Fashion Rockabilly

VLV Fashion Week: What Not-To-Wear

9:01 AMDollie DeVille

For my first post of the Viva Las Vegas Fashion Week series, I wanted to cover what NOT to wear before we get into the "what to wear" portion. I wanted to include pictures to illustrate my point, like they do in Cosmo with the bar over the face, but I thought that wouldn't be very nice. So instead I tried to include pictures of my fashion mishaps at past Vivas.

At Viva Las Vegas you want to look your best. You also want to stand out. This is hard when there are 5,000 (give or take) other girls trying to look their best and stand out too. You don’t really want to be seen wearing the same thing as someone else, but how can you not, with so many other girls there? Especially since there are only so many clothing options out there. So, you can’t be 100% unique all the time. But you can look your best, and try to stand out from the crowd. But, we want to stand out in a good way, not a bad way. So, for all you VLV first timers, you can start by not making these common mistakes made by plenty before you.

If you go the reproduction route, be prepared to be wearing the exact same outfit as someone else at one point or another. You think that amazing new Stop Staring dress from the 2011 spring collection with be a hit… will be….on the 12 other girls wearing it. You may think you can accessories it, and make it look different, right? Not really, you can only change it up so much, and mass produced shoes and jewelry have the exact same problem.

This was my Saturday night outfit for my first VLV. It is a reproduction dress from a popular rockabilly/pinup clothing website (still being sold today). A ton of other girls had this same dress, and most of them looked better in it. I am sure that I could have accessorized it better, but it would have been like polishing a turd. Looking back, I would never wear this now, but at the time I thought it was great. I am sure Zack would say the same thing-He would never be caught at VLV in that outfit again! Since I can't take this outfit back, I hope to teach others so they can learn from my mistakes.

You might think that I am going to preach vintage, and say that it is the only way to stand out. But really, vintage has the same problems. At Rhythm Rocker Weekend I wore a pake muu, thinking I would stand out for sure. In reality, that ended up being the most common outfit Saturday night, seen on at least 15 other girls (which was a ton for the size of that event, and we were all in the same room). At least we all had unique prints, because they were vintage. It ended up being really funny, and a good photo op, but if they were all the exact same dress, I would have wanted to hide under a rock. This year at Viva I am planning to wear gold lame pants, a black strapless top and black pollys. How many other people do you think I will see wearing that exact same outfit over the weekend? Probably 25-50. They will all be slightly different because they are vintage, but to the untrained eye, it is the exact same outfit! So, girls, it cannot be avoided at an event this large. The best you can hope for is to be the best “you” you can be and strut what your mama gave you.

This was my Saturday car show outfit at my first VLV. It was my first vintage dress, and I still love it to this day. This outfit was my best outfit of the trip, so why is this outfit listed in the What Not To Wear post? Because  I paid WAY too much for this dress. I got caught up in the pre-VLV Ebay bidding frenzy with someone from Japan, and I ended up winning this dress, but at a cost of about $125. $125, for a cotton day dress?!? What was I thinking? I guess I just didn't know what vintage should cost at that point, and I got a crazy bidding finger on Ebay. At that time I was a broke kid, so this was a fortune to me. I was only bringing about $300 dollars to Viva this year, so in retrospect should have saved that $125 to buy two or three dresses like this from the vendors.  Also, I wore these ridiculously high and uncomfortable wedges to the car show, and a scratchy petticoat, so I was uncomfortable the whole time!

Don’t wear “I Love Lucy” polka dots, cherries, dice, flames, etc. It’s just cheesy. I know a lot of people wear them, but you don’t have to! There are so many better options out there. Gingham is one. You can find black and white gingham clothing all over, and it will be a lot more classic than cherries, dice, flames, etc. I will talk more about better options in the next post.

Me, at my first VLV, wearing a dice circle skirt, fishnets and maryjane flats by Punkrose.
See, even I made these mistakes!

