The classic look that the OP wishes to emulate was determined by the following factors.
1. The films of the time were orthochromatic. This altered the tones of the subject. Foliage was lighter and shadows were more open. The sky was usually featureless with no clouds. Reds were darker which changed skin tones.
2. Film emulsions were thicker than modern film and had coarse grain. This caused dispersion and softening of the image.
3. Films were slow which forced the use of more static subjects.
4. Lenses made before WWII were uncoated and subject to flare.
5. Subject determined factors; the models clothes, makeup, hair style, etc. Also older technology -- large radios in the home and no TV, older style cars, etc.
6. In an age without the strobe light more attention was made to natural lighting assisted by flash bulbs or flash powder.
As can be seen from the incomplete list above, film was only part of the look of old photos.