5 ways to wear vintage without looking like a period movie actress

Have you ever been curious about vintage stores full of amazing treasures, unique pieces and designer originals but have been worried you might end up looking like an extra from a period movie set? There are many reasons to love vintage clothing: from the unique design, quality fabrics & tailoring, to the historical value and, of course, the ability to score designer attire at a fraction of the price.

But incorporating these one-off beautiful pieces into your wardrobe can be a challenge: how do you wear vintage clothes and still look current and stylish?

Now, before we dive into the tips and tricks I’ve got for you, let me say that wearing head to toe vintage can look stunning, breathtaking and traffic-stopping. But this is a commitment to just one style period not many of us are prepared to make so here are 5 tips if you are looking for some interesting ways to incorporate vintage pieces into your current wardrobe.

1. Forget Perfection

40’s, 50’s and 60’s fashion has one thing in common: perfection in every detail, from immaculately ironed clothes to skillfully coiffed hair. The easiest way to create a “fresher” outfit is to break through this impeccable styling and to go for a messier, nonchalant look. Go ahead and pop that collar, roll up the sleeves or go for a messier hair bun. The whole outfit shouldn’t look like you’ve tried too hard… easy-breezy-beautiful.

Forget Perfection, how to wear vintage

Casually throw on your boyfriends’ blazer and swap your heels for some trainers to create a nonchalant daytime look.

2. Contrast with Denim

Mixing your vintage pieces with denim is one of the easiest ways to break up a head-to-toe classic look. This is especially true for more dressier items you might want to wear in the day time. Denim immediately adds a casual element and updates any vintage item.  For example, try to pair a vintage blazer with a pair of “boyfriend jeans” and trainers or 40’s full skirt with a denim jacket.

modern way to wear vintage
combining a vintage blouse with a modern denim skirt

Wear a vintage blouse with a denim skirt and ankle boots for a fresher modern look.

5 ways to wear vintage without looking like a period movie actress

Go ahead and combine a flowy vintage skirt with a heavy sweater to create a girly, fragile autumn/spring look.

3. Mix Formal with Casual

A little variation on the previous point, but one of the most difficult to achieve in a balanced way. If you look at photos of street-style fashionista’s you will notice an effortless mix of formal and casual styles. Use these looks as an inspiration. For example, an 80’s pencil skirt can be worn with a fresh white T-shirt or with an oversized sweater. You could get really creative and experiment not just with the pieces from your own wardrobe but also with the ones from your partner.

wearing vintage: Mix Formal with Casual

Combine elegant vintage necklaces and brooches with a casual sweater or man’s shirt.

An intricate dressy blouse can be worn with a cardigan and jeans for an “easy” day-time look. By combining casual and dressy items you’ll get more wears out of your vintage clothes… and that’s sustainable 🙂

4. Natural Hair and Makeup

One of the quickest ways to style a vintage outfit in a fresh and current way is to keep hair and makeup neutral. Avoid a full-on theatrical makeup and hair and stick to natural styling for a modern look. This is an especially good tip for when you don’t have so many items to mix and match, like when you are wearing a dress or a pantsuit.

wearing vintage in a modern way: Natural Hair and Makeup
nonchalant hair and makeup with a vintage jacket

Keep the hair and makeup natural to wear a baroque jacket in a modern way.

5. Blend Decades

Perhaps the most difficult tip to get right is to mix decades in one outfit. The best way to get this right is to just practice, practice and practice. Sometimes, the most wonderful unexpected results come from a lot of trial and error. Try to not just mix the pieces but their traditional wearing order to get the most interesting looks: why not to wear a 90’s T-shirt or a thin sweater under a 40’s dress or throw a modern parka jacket over a 50’s dress. Go wild, you know you want to!

wearing an Obey sweater with a vintage pencil skirt

Here I’m wearing a vintage pencil skirt (that I borrowed from the LENA Fashion Library) with my favorite street style brand “Obey”. By combining the skater-style sweater with a formal skirt I created a more exciting, unexpected outfit.

interesting way to wear vintage: Blend Decades

Wear a feminine gothic blouse with your partners’ oversized sweater and casual jeans for an exciting mix of styles.

There are many reasons to love vintage clothing: from the unique design, quality fabrics & tailoring, to the historical value and, of course, the ability to score designer attire at a fraction of the price.

What is your favorite way to wear vintage clothes?

8 Comments
  • March 8, 2018

    All these outfits are so cute! You have great style. I have never thought to incorporate more than one decade together. Will need to try out some of these suggestions.

  • March 9, 2018

    Thanks for all of these ideas. I like the idea of mixing formal and casual – it looks so cool on people.

    -Lauren

  • March 10, 2018

    I love the idea of breaking up an outfit with denim to avoid looking too costume-y. All of the outfits here are to die for, I really like the sweater with the flowy skirt I actually think I could pull that one off!

  • March 12, 2018

    I love vintage clothing!!! I need to wear more of my favorite pieces.

Leave a Comment: