortoiseshell spectacles, a bright coloured pop sock zipping the look back to the 21st century, while Mary-Kate Olsen, with her floor-length crushed silk and velvet dresses, fur coats, backcombed bouffant and cascades of vintage jewels is practically grandma re-incarnate.

Lorraine Candy, editor of UK Elle, is not at all surprised by this resurgence of old, seeing it as a byproduct of our current financial climate. “You could see it as a make-do-and-mend reaction to the economic crisis. Or you could see it as simply beautiful investment clothes at a time when women need some convincing to shop. Either way, vintage featured in some of the season’s best collections.”

And if you like a bit of vintage, why not try these…

1. Pin up your Victory rolls, draw on your stockings and head to East London’s air raid shelter for a 1940’s Blitz party. You’ll be swaying to the Swing music in no time. www.theblitzparty.com/

2. Head to the Prince Charles or Electric Cinema for a nostalgic film in finest monochrome or sepia. www.princecharlescinema.com/,www.electriccinema.co.uk/

3. Embark on a course of lindy hop dance lessons. Jazz shoes at the ready… www.swingdanceuk.com/

4. Take a glimpse into the fairytale life of one of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars of the 1950s at the Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A Museum. www.vam.ac.uk

5. Head to the Black Gardenia or Bourne & Hollinghurst for the finest retro tipple – Campari and orange is a must.

6. Treat your chum for afternoon tea at The Ritz. With freshly baked scones, jam and clotted cream to nibble on, ooops, there goes your 1940’s nipped-in waist in no time. www.theritzlondon.com/tea/


  1. Love me some Granny chic. I have always that some senior citizens dress incredible. If you stuck a 20-something in the same outfit everyone would say how rad they looked.

  2. Yes! And tramps too - they do the nonchalent skinny east london boy look to a tee...