The 10 Commandments of Wearing Vintage

Image of woman in book store wearing vintage designer clothing
Fashion trends and styles ebb and flow with the passage of time, but many experience a resurrection worthy of praise and adulation. Steeped in history and shrouded in mystery, vintage fashion is the holy grail of rare and timeless couture. Vintage clothing has become an identity for some and a time-honored tradition for others. Buying and wearing vintage clothing is both an art and a science, but what is vintage clothing?

Vintage clothing – including shoes and accessories – refers to garments and pieces originating from a previous era representing the high quality of a past time. Vintage has been part of the fashion world since World War I, when the new movement was born as a novel idea of reusing clothing due to the textile shortages experienced at the time.

Vintage clothing is more than just a fashion trend; it is a statement of biblical proportions that never goes out of style. In fact, vintage clothing appreciates over time like a fine wine. If you find yourself trapped in a modern world, turn to vintage for a chic look from your favorite bygone era by following these Ten Commandments to wearing vintage:

1. You shall not forget to wear vintage accessories

Image of woman holding vintage and pre used Louis Vuitton case and bag.

A proper vintage outfit incorporates complimentary vintage accessories. Vintage accessories are often made better than many modern pieces, plus they are usually less expensive. Pairing vintage accessories with your vintage outfits can take you to the next level. Add vintage handbags and tooled leather or braided rope belts to your outfit from any decade. Kick up some vintage dust in ‘70s leather wedges and heels or relax in some ‘80s woven flats or ankle booties. Spice up your outfit with vintage jewelry. For the ‘40s and ‘50s, inspiration wear Bakelite pieces or for a ‘60s and ‘70s look wear plastic baubles. Top off your new look with a vintage hat and add a pair of vintage sunglasses to transport you back in time. Sport a pair of big ‘70s John Lennon style wireframes for a back to the past look.

2. You shall not wear vintage head to toe

Image of man with hermes belt and Louis Vuitton bag

Just as you’re not supposed to wear all denim, you also shouldn’t wear all vintage, unless that’s the look you’re going for. Try pairing a vintage piece with a new, modern piece. This can help to avoid looking like you’re wearing a Halloween costume. Try mixing a vintage half or full skirt with a plain top or a vintage ‘70s shirt or sweater with skinny jeans. Remember to add vintage accessories to both vintage and modern outfits to complete the look.

3. You shall not be afraid to mix vintage with new


Wearing vintage and new clothing together helps to separate an outfit and break up the monotony, creating a unique look. Mix-n-match vintage and new to stand out, it’s probably the easiest way of working vintage into your wardrobe. Mixing the two eras can accentuate one over the other, or vice versa, and make the outfit more wearable. Go through your closet and pick out new and vintage clothes you can mix up, it helps create outfits and transition into vintage clothes easier. With this strategy it will become easier to wear vintage every day without even thinking about it, you’ll become fashionable while feeling comfortable and looking sexy.

4. Remember to dress around one centerpiece


Just like a work of art, you want to create a focal point that draws the eye in or around your outfit. Pick a piece you want to showcase and work around it, mixing or layering pieces without covering up or hiding the focal piece. This showpiece can be a hat, a novelty pin, or a purse. Whatever it is, make it stand out against the backdrop of your outfit. This will give you a chance to make a statement, maybe even start a conversation. Remember to keep it simple; a pair of shoes or lipstick can be enough to create a centerpiece masterpiece.

5. Honor your vintage clothing

Keep your vintage clothing and accessories in mint condition by caring for them properly. Vintage dresses, for example, may have ornate decoration and embellishments such as beading, sequins, and embroidery that require special handling and cleaning. Vintage clothing is often made of delicate fabrics such as silk, satin, or lace. Wear these pieces with care, and wash them with even more care. If you want to be able to wear vintage more often without so much TLC, look for sturdier pieces made of cotton, rayon or other synthetic fabrics that will last longer and are easier to clean. While some retailers clean their vintage clothing before a sale, it is good practice to clean or wash all new purchases.

Here is a quick guide on how to clean vintage clothing: Even if the garment is pre-cleaned by the store, don’t hesitate to do it yourself; old clothes can irritate the skin if not properly washed. Before dunking your new vintage in the wash, look for the cleaning instructions on the label; this can help avoid any disasters! If there aren’t any instructions, they may be available online. But, most often you can be safe with regular dry cleaning methods or with a gentle machine cycle or wash by hand.

