My top 5 vintage style life hacks

If all has gone to plan, I am currently sunning myself in the south of France and this has posted in my absence… I was too impatient to wait to share this one!
Over the years, I’ve come to accept that wanting to look the way I do often throws up the same handful of tiny, but nonetheless irritating problems, such as ‘Oh, I’ve drawn my eyeliner wing at an 80 degree angle on one eye, but a 30 degree on the other, making me look like a Picasso’ or ‘Ah, I’ve once again created ‘scraggly birds nest’ and not ‘Veronica Lake’ with my curling tongs’. I’ve come to realise that I’m probably sharing the same frustrations about things just not looking right with many others and while I think there’s probably enough eyeliner and curling tong tutorials in the world out there (that I’m clearly ignoring), I have picked up a few other tricks that I thought might be worth sharing, particularly when dressing vintage.
So here’s some of my favourite vintage style life hacks! Note I hate that term (‘hack’ is such an ugly word and what does ‘life hack’ even mean?), but nothing else seemed as appropriate…

Tame a wayward waist belt with a hair band
Tuck the end of a waist belt with a clear hair band
Everyone wants an hourglass shape – but I often think none more so than those of us trying to emulate 50s styles. Key to this outline of perfection can be a trusty waist belt, but sometimes they’re not so much trusty, as downright pesky. Particularly if they’re of the hip-or-waist belt variety that a lot of high street shops are trying to convince us are a good idea now. They would be if it wasn’t for the fact if you put something on a tight hole you end up with a lot of belt on the other end of your buckle. And if you don’t have a loop, it’s a lot of belt flapping around and generally looking all untidy and ruining everything. There’s a simple and cheap solution – buy a bag of clear plastic hairbands (‘snaggies’) and use them as a makeshift beltloop. Believe me, taping the underside doesn’t work – it peels right off. But these – these work. From a distance I would bet no one even notices it…
Waist belt with hair band loop

Keep your shoes (and hair!) on with doctored half heel inserts
Trimming a leather heel insert to help keep shoes on


A little while back, I posted about my annoying feet that slip out of all shoes over on Amber’s Shoeperwoman blog. While my feet are especially narrow, I know even those of us with less troublesome tootsies can have this issue too, particularly if you’re wearing a lot of court shoes or ballet pumps, as us vintage-loving girls often do. I mentioned this idea of cutting up a heel insert in that post and the commenters reacted like it was the best thing they’d ever heard, so here goes nothing… You know those leather inserts that are really sticky and everything, but they’ve got an awkward ridge that just pushes your foot further into a shoe so your heel has even more chance of falling out? Cut them above the ridge (make sure the paper is still on or it will be too sticky and your scissors will get stuck), so the ridge is at the top of the insert and therefore the heel of your shoe when you stick it in. You’ll hopefully find there’s now something raised trying to stop your foot slipping out (just make sure you leave the insert to set as the pack directs). Combine this with half sole inserts and you might find that pair of shoes just about stays on.
Trimmed leather heel inserts to help shoes stay on
Curl your ponytail the easy way
How to curl your ponytail with hot rollers
I’ve already mentioned I am useless with curling tongs; I frazzle the ends of my hair and can’t seem to create uniform curls no matter what I do. I’m also baffled by pin curling, sponge rollers or anything else that requires patience and overnight setting. It’s probably partly because I have very long hair which isn’t very well suited to these things as it never. dries. This is a conundrum, as I love the look of a cute, curly ponytail. Eventually, a tool in my beauty arsenal presented a solution – hot rollers! And the trick is to curl the pony once it’s already in place, so you’ve got a nice smooth base on your head and the curl is all in the tail where it’s easier to control. It’s taken me a few goes to get the hang of placing the rollers to get the curl I want, but essentially I roll them in roughly horizontally as per the above, tending to use medium curlers on long strands of hair and big ones on anything that’s shorter (because of layers or where it just happens inexplicably). I avoid the small ones as they give too much curl for this really. You can whack them in in 5 mins, leave them to set for 20, take them out then brush the curls together and voila! A curly ponytail. Tuck any loose bits underneath the pony, spray in place and you’re done. This is so much easier than trying to tong hair that’s all sitting on the back of your head!
50s ponytail curled with hot rollers
Smooth out a wobbly waistline with a long cincher
Smooth your waistline with Rago Waist Cincher 21
This tip is especially useful if you wear wiggle styles, separates with fitted waistbands and/or strapless bras with excruciatingly tight bands as per the above example. Unless you’re in the gym most days or are naturally tiny-waisted, chances are that clinging anything to your waist might make you feel self conscious of it not being defined as it could be or the fact it’s attractively spilling over a waistband. I’m a size UK 8-10, which is by most people’s standards pretty slim, and yet I get a sizeable muffin top as I’m demonstrating here (ugh, can’t believe the internet is seeing that!). Step up the most glorious piece of shapewear to ever come into my life: the Rago (Waist Cincher 21). I’ve tried a lot of shapewear to combat this problem and this is so far the only thing I’d rate. They key to its success for me: 1) it’s not too severely tight and uncomfortable, as it will shrink your waist by 1-2 inches max 2) it finishes roughly where your bra band is, skimming over all of the bits where we have excess flesh meaning nothing can spill over the top and 3) it doesn’t move. So the result is a more defined waist, no overspill and a smooth outline that looks great in vintage styles (even with the strapless bra doing its best to push everything south). Added bonus: removable suspenders.
Waist with Rago Waist Cincher 21 on
Get a vintage hair roll in a minute
Create a quick faux victory roll
This is slightly cheating as I’ve already posted a whole tutorial on this, but it’s still one of the quickest, easiest things I do that adds a vintage touch to my look without the lengthy faff of victory rolls. It honestly now takes me about a minute to do this. It can also be adapted to create two rolls on either side of your head, using the same basic principles of minimal back combing for hold and shape, then twisting and pinning into position. So please go watch it – if only to validate the hours it took to put it together πŸ˜‰
An easy faux victory roll
So there you have it, some of my favourite style tricks, which while simple, have in some cases saved hours of my life or the life of clothes that would otherwise have ended up in the bin!


