Fitting Vintage Into a Modern Wardrobe
This ain't your Granny's basement.
By Lee Safstrom
If the word vintage evokes the scent of musty old thrift shops, grandmotherly necklines, and outdated styles; you're certainly not alone. Although vintage clothing is trending, and shows little signs of slowing down, many people believes vintage simply cannot fit into a modern wardrobe.
You can be forgiven for thinking such a thing, as many of the most popular social media posts about vintage clothing feature loud patterns or ethereal ruffles, and complicated fabrics. However, fitting vintage into a modern wardrobe is easier than it looks, and this author considers herself something of an expert on the subject.
My wardrobe is made up of an amalgamation of 60 years worth of fashion. Blending the old with the new is my specialty. The key is in choosing timeless pieces, and items that you would purchase if they were on a rack *now* in your favorite store. Many people have no idea that the clothes I wear are older than me by double a good portion of the time... or well, I suppose the cat is out of the bag now that I do it as a profession.
What about that thrift shop smell though? Well, this is where vintage specific shops come in. I can only speak for my own shop in any specific certainty, but having been a vintage consumer for 20+ years myself, I have found what I am about to tell you to be generally true across the board at the mid and higher price point. These curated selections are cleaned, repaired, and ready to wear. They tend to have very little to no trace of thar thrift smell to them, and many shops will answer your questions about whether or not an item has been cleaned prior to listing if you ask! Some don't, but many do, because it is part of the experience of purchasing through a curator.
So, back to those timeless pieces I mentioned earlier. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, for example, there is the ubiquitous little black dress. While the styles may change over the years as to what is or is not on trend in LBD's, a timeless example would be the a-line LBD. This can be dressed up with your favorite accessories and on trend shoes, or dressed casually with an of-the-moment- jacket and your favorite sneakers or sandals. Wear an LBD to work, with a smart blazer or cashmere sweater, and low heeled pumps.
For the more every day, you can never go wrong with a well tailored jacket, in navy or tan or grey. Look for jackets with lapels that can easily blend into whatever decade you're styling it into, such as a classic notch. Pairing a vintage jacket with a current trend can elevate your look from on trend, to trend forward.
While these are simply examples, "timeless" can vary depending on whom you ask. A good way to determine which styles you will *like* that have transcended trends and stuck around for keeps is to google search fashion ads from magazines you currently identify with in terms of style, and look for styles and silhouettes that repeat themselves often throughout multiple decades. One person's definition of timeless style may be abhorrent to you; so if you have a favored designer or fashion brand, that can also be a good place to start if there's not a particular magazine you enjoy.
Buying vintage clothing and working it into your every day wardrobe helps the environment, and it's good for your pockets too. These items have lasted literal decades, and they will last for you too! They need not be loud, bright patterns or sixteen pounds of ruffles, or overly fussy fabrics. They can be basics, too, which often do not get as much love and attention in the world of vintage. The author believes this is a sad oversight, as the construction of these items alone has immense value in our fast fashion world, much less the value of being made by union seamstresses in large part. There is plenty of love for the weird and whimsical from me as well but the best pieces, in my humble opinion, are the stealth vintage that everyone asks where they can get. "Oh this? It's actually 60 years old! I know, can you believe it!"