How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits title

Mixing vintage clothing into your modern wardrobe is anything but daunting. With a few guiding tips below and reflection on your own true personal style the process will seem less overwhelming and more exciting. First things first; go through your current wardrobe and remove anything you do not wear or is not working for your current look. This will bring you into a place where you can really think about the clothing and accessories that you really love. Take this time to reflect consciously on pieces you wish to add to your wardrobe that will complement it rather than stick out like a sore thumb.

The main goal for mixing vintage pieces into a modern wardrobe is to do it in a manner that allows you to build outfits that look modern; meaning the outfit is styled so well that the vintage element could very well be modern to whoever is viewing your outfit. Let’s get started with some basic tips that you can bring with you on your shopping trip. Brainstorm on a piece of paper if needed while going through these tips. It will be a great starting point for your vintage shopping adventures.

1. Choose a Vintage Clothing that Reflects a Current Trend from the Runway

Styles from the past decades are the most consistent source of inspiration season to season on the runway. Keep tabs on re-emerging trends that you can look for at vintage and charity stores. This is a perfect way to keep your wardrobe fresh and modern. Not to mention a great way to try out new trends without splurging on costly runway pieces. Trends can range from color, color combinations, to specific cuts so keep an open mind when exploring trends.
Here are a few modern trends to consider scouting for on your next vintage shopping trip:

  • How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits PastelsPastels-Pastel colored gems are all the rage this season. Update your closet with this new trend by going pastel wild when you hit the local vintage or charity shop. Add a pop of pastel via a dress, a blazer, a pair of shoes, or even a lovely pastel colored blouse will do. Bonus points if you can find a one piece jumper in a pastel color on your vintage hunting adventures.
  • How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits floralBold Florals- Floral dresses will always be on trend. This season floral prints on the runway came with a bold twist. This is a perfect trend to lookout for at the vintage store. The 1970’s is a great decade to look out for this type of floral print.
  • How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits platform shoesPlatform Shoes – Platform shoes are everywhere this season! If this is a style you love, don’t miss out. Be bold with this style or keep it simple, either way the platform is a statement piece on its own. Not to mention it’s a great way to add some inches of height if that is something you are looking to do.

2. Choose Timeless Styles that Will Always be on Trend

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits trench coatTimeless pieces can range from the super stylish little black dress to the daring fur jacket. Most important is choosing timeless pieces that will work for your style. Trench coats, loafers, tight leather jackets, and the flirty floral dress are not going out of vogue anytime soon, and maybe just what your wardrobe is craving. After you find the classic styled piece, the next thing is to look at the shape and cut of the garment. Does it work for you? If not, can it be altered by your seamstress to fit better? A jacket like a trench coat is easier to find in the proper fit right off the bat than more fitted pieces; don’t be discouraged and just start where you feel the most comfortable.

Fur jackets work for my style, so I consistently am on the lookout for statement fur jackets. These are really on trend now too and will never go out of style. I’m always looking for trench coats too which happen to be having a time being highlighted as spring trend. I adore trench coats and the best part is that there is nothing wrong with having a nice trench coat collection or just upgrading your current trench to something better.

3. Keep it Simple and Start with Vintage Accessories

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits accessoriesOne amazing place to start incorporating vintage into your wardrobe is the accessories department. Be adventurous here and explore your favorite statement pieces for something unique to add to your closet. From shoes, to handbags, to jewelry, by shopping vintage, your pieces will build an even more personalized and unique look for yourself. One of my personal favorite vintage items to buy are handbags. Designer vintage handbags are very popular to collect and are a nice way to build a unique collection. Don’t be afraid to take in a handbag or pair of shoes to be revived by a professional. It is highly encouraged to take care of these items in a careful manner. Statement jewelry accessories are super hot right now. These sorts of accessories can add up fast when purchasing new but are so plentiful in vintage and thrift shops even!

4. Find a Seamstress for Alterations

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits SeamstressWhen buying vintage it can take time to find the right piece, let alone a piece with the right fit. You will open your world to more vintage clothing by being open to altering vintage pieces rather than relying on finding pieces that fit like a glove right off the hanger. Fit is super important for any piece of clothing, modern or vintage. With this sort of open mind your shopping will be more enjoyable and more rewarding for your wardrobe and personal style in the end. Other alterations to consider include shortening the hem of a skirt, bringing in the waist, or even removing shoulder pads from a garment. The latter could most likely be done by yourself but for special cases take to the seamstress.

5. Have a List of Items you are on the Lookout for

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits make a listThis tip may not resonate at first, and that’s okay. I felt overwhelmed at times when first starting to shop vintage stores, but the rush of finding those key pieces that later became staples of my wardrobe for many seasons over was totally worth it, and kept me coming back. I don’t ever feel nervous when walking into a vintage shop now, mostly just excited. One constant on my list always are timeless vintage pieces. Other things are the basic vintage staples that are ‘in’ right now; more on that later. You should already be building a list as we go through these tips that work with your wardrobe. So basically the list that I keep mentally is how I navigate the store when I first walk in and then my shopping becomes more organic. I do this because it can be hit or miss when shopping vintage so it’s best to be open to maybe finding what you are craving after a couple of trips out vintage shopping.

