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How to Wear Vintage Without Feeling Like You’re in a Costume

7 practical tips for wearing, styling, and sewing vintage fashion.

Posted in: Seamwork Radio Podcast, Style & Wardrobe • April 3, 2024 • Episode 186

When you’re getting dressed in the morning, your goal is to wear clothes, not for your clothes to wear you. And if you love vintage fashion, sometimes it can be challenging not to feel like you’re walking off a movie set or cosplaying as a character from another era.

But we love vintage fashion.

So, how can you incorporate vintage into a modern wardrobe? Here are 7 tips.

7 Practical Tips for Wearing, Styling, and Sewing Vintage Fashion

  1. Pick a single detail. Look for a collar or a trim application and incorporate it into a modern sewing project.

  2. Remember the rule of 3. If you want to go full vintage with a garment, consider three outfits you could wear with more modern styling. For example, you can throw on a denim jacket over a vintage dress or wear a vintage sweater with jeans with a modern cut. If you can find three ways to wear that vintage piece with your modern wardrobe, it’s a perfect choice.

  3. Learn from the experts. Find your favorite style icons and emulate the decades they wear. You might as well copy styling tips from a pro. You can look for bloggers who incorporate vintage fashion or go straight to the source and study how Jane Birken, Marilyn Monroe, and Josephine Baker styled their outfits both on and off stage.

  4. Get to know your fashion history. Train your eye to spot nods to vintage in modern trends by taking a crash course in fashion history. For example, wide-legged pants are back. The 90s cut is trendy right now, but look back at earlier decades that favored wide-legged pants. You’ll find similar references in the 1970s and 1930s. One of those decades might resonate more with your style.

  5. Play with vintage patterns and fabric. Sew vintage patterns in a modern fabric and palette. Or, sew modern patterns with vintage fabrics.

  6. Explore niche vintage fashion. Learn about tailoring, menswear, trims, appliqué, and lingerie. Some of these details might only be visible inside your garment, but you never know what you’ll learn.

  7. Wear vintage accessories, hair, and makeup with a modern silhouette. This can go both ways. You can also add modern accessories and styling to a vintage outfit. It’s all about creating design tension so you aren’t directly mimicking a particular era.

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