Ladies, wear clothing please, not undergarments that belong under clothing. I don’t want to see women out at the car show in bras and undies, please! It really is not becoming of you. If you are single, then you are not attracting the kind of men you would want to. If you are taken, then I guarantee that the man in your life doesn’t want other men ogling you in your skivvies in broad daylight. Somehow it is different to see you half naked spread eagle on a hot rod in real life then it is in pictures. Maybe it is just me. So just to recap, a longline bra is not a top, it is a bra, meant to be worn under a top. A petticoat is something you wear under a skirt, and not a skirt itself. Undies (full butt, granny style) are best shown only in a peek under a twirling skirt on the dance floor. Ditto with garters. That is very sexy, but anything more is borderline offensive. If you want to have a sexy daytime car show look, go with a short playsuit: its classic, flirty and fun! If you really just want to show off your rockin’ bod, wear a bikini.

Also, no Halloween costumes as outfits, please. I know you think you will stand out in that sailor outfit, but their will be tons of other girls in the same thing. So, if you do, make sure you look better than anyone else in it. I would recommended doing an interpretation of a costume, more as a real life outfit. For example: I am going to wear a vintage sailor print novelty bra top with deadstock navy high waist shorts and red, white and blue accessories. It’s sailor outfit, but not a costume, see? The same thing goes for the poodle skirt you found at the costume shop last Halloween. In my opinion, just leave it at home.

I always say, at VLV, you can not be unique enough, and you can never be over dressed.

Me at my first VLV, wearing a black and white stripe top, cuffed jeans and a pony tail. I felt very

I know we all had fashion mistakes in our past-tell me yours via comment or your own blog post with pics!


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  1. First off, I love you as a blond so much more than darker.

    Playing devil's advocate in that last comment - I would rather hang out with someone who's in a striped shirt, jeans, and who's friendly and having a good time, than someone in all vintage who's giving off that "holier than thou" attitude.

    I'm going to say your best accessory is a positive, friendly attitude!

    My don'ts:

    1. Not wearing sunscreen at the carshow. DO IT. If you don't, you're going to look (and feel) horrible on Saturday night.

    2. Ditto for lingerie at the car show. It just looks trashy, especially if you're drinking at the time and sprawling yourself over someone's hood.

    3. Trying TOO hard to look sexy - you know the types. Boobs spilling EVERYWHERE out of a corset, ass cheeks spilling out of vintage hot pants, etc. Have some confidence and keep your secrets covered up!

    4. Anything that's restrictive for movement. The point is to enjoy the music and dance! You're not going to have any fun if you're constantly living in fear that your seams will burst if you budge an inch. Either find something that fits better or invest in REALLY good shapewear!

  2. OMG!!! you so hit the nail on the head!!!! I was totally rolling reading your true so true...we have all been are a hoot and so darn confident to post it...girl you rock! can't wait to read more...i love that we can lauph at ourselves...I remeber my first Viva evah...i wore those same fishnet stockings from like hot topic!!! I thought i was the bomb! =)

  3. Erin, so true about the devils advocate thing! Personally is everything, the rest is just a shell. Thats why the most imprortant thing is to be nice to everyone and not judge people based on apperances. If I did that, I would have a lot of friends that I have today, because I have a lot of friends that rock the jeans and stripe tee look! I have a post coming about this. I love your donts too!

    The Vintage Housewife- Oh yes, Hot Topic, thats where I used to get my stuff back then. Hey, we all got to start somewhere!

  4. I agree with Erin. I know some people that won't dance because it might ruin their clothes. No fun!! Thats why I rock the fancy stuff early, then change into the danceable stuff for the rest of the night. I've had the same ugly wedges for years but I dont care because I can dance my ass off in them!!

    At my first Viva I wore a cherry print dress from Hot Topic that I thought was amazing. Even though I had a great time I never wore it again and I started buying more vintage. I like how unique it is. Even though there will be the occasional 'twins'.

    PS-I prefer you as a blonde too! It suits you!

  5. I would say also I like the striped t, jeans & pony tail if you are you and nice then I don't care how people dress.

    My tip, if you don't wear heels on a regular basis - I don't! - don't think you can wear them all night at VLV, wear cute wedgies to go with your outfit you'll be so much happier. I once wore the cutest gold confetti springolators, but as I have hideously flat feet I was crippled in about 1 hour, I had to have a foot massage from a friend, then go and change ;o)

  6. Thanks for the lesson! I know nothing about fashion; and I have to ask- Do blondes really have more fun? hehe..

  7. Thanks for all the comments about the black hair. Yes, blondes really do have WAY more fun! I get noticed way more being blonde then I did when I had black hair. I guess I just stand out more now, and I like that. :) Blonde is closer to my natural color then black anyhow. Pappy wanted to see pics of me with black hair-so there you go Pappy!

