One of the most common things I hear about vintage fashion is “I love vintage, but I just don’t think it suits me,” or simply, “I don’t know where to start.”
If you’re someone who wistfully eyes up the girl in the epic vintage dress sashaying past but thinks that you can’t pull it off, hear this: wearing (and buying) vintage is easier than you might think! It just takes a little time and a dash of confidence in your inner style maven.
Defining ‘vintage’: what’s in a name?
With the word ‘vintage’ being thrown around pretty willy nilly these days, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first.
When we talk ‘vintage’, we’re referring to a piece of clothing that is more than 20 years’ old. So, clothing from 1910 to the 1990s is considered vintage. Any older than that and we’re getting into antique territory, which is a very different beast.
If a piece is less than 20 years’ old, it’s considered secondhand or pre-loved. While Green Door is purely focused on vintage, I love (and wear) both vintage and secondhand!
Hello, I’m a vintage virgin. Where do I start?
First, welcome to the good side! Where the clothes are one-of-a-kind and they don’t cost the earth (side note: if you want to dive in to how bad fast fashion is for our lovely planet and why vintage is such a great sustainable option, I’ve written/ranted about it over here).
There’s no doubt that dabbling in vintage for the first time can be a little daunting (where to start? what to buy? so many options!), so I’ve pulled together a few handy tips to help you get started:
The first thing I always tell people is you don’t need to dress head-to-toe vintage. In fact, I rarely do, as part of the fun of vintage for me is styling it with contemporary pieces. So just pick one item that you love and go from there. It could be something as small as a vintage belt, or as classic as a great leather jacket you can style with anything.
Own your signature style
We’re all different, which is the spice of life, right? Knowing your own unique style, your body shape and what cuts suit you makes it 100 times easier to find vintage pieces that look like they were made just for you. Stick to the cuts, colours and fabrics that you love (and that love you back), and you can’t go wrong.
Get back to basics
We tend to think of vintage as the show-stopping, iconic 70s or 80s pieces, but vintage doesn’t have to be loud. There are so many fabulous basics out there to build a great vintage collection. Think Levis 501s, a beautifully cut pair of silk pants, or a rad vintage band t shirt. Once you get more comfortable, you can add to these basics with other pieces.
Fun fact: vintage sizing is smaller than modern sizes. Yep, us humans have gotten bigger over time, which is why vintage clothing is quite small. This is why you either need to: a) try items on if you are in a shop or marketplace; or b) check the measurements if buying online.
The size tag in a vintage garment does not reflect today’s sizings, so if you are buying online, I can’t stress how important it is to check measurements against another piece of similar clothing in your wardrobe that fits you well. Most online vintage sellers (me included!) would always recommend you contact them to find out more about a piece you are interested in.
Mix it up
My favourite way to wear vintage is styled with modern pieces. It’s accessible, it’s fun and it’s also a great way to dabble in vintage without feeling like you’ve stepped out of a 70s time warp (not that is a bad thing, just not for everybody). So, take that rad 80s sequinned jacket and pair it with some casual denim and a white tee. Or throw a belt on and a cute blazer over that vintage Laura Ashley dress. The (vintage) world is your oyster, baby.
Designs on vintage
If you’ve got your eye on designer vintage specifically, my recommendation is to find a reputed vintage seller – designer vintage is pretty special (and these days it’s not cheap), so it’s worth finding someone that can help you find the perfect piece.
As with all designer items, the devil is in the details. Check for quality finishes to ensure authenticity – look at the stitching around the seams, pockets, hems and necklines, and check the labels for any spelling mistakes or an altered logo.
My last (cheeky) tip? Raid your mum or dad’s wardrobe! Or your aunt’s, or your nana’s! What better way to kickstart your vintage journey than with a piece from your family, full of rich history and memories? I know my mum had some beautiful vintage pieces in her wardrobe and I often wonder why I didn’t think to get to her save them all when she moved. The pieces I do have I will treasure forever.
Dabbling in vintage really will open up your wardrobe to so much possibility and, what’s more, so much fun. That’s the beauty of vintage – it’s a chance to be a bit playful and quirky and really find your signature style without taking yourself too seriously.
It’s also good for the planet to keep these gorgeous pieces from yesteryear in circulation, rather than stocking up on the latest fast fashion trends only for them to end up in the landfill a few months later. Understanding what a threat fast fashion is to the earth means that I love my vintage pieces even more. Ax
Visit our online store to view the latest vintage ♥️ you can also find us at Clem’s Cargo Marketplace, 38 Tweed Street, Brunswick Heads NSW. Open 10am – 4pm Wednesday to Sunday.