Karl Marx once said that history repeats itself. One look at the current fashion trends and we can see that’s true. Fads from the 60s, 70s, and 80s are coming back to life.
Vintage clothing brands allow you to relive the glory days of decades past. If you want, you can wear a different era every day of the week. There’s just one problem: how do you get the right look for your style without clashing?
Before you head to that online vintage clothing store, we have a few tips. Keep reading for the definitive guide on finding your look with vintage clothes.
Basic Principles of Fashion
Before you drop any hard-earned money on vintage clothing, it pays to know some basic fashion principles. Clothing is an art form, and so is wearing it. Just as a painter draws the eye or excites the senses, a clothing wearer can do the same.
Let’s cover some ground rules before we get you started.
Understand Color Matching
Take a look at a color wheel. Find a color you like. Now, look for the color on the wheel directly opposite the one you have chosen.
Congratulations, you have just discovered your color’s complementary color. Every color has a complementary color.
It’s easy to find, too. Just draw a straight line across to the opposite side of the wheel.
We say complementary because these colors go together well. They “complement” one another in paintings as much as clothing articles. This is a built-in psychological reaction humans have when experiencing both colors in the same presentation.
For example, yellow and purple go together very well. You’ll find that combination on the jersey of the LA Lakers.
This isn’t the only method for combining colors. As an example, pastels all tend to go together regardless of color.
Simply put, understand now that mixing colors is a very delicate business. Store them in your wardrobe by color, too. This helps to select an outfit for the future.
Understand Your Body Type
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: your body type. There’s no shame in admitting that you are broad-shouldered or pencil-thin. Everyone has a body type, and embracing it is the best path forward.
However, don’t wear clothes that don’t go well with your body type. If you have those broad shoulders it’s probably not a good idea to have chunky shoulder pads. Something that emphasizes your waist or feet might be better.
That brings us to a second suggestion concerning body type: accentuate your best features. Perhaps what’s unique about your body is the best part. Perhaps it’s not.
In either case, build a wardrobe that does justice to your weight, muscle density, and height. Embracing who you are–physically–helps build outfits that are more successful in execution.
Store Your Clothing Properly
Chances are, your mother still has her original wedding dress. There’s just one problem: she is hanging it from a hangar.
Believe it or not, that is a storage faux pas. Storing sentimental items in the long term should be done in a box, with wood blocks to protect from pests and odors.
Storing your clothing properly is just as important as having the right kind. Store each article in accordance with its type. Hang shirts, but fold jeans and leave them in the drawer.
Buy quality wooden hangers with smooth, broad shoulders. This helps to reduce damage to the fabrics and hangs them right. Get a few velvet hangars for those articles that fall off the wooden ones.
Wash it Right
When washing, many use hot water, a ton of detergent and wash clothes after every wear. This may seem like typical laundry advice. However, using every strategy above for every wash means you’ve fallen victim to common laundry myths.
Some of your vintage clothing will be actual vintage clothing. You know, the sort that was around when your grandparents were spry. Naturally, old things need extra care.
They don’t make clothing like they used to, sure. But even the best-made trousers break down under the wrong pressure.
Get used to reading tags. They give vital information on how to wash, steam/iron, and store the cloth. If there is no tag, then research the material online.
Proper treatment can make a garment last for years. Perhaps even generations. You will save a lot of money by treating your vintage clothes well rather than buying more.
Finding Your Style
We’ve got the basic principles out of the way. Now, it’s time to find your style. Let’s discuss ways you can establish your style and build a wardrobe around it.
Know Your Personality
One of the best ways to style your clothing is based on personality. Identify which of the following fit you as a person before you get started:
- Introverted or extroverted
- Loud or quiet
- Solemn or irreverent
- Humorous or serious
- Physically active or inactive
Immediately, you can probably see some aspects that have intrinsic properties. Someone who is more outdoorsy probably prefers tennis shoes over loafers. So, write down line-item aspects of your personality and find clothing that matches.
That said, this isn’t gospel. Many people wear clothing that clashes with their personality type. As a general principle, use who you are as a basis and then go from there.
You can’t know unless you try. At first glance, an article of clothing may not seem to be your type. Put it on, strut in front of the mirror, and you may just discover you were wrong.
We highly recommend visiting a vintage clothing store in person. There will be a ton of mismatched, wacky outfits. Assembling them into a prototype outfit may help you to discover something that works for you.
In contrast with the rule above, don’t always adhere to your style. Experiment from time to time with new things. You change as a person as the years go by, and your outfit should as well.
Learn from the best. If you have seen someone do it well before, try it yourself. There’s a very good chance that it works with your body type and style.