  8. Great post, love both your advice and irony regarding your previous outfits ;)
    I'll keep this in mind if I ever get to VLV!

  9. Thank you for not posting photos of poorly dressed people with the bar across their eyes, because I am sure I would be one of them! I looked like a circus clown at VLV. I was horrified when I saw the photos afterward.
    Also, VLV is the only event where I have heard my husband complain about gals with too much cleavage. He said some of them were scary and it was not fun to see it.
    Love your blog!

  10. HAHAHAHA! I agree with all of it! I'm scared to say.. i can't remember any of my horror outfits last year, as it was my first viva... the worst part was tho'.. not wearing sunscreen to the carshow! my calves and shoulders were on fire when i went to see wanda.. thank goodness for that $10 bottle of aloe/lidocaine from the gift shop! lol oh and i forgot all of my accessories :( that was a nightmare! ..i am all about comfort but, it gets old seeing the same clones with black and red! but, i completely agree with the personality thing.. what i don't care for is a super snob in reproductions that thinks they are "holier than thou" oh well, i am just nice to everyone and am there to enjoy it!! look forward to more viva clothing posts!!

  11. You took the words right out of my mouth, Straight Talking Mama! Every year I see hundreds of girls walking around in 4-5 inch heels the whole time and you can tell by the way they walk that the poor dears are in some serious pain. My friends and I call it the "rockabilly shuffle". If you don't feel comfortable walking miles (literally) in heels, then bring your wedges!

  12. OMG much better as a blonde! I didn't even know that was you in the first picture!

  13. Its great that you can poke fun at yourself - I have some pretty dire photos from years gone by when I thought I looked great, but er, didn't! Im sure lots of other folks do too! I still love polka dot dresses, but yes, they do look a bit 'fancy dress' when worn en masse. Great tips...look forward to your other viva posts :)

  14. I like all the kitschy prints and the stuff you mentioned as a "don't" I love the trashy look as well. But I am a fashion rebel... If you can't look kitsch and trashy at Viva then there's something wrong (in my mind)?! I always thought Viva was about being a "rebel." I have never gone to Viva, and I plan to make it there some day soon, but are there really all these rules about what to wear? I thought Viva was about having fun; but now I wonder if it's more about worrying about how you look compared to the rest of the crowd? I know it's your opinion, and that's cool and I respect that; but it gives me the impression that all people do is judge what others are wearing. And I agree that you look very cute as a blonde.

  15. This is great information to have. I figured I'm gonna stand out no matter what I do, but I just as soon not make an ass of myself first time out of the gate.

    I was debating trying to get skinny and buy things from the popular websites to fit in better. Thanks to you I think I'll be mixing homesewn and vintage instead. Thanks for the confidence!

  16. I have to make a confession about judging people based on how they dress.

    I was on my way to a vintage event and there was a couple on the train who looked like they were going to the same place. However, I was wearing actual vintage and they were wearing costumes. The girl was wearing a spandex sequined mini-dress that you would wear on a dance team, or maybe for a figure skating costume. She had on very costumey makeup - badly drawn on highly arched eyebrows, blush loaded on, sloppy red lipstick, etc. I actually thought that maybe they were tourists - the type who think that "vintage event" equals "costume party" - and didn't make an effort to talk to them as a result.

    Well, it turned out she was wearing a dance costume because her and her partner were FABULOUS dancers. The costume that looked garish on the train worked much better on the dancefloor under the lights. They ended up getting their picture taken by all the event photographers while dancing and with the camera flash even the harsh makeup looked much better.

    I felt like a total rube for actually not talking to them because I misjudged them as tourists or posers. Not to mention that my authentic 40s suit got photographed a grand total of once that night, whereas photos of them showed up on half a dozen blogs the next week. Not only did I lose the game of "see and be seen" I missed out on getting to know some locals with a great talent for dance. Lesson learned!

