Halter style inspirations for summer

It’s sure looking like summer out there!

Fortunately here we’re not having the extreme heat wave some other areas are. (Don’t worry, we got it last summer—just remembering the days on end of 100+ temps makes me want to jump in a bucket of ice.) But we have entered the part of summer when I dream of adorable summery outfits but then tend to wear shorts and a yawn-inducing tank top much of the time when I’m around the house. And for someone who mostly works from home, that’s a lot of time. So I’ve been trying to come up with cuter styles to beat the heat and keep myself out of a summer rut this year!

High on my list right now for warmer months? Halters. I’ve been obsessing over vintage halter styles, let me tell you! Halter tops to wear with breezy dirndl or circle skirts, halter dresses like Hawaiian sarongs or sun dresses… you name it, my head has been swimming with them for weeks now.

Halters are great to help keep cool if you’re willing to bare some upper body, and if not (or on cooler evenings), they’re still wonderful with a cardigan or bolero. So I thought I’d share some inspiration for halter styles this summer!

{Sources clockwise from top left: sold listing from traven7, via Pinterest; Etsy listing from HelaQ; tiki 50s style bustier top from Boo Boo Kitty Couture; Simplicity 3250, my own copy;  50s inspired full circle halter from Outer Limitz; 1940s limited edition Shaheen print halter dress from Nudeedudee}

First up is a great checked vintage dress. Fun layout of a big print, amazing and kind of unusual halter neck, interesting color combination… I love it!

{Source: sold listing from traven7, via Pinterest}

Of course, playsuits and sunsuits often have halter necks, like this 1940s striped one. I love the touch of the ruffle on the bottom of the bra top and the buttoned sides of the shorts!

{Source: 1stdibs sold listing from Timeless Vixen, via Pinterest}

And how about this Hawaiian-themed suit? I realize I’m here to talk about halters but omg, that print. I’ll say it again. THAT PRINT!

{source: Reserved Etsy listing from Harem of Peacocks}

In addition to real garments, I often look to sewing patterns for inspiration. They’re great not just to sew but to dream up ideas. However if you’re looking to buy one, older patterns featuring halters tend to be much more rare than their non-halter counterparts, so it takes some digging to unearth ones that aren’t extremely expensive.

The first I’ll show you is Simplicity 3879, a 1950s pattern available on Etsy for $16. This is a bust 36, but I find 40s and 50s Simplicity patterns run really big in the bust (and keep in mind, this is coming from a busty gal), so I think this would work for a 38″ bust without grading. How cute with a vertical striped skirt as shown, or sewn up into a little playsuit. There’s even a bolero!

{source: Etsy listing from serine23}

Advance 6689 is $30 on Etsy, but look at all the options (some halter, some not). Holy cow! I love view 4 with the diagonal buttons and sweetheart neckline.

{source: Etsy listing from Epic Vintage}

If you’re looking to sew for your daughter, or in the mood to grade up from a 26″ bust, feast your eyes on this adorable pattern, McCall 1528 from 1950, available on Etsy. I want an adult-sized sunsuit like this, complete with embroidered touches. I’ll take the non-halter style, too. Yes, please!

{source: Etsy listing from Historically Patterns}

I love this Advance pattern below (bust 32″), currently up for bidding on eBay. Can you just imagine this wrap-front set in a great tropical or novelty print?

{source: eBay listing}

I have a pattern with a similar top, Simplicity 3250 below, that I was lucky enough to snap up in an eBay auction recently for $5.99. The same pattern is on Etsy from three sellers, all over $40! If you see a pattern for more money than you’re willing to pay on one site, it can’t hurt to plug in the name and number into another site. You might come up a winner like I did!

Of course, I don’t have a lot of reasons to wear a top like this without altering it to give it some midriff coverage. But could anyone blame me for working from home in a cute set like this? Hmm.

Simplicity 2026 below is from 1947 and is available on Etsy for $35. It’s a size small, for bust 30-32, but there’s not much to these tops (see that as a positive or negative, heh), so it might be an easy to grade up. Personally, I’m going gaga over the inset style in View 2, with the straps coming from the very center of the top.

{source: Etsy listing from HelaQ}

That style of top is the one I’m most in love with, with the straps coming from the center front, and sometimes a gathered bust. You occasionally see that feature on swimwear, sarongs (like this one from Vintage Blue Moon) and dresses (like this one from Dear Golden). I’ve always adored that shape! I’ve been dreaming of tops in this style (not just a bra top, but you know, some actual coverage), but I don’t have a pattern for anything similar, so I’m still pining away and dreaming.

Now, what if you don’t want to sew but you want to buy something? There are a some great options available!

