The fun in dressing vintage comes from giving new life to styles that have withstood the test of time.
However, wearing an outfit that consists purely of vintage pieces can feel like a costume—which can be fun to rock on special occasions but will not be appropriate for everyday wear.
Bringing an old trend back can be a risky balancing act, but when achieved will be aesthetically rewarding. Here’s how to tastefully incorporate vintage into your daily wardrobe!
Stick to single statement pieces
The least overwhelming way to slip your vintage aesthetic into everyday wear is to take one vintage piece a day and make it the focal point of your ensemble. A statement vintage piece can elevate the look of an otherwise ordinary outfit, and modern clothing can tame the costumey look of the vintage item and make it appropriate for day wear.
Keep the modern items simple and quiet – you want your vintage piece to be the center of attention, so the supporting elements of your outfit should provide an unobtrusive and well-coordinated backdrop for it.
Dress it down with denim
What gives head-to-toe vintage outfits their strong vibe is the fact that the outfits of yore were meant to be cohesive and occasion-appropriate. This means that individual pieces were usually part of a matched set, and each outfit was intended to be solely for formal or for casual use, with little room for crossover appeal. As a result, even the most informal of vintage getups look very deliberate, and in current times such a look can come across as trying too hard.
Enter denim! Denim is a catalyst for casualness, making it the perfect inhibitor for a bold vintage piece. Throw on a jean jacket over a ritzy dress or pair an elaborate top with jeans or denim overalls to instantly transform your vintage pieces into more street-worthy attire.
Play with prints
Like we said, fashion in years past was all about committing to a look from head to toe. People from decades ago were not afraid to take a swath of fabric in a bold print and sew an entire top-and-bottom set out of it.
If wearing dots or animal prints or rainbows all over is not your style, what you can do is inject just a pinch of the psychedelia into your outfits. Wear a printed vintage top with your basic black slacks to work; on the weekend, put on a plain top over loud printed bottoms and casual shoes. The key to embracing the kaleidoscopic patterns of the past is to balance them with plain contemporary pieces in order to modernize the look.
Layer right down to your legs
A quick life hack to take your dress or top-and-skirt ensemble back in time is to wear it with tights or stockings.
Black, brown, or grey tights will harness the Anne of Green Gables look without going overboard. These muted colors will be appropriate for even the most somber of events or workplaces. Meanwhile, plainer dresses might benefit from brighter choices like white, red, yellow, or even printed stockings. If the occasion (and the weather!) permits, you might even try layering tights by wearing lace stockings on top of colored ones.
Take note that since your bottom half will be emphasized, shoe choice is crucial — coordinate with ankle boots, mary janes, or loafers to preserve the vintage appeal.
Accessorize to break the ice
If you’re more the type to dip your toes into the pool than to dive straight into the deep end, start by wearing a modern outfit with vintage accessories. Vintage accessories are an elementary addition to your usual wardrobe, but the possibilities will be endless. Here are some accessory updates you can try to infuse that vintage touch into your day wear:
Channel Audrey Hepburn with a string of pearls or pearl earrings of an appreciable size.
Replace your usual belt with one that features a statement buckle, or chuck belts altogether and hold your pants up with a set of suspenders.
Upgrade your work blazer with vintage cuff links or an intricate brooch.
The trick to giving an old piece breathe new life is to show it some respect. Invest in basics that you can comfortably mix and match to let your vintage items take center stage: trusty jeans, a white shirt, a little black dress, a denim jacket. An old trend will persist today because it has character and staying power — and your everyday, modern items should sit back and let it tell its story.