A ‘Bella Tanchi’ Vintage Valentine’s Day


I was thrilled to be approached by Tanya Rivas and ‘La Bella Tanchi’ to write a feature on vintage Valentine’s Day fashions. Personally, as a woman of mixed race (my father is German American and my mother is Mexican American), I identify myself as ‘tan chiquita’ in a very unique sense. With a pale complexion and standing 5’4” and with a rather small waist and rather ample bottom-finding pants, and in general many types of clothing- were never easy. Then I found vintage. After many years of trying to conform to fashion trends, I looked to the women of the golden age of Hollywood- a time when many women were smaller and curvier- and I found the best way to dress my figure. I turned this passion into a small business with my Etsy shop and website, ‘Madame X Vintage’– sharing my love of vintage fashions to make every woman and every body, look their very best.

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Marilyn Monroe: Studio publicity portrait for film Niagara
Marilyn Monroe: Studio publicity portrait for film Niagara (20th century Fox, 1953)

Vintage 50’s wiggle red knot dress

*click on dress to purchase


With the holiday season behind us, and in a blink of an eye, we are almost upon Valentine’s Day. As a vintage lover, dressing others and myself for the most romantic of holidays is a thrill in dresses, coats, and jewelry from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Of course every time period has catered in some manner to the beauty of the female form, the height of which was the 1950’s and 1960’s. This was the era of Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Raquel Welch – the bombshell and sex symbol was queen.

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren: Cheesecake photo taken in the 1950s

Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch: Pin up photo taken c. 1965

It’s easy to look at these women and that time, and consider these figures and styles daunting. What modern women seem to forget is that these were eras where beauty was constructed – spanx were not invented now, take a look at the undergarments of the 50s – girdles, corsets, bullet bras, stockings-looking sexy is just as much construction as it is attitude. For my customers and myself, that sexy attitude, right corset, and vintage dress – helps hide any ‘panza’ and unleash your inner sexpot.


My valentine’s picks for this year for the ‘tan chiquita’ are big chunky pink ‘pearl’ and pearlite necklaces, flattering mod pea coats in shades of red, and for that valentine’s lingerie- a sheer black chiffon robe with just a hint of ruffling over a simple red lace slip.

Chunky Pearlette Necklace


Vintage Sheer Black Chiffon Robe

Many women look at vintage and feel intimidated, or have a fear of looking too ‘costume-y’. If you want a subtle nod to the holiday of love, choose a rhinestone arrow brooch and pin it on your favorite jacket, or if warmer weather allows a cute 50’s house dress in pink and white stripes, or a 60’s baby doll style shift would look great on any figure. The greatest thing about 50’s and 60’s styles for Valentines Day and for the ‘tan chiquita’ in particular, are that you don’t need to be 5’10” and have a slight figure to look good in them- actually the opposite.


Vintage 1980’s Zooey Deschanel style pink and white stripe dress

*click on dress to purchase ($15)

Vintage red mod pea coat


The tea and knee length style of the shirtdress and pea coat, look better on the petite woman. We are in the best time for fashion because we have such a vast array of styles and history to refer to, and you can update any classic style of clothing to be more ‘on trend’ through shoes, purses, or other accessories. So this year, whether it’s a night out or in with the girls, a quiet dinner with a loved one, or anti-V Day celebration- your Valentine’s look will be sure to turn some heads and amorous glances with a vintage twist.


Courtney Shermer is a freelance writer and owner of the online vintage boutique Madame X Vintage.


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