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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
You can recreate a disco look with a few sequins and some vintage duds.
dress up in style

Vintage store finds inspire Halloween costumes throughout the decades

Take a classier approach to Halloween

“Mad Men” style is recreated with vintage threads from Rockin’ Ruby’s Vintage Threads.
Rosie the Riveter’s 1940s style is inspired by vintage fashions from Rockin’ Ruby’s Vintage Threads for a Halloween costume.

We now live in a society where women can dress up as a “sexy cheeseburger” for Halloween and that bothers me.

It bothers Cheryl Stano, too. She owns the online vintage boutique “Rockin’ Ruby’s Vintage Threads,” where customers worldwide peruse her collection of pieces that range from the 1800s to the early 1990s. She says that vintage-inspired costumes are a fun alternative that make the wearer appear more sophisticated than an inappropriately placed bun.

“It’s more creative to do something interesting,” Stano says. “Everything you choose can be restyled with different shoes, a different jacket – remove some of the accessories and you can wear it again.”

Here are Stano’s crafty costume ideas:

The Riveting Riveter

Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon for World War II and women’s liberation, is a great costume pick when you want to get the job done right away. Most of the costume can be found in your closet and toolbox.

“All you need is a men’s shirt, some high-waist jeans rolled up to the knee, and the bandanna,” Stano says. “Haul around some kind of tool and people are going to know who you are.”

‘Career Girl’ look

Say so long to poodle skirts and bobby socks. The TV show “Mad Men” has reminded fashion designers that not every one went to the sock hop. There has been a revival of the “Career Girl” look with A-line dresses and matching jackets. Stano says the 1950s and early ’60s have a lot of costume potential.

“I have some dresses that are new but look vintage because of how they are cut. They are made to look like vintage dresses,” she says.

Stano says to accessorize with a traditional string of pearls and a hand bag. Before you think “frump,” a fitted conservative dress can be just as appealing for your shape.

“Sometimes you see them on the hanger, and it doesn’t look like anything. Then you put it on, and it’s gorgeous,” Stano says.

Model Mod

By the mid-1960s, the “Mod” subculture was in full swing, taking over the busy streets of London. The style would eventually make it stateside, bringing mini skirts and white go-go boots.

“People always do ‘go-go dancer’ mod, but you can do it in a different way – like a Twiggy-model look,” she says. “Mix and match pop colors and big, funky jewelry.”

Stano paired a mini dress with retro kitten-heel loafers. If the pixie haircut seems like a big commitment for just one night, sleek your hair back with a headband; use a hair curler for a retro flip or create a high ponytail.

Disco Damsel

Stano says that the 1970s is probably the easiest decade for costumes because of the distinct look of its subcultures.

“There are different kinds of ’70s looks: You have 1970s ‘Brady Bunch’ with its loud colors and plaid prints, the 1970s ‘flower power’ movement and there was 1970s disco. You have probably more options in the ’70s than any other.”

If you’re looking to be the life of the party, go with a jumpsuit loaded with sequin and metallic accessories from head to toe.

“I just love jumpsuits – they are fairly popular right now,” she says. “Throw on some gold, some sequins and that’s it.”