6. You shall not murder the vintage look

Dressing in vintage clothing is a special hobby not everyone can pull off. Do yourself a favor and research vintage eras and styles so that you don’t commit a vintage fashion faux pas. People who know vintage will notice if you’re killing the style. Start with your own fashion sense: are you a tomboy? A girly girl? A career woman? Work your own personality and attitude into your vintage outfits so that they don’t appear forced and you stand out for the wrong reasons. Regardless of your style, there may very well be an equivalent that can help you transition into vintage without compromising the vintage look and your credibility.

Visit many vintage shops for inspiration and education, look at what the store models or employees are wearing, even jump on Pinterest and search out vintage outfits. Soon you’ll be a pro and be able to spot vintage fraud. Another aspect to consider is the fit of the vintage clothing. Put the outfit on and stand in front of a mirror, if you see wrinkles going up, down, or across your body, it’s most likely too tight and if it doesn’t hug your body or it sags, it’s probably too loose. Aim for something in the middle to achieve the right fit. If you find a piece you like that is too tight, get the one that’s a size bigger, if available. You always have the option to have the piece tailored.

7. You shall not be afraid to commit frumpy

Vintage and new images of chanel

What may now be considered frumpy was fashionable at a time. The trick to wearing vintage clothing and not looking frumpy is understanding the style, era, and how to wear the frumpy, vintage clothing look without the stare of others. For example, there are many tweedy two-piece suits that can be very fashionable; the trick is not to wear the skirt and jacket together like a librarian. Rule of thumb, don’t wear a bag.

8. You shall not steal vintage glory by wearing faux vintage

Understanding what looks vintage versus what is vintage is very important. Transparency of information is key to making intelligent decisions and choices when you shop. Therefore, know your designer, know your era, and know your retailer. Check the tag and check with the staff if you have questions, a little information goes a long way!

9. You shall not bear modern hair and makeup

You’re hair and makeup will generally look modern, unless you dedicate many hours to recreating exact vintage hair and makeup styles, so work within your limitations. Vintage women did sport some unique hair and makeup, some that may even be difficult to recreate, but when you’re attempting to complete a look, remember that simple is a good strategy that goes a long way.

For example, a ballerina bun with hairpin makes a vintage statement without much effort. Also, subtle makeup such as smokey eyes or red lipstick dramatically enhances a vintage look with only one color. While this sounds simple enough, it may turn out different in practice. Try one style of makeup with multiple styles of clothing to learn what combination works best.

Find what works for you and your particular body type, facial features, and vintage style that interests you most. If you have a passion for vintage, this should not be a difficult task, but instead an enjoyable one.

10.  You shall covet vintage clothing


Contrary to the original 10th commandments, feel free to covet - crave and desire - vintage fashion. You shall enjoy shopping for vintage clothing and dressing up in your favorite era. This is, after all, the era of online shopping where ancient rules don’t apply and a new outfit is just a click away. The only question that remains is where to buy vintage clothing? You can raid your parents or grandparents closet or you can visit your local vintage boutique, but they won’t have the large inventory we carry here at The Chic Selection.

There you have it, the Ten Commandments to wearing vintage fashion without committing a sin. Remember these tips and tricks when out shopping or browsing online to help you make quality purchases and create a truly vintage closet and a vintage life.
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The Chic Selection is your sustainable marketplace with the finest selection of authentic vintage and pre-owned European luxury designers from the most reliable second-hand boutiques in Europe and in North America. Most of these consignment boutiques have no e-shop therefor The Chic Selection chose to build for them a dedicated  platform giving them a chance to be part of the internet world. The Chic selection offers used, nearly new, rare or limited edition of luxury goods such as handbags, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry and apparel from brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Goyard, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, Balenciaga, Balmain, Bottega Venetta, Cartier, Céline, Chloé, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Givenchy, Lanvin, Alaia, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. The Chic Selection guarantees 100% double authenticity through the experienced knowledge of the boutiques’owners as well as The Chic Selection’s team and experts. More than a website, The Chic Selection founder’s new vision goes beyond the business itself to widespread social betterment, planet care and financing our world’s tragedies through donations that will only be possible with your purchases. All trademarks that show on The Chic Selection site are the property of their owners. The Chic selection is not affiliated with the brands that are being sold but each article is guaranteed authentic by The Chic Selection or a full refund is given .

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