If you're looking to overhaul your entire wardrobe, I'd recommend doing so in steps, rather than flinging everything out and starting anew!
Go through your closet and consider each item of clothing, asking yourself questions to determine its usefulness:
- Do I wear it often?
Favourite pieces, even if they're not very 'vintage', can still be made to work, so there's no need to toss them at this stage.
- Can it be styled in a vintage way?
While you're still building your vintage wardrobe it's worth hanging onto items which you can style up. Pencil skirts, high-waisted trousers, demure blouses, sheath dresses, sundresses, and fitted knitwear all work in a vintage look.
Building your vintage wardrobe
When you're getting into vintage it's easy to get carried away and buy everything you see that's (approximately) your size. Try to resist - you'll just end up with a mishmash of pieces which don't work together. If you're just starting out, it's worth investing in a few versatile key pieces. What these key pieces should be depends on what will work for you, your own style and taste. You could begin by examining your favourite style bloggers' outfits, and try to analyse why they work. Note which pieces get a lot of wear, as its a safe bet that these are the most adaptable.
It might be worth deciding on a colour palette, since it will ensure that, while you're building your wardrobe, it will all co-ordinate, thus maximising outfit potential.
Not long after I started this blog I posted my own idea of a vintage capsule wardrobe, and nearly two years on (and with a lot more experience gained) it still pretty much stands up, so I've based the list below upon it. My list is a top ten of what I'd consider the bare essentials of a vintage wardrobe. It is by no means definitive, and reflects a bias toward the 40s-50s aesthetic, but can be used as a jumping-off point for planning your own vintage capsule wardrobe.
- Pencil skirt in a neutral colour.
- Full skirt - for maximum versatility choose either a solid colour (perhaps accented with a novelty applique?), or a monochromatic plaid/check.
- Print cotton shirtwaist dress.
- Background dress
- Bombshell dress or Day-to-night dress (rayon crepe is a good day-to-night fabric). A dressier cocktail or evening frock can follow later.
- Demure blouse or two - silk, rayon or cotton. Choosing one with a bit of interest - e.g. a novelty print, or embroidery, or lace trim - will make sure that every outfit has a bit of flair.
- Fitted sweater in any colour of the rainbow.
- One or two fitted wool cardigans.
- One or two pairs of shoes that will go with everything (black, navy or brown are best) and comfortable to wear all day.
- Flouncy petticoat.
If you can buy original vintage that's great (I'll cover shopping for vintage in my next post in this series), but if you have to rely on modern clothing from charity shops and the high street my "building a vintage wardrobe" series - starting next week - will help you know what features to look out for.
Accessories are so important in a vintage look - especially while you're still building up your wardrobe. As you first start buying, try to curate your accessories into matching 'sets' of at least two out of the following:
Good sets to start with are red, leopard (everything goes with leopard print!) and black. With a few of these in your arsenal, all you need to do to change up your outfit is grab one for an instantly co-ordinated look. Multiply the possibilities by combining sets: red hat, purse and shoes with pink gloves and belt; or leopard belt and hat with black purse and shoes. Having at least two accessories match creates a more cohesive look overall (but I wouldn't generally recommend wearing more than four matching accessories at a time or you risk looking a bit OCD).
Next in the series: Shopping for Vintage