So How Do I Wear This Stuff?
Hi! You're here. That probably means you're either already a fan of vintage, or are interested enough to take a look at what we've got to offer. But maybe you're unsure of how to wear it. Not quite certain you can "pull it off" or "get away with" wearing something from another era. Pshaw! You can wear whatever the heck you want to wear. Just take a look around you at the grocery store or the mall. If those women can wear that, well... you get my point.
That said, you probably don't want to attract the wrong sort of attention. So allow me to make a couple of suggestions.
1. Go ahead, buy as much vintage as you can afford and can fit in your closet. Just don't wear it all at the same time.
If you are dressing for a specific event that requires a costume -- "Madmen Cocktails" or "Swinging 70s Dinner Party" -- then head-to-toe is the way to go. Make it totally era-authentic with hat, bag, shoes, dress, makeup, hair, the works. The closer you come to the real deal, the better you'll look -- at the theme party.
But if you're simply going to dinner, to work, or to pick up the kids from school, your vintage items should play a supporting role in your thoroughly modern, personal style. You want to look chic and current, not like a throw-back. How to do it? Wear one, or at most two, vintage items at a time. Keep your hair, makeup, and accessories (unless those are your chosen items) completely modern.
An example for work would be modern trousers, blouse, and pumps, topped with a fabulous 50s beaded cardigan. A party option could be a 60s wiggle dress paired with fabulously trendy (as in Fall 2011) shoes. Keep your makeup, hair, and accessories current to avoid looking like an out-of-work character actress in search of an audition. Adding a vintage hat to a modern dress makes it funky and fresh, not dated. Pairing vintage jewelry with a current outfit makes both stand out.
You don't want to be the fashion equivalent of a crazy cat lady. One cat at a time is plenty. Same goes for vintage.
2. Have your vintage items tailored to fit your shape, just as you would (or should) your modern clothes.
You've heard Clinton and Stacy tell every "What Not to Wear" participant the same thing: You've got to have clothing altered to fit properly. It's very rare that something off-the-rack fits perfectly today. And vintage clothes are even less forgiving. They are closer cut, with less room for variation in body contours. Sure, it happens, something fits perfectly as if it were made just for you. But that's always been the exception, not the rule. Just because something is a little big here or a little snug there, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It's just a reminder that every single woman is built slightly differently, while store-bought clothes are created on generic forms. Consider the alterations part of the purchase price, akin to the tip when dining out. And get yourself to the tailor.
In the end, it's a matter of personal style and preference. No one is dictating how you should dress. Well, OK, maybe I am, but just a little. I'm all about individuality and personal style (although I'm also strongly in favor of school uniforms, but that's another topic entirely). This advice is really meant for all those women who've said to me, "Oh, I wish I could wear that." or "I could never get away with wearing something like that." I'm telling you, you definitely can.