So what exactly is retro cute? If you’ve visited here before, then you’ve probably heard the term. But what IS retro cute? What does it mean? What is Kimba going on about?
Retro cute is my term for my style. I adore vintage glamour and shabby chic, as well as rescuing forgotten treasures, breathing new life into discarded pieces and honouring the past in my outfits, as well as in my home decor style.
Retro Cute Style
I like to wear vintage pieces, teamed with contemporary pieces, mixed with modern interpretations of vintage and retro styles in the mashup called Kimba Likes Retro Cute.
Some days it might just be a makeup look – classic red lip, liquid liner and a bold brow on velvety matte skin to add some Elizabeth Taylor glamour to an everyday jeans and cardigan outfit. Or my signature style – a vintage scarf tied as a hairbow. On other days, it might be a vintage-style dress worn with modern opaque tights in pop colours and a denim jacket.
Retro Cute works back beautifully with another of my favourite styles, Tough Pretty – where feminine juxtaposes with more edgy pieces. Think a floaty floral blouse with a leather jacket. A 50s prom dress with hi top Converse. Check out Rachel from Redcliffe Style showing off her Tough Pretty style.
Retro Cute is a mashup of styles from various eras. I cherry pick my favourites from eras from 20s flapper to 30s art deco to 40s utilitarian chic to 50s pinup glamour to 60s Mod to Jackie O glam to Mary Quant style to 70s punk and Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses to 80s power dressing and boyfriend jeans to 90s grunge.
Please note you are unlikely to see much 70s style from me. With the exception of a floppy felt hat and the classic wrap dress, which evokes a 40s silhouette. I vividly remember singing along to Blondie as a wee lass in the late 70s, but I’m more likely to sing the entire back catalogue of 60s pop classics word for word, off by heart, than ever be seen dead dancing to an ABBA song. The 70s are referenced with the quote “the decade style forgot”, and I’m happy with that sentiment!
I combine as many style eras as I fancy into one outfit, often tying it together with a colour theme. As so many style eras referenced previous eras, it works much more easily than it sounds.
Think 30s inspired sequinned butterfly shaped evening tops in the 1970s. The 80s redid the 50s – think Pretty in Pink prom style. The mules and strappy high heeled platform sandals of the late 1970s were straight from the 1940s. Just to name a few.
The outfit I wore for Fox in Flats Style Dare July’s prompt of Flashback is a perfect example of Kimba Likes Retro Cute. It featured 90s Armani crocodile flats, modern orange opaques (retro tights are itchy and badly shaped – believe me, I’ve tried them!), 60s Crimplene dress with a 50s woollen and fox fur collared coat.
I’ve accessorised with 80s does 50s enamel bow button earrings, vintage Australiana silk scarf worn as a hair bow, and vintage-style illustrated bunny brooch from The Storybook Rabbit.
The shoes and dress were thrifted from Rozelle Markets, the coat from Vinnies Gladesville, the scarf from Vinnies Rozelle, the earrings from Red Cross Rozelle, tights were purchased from Portmans and the gorgeous brooch from Finders Keepers.
Retro Cute Decor
Some of my most treasured possessions have been passed down to me from my family. As the eldest great granddaughter and granddaughter on both sides, plus the only girl in my immediate family, I’ve been entrusted with many heirlooms. Like the last rocking chair my Great Granddad ever made. The silver hand mirror my Great Gran was given when she married. The 20s style glory box my Great Granddad made for my mother as a teenager.
The trick to incorporating retro cute style into my modern terrace is to mix and match. Just like mixing high street fashion with high end fashion. I like to team a quirky vintage piece of furniture with modern decor. Like a vintage crochet blanket on a contemporary chair. A modern lamp next to an antique hallstand.
I’ve incorporated retro cute into my home in many ways. Let me share a few examples. The adorable wooden tea trolley made by my Great Grandfather serves as my desk return. His blanket box is our sofa side table, next to a modern chaise longue sectional sofa. My desk is a repurposed Singer stand with a marble slab. A vintage china bunny mug holds my toothbrush in my bathroom.
A modern interpretation of a folding vintage metal chair in aqua with a sequinned cushion positioned next to a leather magazine box. We snuggle up on the sofa with my rescued vintage Nanna crochet blankets for family movies. A modern flame red glass Jayson Brunsdon bowl has pride on place on our classic country style modern dining table made from vintage timber.
Vintage teacup sets are pressed into service as jewellery storage. Drop earrings hook over the rim and the inside keep precious (albeit not necessarily expensive) pieces safe and tangle free.
The mini chest of drawers my Great Granddad made me when I was a baby, complete with a wooden doll cot, holds more precious pieces of jewellery. The doll cot is the perfect receptacle for large folded knits that don’t fit well into drawers.
A rescued-from-the-side-of-the-road wooden cabinet Singer is the perfect place to display my Great Great Grandmother’s biscuit cutters and muffin tins, along with some vintage cotton reels. My Grandma had kept them just in case someone needed them, bless her, and was quite surprised that I planned to display them like knick knacks.
Retro Cute is my way of paying homage to the past, and adding fun elements to my daily style. Plus I can pretty much guarantee I’m not going to look like anyone else!