December 15, 2022
Last Updated on May 11, 2023 by Dominique de MerteuilHome » Vintage Fashion Tips »
Tips on Mixing Vintage with Modern Fashion
You often ask me in comments how to wear and mix vintage clothes with those of contemporary designers. The thinking behind this is to avoid looking too costumey or like an extra from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Not that there is anything wrong with looking like you’ve just stepped out from a scene playing the part of a murderess in Miss Fisher’s show.
I would almost be willing to sell out Mr de Merteuil to medical experimentation for such a privileged opportunity, as I’d very much love to be fighting crime in a 1920s couture gown along with the glamorous Miss Fisher.
For full disclosure, I only have half a dozen garments made post-the 1950s so for the purpose of this post, and to show you how to pair true vintage with modern pieces, I borrowed a few items from the closet of my very stylish mother.
How to Mix Vintage with Modern Fashion
Back to the topic at hand, however, the answer to how to mix vintage with modern fashion is simple.
- Start with one vintage garment, or accessory, at a time.
For a complete novice, I would advise that you start with something as straightforward as pairing a dress, skirt or slacks from a contemporary designer with a piece of vintage jewellery or a bag. You would be surprised how much a vintage brooch can elevate even the most basic outfit.
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A few examples from my vintage brooch collection dating from the 1940s to the late 1960s.
The late 1950s or early 1960s Koret wicker bag is the perfect accessory for a true vintage and modern outfit.
I often choose French Sole velvet slippers to add a bit of glamour to a casual look.
My Favourite French Sole Velvet Slippers
The Vintage Dress for a Modern Look
For those of you who feel a little bit more courageous, I recommend splurging on a vintage little black dress, if you like dresses that is, and pair it with contemporary shoes.
Pick timeless pieces:
When it comes to vintage clothing, it’s important to choose pieces that will stand the test of time. You want items that are well-made and that won’t go out of style.
How to style a little black dress in a vintage way.
In the picture, I’m wearing a 1950s dress which I accessorised with a patent belt and leather purse from the same era.
The detachable collar is from a contemporary designer I found on Etsy.
Incorporate contemporary shoes and hosiery.
Even though most of the clothes in my wardrobe are from the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s, I always buy contemporary shoes.
French Sole velvet slippers go perfectly with all my vintage suits and dresses, SPITZ saddle sneakers are a real show stopper and happen to be the most comfortable among my footwear. I also love, Manolo Blahnik and Gucci pumps because they go with everything in my wardrobe.
I often pair my 1940s suits, like the one in the picture with contemporary SPITZ Saddle shoes
SHOP MY FAVOURITES
Pair Vintage Clothes with Modern Hosiery
Wolford and Chantal Thomas have a great selection of stockings and tights with bold prints. And when you pair them with vintage clothes, they will give the look a modern edge.
How to Mix Vintage with Modern Fashion
- Old (I believe it’s from the 1980s) Ralph Lauren coat that I wear as a dress
- Biba silk blouse
- Antique Cameo
- Wolford Lea tights
- Gucci Padlock shoulder bag I borrowed from my mom as I only buy purses from the 1940s and 1950s.
SHOP MY LOOK
Use Vintage as Inspiration for the Contemporary Look
One way to mix vintage with modern is to use vintage clothing as inspiration for contemporary designs.
This can be a great way to add a touch of vintage style to your wardrobe without having to wear actual vintage clothing.
Every designer I can think of takes inspiration from vintage and antique clothes. Ralph Lauren is great for the Gosford Park, country chic look.
- Ralph Lauren jacket
- 1980s slacks
- Scarf from Madame Dabi
- Riding crop from Harrods
SHOP MY FAVOURITE GUCCI UK
Once you find your perfect vintage or vintage-inspired outfit, don’t forget about the mandatory red lipstick!
My No1 choice of late is the Besame lipstick in the most delicious shade of red.
For my lovely readers, 25% off the entire order!
How to Wear Vintage Clothes and Still Look Modern
The key to wearing vintage and looking modern is all about balance.
Wear it with confidence:
One of the best ways to wear vintage and look modern is to simply wear your clothing with confidence. If you believe in your outfit, others will too.
