People sometimes give me weird looks when I tell them I sell vintage clothes. They have images in their head of ruffly pastel ’70s prom confections or their grandmother’s drab polyester frocks. The general definition of vintage is something that is 20 years or older (which means -- oh god -- the ’90s really are becoming vintage). I have a special place in my heart for vintage from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
But I have curves. Lots of them. And I’m tall. Back in the day, women in general were smaller in stature. There are many vintage pieces I love that I could never fit my body into without the help of a really, really good tailor (and another yard or two of fabric).
There are also tons and tons of hideous vintage pieces out there -- clothes that didn’t even look good the first time around. We’ve all contributed heaping trash bags to our local Goodwill donation center. When I talk about vintage, these are not the pieces I’m referring to.
I believe that everyone -- and every body -- can incorporate vintage into their wardrobe to give it a special dose of uniqueness and style. The best way to give your outfits some vintage flair, no matter what your shape or style, is with accessories.
Vintage accessories are often better made than their modern counterparts, and you can find high-quality pieces for cheap. Vintage belts, boots and shoes, bags and costume jewelry can take your outfit to the next level, and very rarely will you end up wearing the same thing as someone else you come in contact with.
Here are some shopping and styling tips and photos to show you the huge array of options.
Designer bags cost upwards of $300. Vintage bags were made better, so you can find great leather or textile pieces for cheap.
I love (type these into an Etsy or eBay search bar!) ’50s wicker bags, ’30s and ’40s Whiting & Davis mesh bags (their Art Deco pieces rival any evening bag I’ve ever seen), ’70s tooled leather shoulder bags and bright ’80s clutches.
I am a belt fiend, and most of my belts are vintage. I love tooled leather belts from the ’70s and wide belts from the ’50s and ’60s in various colors to accent full skirts and dresses. Other belts to look for: ’70s chain belts and ’80s braided rope belts.
TIP: Try it on! A belt that doesn’t fit on the waist of your low or mid-rise jeans may be the perfect belt for your favorite high-waisted skirts and dresses.
My favorite vintage shoes to hunt for are leather boots -- I’ve never paid more than 20 bucks for a pair. Other great vintage styles: ’70s leather wedges and heels, ’80s buckle sandals and woven flats or huaraches, early-’90s loafers and ankle booties.
TIP: For those with larger feet, try the men’s section for cowboy and engineer boots and lace-up oxfords.
Statement necklaces existed way before J. Crew’s bubble baubles. Every decade brought something fun or decadent to the table, from ’40s and ’50s Bakelite pieces to the plastic baubles of the ’60s to ’70s decadence (chain mesh bandanna necklace, anyone?). There is something for every fashion sensibility.
If you’re a hat person, go vintage! You will find amazingly crafted pieces for a fraction on what you would spend at local stores, and most of them will not be made from cheap synthetic materials. Translation: They will last a lot longer.
I confess: I lose or break at least two pairs of sunglasses every summer. I like to have several pairs of vintage glasses in my bag, from big ’70s glass shades to John Lennon-esque wire frames.
You can find plastic sunglasses for cheap these days, but you can find better quality vintage glasses if you spend just a few dollars more.
No matter your shape or style, I promise, you can find a piece of fashion history that fits into your wardrobe -- and you’ll start to wonder how you ever lived without it.
What vintage pieces do you wear on a regular basis, or own but you aren’t sure how to style them? What scares you about wearing vintage?
All images via Miskabelle Vintage Blog.