  1. June 23, 2015 / 12:04 pm

    Aw I hope you're having a lovely time in France!! I feel honoured that I got a blog comment whilst you are abroad, but you really should be off-line and enjoying all that French wine and cheese. Mm.

    These are great tips, and I really need one of those cincher things (looking back at a few wiggle dress pics there are some funny shapes going on…!). Your muffin top is very small and adorable, but I still appreciate that it's hard to share those kind of pics with the world.

    Looking forward to seeing the holiday snaps on your return! xx

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:46 am

      Ha, I actually get more stressed if I don't keep up with blogs while I'm away – it's bad enough coming back to over 500 emails at work! It's been good to read them in the breaks I'm back at the apartment between jaunts out πŸ™‚

      I love love love my Rago cincher – highly recommend it! I'm flattered you think that muffin top is small as I feel like it's a giant monster πŸ˜€

      Holiday snaps are comin'… xx

  2. June 23, 2015 / 12:58 pm

    Oh do I deplore the muffin top that hangs over our retro skirts! I've got what I call wings (hahaha) and have been looking for an easy solution to cover them up when wearing separates or clingy tops. I've been trying some longline bras and they work OK but not as well as I hoped. While I am not a corset kind of gal, maybe the Rago you suggested is worth a try!

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:48 am

      I think it would definitely help because of how high up the body it finishes – if you paired it with a longline bra too, they should be a formidable team! (Indeed, my only hesitation on the sole Rago front is that I am petite so my torso may be smaller than yours, so I wouldn't want to flat out say it'll fix the problem just in case!)

  3. June 23, 2015 / 4:31 pm

    I used to have the same problem with overnight sets as you (when my hair was long). It took me a long time to learn but they key for me was to dry my hair with a hairdryer first and then spray each section individually very slightly damp with a spray bottle. You might have better success using this method πŸ™‚

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:49 am

      Funnily enough, I had just tried this technique of spritzing with some water on each lock before I curled it with foam rollers and left it overnight and it definitely worked, but my problem now is that I can't get the curls to come out in any kind of 'neat', deliberate way no matter how hard I try. And I don't try very hard, admittedly, as putting those rollers in takes me so long right now!!

  4. June 23, 2015 / 5:14 pm

    Fantastic tips!!! I do the hair elastic (or less commonly, a bobby pin) on my belts, too. I didn't know that others did it as well. So cool! πŸ™‚

    Thank you for sharing these gems with us, sweet dear. I hope that you're having a fantastic holiday.

    Big hugs,
    β™₯ Jessica

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:50 am

      I'd be worried the bobby pin would leave a dent, but the elastic trick seems to work so well I'll probably stick with it! Of course you were already smart enough to figure that one out, Jessica – this is why you're a vintage style guru πŸ˜‰ x

  5. June 23, 2015 / 6:39 pm

    Hope you having fun in the sun. I love this post, I'm going to try every one of them! Now to go buy hot rollers, shape wear and hair bands…..

    Kariss x

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:51 am

      I should have put a warning that this post might empty your bank account up top πŸ˜‰ The hot rollers might take a few tricks to get right, but the Rago is an instant win so if you can only buy one, that's my tip… πŸ™‚ x

  6. June 24, 2015 / 1:39 am

    These are some PERFECT tips! I will definitely use that belt tip!