  17. This is a great post! It is a very informative and fun read! Your comments about your previous looks are a hoot! lol! I have been there myself!

    When I started wearing vintage every day, I bought a lot of Stop Staring, Queen of Heartz, and Heartbreaker. I then started searching for real vintage clothing and I have never looked back. I can get away with wearing the occasional Stop Staring dress when I go out here in DC because NO ONE wears vintage! I do like Heartbreaker cotton pencil skirts. A Great summer must-have!

    Nevertheless, when it comes to Viva, I know that if I wear a Heartbreaker cherry dress there will be other gals in droves wearing the same thing. Like you said, it's gonna happen!

    At Viva, I will enjoy wearing vintage, do my hair, meet fun people, dance, shop, and have a blast! I cannot 'worry' if another gal has prettier dresses or better victory rolls. Like all things in life, someone is always going to do it better. Life is too short to worry about it. I am going to focus on having fun! And focus on trying to get my man to dance! He is too shy!

    Moreover, when I heard you and Erin mention the gals wearing undergarments in public, I wanted to cringe! Why? Yuck! Also, wearing costumes from places like Party City is never a good idea. lol!

    Again, great post! Love it!

  18. Great lesson Collen, thanks for sharing. There are a ton of good comments on this post. Eden- homesewn is always the best way to go, hands down! You are beautiful, and would look great in a potaoe sack. All of my readers would! I am going to wear that next VLV and start a new trend. :) Tara, yes, there really are girls in undies, clincers and bras at the car show, and also girls in Party City halloween costumes-esp sailors. Psycho Sew- thats your style girl! You gotta rock it no matter what. Personally, I could never pull that rebel look off. I can't look tough. ha ha

  19. I loved reading this post! I have never been to VLV but I can only imagine :P

    Blonde does suit you so well, I use to also be blonde for years, decided to go brown then Dita black and regretted it for 3 years! I recently went back to blonde and am loving it!

    I can't wait for the do's in VLV!

    BTW, I know I would love to see more outfit posts from past VLV's!

  20. What a great post...and great comments from all you ladies!
    I have done some pretty bad outfits too, I hope there isnt too many photos out there of them ;)
    Good on you Dollie, for making fun of yourself...I think if anyone takes this post the wrong way, they obviously can't take a joke or laugh at themselves! Everyone starts somewhere!
    The scene is pretty tiny in Adelaide (Australia) so when ever a new person comes along, I always try my hardest to make them feel comfortable. I remember going to some shows and being really intimidated by all the pretty girls, but they talked to me and are now some of my best friends. It is so true that a good attitude and a smile is the best thing you can wear.
    I cant't wait to read more VLV posts
    x Molly

  21. I've also fallen into the cherries/bandanna/polka dot look at weekenders and I too, felt very boring compared to all the other glam girls. Either that or seeing about 500 clones walking around. I've also fallen into the trap of taking completely mis matched stuff with me and trying to make an outift of it! If only you could take your entire wardrobe with you! Mind you, my boyfriend does have a van so I probably could!

  22. My one devils advocate to this great post is that if cherries, bandana, and dots make you happy, then by all means wear it. I love cherries, and dont really care if its played out or common. I'm hoping people are enjoying my company and not that I have cherries on my skirt :) Attitude is really everything. This year (2013) at Riot, I think the lady that stood out to me the most was about 70 yrs old rocking red cowboy boots and a circle skirt made out of PBR fabric. Her give a damn was totally busted.

  23. OMG! I was ROLLING LMAO when I read this post! Love it and completely agree!


    1. High heels - if you cant wear them and walk in them correctly DONT WEAR THEM. Its not sexy to walk like monkey at the end of the night because your feet hurt from heels, bring flats with you :-)

    LOL my first TWO years at Viva I tried to do the "only wear high heels thing" and I ended up walking like monkey and sitting out most dances because my ankles hurt from the heels.

    2. Corsets - DO NOT wear a corset over a vintage dress. I have a lot of friends back home that started doing that and it made my heart weep :-(


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