How to Pull Off Vintage Style Clothing (Without Looking Like a Circus Performer)

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Vintage Style

Many people simply miss the mark when it comes to dressing “vintage.”

It doesn’t need to be that way, though, and it can be relatively simple to hit the mark. If you’re a person who has an inclination toward vintage style clothing, you may want to make sure you’re wearing them well.

In other words, you need to know how to pull them off.

How to Pull Off Vintage Style Clothing

Vintage is a pretty broad term. There are a lot of eras that reflect different ideas, attitudes, and personalities. In order to really pull off a style, it should reflect something about you and who you are.

Know the Era That You’re Going For

Many people go to a local thrift shop and find a “grandpa sweater,” put it on and call themselves vintage. That’s fine, but it isn’t necessarily going to work out.

You probably want to dress in a way that signifies the fact that you’ve put effort into your look.

You want people to know that you’re dressing this way as a reflection of your personality and attitude. You can lace yourself with different things from different eras, but you should know which era it comes from and what it says about a person.

The 1900s – 1920s

While most people tend to gravitate toward the 70s and 80s, there are a select few who can pull off the older looks. The early 20th century held the rise of a little more personal expression. To the modern person, though, these looks are still antiquated and are easily identifiable.

The 1920s look comes when a person wears ornate gowns, corsets, lace-up boots, or glamorous slip dresses. These pieces of clothing are nice and reflect a level of class. The look comes in and out of modern popularity, but there is something timeless about the clothes from this era.

If you’re trying to incorporate this look into your wardrobe, the best advice we have for you is to mix and match. Don’t go all-out 1910s and not expect people to stare at you. This look is beautiful and can be blended well if you can mix the old and the new.

A great way to do this is by incorporating accessories instead of full articles of clothing. There are some great vintage accessories that you can view here to accentuate your look.

Maybe a slip dress would be accented well by a modern sweater or cardigan. The unfortunate thing about clothes that are this old is that they are pretty bold. If you want to go this far back into the history books for style, you’re going to have to go all out.

Fortunately, as we move forward in time, things get a little less bold and a little more easy to incorporate.

The 1930s – 1940s

The style of the 30s and 40s is a vintage goldmine. The clothing was classy, ornate, and simply stunning. Especially for women. Women tended to wear knee-length dresses, tightened around the waist, with some form of accessory to incorporate into the hair.

The garments that women wore were comprised of less fabric and plain colors. The arrangement of the dress was what really mattered, and the result was usually something form-fitting yet modest. The simplicity of this time came from the fact that materials were being used for the war efforts, making clothing a thing of less importance.

Another result of the war was the implementation of pants for women. These were typically high-waisted pants with fluffed out legs around the ankles. Both of the styles listed here are modern favorites, so be on the lookout for anything forties.

It’s recommended, though, that if you do try the forties look, you do it all out. The look isn’t anything too different from the clothing that people wear today, and it will likely only serve to make you look and feel a little classier.

A common mark of the fall-forties is the two-piece dress and jacket. Typically a plaid sort of pattern, these combinations form a stunning combination that takes you back 50.

The 1950s – 1960s

These times held a whole lot of change. The fifties were not far off from the forties in terms of dress. A lot of two-piece suits, dresses, and pantsuits. The 60s, however, are a different story.

The 60s were a time when everything changed. Something shifted in the current of the American collective unconscious that made art and culture explode into uproar and brilliance.

The thing about it is, the dress changed too, but not in ways that are currently popular.

A lot of the vintage clothing that we see today comes from the 70s and 80s, although the sixties do hold some gems that we can take from. In terms of women, think the Jetsons. Women had clothing that was angular, easter-shaded and containing crazy patterns.

It seems that the 60s are the same as the 20s in the sense that if you’re going to do it, you should probably go all-out. The same goes for men. Bell-bottomed jeans and shirts with long, pointing collars can be incorporated into a modern look, but they’ll need to be well complimented.

That being said, there are subcultures of style to be found in the sixties. A lot of the clothing that would have been considered normal, even modest in the 60s reflects a lot about a person who wears it today. Thin ties, neat combinations of pant and shirt and muted colors in 60s style are very attractive in today’s age.

The 1970s – 1980s

The 70s gave birth to a lot of the patterns, styles, and fin outfits that we scour thrift stores for today. The 70s clothing is easily incorporated into modern styles, and much of it can be easily found online or in thrift stores.

There are, of course, some styles that aren’t that groovy in today’s age, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Crazy bell-bottoms, wild patterns and designs, frills at every turn, and large shoes were staples of the 70s. Those styles are still being created today, but the trend is to keep those features, just tone them down a little bit.

Think “Austin Powers Light,” paired with a couple of items to mute the smell of reefer and disco, and you’ll be on your way to pulling off the 70s look. History repeats itself, though, and anyway you swing the 70s you will be alright. It’s ok to be a little bold if you’re feeling it.

The 80s were a little different, though. Some of the 80s dress can seem out of touch for many people today, as it is what the parents of most millennials wore in their hayday. This era was home to shoulder pads, big hair, and a lot of spikes for some reason.

One thing that survived the 80s, though, is the presence of beautiful dresses for women. These articles are elegant, falling somewhere between punk and princess, reflecting a free spirit that’s rooted somewhere in reality. This is probably because the men of the 80s were so far gone stylistically that the women had to keep some semblance of order.

In any case, the 80s may be best left to themed parties and carnivals. If you do choose to sport some gear from the 80s, though, accentuate the wild color schemes. A lot of vibrant colors are found in funky patterns from the clothing of that era, and it will be a huge hit if you can pull it off.

The 1990s

Look to the 90s for the muted, cool vintage look that so many seek today. Whether you like it or not, someone who can pull off a 90s look is someone who has an air of cool about them.

This doesn’t have to mean grunge t-shirts and baggy jeans. There’s something effortless about the well-fitted 90s style. Something elegant too.

It seems that comfort became popular and this is reflected in the attitude. This brings us to our next item– attitude.

Having the Right Attitude

No, we aren’t saying that you should emulate the voices of people from the 60s. We’re not even saying that you should act any way that you don’t normally. The trick to pulling off vintage clothing of any kind is to be confident in what you’re doing.

Own whatever you choose to wear and make sure that you are comfortable with it before you leave the house. Half of the battle in being comfortable in your own clothes is understanding why you’re wearing them, what you like about them, and what you will say to the haters.

You are drawn to specific clothes for whatever reason, and the important thing is that you are wearing what you like. That’s wonderful, and not everyone has the confidence to do that, so own up to it– you rock.

Keep Up on Your Fashion

The world’s styles are always changing. As we can see from history, the styles aren’t always great, but some are, and we should be ready to pounce on the good ones.

If you want to keep up with trends in vintage style clothing, we have everything you need.

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