All You Need to Know about Vintage Clothing

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What is the difference between antique, vintage and retro?

The earliest vintage items date back to the 1920s, meaning that antique items are anything dating before the 1920s.  Vintage continues for five more decades, up until the 1980s.  From there, ’80s and ’90s clothes are considered retro.  Whether antique, vintage or retro, all pieces are timeless in a way that they’re unique and can be given a modern twist.  This way you can have a look nobody else has.

What are some advantages of wearing vintage clothing?

The fact that it’s set apart from modern clothing, yet at the same time, is not.  I personally prefer vintage clothing to antique or retro clothing, because antique can be too outdated. Vintage clothing is elegant and classic.  I think the coolest thing about vintage is that it never gets old – you can recycle it as many times as needed. 

I was rummaging through my mother’s closet recently while she was at the grocery store and my eyes fell upon a jacket that melted into my eyes.  It was beautiful, with red leather push-up sleeves and a golden zipper!  I took it off the hanger to look at who made it and I literally fell over when I saw the Gucci tag.  Ahh!!  What struck me the most was that I could return to school in the fall wearing a jacket that nobody else has.  While people frivolously search the stores for a fall coat at American Eagle, I can walk confidently into school knowing that no one will ever have the same jacket.  It gives me confidence knowing this because the jacket is simply me.  This is why vintage clothing is the best.  It’s timeless, fashionable and sophisticated.

Where do I find vintage clothing?

You can find vintage clothing in a lot of places if you dedicate some time into finding the right pieces.  You could visit local boutiques that carry vintage clothing.  Boutiques in general often carry one-of-a-kind things, and you’d be surprised at what you find stuffed on a lonely, dusty shelf in the back of a store.  Thrift stores are also a good place to look because they’re unique.  A lot of people turn away form thrift stores because they’re previously owned clothes, but you’d be surprised at what you can find! (Check out where AG writer Caroline goes thrift shopping.)

Another trick of mine is to look in the obituary section of the newspaper because there are usually garage sales of the “stuff” they simply don’t need. Trust me, you can find outrageously awesome pieces at some of these garage sales you’ll find nowhere else.

How do I wear vintage clothing without looking like I stepped out of a time machine?

Two words: start simple.  Look in your closet for plain or graphic tees.  Then look for random accessories like clunky bracelets and golden hoop hearings.  Dress it up!  The best vintage looks are only complete with the accessories.  Try a brown t-shirt with either a thick belt around the waist or a scarf.  A lot can be done to make the outfit look well put-together.

If you decide to go for the vintage look, you don’t necessarily have to wear a vintage skirt with a vintage sweater and vintage boots. Remember that we are living in 2009 – there are still some modern rules to follow.  I suggest looking in magazines like InStyle or Vogue to be inspired by unique, well-put together outfit. You could even check out personal style blogs like www.tavi-thenewgirlintown.blogspot.com/ or www.karlascloset.blogspot.com/ to see how they mix vintage with modern pieces.

Here are the ingredients for my perfect vintage look:

  • An inverted pleat skirt – either plain or with a pattern
  • A plain t-shirt (preferably brown, black or white)
  • A sleek handbag (I like some sort of washed-out color, like mauve)
  • Chunky bracelets
  • Ballet flats (lacey ones would be so adorable)
  • Neutral “throw-on” cardigan
  • Pair of oversized sunglasses
  • Optional- flower hair pin

inverted pleat skirt

 

AG red bow clutch purse, $28enamel chunky cuff

AG spring wedges, $20

Put everything together and there you’ve got it!  I mixed in some modern pieces like the cardigan and sunglasses and some vintage pieces, including the inverted pleat skirt and chunky bracelets.  This sort of vintage look is more reminiscent of the ’50s, with lace, pink and black. Add some red lipstick and a black handbag instead of a colored one and you’d have a ’40s look. If you wanted to do more of a ’60s look, use neon colored bracelets and a funky handbag with it.  Instead of ballet flats, wear Converse. 

Vintage clothing is simply timeless and chic. I advise anyone who doesn’t feel they have a style, or anyone who’s looking to accessorize their wardrobe, to try out a vintage look.  It may just be one thing you own that’s vintage – a floral brooch for example.  This floral brooch could be the thing that defines you and gives you a style.  Find that style and edge inside of you, and confidence will soon follow.

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3 Responses to “All You Need to Know about Vintage Clothing”

  1. Myles Dellapenna Says:

    I saw this really good post today, found it on google. i think i may return some time.

  2. clothing tape Says:

    Thanks that was a good read!

  3. Maverick Says:

    That’s cool 🙂 Good to know! Great tips here ❤

    xox, mavi

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