***Although I love the things I love with undeniable passion, I’ve come to accept that, at heart, I’m a bit of a dabbler. I mean I’m pretty durned dedicated to blogging, biking, and collecting gorgeous shoes, but there are countless other things that I have tried, tired of, and abandoned: Playing guitar, studying animal behavior, knitting, Pilates, and the list goes on. So, while I have the utmost respect for people who chose an interest, immerse themselves in that interest, and become proficient or absorbed, I seldom do that myself.
It follows, then, that while I have the utmost respect for women who dedicate themselves to a particular era or style of dress (See Casey, Solanah, and Fleur de Guerre for some amazing inspiration), I could never do so myself. I’m a confirmed dabbler, and although I adore vintage pieces, I will always dabble in vintage.
So when Gertie asked me to craft a post that shares some practical fashion tips with a vintage twist, I knew that - even as a dabbler - I was well equipped to do THAT! My definition of “vintage” is pretty loose, but I’m not sure that matters much anyhow. These strategies could be applied to any unusual garment or accessory, vintage or otherwise. And, of course, I’d love to hear how you all work vintage pieces into everyday dress, especially if you don’t style yourselves
strictly in one era.
The Vintage Centerpiece
Although your vintage items don't have to be the center of attention in your outfits, they certainly can be. And if you gravitate toward showier vintage pieces, you’ll find that they lend themselves naturally to being funky focal points. I’ve got a bright red polyester shirt with thousands of tiny dachshunds printed on it, and I can’t imagine making it fight with anything equally eye-catching. Pairing it with a white tee and some denim works perfectly, but anything more complex simply doesn’t work. Allowing a single, distinctive vintage piece to be the showstopper in an ensemble is a fun and easy way to make borderline-outrageous items more wearable.
The Vintage Accent
Vintage accessories can lend modern ensembles a throwback flair. Whether it’s jewelry, scarves, belts, or hats, including an accent from a bygone era can help make a good outfit great. A scarf with a bright, psychedelic paisley print needn’t be paired with a hippie-themed ensemble. It’ll perk up a pant suit, peeking out of your . It’ll add interest to a solid-colored shift. It’ll look amazing tied in your hair with a simple tee and jeans. When utilizing a vintage accent, choosing accompanying garments and accessories that are as era-neutral as possible creates balance.
The Vintage Mash-up
Mixing a decidedly vintage piece with equally interesting but sleek and modern ones is a great way to push your creativity. The vintage item is downplayed a bit, but still adds spice to the ensemble. I’ve worn a decidedly 80s, shoulder-pad-laden, zebra-print sweaterdress with a super trendy pair of studded gladiator heels to great effect. Pulling in of-the-moment pieces when you wear your vintage creates a pleasing mixture of eras and styles. I feel like this technique takes a bit more daring, but trust your instincts: If you think you’ve worked up a killer combo of 50s flair and present-day fashion, go for it.
The Vintage Undercover Agent
Since many vintage items are simple and pared-down, they can often pass for new. Although this may seem to defeat the purpose of buying vintage, I don’t believe it does. Many vintage garments are of fantastically high quality, and endure beautifully for decades, which means that they provide affordable options for wardrobe staples! And even if your 50s shirtdress looks just like the ones that The Gap is hawking this season, it’s fun to know that you’re sporting the real deal. I gravitate toward both undeniably weird vintage and unerringly classic vintage, and enjoy wearing both equally, but for different reasons. Don’t limit yourself to pieces that SCREAM “vintage.” Those classic, workhorse pieces will serve you well, too.
Some of these tips may seem a little self-explanatory, but I find that when I talk to women about vintage dressing they often feel it’s an all-or-nothing proposition. I’ve never dressed in head-to-toe vintage pieces, and wouldn’t have the foggiest notion of what to do with period-accurate undergarments. But I still consider myself a vintage lover, even as a mere dabbler, because I employ these strategies to make the most of my retro pieces.
Do you employ any of these techniques to work your vintage into daily wear? What else do you do to keep those pieces in rotation? Anyone out there prefer period-accurate dressing? If so, do you ever break your era up with modern garb? What’s your favorite way to make the most of
your vintage pieces?