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:51 am

      Glad you like them – and the belt tip felt so obvious I worried about even including it here, so I'm glad it was useful!!

  7. June 24, 2015 / 5:38 am

    These are all super great tips! I love the first one a lot because I think I have this problem a lot. And it totally works too! At first when I was reading it, I was so confused what the actual tip was because I could not see the hair tie at all! And then when I did see it, I was in such awe. Yay! Thank you for solving this problems for me-you're a genius πŸ™‚
    Olivia | Her Name Was Celebration

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:52 am

      Hooray, I love helping πŸ™‚

  8. June 24, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the useful tips! I do the hair bend thing too πŸ™‚
    Oh, and I recently ordered that Rago waist cincher from Modcloth (it's on sale now), and worried about it's effectiveness- so thanks for showing it in action.
    I like those useful tutorial posts you publish lately (although the outfit posts are wonderful as well) πŸ˜‰

    (from A Golden Picnic)

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:53 am

      I don't think you'll regret the Rago purchase – I honestly find myself reaching for it so much now!

      Glad you're enjoying the tutorial type posts – they can take a lot of time and effort and I don't feel an 'expert' in much so I can't come up with them that often… hence it makes me really happy when people like them πŸ™‚

  9. June 24, 2015 / 3:32 pm

    These tips are great! I also use a bobble on my belt, that flap is annoying otherwise! Court shoes are a nightmare, always falling off my feet so I will definitely try the insoles! X

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:54 am

      It's worth a go – and if you team the cut up insert with half insoles you might be in luck…

  10. June 24, 2015 / 5:00 pm

    Fantastic tips. Very useful list. I think I need to invest in the waist clincher for sure. Thank you so much!

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:55 am

      No problem! I think the cincher is great if, like me, you're not really the kind of person to wear a full out corset under clothes… It's really not that uncomfortable – I actually find it helps my back with posture!

  11. June 24, 2015 / 6:21 pm

    These were great tips! Will be sharing this : )


  12. June 24, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    I love all these little tips and tidbits! I will absolutely have to try the clear hair ties on my belts. As it is, I usually end up doing some kind of funky knot with them, which tends to mess up the belts. I'm also going to have to give the shoe inserts trick a try. Thank you for sharing these!

    • June 26, 2015 / 6:57 am

      Exactly – I tried folding the ends and all sorts but the belts just end up ruined :S The shoe inserts with half insoles aren't going to be a magic fix if the shoes are just too big, but if it's just a bit of slippage they can really help!

  13. June 25, 2015 / 4:01 am

    Great ideas, the clear hair tie on the belt would be very handy!! x

  14. June 25, 2015 / 11:43 pm

    Oh… my… goodness! Using those small clear plastic hair ties on the belt is the best idea ever! I can't believe I never thought of that. I have this belt that is too long so I never wear it but now I definitely will be! Thanks for the tip!


    • June 26, 2015 / 6:58 am

      As I've said above, the clear hair tie thing seemed too obvious to mention, but I'm glad it wasn't and that people have found it helpful!

  15. June 26, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    These were great!! And as mentioned, the clear hairband…genius!!

    • June 28, 2015 / 7:48 am

      Thank you! And glad to be useful even when I'm lazing about in sunshine πŸ˜‰

  16. June 28, 2015 / 5:36 am

    Loved all of these tips and definitely will be using them! Well, with the exception of hot rollers in my pony tail… My hair isn't long enough for that! πŸ˜› ❀

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • June 28, 2015 / 7:48 am

      Yes, that could be tricky! I probably should have mentioned it works best on longer hair… x

  17. July 11, 2015 / 9:16 pm

    Hope you had a fabulous holiday. The curly pony tail tip is just genius, I would never have thought of that. Better be getting me a waist cincher too!

    • July 12, 2015 / 6:43 am

      I love the security of the waist cincher – knowing I have it to fix those muffin tops is reassuring!

  18. March 20, 2016 / 3:59 pm

    Your sense of style is really good. Great tips πŸ™‚

  19. August 3, 2016 / 12:36 pm

    I came to read this after you mentioned this in your other blog post and I'm so happy I did πŸ™‚ I find that first tip very useful and also the hair tip, since I'm terrible at styling my hair. I also have the exact same Rago waist cincher and it's my absolute favorite. I have a one size too small (26" on my 28" waist) and it's perfect!

    • August 3, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      I'm really pleased to see it get some late love – I spent a long while putting it together and was quite pleased I was being useful πŸ˜‰ Agreed on that Rago cincher – it's the best!

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