How to Style Vintage Outfits: 5 Tips for a Modern, Chic Look
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Mix vintage with modern pieces
  2. Accessorize with vintage pieces
  3. Play with color and pattern
  4. Tailor your vintage items
  5. Style vintage outfits for different occasions

Every fashionista knows that vintage is the new black. Who doesn't love the unique charm and character that vintage pieces bring? The real challenge, though, lies in learning how to style vintage outfits without looking like you just stepped out of a time machine. Don't worry, though — we've got you covered. Here are some tips to help you weave vintage items into your wardrobe for a modern, chic look.

Mix vintage with modern pieces

One of the easiest ways to style vintage outfits is to blend them with your everyday modern pieces. This approach gives you a balanced look that's both unique and current. Let's see how you can pull this off.

Pick One Statement Piece

Start by choosing one vintage item as your statement piece. This could be a Victorian-era blouse, a 70s inspired pair of bell-bottoms, or a classic Chanel bag. Once you've picked your star player, build the rest of your outfit around it. Remember, the key is balance — you want your vintage piece to shine, but not overshadow the rest of your look.

Keep it Simple

When you're styling vintage outfits, it's best to keep the rest of your outfit fairly simple. Stick to neutral colors and minimalist designs to let your vintage piece take the spotlight. Here's a tip: pair a colorful vintage Hermes scarf with a black top and jeans, or wear a vintage statement necklace with a white button-down.

Go for Timeless Accessories

  • Shoes: Classic pumps or loafers are always a good choice. They're versatile, comfortable, and work well with vintage pieces.
  • Bags: Go for a sleek, modern bag to complement your vintage outfit. Think structured totes or crossbody bags in neutral tones.
  • Jewelry: Keep your jewelry simple and understated. A pair of gold hoops or a simple chain necklace will do the trick.

Remember, the goal is not to look like a walking museum exhibit, but to create a stylish, modern ensemble that seamlessly incorporates vintage elements. Once you master this, you'll be well on your way to unlocking the full potential of how to style vintage outfits.

Accessorize with vintage pieces

Another fabulous way to incorporate vintage into your wardrobe is through accessories. They're often less intimidating than clothing, and they can add a real punch to an otherwise ordinary outfit. So let's dive into how you can add a vintage twist to your look with accessories.

Vintage Jewelry is Your Best Friend

One of the simplest ways to add a vintage vibe to your outfit is with jewelry. A brooch, for example, can add a touch of old-world charm to a simple blazer or dress.

  • Earrings: Vintage earrings, particularly studs or small hoops, can blend seamlessly with almost any outfit.
  • Necklaces: A vintage pendant necklace can become a focal point of your ensemble. They work great with v-neck tops or dresses.
  • Bracelets: Vintage bracelets, especially charm bracelets or bangles, can add a playful touch to your outfit.

Vintage Bags for a Touch of Class

Have you ever noticed how a vintage bag can instantly elevate an outfit? It's like magic. Whether it's a beaded clutch from the 1920s or a leather satchel from the 1970s, vintage bags can add a touch of class and uniqueness to your look. Just remember to choose a bag that complements your outfit in terms of color and style.

Don't Forget About Vintage Belts

Last but not least, let's talk about belts. They might seem like a small detail, but they can make a big difference. A vintage belt can cinch your waist, add interest to a plain outfit, and give you that coveted hourglass silhouette. From wide, corset-style belts to skinny, beaded ones, the options are endless.

So there you have it. You now know how to style vintage outfits by using accessories to add that vintage touch. Remember, fashion is all about expressing yourself, so don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with it!

Play with color and pattern

Color and pattern are key elements in styling vintage outfits. They can bring vibrancy, individuality, and a touch of nostalgia to your wardrobe. So, let's explore how to style vintage outfits by playing with color and pattern.

Embrace the Power of Color

Color can be a powerful tool when it comes to vintage fashion. Bold, vibrant colors can make a vintage piece pop, whilst muted hues can create a more subtle, retro vibe.

  • Reds and Pinks: Think of classic 1950s dresses — reds and pinks were all the rage, bringing a sense of fun and femininity.
  • Blues and Greens: These colors can evoke the 1960s and 70s, think turquoise shift dresses and olive-green bell-bottoms.
  • Neutrals: Creams, beiges, and browns can create a timeless, vintage look that's easy to wear.

