April 24, 2012

20 vintage fashion examples of Pantone’s 2012 color of the year

When one thinks of the decades many of us adore most - the 1920s through to the 50s - orange is not often a colour that pops out as being especially dominant. No, the multitude of shades that fall under the orange heading are more commonly associated with the decades that followed immediately after, the swinging sixties and wild seventies. An era when everything from moon boots to maxi skirts, shag carpeting to fondue pots could be had in various orange tones, often those on the rusty side of the spectrum.

Indeed, orange was more dominant during the 60s and 70s than it had been during the previous decades of the twentieth century, but that doesn't mean that it had been banished to some forlorn corner during the earlier decades, to be seen only on pumpkins, fruit, and certain flowers. Then, as now, the worlds of home decor and fashion were teaming with hues of all kinds, including members of the orange colour family.

If such shades appeal to you, it might take a tad more digging to unearth 30s, 40s, and 50s pieces in orange (given that this colour was not featured too predominately during those years), yet doing so is by no means impossible (1930s pieces in particular are relatively easy to find in a wide range of orange shades).

You may be wondering what got me thinking about orange on this late April morn, situated as it is amidst a season that - like the aforementioned mid-century decades themselves - is not exactly famous for teaming with this punchy colour. The answer lies in Pantone's 2012 color of the year: Tangerine Tango.

{Image via Style At Home.}

With a name that instantly evokes thoughts of a passionate Latin dance, fiery sunsets, tropical paradises, and summertime vibrancy, Tangerine Tango is not a meek wallflower shade. On the contrary, it's the sort of hue that steals the show - and perhaps even your dance partner in the process!

In the words of Pantone's official page on this colour, "The 2011 color of the year, PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle, encouraged us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. Tangerine Tango, a spirited reddish orange, continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.

"Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. "Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy."

Over the past several years, orange has grown in popularity and acceptance among designers and consumers alike. A provocative attention-getter, Tangerine Tango is especially appealing in men’s and women’s fashion."

The world has endured a spell of rather tough years lately, it's true, and we do need verve and vigor to face the future, Pantone is spot on there. As someone who has always believed that the colours you opt to wear and surround yourself with can have a direct effect on both your mood and mindset, I for one am happy that Pantone (leading colour industry experts that they are) opted for such a vivacious, bold hue this year.

My husband's favourite colour has always been orange, so I'm constantly on the look out for pieces in this warm hue - be they for his wardrobe or mine. While I do generally veer towards light (think pale peach) or dark (i.e., rust or warm pumpkin) shades of orange, as they tend to compliment my colouring better than mid-range tones, I've always been on the opinion that anyone can wear any colour, so long as they get the proportions right.

If you're drawn to Tangerine Tango, but can't possibly imagine yourself sporting a head-to-toe frock in this energetic hue, why not seek out accessories in similar shades? From something as small as an earring to a more attention grabbing wide belt, accessories have long been the fashionista's secret trick for being able to pull off any colour her heart desired from within the whole box of Crayon crayons - or Pantone's spectrum, for that matter.

Where you're looking at this particular colour with interest, but sincere hesitation, or are as eager as a beaver to weave it into your wardrobe, the following 20 examples of vintage (30s through 50s) pieces, all culled from amongst etsy's offerings, in similar shades will definitely serve as a helpful - and handy - jumping off point when it comes to wearing a little, or a lot, of 2012's Pantone color of the year.

{1950s Hawaiian sarong tiki party halter neck dress (with matching bolero jacket); dress fits a 33"-34" bust, 24" waist. Available from Swing Kat's Vintage for $265.00.}

{Adjustable 1930s sterling silver, orange glass stone, and marcasite art deco cocktail ring; fits US ring sizes 6-8. Available from Jean Jean Vintage for $60.00.}

{1940s orange plastic circle, square, and cube necklace with matching hoop earrings. Set available from The Vintage Dilettante for $18.00.}

{1950s orange, navy blue and white atomic novelty print blouse; fits a 42" bust, 40" waist. Available from Champagne Girl Vintage for $45.00.}

{1940s beaded rayon evening gown; fits a 34"-36" bust, 25"-26" waist. Available from Deseo Vintage for $225.00.}

{1940s carved celluloid coral rose screw back earrings; each earrings measures 1" long. Available from IfindUseek Vintage for $10.00.}

{Embroidered 1950s bamboo handle handbag; purse measures 11.75" at widest point, and 6.5" tall (not including handle). Available from Out on a Limb Vintage for £20.00.}

{1920s-1930s round celluloid covered metal eyeglass frames (with 10K gold fill). Available from Thayer Eyewear for $76.50.} 

{1950s peach and white gingham circle skirt; fits a 26" waist, free hips. Available from Sweet Moonlight for $75.00.}

{Orange celluloid 1930s floral carved bangle bracelet; fits "an average size 7 wrist". Available from Wimpy Ren's Vintage Jewels for $30.00.}