VINTAGE CLOTHES WITH A MODERN TWIST
- Biba blouse from the 2007 collection. I’m selling the matching Biba wide-leg trousers!
- 1950s skirt
- 1930s tilt hat
- Wolford tights
- Faux fur muff from Helen Moore
Read about the most luxurious faux fur from Helen Moore.
Tips on Wearing Vintage Clothes with Modern Pieces
- For those who are just starting their adventure with vintage fashion, I suggest you invest in the 1940s or 1950s skirt suit. It’s easy to pair a vintage skirt with a contemporary blouse or a vintage jacket with contemporary slacks.
- The most important rule to remember is to wear only what you feel comfortable in! I can’t stress this enough, as there is no point in spending your hard-earned money on a pretty but impractical collection that will spend its days as a wardrobe display.
- You can never go wrong with the 1930s coat no matter what you wear underneath. Some vintage coats are such a work of art that there is no point in taking them off.
- Try different things; mixing a vintage dress with a very contemporary belt or the other way around.
In the picture, I’m wearing a 1950s skirt paired with cropped top from the 1683 Atelier and the Lulu Guinness Lips clutch.
Mixing Vintage with Modern Pieces Can Be a Lot of Fun!
A simple vintage skirt, like the early 1950s one below, is easy to style. The sheer blouse I opted for to show you how to make vintage clothes look modern is perfect for an evening night out.
If I wanted something a tad more conservative, I would swap the blouse for a nice vintage-inspired cardigan, preferably one from Wheels & Dollbaby or Emmy Design.
The Marie Antoinette Cardigan from Wheels & Dollbaby is a great choice for anyone working in an office, and as you can see, it works well paired with slacks and a skirt.
How to Mix Vintage with Modern Fashion!
Another example of mixing vintage fashion from the 1950s with contemporary designers.
In the picture, I’m wearing a 1950s woollen skirt that I paired with a Crawfish blouse and clutch from 1683 Atelier, Wolford tights and Vivienne Westwood shoes.
Modern Clothes in Vintage Style
- Vivienne Westwood 1940s inspired coat
- Westwood shoes
- Moschino bag
- Wolford tights
The Devil is in the detail. You can never go wrong with the fun Moschino milk carton bag to create an interesting vintage look.
Another example of how to mix vintage with modern fashion.
The Handmacher jacket from 1952 looks very modern with a skirt from 1683 Atelier, a Moschino bag and Wolford tights.
It Looks so Modern. You Wouldn’t Know it was Vintage
This outfit is the best example of how vintage clothes, like the 1950s velvet bolero and 1980s slacks, can create a very contemporary look.
- Wolford body
- Vintage brooch
- Modern bejewelled gloves
Erdem on drawing inspiration for his 2020 autumn/winter collection from the past decades, and making it look modern.
It’s about capturing a spirit and, to me, that idea of something undone and mixing things is very modern. And the idea of taking something that’s very feminine, like a silver gown, and putting a masculine coat over it feels to me quite modern.
Vintage Clothes for the Modern Girl
Vintage fashion is all about being unique, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Have fun with it and mix and match different eras until you find a look that you love and are comfortable with. And as I demonstrated in this post, you can definitely wear vintage and look modern.
Don’t get discouraged, as it’s a process of trial and error.
You will get there eventually, and remember that you are working on refining your style and not following trends. After all, It’s no secret that fashion trends come and go but vintage is here to stay.
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CarlaDecember 17, 2022
You showed some interesting ways of making vintage look modern. I recently bought a 1960s pencil skirt for $25 and paired it with a Sportmax crew neck jacket in bright orange and it looks great.
What I love about vintage is that it doesn’t have to be expensive to look like a million bucks!
Dominique de MerteuilDecember 17, 2022
Thank you! No, vintage doesn’t have to be expensive. 🙂
kevinMarch 4, 2018
Thanksso much for the post.Really thank you! Great.
Dominique de MerteuilJanuary 2, 2019
MarthaFebruary 23, 2018
Beautiful looks and thank you for showing us how to mix vintage clothing with contemporary designers. It’s definitely a learning curve.
Dominique de MerteuilMarch 2, 2018