INSIDER’S GUIDE TO SHOPPING FOR CHIC VINTAGE

Tuesday July 28, 2015

WHY WEARING A VINTAGE PIECE SAYS A LOT MORE ABOUT YOUR STYLE THAN YOU REALIZE

 

When I lived in London i was obsessed with SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE AT portobello market in notting hill.  

Street vendors would set up at dawn and I would be there with my lukewarm attempt at homemade British tea - often in the rain, shivering, but it didn't matter...my heart was racing, completely driven by the THRILL of finding that one piece that would change my life.  You can say I'm easy to please (and that may be true on the subject of style discovery) but nothing is more exciting than embarking on a Sherlock Holmes style hunt for the piece that makes you fall in instant love when you turn to look in the mirror.  You don't know how you've lived so long without it, and your mind races with the million outfits that will be exponentially better just by its existence...the experiences you'll have together...the places you'll travel and the street style you'll conquer...this for sure...is the one.  That gut reaction, that excitement, that instinctual connection means more than you realize.  It means (whether you're conscious of it or not) that you've tapping into a confident sense of style within that knows the brand of you and what can best express it.  It's why a few amazing, standout pieces that work for the brand of you can crystalize your look as individual.  No one will be walking down the street in the same vintage embroidered jacket or bold polka dot skirt.  

Every season there are a few things on my list.  Last winter I was inspired by old Russian floor length vests and this season the Dolce & Gabbana runway has me scouring Ebay to find a plethora of vintage brooches in my hair.  Gold, pearl and crystal brooches to be exact.   I'll admit the vintage world can be overwhelming and I've been shopping with friends that frankly don't see the joy in it, but you have to appreciate the process as much as the celebration of finding an amazing needle in a haystack.  Part of the love of vintage is taking a journey through the past via racks of clothing tied to times when we lived life and dressed very differently.  Each garment with a storied past, it's an amazing fashion diary of life from long ago. And with the right modern styling, a vintage piece won't look like a throwback- it will look like a style heroine, your style heroine.  Here's three tricks to shopping for pieces that define the brand of you...

 

1. Shop WITH A VISION IN MIND

Great style is not an accident.  It's developed through personal exploration of what you do and don't gravitate towards.  Navigating the waters of the sometimes overwhelming vintage world also starts with knowing what you like. Mixing vintage into your look is a guarantee of a truly personal look, even when a look is "on trend." Most current fashion is influenced by an era from the past. In fact, many trends on the runways are a result of multiple designers referencing the same vintage designer influences and/or the same decade blended with their modern twist.  A great place to start your exploration is actually by looking to modern fashion to determine the looks you love and then identifying the vintage reference points in those collections. Valentino’s Fall 2015 collection was abundant in lace, ample sleeves and high collars drawing on inspiration from the Victorian era.   Looking for vintage pieces that have those same elements will achieve the same style mood.  Make a Pinterest board with images and looks that stand out to you within your vision to guide what you are shopping for and help you edit.  

 

2. MAKE IT Modern

 It's important to note the vintage inspiration and how a designer makes a throwback piece modern through styling. The key to wearing vintage is to only wear one piece in your look and style that piece back to current accessories and clothing.  The goal isn’t to recreate the past, it’s to style a look that looks current but is unique to you.  If Victorian is inspiring to you, pair a vintage high neck lace blouse with a modern a-line leather midi skirt or pair 70's vintage flared jeans with a modern crop top and bright colored heels.  It's all about the mix of current silhouettes worn with one piece from the past that will make the look work.  The polka dot skirt in the picture of me above is one I recently bought at a vintage store in Bushwick on a scout with Natalie Holst of Holst + Lee.  I paired the vintage, voluminous shape with a modern emerald green Barbara Bui suede wedges and a black mesh crop top for a standout look blending old and current fashion trends.

 

3. CHANNEL YOUR INNER DESIGNER

The best part of vintage shopping is the endless possibilities a garment can hold. When you find a great piece, think of it as a designer would.  Last winter I came across the most fabulous, eccentric fur jacket.  It was a really great fur coat at a vintage store but it was too bulky and old-fashioned to wear as it was, so I cut off the sleeves and turned it into a super chic vest. Sometimes you have to see past what something is in the moment and think about what it could be. You don't have to be as impatient and experimental as I am with a pair of garden shears and a mission, but think about how you can direct a tailor to alter your piece (alittle shorter, minus the sleeves, more tailored) to be exactly what you had in mind.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Becky Byron