Vintage clothing has long been a passion of mine, the perfect option for when you want to feel unique and stand out from the crowd. But wearing vintage in a way that makes a chic statement without going overboard can be tough, I’m usually aiming for early days Carrie Bradshaw but admittedly can sometimes end up dressed like Hannah from Girls (we’ve all been there). For that reason I couldn’t be more excited that Jess, the founder of vintage boutique Ela Hawke Vintage, agreed to share her top ten tips for wearing vintage pieces.
Ever since we met a few years ago I’ve been envious of Jess’ ability to put together the perfect outfit – eye poppingly gorgeous vintage pieces mixed with classic high street items and the perfect accessories. Cases in point: how to wear camo, mastering the crop and adding a pop of neon. Wearing vintage in your everyday life to this effect is a serious skill and I couldn’t be happier that she agreed to come out from behind the camera today to not only tell us but show us how we too can make it work in our vintage wear.
Ten Tips for Wearing Vintage
1. Decide your best assets
My number one rule when wearing vintage is to know your body shape. What looks good on one person may not necessarily look good on another. It’s so important, especially with vintage, that you wear what you know looks good on you. You might have a small waist so be sure to choose pieces that highlight this. Or you may have a curvier figure so prefer to wear something long and flowy. Get to know your body and your best assets and it will make styling vintage clothing a whole lot easier.
2. Stay true
I’m a sucker for colours and interesting prints, the bigger and brighter the better, but I understand not everyone feels the same way. We all have our own sense of style and unique taste which should reflect our choice in vintage clothing as well. Stay true to your style and keep in mind shapes, cuts and colours that work for you or even a particular material you like to wear such as silk, denim, crochet or lace.
3. If the shoe fits
So many times I’ve bought a piece of vintage clothing or held onto it just because ‘I had to have it’ even though it wasn’t quite the right fit. There’s something about wearing vintage clothing when it’s a little too big or not the right shape and it just looks too obvious and a bit silly. When you’re styling vintage make sure it absolutely fits you perfectly. Or only purchase it if you’re a wiz with the sewing machine and can easily adjust it to your measurements – and commit to making those updates.
4. Be inspired
Stay up to date with current trends by what you’re seeing in magazines, on blogs or your favourite fashion websites or even Pinterest. Trends come in and out and it’s good to keep in mind what current styles, colours, textures and prints are popular as it can make the process of buying and wearing vintage a lot more fun.
5. Back to basics
Buying or wearing vintage for the first time can be a little daunting. Where to start? What to buy? If the idea of wearing an insanely printed 80s jacket or a fully sequined dress is too much to handle then stick to the basics. Start by building your vintage collection with perhaps a vintage denim shirt, a pretty floral dress, a nicely worn leather jacket, a printed silk shirt, a leather pencil skirt or a cool vintage tee. These basic pieces will help you to familiarize yourself with wearing vintage and help to build a really great wardrobe that can easily be styled with other pieces.
6. Mix Vintage & New
If you want to wear vintage but you’re worried about looking like you stepped out of your grandmother’s closet, a good tip is to mix and match your vintage pieces with your new, contemporary pieces. If you’ve found a beautiful bohemian 70s maxi dress, update it with a new denim jacket and sandals. Maybe you’ve found an amazing 80s sequin top but you want to dress it down with a pair of new denim shorts. Or you may want to style your new skirt with a vintage handbag and vintage sunglasses. The key is to mix it up with basic pieces like jeans, denim shorts, a striped top or a white shirt. Don’t go too overboard in the one outfit if you’re not used to wearing all vintage.
7. Be bold & daring
So if being safe and sticking to basics is not your thing and you think you’re ready to take on the idea of vintage clothing then go for it! Seek out something that is unique and that reflects your personality. A statement jacket or bold necklace or some brightly coloured cowboy boots are the perfect starting point. If you’re going to go all out try to make that one piece the standout piece, team it with basics or black and white for the right look.
A good rule when wearing vintage clothing is to make sure it’s styled with great accessories, and this can mean using new or vintage accessories. I can’t begin to describe how much a simple belt can update a look or give you more shape, especially with a vintage dress. Try adding a bit of character to your handbag and tying a vintage scarf around the handle. Or you might even like to give yourself a new look with a pair of vintage sunglasses. So many simple tweaks can be done to keep your whole look interesting and new.
More often than not you can get caught up in the hype of buying vintage because there’s only the 1 item. You can end up buying pieces that don’t necessarily suit you but you just ‘had to have’. Take a step back and really visualize whether or not that piece will suit you and if it’s the right style. Do you already have something similar? Will it go well in your wardrobe? How easy will it be to style with other pieces? These are a few questions you should ask yourself before that impulsive urge takes over.
10. Be confident!
Remember to style your vintage with confidence and a smile! Be proud that you’ve chosen to wear something unique and different as opposed to what everyone else is wearing. I can guarantee you’ll get the most comments and compliments when you’re wearing vintage.
Photos by Sean Condon