Vintage accessories can be a unique way to add style to your look, but there are definitely right and wrong ways to go about wearing them.
Wear one correctly, blending in perfectly with your existing style, and you’ll evoke an original aesthetic while adding to your existing fashion cred. Make a blunder, and you’ll end up looking tacky or out of place.
So what are the rules for wearing vintage accessories, like vintage jewelry?
Let’s start with some basic “must” rules:
- Dress around a standout piece: If you find a piece of vintage jewelry or vintage clothing that you absolutely adore, try to make it the focal point of your look, and dress around it. For example, you may have to change the rest of your outfit to accommodate the color, shape, or stylings of the item—or to draw more attention to it. In any case, your vintage accessory doesn’t have to be just an accessory.
- Make adjustments: You might find an accessory that isn’t quite right the way it is. It might be the wrong color, or you might hate the way the buttons look, or you might gag at the sight of the neckline. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to make adjustments. If you have a sewing machine, and a creative spirit, you should be able to alter your clothes and accessories to look just the way you want.
- Use multiple layers: Layering is especially important in fall and winter, but year-round, it can serve as a powerful way to compensate for the weaknesses of your different pieces or to show off your vintage accessories in a new light. Definitely try to incorporate your vintage clothes into a layer with other items.
- Invest in tailoring: When buying vintage, you’ll likely be buying something that was a perfect fit—for someone else. If you find a vintage ring you like, be sure to take it to a jeweler to have it sized appropriately. If you find a stunning jacket, take it to a tailor and have it fitted to you. The nature of the fit can make or break the look, so take the extra effort and spend the extra money to get the fit right.
- Mix the old and the new: You can often enhance the look of a vintage fashion item by pairing it well with something newer. For example, wearing vintage jewelry while sporting a much more modern outfit can complement and enhance the look. It also shows that you take your influences from multiple eras, so long as your overall style is consistent (or at least that all your fashion items are mutually supportive).
- Give every piece a chance: Your initial reactions to a vintage piece, like a pair of vintage earrings or an old dress, might be reluctance or hesitation because it doesn’t fit with your modern look. However, it’s important to avoid writing off these pieces so early. With a little brainstorming and a little creativity, you might be able to find a way to integrate even an obscure piece into a stunning outfit—and improve your image overall.
Choices to Avoid
Now let’s look at some strategies and pairings to avoid:
- Don’t cash in on old trends: Many fashion fads have come and gone over the years, most of which died for a very good reason. If you find an old dress, blouse, or skirt that looks like it was part of one of these painful trends, don’t touch it. Good vintage looks are timeless; it shouldn’t be obvious that your look came out of a previous decade.
- Avoid dressing in vintage head-to-toe: Vintage fashion items are typically best worn as accessories, or as individual standout pieces. If you try to dress head-to-toe in vintage fashion items (even if those items are from the same era), you’ll look like you’re wearing a costume.
- Don’t forget the dress code: Vintage clothes and accessories aren’t an exemption from the typical rules of dress. For example, if your work dress code demands formality, it would be inappropriate to wear something too flashy—even if it might have been appropriate in a different era.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment: It’s hard to find the perfect vintage look for you, so get creative and try new combinations.
Fashion is a tricky business. It’s important to know the rules, but it’s also important to know when it’s appropriate to break them.
Pay close attention to these fashion tips when wearing vintage accessories, but once you feel more comfortable with your personal style, you may find an appropriate time or place to bend or break them entirely.