Experiment with Patterns

Patterns are another fantastic way to bring a vintage flair to your wardrobe. From polka dots and stripes to florals and paisley, patterns can add a lot of character to an outfit.

  1. Polka Dots: A polka dot dress or blouse is a vintage classic. It's playful, it's chic, and it's surprisingly easy to style.
  2. Florals: Floral patterns can bring a touch of femininity and romance to your vintage outfit. Think floral tea dresses or scarves.
  3. Stripes: Stripes, especially in bright colors, can add a retro vibe to your outfit. Pair a striped top with high-waisted jeans for a 70s-inspired look.

Playing with color and pattern can be fun and rewarding. It's all about expressing your personal style and not being afraid to stand out. So, go ahead and experiment with different colors and patterns. You might just discover a new favorite way to style vintage outfits!

Tailor your vintage items

Another great tip on how to style vintage outfits is to tailor your vintage items. Vintage clothing often comes with a unique fit, but that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Tailoring your vintage pieces can refresh their look and make them fit perfectly.

Adjust for a Perfect Fit

One of the most common reasons vintage clothing ends up sitting in the back of a wardrobe is that it doesn't fit quite right. The good news is, a skilled tailor can fix that. They can take in a waist, let out a seam, or shorten a hem to make your vintage piece fit you like a glove.

  • Waist adjustments: A dress or skirt that's too big at the waist can easily be taken in for a more flattering fit.
  • Hem alterations: If a vintage dress or pair of trousers is too long, a tailor can shorten it to the perfect length.
  • Seam adjustments: If a piece is too tight in certain areas, a tailor may be able to let out the seams to give you more room.

Update Your Vintage Pieces

Aside from fit adjustments, tailoring can also be used to modernize your vintage pieces. For instance, you could turn a vintage maxi dress into a chic mini, or transform a frumpy vintage coat into a sleek, modern jacket.

  1. Change the length: Shortening a vintage dress or skirt can give it a fresh, modern look.
  2. Alter the silhouette: If a vintage piece has a dated silhouette, a tailor can help to modernize it.
  3. Update the details: Removing outdated elements like shoulder pads or large collars can also help to modernize a vintage piece.

Don't let an ill-fitting or dated vintage piece go to waste. With a little help from a tailor, you can make it a stylish and unique addition to your wardrobe. Remember, when it comes to how to style vintage outfits, fit is everything!

Style Vintage Outfits for Different Occasions

When it comes to learning how to style vintage outfits, knowing how to adapt them for various occasions can make all the difference. Whether you're heading to work, going on a date, or attending a formal event, there's a way to make your vintage pieces work for you.

Work Wear

Vintage clothing can make a stylish and unique statement in the workplace. Here's how you can style your vintage pieces for a professional setting:

  • Choose understated pieces: A vintage blouse or a pair of high-waisted trousers can add a unique touch to your work outfit without being too flashy.
  • Pair with modern items: Mixing vintage items with modern pieces can help to balance your look and keep it professional.
  • Keep it simple: Avoid overly bold patterns or colors. Instead, opt for neutral tones and simple patterns.

Date Night

Vintage clothing can add a touch of romance and nostalgia to your date night outfit. Here's how:

  1. Opt for feminine pieces: Items like a vintage lace dress or a silk blouse can add a touch of femininity to your look.
  2. Add vintage accessories: A vintage handbag or pair of earrings can add a unique twist to your outfit.
  3. Keep it comfortable: Make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. After all, confidence is the most attractive accessory!

Formal Events

Dressing for a formal event? Vintage clothing can make you stand out from the crowd. Here's how:

  • Choose elegant pieces: A vintage gown or a classic tuxedo can make a stylish statement at a formal event.
  • Add sparkle: Vintage jewelry like a choker necklace or a cocktail ring can add a touch of glamour to your look.
  • Don't forget about comfort: While it's important to look good, you also want to feel good. Choose pieces that you feel comfortable and confident in.

Remember, the key to mastering how to style vintage outfits for different occasions is balance. You want to stand out, but not stick out. So go ahead, start experimenting with your vintage wardrobe for various occasions!

If you enjoyed this blog post on styling vintage outfits and want to explore more unique fashion perspectives, check out the workshop 'Queering Fashion: From Dress Codes to Wardrobe Hacks' by Lou Croff Blake. This workshop will provide you with creative ideas and tips on how to incorporate different styles into your wardrobe, ensuring you stand out with a modern, chic look.