how to wear vintage clothing without feeling costumed

I recently received a question from a reader asking how to wear and enjoy her vintage treasures without feeling like she's in a costume. Some of us do love to wear costumes and absolutely would on a daily basis if we could. However, some of us prefer to keep a modern look and maintain some of our current personal style or simply not look like a cast member of a living history museum (which certainly isn't a bad thing either!). You can achieve a lot of authentic vintage looks that have a place in a modern girl's lifestyle. Here are my tips for how to wear vintage without feeling costumed.

Experiment with accessories first

Try jewelry, scarves, handbags and an occasional vintage hat. Carry a 1940s crochet handbag with jeans or a work outfit and start a collection of vintage earrings or brooches to wear daily. As you experiment with accessories, you'll quickly develop your vintage style and learn what styles you like and what you don't.  Check out my brooch crafting e-book for 12 DIY vintage brooch projects to add to your modern wardrobe.

vintage 1940s 1950s work office wear

Play with prints

If you sew , look for fabric prints that remind you of your favorite eras. Sew a modern blouse in a great 30s feedsack repro fabric, classic gingham, polka dot or plaid. Today's fashion designers are heavily influenced by vintage so check department stores like Target, Penny's and Kohl's for vintage prints in modern clothes.

Simplify a Vintage Dress

If you find a great 50s dress that you love, keep it modern with a simple hair style and minimal accessories. Retro is very "in" right now so a 60s style dress looks great with current hair and makeup trends. Freshen up a 60 year old dress with modern jewelry and shoes.

vintage 1950s 1940s casual comfortable fashion

Relax in Casual Daywear

Not every 1940s woman wore victory rolls or suits every day. There are a lot of great casual pieces that you can play with in your current wardrobe.

look for:
peasant blouses
high waist jeans
capri pants
wedges or ballet flats
button up blouses

1940s college fashion jeans boyfriend sweater tee shirt and marilyn monroe

Look to the Icons

The reason why we still admire looks from Jackie, Audrey and Grace today is because their style was timeless. A woman could wear any of their hair, makeup and clothes looks today and no one would ask if she's in a play. These style icons leaned towards sleek lines, smooth hair, fresh makeup and solids. 

vintage 1940s 1950s comfortable casual fashion pants Betty White Rita Hayworth


Ultimately, never wear anything that makes you feel uncomfortable about yourself. A fashionable person's most important accessory is confidence.