Friday, April 23, 2010

Vintage vs. Old-fashioned


My mother told me yesterday "some of your recent outfits have been a bit odd - that green blouse the other day was very old-fashioned".

I suppose at times I get so caught up in excitement over vintage, that I might forget to update my look. Then again, is not looking modern precisely part of the fun of dressing vintage? I think there's a grey area somewhere in between basically dressing in costume, and vintage-modern, and this is where the problems lie. And the best of us can get caught out. Even my style icons have been known, on occasion, to tip the balance towards - dare I say it - the frumpy.

But how can we avoid such sartorial faux pas? Vintage daywear can be tough - while you can't fault the glamour of vintage cocktail dresses and ballgowns, they're not terribly practical for everyday. Vintage daywear, on the other hand, is often exactly that - practical. I see the clumpy repro 40s shoes at Remix Vintage and think "really?" (they do of course also have some gorgeous, oh-so-glam styles). And have to keep reminding myself, just because it's vintage, doesn't mean it's good. But, so it seems, I still don't always get it right.

Where do you draw the line between vintage elegance and fuddy-duddy? How do you determine which side of the fence a garment or outfit falls on?


  1. You can always count on mom to tell you that you look like a weirdo! However, I hear you, honey! I am constantly draw to the ugly junk! I have two things that help.
    1.) always bring the husband with me. He's a great shopping partner and I've made him promise to not let me but anything awful!
    2.) follow the golden rule: just because it's vintage doesn't mean that it should be worn!

    It is so hard, though. Before I fell for what we term "vintage" I was madly in love with the victorian era and my style was kind of modern victorian. Not steampunk, mind you. I took the elements of victorian fashions (pearls, lace, great boots, flowy romatic skirts, fabulous hats) and mixed them with modern elements like jeans. Then, my attentions were drawn to the 20's to 50's fashions and the rest is history! I think that you can still wear authentic vintage without looking like it's halloween. My advice to all is to avoid really loud patterns and colors that are so over the top. The gorgeous Fleur de Guerre wears 100% 40's fashions every day but she pulls it off in a way that's elegant glamorous and classy. She chooses clothes with simple lines, classic colors and never over-accessorizes. When I'm shopping, I remember styles from my fashion icons and I say to myself "would Grace Kelley wear this?" When you're shopping or putting together an outfit, if you're ever in doubt, just say no! Good luck!

  2. First off, I *want* to look 'old-fashioned' but not frumpy, and I think there is a difference. 'Old-Fashioned' these days can mean anything from "OMG your pants are at your WAIST!" to the fact your blouse was buttoned to the neck and NOT flashing your cleavage to the world.

    I have to agree with Brittany above, if it doubt, just say no! Same goes for purely modern clothes.

    General rules though, anything that doesn't fit properly, will look off. Especially when you're working with non-stretch fabric. Too much ease, your blouse will be too blousey and boom...frump central. Simple accessories, making sure items match including shoes/bag/hats (not necessarily same fabric/colours, but something that goes with the outfit) and mainly above all, that YOU ARE comfortable in the clothes. If you're running around all day with "This skirt isn't right, these stockings look awful, people must be able to tell I'm in a girdle, what will they think?!" in your mind, that will reflect in how you stand, carry the clothes, and in the end how people will see you in them.


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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