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Fashion Tips

7 Ways to Mix Vintage and Modern

There are so many pros to wearing vintage clothes – original one-off pieces, classic and timeless designs, quality fabrics, designer finds for less, and that personal edge that stands out every time. On the other hand, who can resist all of the latest arrivals that look so pretty in the shop window?

Luckily, there are a number of ways you can mix vintage and modern pieces together, even if it’s just a touch of vintage charm through hair or makeup. What’s more, you can even save money by combining the old with the new.

Here’s a few ways to make it work without having to opt for only one style:

1. Basics

You can find basics at various shops at your local shopping centre or at a suburban op shop. Try to look for items like a simple sheer shirt in any colour, a plain white tee, oversize top or jumper, or a delicate sweater that can all be matched with a number of bottoms including high waisted pants or skirts (either vintage or modern), a satin maxi skirt, or culottes. You can then add a statement coat or jacket (vintage works), which will add a standout quality and won’t clash with your top underneath.

Basics also allow you to accessorize and heighten your overall look with jewellery, flashy shoes or a handbag.

Photo: Paz Halabi Rodriguez
Photo: Paz Halabi Rodriguez
Photo: They All Hate Us
Photo: Nasty Gal

2. Accessories 

Accessories are always a good addition to any outfit and can help to blend the vintage with the modern in a subtle way. If you’re not too keen in donning the vintage flair throughout your overall look, try and add a small vintage touch with either a second hand bag, sunnies, or a even a scarf. Otherwise, if you’re entire outfit is from a thrift shop and you want to modern it up, add some new accessories instead.

Carrie from Sex and the City was literally the style icon of the 90s and early 2000s. She became well-known for her confident styling of vintage items, like fur coats or mismatched coloured pieces from different eras that contrasted modern designer accessories like her infamous Manolo Blahnik shoes. Retro sunglasses are perfect for all the seasons, even the cooler ones! They can make a really plain outfit more fun or eccentric – always a good idea if you have a social outing or event to attend outdoors like a fashion parade or the weekend markets.

Photo: Lisa Says Gah
Photo: The Sartorialist
Photo: Collage Vintage
Photo: Le Fashion
Photo: Leon – Tumblr

3. Jewellery 

Like mentioned above, accessories (either old or new), are a good way to blend both modern and vintage without diving straight in. Preloved earrings, rings, bracelets, or necklaces can be worn all together, or singularly to allow their uniqueness to shine. If you love your contemporary designs, you can wear them with a vintage outfit instead.

If you haven’t familiarized yourself with antique brooches, we suggest you get searching on Etsy or another online shopping platform. Brooches can honestly make a difference to any outfit and can be styled as an accessory to a top or shirt, attached to a simple material belt, or on a hat. Brooches come in a variety of styles and designs and it can be quite tricky to pick just one, especially when a lot of them are shaped as cats.

Photo: 1st Dibs
Photo: Lyst
Photo: Glam Radar


Photo: Refinery29
Photo: Glam Radar

4. Coats or Capes

There’s no better touch to a hip outfit than a coat or a cape. When you think of vintage, you automatically envisage rabbit fur coats from your grandma’s era, or luxe leather from the 80s or 90s. The reason why these timeless pieces have managed to stick around for so long, is because they quite literally match anything. We suggest you hunt down a number of go-to jackets that you can pull out at the last minute. You won’t be disappointed by the versatility vintage or even modern coats can bring. If you’re wearing quite a modern outfit, like a chic fitted little black dress, a vintage brown rabbit fur coat can add an elegant flair that can’t really be achieved by its modern counterpart.

If you’re wearing a vintage top, dress or pants, try a modern cape. They can be found online or in almost any shop right now, especially because winter has just settled in. Simple colours are best, like black, grey, beige or even red. Monochromatic coats give flexibility when it comes to styling different pieces, especially if you’re new to it all. But, there are definitely ways you can pull off different patterns or designs if you feel confident enough.

Photo: Denimology
Photo: Fashionist
Photo: Birth of a Supervillian
Photo: Collage Vintage
Photo: All Things Carmen

5. Hair and Makeup

If you’re not the biggest fan of vintage clothing, or have a totally new outfit you want to wear but would still like to boast a classic look, experiment with hairstyles and makeup from a past era. This has become incredibly popular, particularly with the rockabilly genre, or bridal hair, which almost always combines vintage and modern detail. Whether it’s a low bun, curls or an up-do, you’ll be sure to suit any old-world hairstyle with a casual or formal outfit.

Makeup inspired by the 30s – 50s usually comprises subtle pinks, reds or darker lipsticks, a natural or lighter foundation, simple black eyeliner (usually without a lot of eyeshadow), and mascara. This look ties in well to a formal outfit when heading out to an elegant occasion or function, or it can also work well in a casual context. Alternatively, the 1960s and 70s, were big on heavy eyeliner, smokey eyes and more detail to the cheekbones. Hairstyles from this era were usually quite simple, or exaggerated – either straightened with a fringe, a short bob, high bun, or natural waves.

Photo: My Modern Met
Photo: W Magazine
Photo: We Heart It
Photo: Cultura Colectiva
Photo: Refinery29

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Different Eras

People assume that if you’re wearing a 1950s dress you can’t wear it with shoes from another era. But, this is possible, and if styled well, can look amazing. Mixing different eras allows you to wear your favourite pieces together, even if you think they’re going to look odd or weird. The reality is, you never know what something looks like until you try it on, so those 90s style boots you bought from the op shop, might indeed go with that modern dress that’s full of 50s character.

When shopping for vintage items, you don’t necessarily have to shop at an op shop, as many modern pieces are inspired by the good old days (think Adidas or Alannah Hill). Give it a go, and if you like it, don’t be afraid to wear it!

Photo: The Sartorialist

Socks with heels might seem like a strange combination, especially of the negative vibe associated with socks and sandals. But, they can look so good when styled well and can be matched with clothes from different eras, including the 50s, 90s or 2000s.

Photo: Tanya Shin

The Edwardian and Victorian era continues to be venerated in a number of ways. It has been modernised through tops like the one above, or the corset, which has made a come back that’s here to stay. Whether it’s a casual or formal addition to the wardrobe, Edwardian tops can be worn with simple light blue jeans like pictured, or classy suit pants for a chic edge. If you’re feeling bold enough, wear a Victorian corset over a white shirt. You only need to check your Instagram to notice that this trend is taking over.

Photo: Cuty Paste

7. Restyle Vintage Clothing

One of the best ways to make an old piece of clothing new again, is to refashion and restyle it. If you find a perfect pair of vintage mum jeans at your local op shop that fit well on the top half  but are baggy on the bottom, cut them into shorts or jeans that go under the knee. You can do the same with oversize tees or dresses, which can be altered to suit your body shape. This is a great way to modernise old pieces that are either sitting in your wardrobe or that you stumble upon on your op shopping adventures.

Photo: Chic Wish
Photo: Dolls Kill
Photo: Mini Penny Blog