Vintage Thrift-Shopping for WWII Reenactments

6 Mar

A group of female Partisans in Croatia during WWII.

{Vintage Thrift-Shopping for WWII Reenactment}

My penchant for vintage naturally stems from my love of history. Knowing the cultural and historical significance behind certain fashions makes my appreciation for wearing unique vintage pieces just soar.

But the experience of being dressed in vintage and going to a historic location filled with period-correct fixtures, entertainment and personas is something that just fills my soul with untold joy.

Attending living history events and being a reenactor is like having a time machine which allows for a short visit into a parallel universe.

The challenge, quite often, in getting ready for these events is to make sure your wardrobe is authentic to the not just the era but also the geography and social status of the person you are playing.

This is a clip on my outfit worn for our battle resisting the German occupying forces. It is garb typical of most women during the 1940s and in Russia this style of dress was worn mostly by young women, as well as those living in urban areas.


In this clip, reenactor and USMC veteran Bob West shares how he recreated an authentic look of a Russian Partisan from military surplus items and a trip to Salvation Army.


For comparison on how closely we reenactors emulated the styles of Partisans and Russian villagers during the 1940s, here are a couple historic photos next to the modern living history event photos:

Rural Russian Partisans during WW2.

Reenactors portraying Russian villagers during WW2.

Russian reenactors detained for interrogation by Russian forces which retook the Russian village to determine the true Partisans from those who sold goods or helped facilitate in other ways the occupying German troops.

Russian reenactors.

Russian reenactors being registered by the German occupiers.

Female Russian Partisans shown in this historic photo during the summer months of WWII.

Male Russian Partisans during WWII.

Female Italian Partisans shown in Milan, Italy, 1945.

Russian Partisan Reenactors portraying Russia 1943 in Old Bedford Village, Pa.


8 Responses to “Vintage Thrift-Shopping for WWII Reenactments”

  1. Laurie March 9, 2011 at 8:36 AM #

    You got it! Look at photos and then try to replicate your look by shopping at Good Will and Salvation Army. I got a pair of women’s oxford shoes for $7, a head scarf, and then layers are the key. I love wool shawls and I have about three of them. One was sold to me for very little as a “tablecloth”. So know what to look for, and then keep your eyes peeled!


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic March 9, 2011 at 8:53 AM #

      GREAT tips, Laurie! Having your voice of experience weighing in on this is awesome … Chicsters, you wanna listen to Laurie, she knows her stuff!


  2. Maxim Miketic November 3, 2011 at 7:09 PM #


    I was viewing your blog because I am a big fan of living history and I wanted to view your take on Russian partisan uniforms.

    However, there were two photos that (as a history major and World War buff) I could not ignore.

    The 7th photo form the top is in fact most likely a photo of Yugoslavian Partisans, not Russian Partisans. I came to this conclusion based on not only their uniforms but also their weapons. This and the fact that the words written above the photo are Serbo-Croatian, not Russian. One dead give away (that many should be able to spot) is the word Dinari, or Dinars. This is the currency of the (now former) Yugoslaivan states.

    The 8th photo from the top depicts not Russian Partisans but Polish Partisans. In fact, these particular partisans come from the Bielksi Jewish Polish partisan group.

    Aside from these minor error, I quite enjoyed your blog post and you (and your fellow friends) dressed up nicely for the part.

    From a descendant of one of Tito’s finest,


    • Maxim Niketic November 3, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

      That is, Niketic*


  3. Story April 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM #

    Stumbled upon your blog while researching female Italian partisans, figured you’d like this video


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic May 9, 2012 at 9:14 PM #

      OH, that is great!! Thanks for posting this … and thank you for stopping by my site. Hope to see you again, here!


  4. Lea Jones DromoMan January 12, 2017 at 12:38 AM #

    Really great ideas and photos! This article might also help to understand Soviet wartime fashion:


  5. Edward Arnold November 14, 2017 at 8:52 AM #

    I am interested in licensing one of the photographs, ‘A group of female Partisans in Croatia during WWII’, for the cover on an e-book. Who do I need to contact?


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