6. Find a Vintage Piece that Acts as a Statement Piece and Style around it

How To Wear Vintage Clothing With Modern Outfits statement pieceBuild your outfit around a statement piece. In this case the statement piece will be your vintage piece. To keep it super simple make the statement piece an accessory like a vintage purse or vintage shoe with on trend elements. For more advanced vintage fashion wearers, choose a larger article of clothing that really draws the viewer of the garment in. A fun and bold floral dress from the 70s is on trend currently, and it will take more care to find modern shoes and accessories to really pull the look together. The great part about this styling approach is that you will more than likely come up with multiple ways of styling around just a single vintage piece. This is not bad, particularly if you are just starting with adding vintage pieces into your wardrobe.

7. Take Advantage of the Modern Vintage Craze for Inspiration

With the rise of clothing brands like Nasty Gal and Modcloth which offer their customer base modern clothing that is vintage- inspired to the point of almost looking vintage, there is an endless stream of inspiration for even those with little to no vintage fashion experience to see what vintage styles are trending. These are also great places to find more modern cuts of classic vintage styles that may be harder to get your hands on due to everyone wanting to get their hands on them. For example the high waist 90s denim trend that has been around for years is rampantly being reproduced in the modern fast fashion world.
For people who can’t find that perfect fit of jeans at the vintage shop, they can instead find a pair at one of these shops to pair with their new 90s vintage tee. Take advantage of this resource to round out your looks without looking to kitsch. The cuts are meant to be slightly more modern without losing the essence of the piece. A word to the wise, catching the trends before they enter the world of fast fashion is the sweet spot and will keep you more fashion forward than even you’re most stylish friends.
Here are some pieces from Amazon that fit the bill of Modern Vintage Craze Inspiration:

Marycrafts Womens Silk Vintage 1970s DressMarycrafts Womens Silk Vintage Green 1970s Dress

TheMogan Women’s Button Up Washed Denim A-line Skirt High WaistTheMogan Women's Button Up Washed Denim A-line Skirt High Waist

ReoRia Women’s 50s Style 3/4 Sleeve Rockabilly Pinup Vintage Dress (Premium)ReoRia Women's 50s Style 3/4 Sleeve Rockabilly Pinup Vintage Dress

Voodoo Vixen Callie Women’s 1970’s Spring Floral & Butterfly Embroidered Denim Romper Voodoo Vixen Callie Women's 1970's Spring Floral & Butterfly Embroidered Denim Romper

DRESSIS Cami Slip Dress with T ShirtDRESSIS Cami Slip Dress with T Shirt

HIKARE Women’s Vintage Velvet Short Sleeve Casual Mini DressHIKARE Women's Vintage Velvet Short Sleeve Casual Mini Dress

Jane Stone Vintage Black Velvet 90s ChokerJane Stone Vintage Black Velvet 90s Choker

8. Modernize and Upgrade your New Vintage Gems

Don’t be afraid to change the buttons on a dress or shirt. Add a bit of embroidery to that vintage denim jacket you scored, or even color block those 90s high waist shorts you just scored at the Goodwill. It’s all about making your unique vintage find that much more unique and personalized for you!

9. Modern Hair and Makeup Look

This simple rule of thumb may seem obvious, but is key. This is especially true when opting for a bolder piece. Keeping the hair and makeup simple is a fun way to create an interesting juxtaposition between simple (makeup + hair) with wild (the vintage statement piece). Not all modern hair and makeup looks are simple so if wild hair and makeup plus a wild print call your name, go for it. Just make sure its modern.

10. Look out for Vintage Basics that Are on Trend Now

Vintage basics is not an official term so let me lay it out for you. Ever since that song Thrift Shop came out by Macklemore, the vintage craze was reaching a new found peak and as a result some clichéd ideas of vintage store basics emerged. While for some this cliché is really how they dress, it’s most important to understand that even if a vintage piece may seem ‘cliché’ and over done, it will not be as long as you stay true to your style! These styles have become synonymous with vintage store finds for a reason after all.

Some vintage basics to scour for when you are at the store include, vintage tees, worn in leather jacket with tight fit, leather pencil skirt or mini skirt, a chic printed silk blouse, and even a beautiful floral dress from the 90s. Also, yes your friends grandparents hand me downs from the 60s through 80s might not look quite as bad as you think. Just remember it’s about your personal style and if the above made all parts of your inner style goddess run the opposite way, it’s ok. There are endless numbers of styles for you to explore in vintage shops. Good luck!

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Alexandria Martinez
Alexandria Martinez
6 years ago

I am going to get my mother a pair of Rockabilly shoes that she has wanted for a while, but we are struggling to come up with ways to wear it. Your advice to look into the modern craze for vintage styles is a great tip. She would really like getting to explore that avenue of retail.

Shayla Cademis
Shayla Cademis
4 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion to look for vintage clothing that resembles current trends! I desperately need to update my wardrobe but want to opt for used pieces. Hopefully I can find some great clothing items in my local area!