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Get the vintage look

Looking back in time to keep your wardrobe up to date

“Many people are beginning to look backwards, not forwards when it comes to fashion inspiration.”


With most high street brands offering ten new ‘looks’ (and more!) a year, keeping your wardrobe up to date can feel exhausting. And, with most retailers offering only slightly different versions of the same style, it can be hard to find clothes that fit your individual look or body shape.

That’s why many people are beginning to look backwards, not forwards when it comes to fashion inspiration. For someone who’s never worn vintage, or given much thought to which era’s style might suit them best, where do you start?

Get inspired

Before throwing half your wardrobe out it’s important to think about which eras and styles will suit you the most. Some love the practicality of a 30s suit, others aspire to the feminine hourglass of the 50s, while others love nothing more than a 1980s pastel colour block.

As well as thinking about which era inspires you, think about what you’ll be doing in these clothes. Will you wear them for work, as well as during leisure time? How active will you need to be? Will vintage be an alter ego, a weekend look, for formal only, or your everyday identity? Or, you just want to add flashes of vintage inspiration to create a truly individual modern look?

Don’t worry, just because you’re fully ‘50s, doesn’t mean you can’t own and wear pieces from different periods – even from the here and now. Sometimes the best and most individual looks come from mixing and matching!

Take inspiration

Vintage is becoming bigger and bigger thanks to visual social media platforms. Which makes them a great place to find inspiration, tutorials and other like-minded people.

No matter which period (or periods) you’re interested in, checking out Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and YouTube will give you an idea of what’s historically accurate (if that’s important to you), where to find the best pieces (especially if you want to shop couture) and how to blend styles to perfectly suit your body shape and identity.

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Shop around

There are many different places you can shop around for the perfect vintage inspired look, including many specialist vintage stores you can visit. Some stock a range of eras or styles, and some may specialise. Don’t worry if you don’t have a physical store near you, there are plenty of online retailers. You can also find a lot of individual sellers on sites like eBay and Etsy.

If you want something a bit higher end, there are specialist dress agencies who deal in vintage couture. Just don’t expect a bargain, vintage couture can be as, or even more, expensive than the modern stuff. Charity shops are also worth a visit, as you can usually find a cheaper piece mixed in with everything else – you’ll need patience though!
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There’s also no reason why you can’t buy modern pieces that have been inspired by, or emulate specific eras. There are plenty of retailers who specialise in both off-the-peg and bespoke vintage reproductions. However, as you become more historically literate, you’ll also be able to identify modern high-street pieces that fit a certain vintage aesthetic. In fact, a lot of modern fashion steals ideas from past looks!

Tailor and upcycle

If you are buying original pieces, it’s important to try them on. Don’t be alarmed if they don’t quite fit. In the past 100 years body shapes have changed and we wear quite different undergarments than they used to.

It can be very hard to make a smaller piece fit you (unless you want to quite drastically change the pieces – check out our video on upcycling here), but larger items can be tailored to fit. You can get your sewing machine out and do it yourself, or seek out a tailor to help.

Sew it yourself

Whilst finding a vintage gem can be exhilarating, it can be a slow process building the perfect vintage wardrobe.

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Many vintage aficionados actually make their own clothes and accessories, especially those who covet a pre-1940s look. There’s a thriving online trade in original vintage patterns, however sizing can be quite difficult. If you’re new to sewing, or not confident with pattern amending, there are many modern versions of vintage patterns.

Sometimes you don’t need to make a whole vintage inspired outfit, you can mix second hand and pieces, with handmade accessories to bring the whole look together.

Which era’s style do you most covet?

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