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Mum bought me a new swimming costume, an old-fashioned one in blue-and-white gingham with “support.” It was supposed to have a kind of 1950s look to it, the sort of thing Marilyn might have worn.

I can understand have a XXX look part but can't understand the to it part.

What's the function of to it and what does it refer to?

I searched some examples,

At that moment, his face had an unexpectedly vulnerable look to it.

But I don't know if it is the same with my first sentence.

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It was supposed to have a kind of 1950s look to it ...

mkeans that the costume has a style or apparence reminsient of the 1950s, or perhaps of how the 1950s are often portrayed. "to it" is very commo9n in such a construction, and emphasizes mtha tthe the 'look" applied to the costume.

his face had an unexpectedly vulnerable look to it.

means that his face seemed vulnerable. Again 'to it" emphasizes that the look applies to "his face". This is a very similar construction

In general "X had a Y look to it" means nthat the "look" applies to X. ("has" can be used instead of "had" if the description is in the present. "Will have" can also be used if the look is in prospect or being planned.)

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Q1. have a XXX look to it, can't understand the to it part.

What's the function of to it and what does it refer to?

Q2. what does it refer to?

First I will answer Q2.

"It" has to refer to something, in this case the subject of the conversation is the swimming costume and this is most likely to be the "it " being referred too. Also it is something that can be worn. The only item that can be worn is the swimming costume. Therefore I can say with certainty that "it" refers to the swimming costume

**have a kind of 1950s **look to it****

The above sentence can be said to mean: It (appears to) have 1950s (connected with) it (the swimming costume)

Kind of and sort of are very common expressions in speaking. They soften other words and phrases so that they do not appear too direct or exact. Cambridge English Dictionary

look: verb (SEEM); Cambridge English Dictionary usually + adv/prep; to appear or seem:

to: preposition Cambridge English Dictionary (CONNECTION): in connection with:

it: pronoun Cambridge English Dictionary (THING):used as the subject of a verb, or the object of a verb or preposition, to refer to a thing, animal, situation, or idea that has already been mentioned:

At that moment, his face had an unexpectedly vulnerable look to it.

At that moment, his face had an unexpectedly vulnerable appearance connected with it.

  • There are 2 "it"s in "It was supposed to have a kind of 1950s look to it," Is the first "it" not refer to "swimming costume"? – Zhang Aug 14 at 4:51
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"To have a XXX look to it" means something like "to look like something with XXX's properties". In your example, it simply means "it looks like something from the 1950s".

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