Vintage summer fashion can be riddled with clichés, and as a Who What Wear reader, you'll know we try to sidestep anything that's been overplayed, favouring a little unique wardrobe thinking instead. Some good that comes from our pernickety nature: Thanks to constant (and extensive) research, we can tell you there's a plethora of old-school hot-weather inspiration to found, especially once you step outside of the oft-referenced archive images of the world's most iconic stars.
Take Audrey Hepburn, for example. Your mind would automatically go to her neckerchief-and–full skirt combination from Roman Holiday—but in all seriousness, that's a tough one to pull off in 2017 without looking twee. So we dug a little deeper and worked out how this movie star wore short shorts—you can take her lead and apply it to your denim cutoffs.
Or how about Brigitte Bardot? Sure, we all know her Breton look from Les Mépris, but have you ever seen her in a boho white dress and floppy hat? It's got hippy holiday written all over it. Then there's Marilyn Monroe. We could count 101 bikinis she's been pictured in, but there's something very Reformation about her sundress choice of 1953.
Keep reading to see what we mean about these vintage summer outfits and shop the looks too.
Jane Fonda, 1964
Style Notes: With sage-green dresses abounding on the high street and polka dots making a comeback, this simple but effective summer look from Jane Fonda couldn't be more ripe for a copy-and-paste opportunity.
Elizabeth Taylor, 1947
Style Notes: Honestly, could this ruffled gingham bikini set be any more 2017-ready? Fingers crossed a designer sees this and feels compelled to re-create it ASAP.
Marilyn Monroe, 1953
Style Notes: There's something so simple about this cotton halter neck, gold hoops and sandals formula. But there's no reason it couldn't suit any kind of girl—sex kittens and tomboys alike.
Chili Williams, 1940s
Style Notes: Aside from the fact that this Ed Hamilton–designed two-piece is actually furry, we're very into the triple–leopard print idea on offer here. Sassy, to say the least.
Princess Grace of Monaco, 1956
Style Notes: There are many iconic shots of Grace on the beach, but this neutral summer knit–and–midi skirt pairing continues to impress us. Ditch the headscarf and you have a thoroughly current look.
Audrey Hepburn, 1950s
Style Notes: Ignore the two Hollywood chaps flanking Audrey Hepburn, and focus in on her artfully wrapped shirt, tucked into high-waisted shorts and styled with mules. This is a simple outfit you could easily take on vacation.
Farrah Fawcett, 1977
Style Notes: We can't be sure, but we'd place bets on this being the ultimate in 1970s athleisure—Farah's retro sports kit feels just right for the new season.
Jane Birkin, 1968
Style Notes: Arriving at Cannes Film Festival alongside George Harrison, this is an all-time favourite Birkin getup of many a fashion editor.
Brigitte Bardot, 1975
Style Notes: A floppy hat and a white broderie anglaise dress make for a timeless summer fallback, not to mention a grown-up way to do boho.
Princess Grace of Monaco, 1972
Style Notes: So good we had to include her twice, Grace continued her beach vibes well into the '70s. This Pucci dress reflects this summer's bold colours while the towel turban and beaded bag will attract accessory-obsessed magpies.
Next up: The ultimate holiday packing list you can cut out and keep.
This piece was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.