STYLE: Modern Vintage

Back when my friends were carrying their high-end designer handbags, I broke trend by sporting a 1950s black floral needlepoint purse found in a local thrift store. I loved the idea of having something special and being different, though many people immediately devalue “thrift store” finds as outdated items with no real or current wardrobe or fashion usefulness. Tisk tisk

The truth is that vintage items are so much more than just fashion castaways from yesteryear. They are iconic clothing and accessory items which had super-licious style back in the day— and continue to rock it even today, and in some cases even more so. For instance, for your upcoming holiday events or special occasions, add a special one-of-a-kind vintage find or a treasured ancestral hand-me-down. Your look is sure to be eclectic yet elegant, plus completely matchless, which is unequally yours. Own it!

Wearing vintage isn’t something just for a certain age group, or for offbeat corky eccentric people, or those on the financial low. To prove it, here is a list of hot celebrities who can afford to buy any designer item money can buy yet frequently strut vintage wear— in addition to modern designs—at red carpet events: Barbra Streisand, Drew Barrymore, Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts (who happens to be in town and is just two feet away from me!), and Rachel Zoe (a Hollywood designer).

Whether you are a veteran or a novice at incorporating vintage wear into your wardrobe, there are some things you may want to consider. For instance, wearing vintage attire from head to toe is considered costuming, so save this for theme birthday party events or similar festive occasions. Although, for a unique look with a fresh twist, take a single timeless treasure—such as a glamorous black faux-curly lamb’s wool stole—and add a montage of vintage brooches. Wear with modern hot-off-the-rack clothing in any choice of neutral colors for your updated blast from the past.

Often original pieces— such as the three-tiered 1950s necklace I received from my Grandma Marie’s estate (seen on model Melva Curry)—have missing or broken pieces such as earrings. Something to consider is to coordinate vintage pieces with complementary pieces from your local department or specialty store. Current selections of bracelets, rings and other needed pieces to complete your set are easy to find when you bring your heirloom to the store. I took my Grandma’s necklace to Dillard’s where I sought out assistance. In a matter of minutes, the sales associate presented several options which complemented the copper and iridescent stones, taking my one-of-a-kind heirloom hand-me-down from the bottom of my jewelry drawer to being functional and completely wearable.

Another important point to remember is to try everything on for size and fit, including hats and jewelry. Since 2010, it’s estimated that over 80% of all clothing has Spandex incorporated into the fabric. This is not true for clothing manufactured prior to 1970. With this information, expect vintage fabrics to have either less give or no give. Also (sorry, ladies) be prepared to wear larger sizes. Given that people use to be smaller in both height and weight, head sizes were also smaller. This 1920s felt hat fits perfectly while several other fabulous head-candy hats were too small.

For all intents and purposes, vintage is considered 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, while retro is usually 60s, 70s, and 80s. Retro means things that have gone out of style and are more than a decade old—or easily said, things that may still be in the back of your closet. Retro is popular now with high schoolers and young adults, those who could not have possibly been alive or shopping when the style initially launched.

I love the idea of replacing buttons with collectable buttons on either an already owned or a newly purchased item. This is called refashioning. Swapping out buttons is incredibly simple and will totally change the look of a stodgy or simple garment from ordinary to extraordinary, with just a whip of a stitch! Some of my favorite rare and collectible buttons are Czech glass, rhinestone, colored gemstones, moonstone, vegetable ivory, ceramic, enamel, and tortoise. Brass uniform buttons are highly prized as well. Alternate complementing buttons to make outfits look over-the-top incredible, if not memorable!

Decide what type of vintage style you would like. For novices, it is best to choose an era and stick with that timeframe. For instance, do you like modern 1920s? Do want to have a little something from the 50s or 30s? Maybe you want to have a little romantic Victorian style. Anything goes—just remember the rule to add one special piece to your modern department or specialty store find.

Have fun! Inspiration is as close as old pictures of your parents or grandparents or movie stars from glamorous eras of days gone by. Be confident in who you are and what you wear, always. Expect friendly interested comments and glowing compliments. People will definitely admire your style and be inspired by your avantgarde approach to fashion.

When looking for places to shop, Goodwill and other charitable locations are local favorites. My personal favorite, and that of local movie stars, is Bohemian Spirit Vintage in Oklahoma City and Anty Shanty in Norman, along with Nichols Hills estate sales & area flea markets. Where will yours be?

Top 10 Vintage Must Haves

  1. Cocktail Dresses, Beaded Skirts or Tops
  2. Stoles, Shawls & Scarves
  3. Purses
  4. Belts
  5. Earrings, Necklaces, Rings & Pearls
  6. Brooches
  7. Hats
  8. Shoes
  9. Furs
  10. Buttons

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