{1940s poppy orange leather pumps with a 3.5" heel; marked size 5.5. Available from Starlet's Vintage for $44.95.}

{Orange, green and white floral print 1950s full skirt; fits a 24" waist, free hips. Available from Deseo Vintage for $40.00.}

{1930s Art Deco carved coral Galalith necklace; measures 17" long. Available from IfindUseek Vintage for $45.00.}

{Orange and white silk 1930s summer maxi dress; fits a 37.5" bust, 25" waist. Available from The Vintage Clothing Co. for £45.00.}

{Celadon and orange 1950s (30s inspired) straw tilt hat; hat size 22. Available from Junee Moon Vintage for 29.00.}

{1940s tangerine orange Bakelite button earrings with screw back posts; earrings measure 3/4" across. Available from 4 Birds Vintage for $10.50.}

{Novelty print fleur de lis pattern 1940s linen shift dress; fits a 38" bust, 26" waist. Available from The Dapper Apple for $158.00.}

{1950s orlon acrylic tangerine knit button front cardigan; fits a 42" bust/29" waist (unstretched). Available from Jewels for Panda for $44.99.}

{1930s Fruit Salad glass bead charm bracelet on original card; measures 7" long with a fold over clasp. Available from Little Miss Dollop for $75.00.}

{Vintage 1950s/60s orange strappy sandals/dress shoes; size 7. Available from Wolf's Mouth Vintage (currently on sale) for $15.00.}

♥  ♥  ♥


As you can see, juicy, subtly coral infused orange shades from the earlier decades of the last century can indeed be found. These dynamically intriguing hues lend themselves especially well to the warmer months that we're heading into now, when the world itself seems to be at its most adventurous and sultry, bursting with lively energy and scores of reasons to throw a fiesta of the sort where one would be more than a little inclined to dance a (tangerine) tango.

This enthralling shade of orange is a standout colour when worn in abundance, so you may want to keep your other accessories and garments on the neutral side if tangerine is at the center of our outfit. If you're opting for a small to medium serving of bright, ever-so-slightly salmon infused orange however, some fantastic colours partners are grey, brown, ivory, teal, goldenrod, navy, moss, aqua, cream, soft peach, kelly green, and for the extra daring, hot pink.

Whether you've always loved orange, are just starting to get acquainted with it (when it comes to your decor and wardrobe choices), or have been dabbling in this cheerful hue for years, why not take a page from Pantone this year and inject a little - or a lot - of orange into your world throughout 2012?

It's bound to set your spirits soaring and have you looking looking hot as the surface of the sun in no time! Smile

*PS* Throughout this post you may have noticed that I used both the American and Canadian/British spellings of the word "color". I did so because Pantone itself is US based and as they use the American spelling, I opted to so, too, when directly discussing their color of the year. Whereas, being Canadian, at other points I used "colour" during the course of this article.


  1. omg such a beautiful color it makes me think of sitting outside under a tree :) haha and i'm in love with those poppy orange pumps!!! haha so amazing, love it! :)

  2. oh oh and i also love the 1930s cocktail right :) and thank you for your lovely comment on my brownie recipe :) i'v made it a priority to dig out that gluten-free brownie recipe for you :) and thank you for the tip with the henna :)

  3. As a fellow Canadian I support your use of the "u" - lol!

    I adore orange (what pumpkin-grower doesn't?) That cardigan has my name written all over it!

    Pantone made a great choice!

  4. I love the Aldens shoes, alas too small. I like this colour very much, which is a surprise considering I lived through my parents 1970's sitting room! Patterned wallpaper, carpet and curtains in shades of orange, yellow and brown. Is it any wonder patterns bring me out in a cold sweat.

  5. Such pretty things, but it is really too bad I don't look nice in shades of orange! The yellow undertones make me washed out, but I'm frightfully jealous of the lovely ladies who can have this colour in their wardrobes.


  6. Stunning color! I love it! Alas, i look awful in it, though i love all the clothes pictured here. I adore the hat and the jewelry, and i could totally get by with wearing all of that though. (LOL, but not at the same time, of course.) Yet another fabulous post! You are on a ROLL girlfriend. :) Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday and week, Jessica!

    I eagerly await your next entry.. Mary

  7. Very beautiful this piece in his blog, but I'm fat, and this jacket very marvilhoso not serve me, I love your style ... come visit my blog ... if you want to follow me ... kisses, Penélope...


  8. I love the floral earrings and the cardigan!

  9. Thank you thank you thank you for featuring some of my items on your fabulous blog!
    It rules and I am so glad to have found it! You rule too.......you are gaaawwwgeous daghlink and don't you forget it!

    IfindUseek Vintage


  10. Fantastic finds for a tangerine tango!! Love the old celluloid and it works so well with the sleek styles of the 30s, 40s and early 50s!

  11. I'm for all forms of the color orange! :-)