Look anywhere you can for inspiration. You can follow celebrity Instagram accounts, use fashion magazines, or base your ideas on people you know. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to open your eyes.
Mimicking what you see teaches you invaluable principles that you’ll need going forward.
You may have a knack for putting outfits together. Even if you do, though, get feedback. Ask friends and fashionistas alike to weigh in on your getup.
This is a critical step because you may not realize you’re committing a faux pas without said feedback. You could be going weeks or months wearing an outfit wrong. Having the humility to ask for advice and pointers goes a long way.
Choose Vintage Clothing Brands for Your Style
Now you are ready to go. With the basics in mind, let’s discuss tips on how you can build a wardrobe with vintage clothing.
Focus on a Specific Decade
There’s nothing wrong with bouncing around from the proper 50s to the drug-induced 70s. There’s infinite fun to be had tasting each individual era. However, give special focus to the one that suits you best.
So, if you are an 80s child at heart, build on that time period. Snatch up those bomber jackets, ankle boots, and high-waisted denim.
Focusing on one period helps you to refine your wardrobe. It also helps to save money. If you bounce around too much, you’ll have a lot more clothes–forcing you to expand in order to style with them.
Build Mood Boards
Mood boards are all the rage these days. Long story short, a mood board is a grouping of clothes that fit a specific mood. Think dark colors with blue and purple hues for a rainy day.
Mood boards help you to assemble outfits faster. They also help you to organize and extend your wardrobe. If your mood board for Beach Sunday is looking dry, you can buy more clothes that fall into that category.
Most importantly, it prepares you for every occasion. You never have to worry about showing up to work in the same outfit twice. If a special event comes up, you’ll have just the outfit for it.
Find Garments Similar to Current Trends
As we’ve said before, fashion is a revolving door. Old trends eventually come back, and history repeats itself. So, find vintage clothing that keeps with modern trends.
In recent years, we have seen corsets, bell-bottom jeans, and kitten heels make their return. If one of these vintage garments shows up on your local store’s display, grab it for your wardrobe. It allows you to incorporate a vintage feel in a subtle, stealthy way.
Of course, factor your style into the equation. Suppose for example, that you are a minimalist. The recent trend of k-pop stars using bulky, plain 90s clothes may be an excellent choice for you.
Mix-and-Match Old with New
No one said you had to do vintage exclusively! The beauty of fashion is that you can mix and match. Feel free to include modern trends sprinkled in with your vintage arrangement.
For example, say you stumbled upon a nice 50s pencil skirt. Nothing is stopping you from pairing it with sexy modern heels.
The benefit of mixing and matching is that you expand your options tenfold. Instead of limiting yourself to specific decades, your existing mood boards have more possibilities.
Separate Statement from Complement Pieces
Every wardrobe has two types of clothing in it: statement pieces and complement pieces. Statement pieces are the show stoppers. This is, that article of clothing that will be the first thing people notice.
The thing with statement pieces is that they don’t play nice with other statement pieces. You wouldn’t want to wear your gold necklace with your jewel-studded denim jacket. It detracts from both pieces and weakens the overall outfit–or makes it more confusing.
Thus, make an effort to delineate statement pieces from all the rest. Use them to headline specific outfits or moods. Gather enough so that you have a statement piece for every occasion.
Complement pieces, although less noticeable, are still valuable. They help the statement pieces and the outfit overall to shine. Make sure you have a diverse repertoire of complementary pieces.
Add a Dash of Personality
It’s easy to get sucked into the pitfall of believing certain decades need to stay rigid. That is, if you are wearing a 20s trenchcoat and vest, you needn’t spoil the outfit with something out of place.
Again, what’s great about fashion is that there are few hard rules. Contrary to popular belief, there is no cardinal requirement demanding that you preserve the feel of certain vintage clothing.
Let’s go back to the trenchcoat and vest outfit. Some might say it would be absurd to have blue boots with that arrangement. We say go bananas, if you like it.
Of course, don’t have something that looks ludicrous–unless that’s your intention. You can create surprising, inventive, satisfying outfits by adding a flourish here or there.
It’s too easy to become absorbed in the details. Many a person stresses out over constructing perfect outfits. They fail, however, to consider one important thing: enjoying themselves.
At the end of the day, have fun. If it’s stressing you out to include vintage outfits, then take it slower. Treating this like labor will only ruin the joy you should be experiencing.
Go Vintage Today
Vintage clothing brands allow you to experience the aesthetic of previous generations mixed with the current one. There are plenty of vintage options that will fit your specific style. Use our guide as a touchstone while you build mood boards and occasion-based outfits.
Follow our blog for more ways to level up your fashion sense.