How to Wear Vintage Clothing Without Turning Yourself Into an Antique

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

One of my oddball passions is collecting and wearing antique clothing from the 1940s and 1950s. A long-time classic movie fan, I’m drawn by the ultra-feminine styles, fine fabrics, and precise tailoring of the clothing worn by the Hollywood stars of that era. When I started purchasing vintage clothing in 2003, I tried to mimic that look, combining a fitted, nipped-in waist suit jacket with a full skirt appliqued with shiny beads.

Of course, I ended up looking ridiculous. My outfits were more costumes than ensembles. But I still loved vintage clothing and didn’t want to give up on it. After fourteen years of trial and error, I’ve finally learned how to really integrate vintage pieces into a modern wardrobe:

  • Choose a specific era, the one that suits you the best.
  • Limit yourself to only one vintage item per outfit. I usually base outfits around my signature piece: a 1940s or 1950s fitted wool, hip-length jacket with a nipped-in waist and pretty dressmaker details, such as fabric-covered buttons and satin-trimmed lapels.
  • Mix modern and vintage clothing and stick to one silhouette. I stick to a fitted silhouette, mixing fitted antique jackets with slim fitting, tailored, simple modern sportswear, such as collared button-down shirts, trim ankle pants, and pencil skirts.
  • Don’t be afraid to refashion vintage clothing to make it more modern and flattering. I hired a tailor to recut and shorten a mid-calf, A-line, gray wool skirt from the 1940s (half of a suit) into a slim, knee-length pencil skirt.
  • Search for modern pieces that look vintage, such as a full-skirted dress or a jacket with a peplum. Alternatively, you can buy vintage patterns online and pay a dressmaker or tailor to make them up for you in new fabrics. Both of these choices can result in pieces that mix well with real vintage items but look fresher and more modern.

 

With a bit of thought and experimentation, vintage clothing can fit easily into a modern wardrobe and open up a range of exciting style choices in a retail environment increasingly dominated by bland and cheaply-produced clothing.

Want to Read More?

Check out Rebecca Emily Darling’s post, “How to Wear Vintage Clothing Without Looking Like You’re Wearing a Costume” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-emily-darling/how-to-wear-vintage-cloth_b_6535522.html

Do you have any tips for adding vintage clothing to a modern wardrobe? If you do, please share them with us.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

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Photo credit: carbonated Vogue Balmain suit 1083, 1949 via photopin (license)