I think my favorite has to be these limited edition 1940s style halter dresses by Nudeedudee. They’re made using reissued Alfred Shaheen print fabric, what could be better? Kim only has a few of these left, and in the medium and large sizes, so now’s the time to snap one up. I can tell you firsthand, Kim’s work is amazing!

{source: 1940s limited edition Shaheen print halter dress from Nudeedudee}

Check out this halter dress by Outer Limitz. This one is a size medium (38″ bust, 30″ waist), but Diana has lots of great items in her shop! I love this print and the unique neckline. Isn’t it so fun?

{source: 50s inspired full circle halter from Outer Limitz}

How about tops? Boo Boo Kitty Couture has some killer cropped halter tops, like the below top featuring tiki print fabric and pom poms (seriously, the pom poms make me so happy I can’t even tell you). Pop on a solid skirt or a pair of capris and you’re good. There’s also basic black to go with all your great prints. Aislinn also has lots of other great repro offerings in her shop!

{source: tiki 50s style bustier top from Boo Boo Kitty Couture}

Now here’s something I already own. I recently become enamored with the cropped Trashy Diva Trixie top. Okay yes, these are not strictly halter tops off the shelf, but the straps fasten with buttons at the back, so they can be unbuttoned and tied around your neck as a halter if you’d like. I’ll talk about it more in an upcoming outfit post, but I can offer a word of advice: the sides are elastic and quite stretchy, so you may want to size down.

I suppose at this point, you must suspect I’m sewing up a little something in the halter department with all my daydreaming! And you’d be right. While I haven’t bit the bullet on any vintage halter dress patterns yet and I’m still searching for the perfect 40s one with a gathered bust, I am working on a project and if all goes well, I’ll share it soon once it’s complete.

Stay tuned for more halter summer goodness from me!

Filed: Vintage Dibs and Dabs

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Golly, 18 Comments!

  • Those tops are a perfect match with your tattoos!

    I’m thinking about halters and strapless tops too lately. I’m not sure I have enough time to sew a few this summmer. But they’re definitely on my wish list.


  • So many pretty tops. I’ve been wanting to make a few of these for the summer months but haven’t found a great pattern yet.


  • These are fab!! I especially love the print on that Harem of Peacocks suit- Amazing!! Mrs Depew has a pdf pattern for a great 50s style bustier, just like the boo boo kitty one. I used it for my tiki dress, just lengthened it and it turned out perfectly!! http://www.etsy.com/listing/97183195/sewing-pattern-beach-bustier-1950s-style


    • That’s exactly what I’m working on, in fact! Shhh, don’t tell. lol I *love* how you used it in your tiki dress, I saw it again recently when I was looking for sewn up versions. 🙂


  • I LOVE halter neck tops so this was a real treat to read! Can’t wait to see what what you’re working on. X


  • All the images are visually stunning! I have never worn one but it looks super comfy. I def have to look out for more of them! Beautiful post! xox


  • Love your blog, but I think this might be my first comment. Woops!

    I didn’t realize you worked at home! I do too and I always struggle with putting on presentable clothes. If you get good at getting out of the work-at-home shorts rut, please post about it! I need the inspiration. 😉


  • Thanks for the tip to size down on the Trashy Diva Trixie top. I have been wanting to buy a couple and now have a better idea of the sizing and how they look on. Love the green one on you!


  • YES! I am all over the halter playsuits. Thanks for the gorgeous inspiration!!


  • What a fabulous bevy of vintage halter tops! This is a style I love in principle – and on others – but often shy away from myself because I’m really not keen on exposing my upper arms. Thankfully they can always be worn with shrugs, cardigans, jackets, wraps and other such cover-ups, so I really should sport them more often. Thank you for the inspiration to do just that while we’ve still got plenty of summer left ahead of us.

    ♥ Jessica


  • swoon…love halter tops/dresses! Rarely is it warm enough to wear it here (though judging by this last week, you’d think I was lying!) but I also imagine running around on a deserted warm beach!!


  • Halter garments are THE BEST! 😀


  • Thanks for a fab post! I love halterneck tops, I think they are so flattering and can be worn with lots of things.

    My favourite is Aislinn’s pom pom bustier 🙂


  • So many amazing tops! I totally want one of Aislinn’s tops with pompoms (but in a block colour) – her work is amazing, I have a dress that she made for me earlier in the year and I love it!


  • Love! I purchased a really amazing Betsy Johnson halter pattern a while back that I need to start working on soon..I’ve been inspired 😉


  • I have the Advance 6689 pattern i love it so much!!! I made the crop top and the sweetheart neckline top! 🙂
    perfect for summer!


  • Great post, i am loving seperates at the moment, i am having fun mixing and matching and creating new outfits 🙂

    thanks for including my work 🙂


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