Victorian couple at a ballNews was received via cable-gram this spring that several of you fine dandies are perplexed over what to wear to our most thrilling wedding! So what is Santa Barbara Vintage (1870 – 1910) exactly, you dare inquire? During this period, Santa Barbara was a raucous melting pot, recently discovered by pleasure-seekers and east coast elites.  Take inspiration from the Gilded Age, late Victorian and Edwardian influences, La Belle Époque, or for a more rustic twist, think old west—cowboys & vaqueros, gold seekers & gunfighters, dandies & desperadoes, with Mexican and Spanish influences.

For the gents, the male suit has not changed drastically for at least 130 years. A modern suit or tuxedo would not look out of place at a ball in 1890. Simply add a flamboyant waistcoat and a cravat or bow tie, and complete your vintage garb with a bowler, messenger or top hat (which no respectable wardrobe should be without). Feeling extra dapper? Procure a  morning coat, and accessorize with elegant gloves to set your vestment apart from the crowd. More about men’s fashion.

For the ladies, take an existing dress and simply add gloves and a sun hat and voila…you are set! Clothing and hair pieces trimmed with ruffles, lace, ribbons and feathers are back in fashion and can likely be found in your own dressing room, at a local thrift store, at your favorite general store (think Anthropologie or H&M), in a catalogue, or on Amy’s favorite website:  And I suspect that all of the fine ladies own a well-fitted blazer and blouse, which can be pared with a long skirt.  Plus, I dare to guess that you’ve always wanted a reason to purchase a spine-bending corset or mini top hat!  It’s all about the accouterments: think lace fans, gussied-up hats, satin gloves, and dainty parasols. More about women’s fashion.

Bottom line: enjoy this most delicate challenge! If your outfit isn’t historically accurate, chances are that no one will know (except us!).

To get your creative juices flowing, visit the links above for descriptions and images of period fashions; more will be added soon! We’ve also included some great resources where you can purchase clothing or accessories.  If you are currently residing in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Santa Barbara, you are in luck! Follow the links above to discover a few top notch Victorian boutiques and rental stores that are staffed by vintage fashionistas.

For all of you steampunkers (you know who you are), we can’t wait to see your finest timepieces and brass goggles.