Mixing vintage fashion with contemporary designers
More and more often, I’m being asked by readers for tricks on how to mix vintage pieces from the 1920s to 1950s 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’s anything wrong with looking like you’ve just stepped out from a scene, playing the part of a murderess in Miss Fisher, I would almost be willing to sell out Mr de Merteuil to medical experimentation for such a privileged opportunity, as I’d very much to be fighting crime in a 1920s couture gown along with the glamorous Miss Fisher. Back to the topic at hand, however, the answer to the question is very simple, take one garment at a time.
How to start!
For a complete novice, it would be advisable to 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. For those who feel a little bit more courageous, I would recommend buying a vintage dress, if you like dresses that is, which is suitable for your figure and pair it with contemporary shoes. In fact, all my shoes are from contemporary designers; I’m utterly addicted to French Sole velvet slippers that go perfectly with all my 1940s suits and dresses. Also, I’m a huge fan of hosiery with bold prints which both Wolford and Chantal Thomass are a great choice for. Though you may feel that this will just look oddball, keep in mind that almost every designer that I can think of, takes inspiration from vintage and antique clothes, so matching them with the real deal shouldn’t be a problem.
Here are some further bullet point thoughts
- For those who are only just starting their adventure with vintage fashion, I would highly recommend investing in a skirt suit! I often wear the 1940s and 1950s skirts with a contemporary blouse, or a 1940s jacket with modern jodhpurs for the very comfortable equestrian look. As I found out the hard way though, it doesn’t work for horse riding and if you thought what I’d mentioned before would make you look like an oddball, wait until you see the looks you’ll get riding through Richmond Park in London wearing this mix of modern and vintage.
- The most important rule to remember is to wear only what you feel comfortable in! I cannot stress this enough, as there is really 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 or 1940s coat no matter what you wear underneath. In fact, some vintage coats are such a work of art that there is really no point in taking them off 🙂
- Try different things; mixing a vintage dress with a very contemporary belt or the other way around.
It might take you years before you are truly comfortable with finding what works and what doesn’t in mixing vintage fashion with contemporary designers but don’t get discouraged, you will get there eventually and please don’t forget that you are working on refining your personal style and at the end of the day you are the one who has to be happy with it!
I’m very fortunate to be friends with truly creative individuals and one of them is Sandell, a renowned stylist with the biggest private collections of 90s Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Moschino and Valentino that I’ve had the fortune of perusing. Imagine my happiness when she let me “move in” to her walk-in closet for a day and let me use some extraordinary pieces from her archives so that I can show you how to mix my vintage pieces with contemporary designers.
In the picture taken by Gregory Michael King, I’m wearing a true 1940s skirt paired with cropped top from 1683 Atelier and Lulu Guinness Lips clutch.
1940s skirt with a top and stall from 1683 Atelier, Vivienne Westwood shoes and Wolford tights.
1950s woollen skirt pared with Crawfish blouse and clutch from 1683 Atelier, Wolford tights and Vivienne Westwood shoes.
velvet evening gown by 1683 Atelier paired with Vivienne Westwood shoes and Wolford tights.
Vivienne Westwood 1940s inspired coat and shoes, Moschino bag and Wolford tights.
Vintage-inspired dress from 1683 Atelier paired with Vivienne Westwood shoes.
1950s jacket with a skirt from 1683 Atelier, Moschino bag and Wolford tights.
The 1930s inspired gown from 1683 Atelier.
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