Thursday, March 4, 2010

Old is the New New

I've been figuratively wrestling with "vintage" recently. Often, it is the term thrown around just to say you like something. Ironically, it doesn't have to be old. It can be "vintage-y." In my home town of Portland, we worship vintage. I see people everyday cycling in vintage garb, traipsing about in their grandma's old clothes, whatever. It's a great excuse to make something seem special. Instead of a designer name, the response to a compliment is "it's vintage." Now, I own my fair share of vintage. Probably more than my share, in fact. But I'm going to stop. (Mostly. I'm not about to stop collecting brocade dresses.)

To wear vintage properly, you must posses one other thing - taste. The most common mistake is wearing vintage as it was intended to be worn. In other words, do not pair your vintage pumps with your vintage skirt and blouse with your hair in fingerwaves and a vintage hat as the cherry on top. Instead, wear a 1950s house dress with reckless gladiator sandals. Pull out a giant, droopy black hat to spice up your beautifully draping ensemble of grays and blacks. Try brightly colored '60s or '80s pumps with your favorite pencil skirt. Or mix up jeans and a black t-shirt with a vintage hat and red lipstick.

The goal here is not to look like a time machine just dropped you off or like you're channeling your grandmother's mother in her prime. Vintage should be like punctuation. I've seen more than a few cleverly placed commas and appropriate semi-colons, and it can be a beautiful thing. The tasteful use of vintage will get you compliments left and right - and you too can just say, "oh, it's vintage."

Did she just walk out of a movie set? Time machine?

Vintage blazer, pocket square, tie, and glasses? Really? Perhaps a bit much.

This girl is in Sweden, so don't mind the vintage fur. Her hair is a popular style from the 1920s, but she balances this nicely with her very current skinnys and boots.

Vintage specs, trench, and hairstyle, updated with trendy trousers and t-shirt.

Vintage belt with vintage inspired skirt and bangles. The slim fitting tank and loose hairsyle turn a decade party outfit into something stylish and worth a second glance.

Vintage blazer and shoes become chic and clean with cropped skinny trousers and a loose, gray top.

All photos thanks to TheStreethearts. First and third by Andreas Schjonhaug, all others by Eirik Slyngstad.


  1. Abigail, in my opinion it is twice as difficult to work with vintage wardrobe: one really has to have a very storong sense of texture combinations. To tell you the truth - I rarely see people who are able to look great in vintage. Most attempts are, of course, adorable, but always miss something.
    I have a wonderful award waiting for you in my Blog. :-)))) Wishing you spectacular week !

  2. Just stopped to wish you beautiful weekend :-))) I hope you are enjoying your Spring :-)

  3. That small girl at the top looks dwarfed in her apparel, maybe she should have chosen a fitted top to keep her in balance.

  4. I know! Good eye, CT. I like her hat. I think with heels and a dramatically different top it could work.