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3 Ways to Wear Vintage with Modern Fashion

I sell a lot of vintage clothing, and because of that - and because this "vintage selling" has taken place over the last thirteen years - I own a lot of various vintage pieces, for various parts of my wardrobe as well.

This means I've learned how to wear vintage, what vintage to wear, without these key pieces making you look like you're in a costume.

Trust me, that's one of the biggest issues folks fear when they buy vintage. There are a few who can get away with it - they can do the entire 1940s outfit because that's the persona they want to emit - but most people who buy vintage from me, and most of the vintage I wear, go with modern pieces I already have, or pieces my customers already have in their closet.

So, where do you begin? How do you add a small but amazing punch to your wardrobe without knowing where to start? How do you wear vintage with a modern wardrobe?

Slow fashion is about buying quality clothing that transcends trends. Vintage clothing fits deeply into the slow fashion movement. Buy less, but buy quality and vintage is quality. Here are three ways to liven up your wardrobe with key vintage pieces that will give your outfit that pizzazz and "wow factor" you've been looking for.

Belts - I have a thing for vintage belts. No, I'm serious. For the last decade or so, I've amassed a collection of many belts (I’ve pared down to 20 or so in my minimalist years. Yes, I really do wear them regularly. It's easy to add a belt to your outfit every day!) and of those belts, when I tire of a few, I sell them in my vintage shop. I also love belts so much that a huge chunk of the items in my shop are belts. I sell men's and women's belts because they are such a fun piece to perk up a look. People love to take them off my hands, too. I sell belts almost every day. 

Belts have been worn since the Bronze Age and have really been a part of the person's outfit from the beginning of time. I'm not sure when it was decided that belts didn't serve a purpose anymore -- particularly for women -- but every size and every shape should wear belts. From an old 1940s leather novelty belt to a more modern 1990s black studded belt, nothing says "wow!" more than a belt that is thrown on with your jeans, a dress, shorts, or even a skirt.

And let me rant a moment, since I have you here... have you seen belts today? Most aren't close to the quality that standard, everyday belts, were once made. Back in the day, most belts were only made with real leather, not bonded leather or now, even worse, (thank you, Target) plastic. Though a few companies still use real leather and make quality belts, you will pay a premium for them. Which is fine. Buy quality, buy less, and have it for a lifetime. And with vintage belts, you get that quality at a price that's affordable which at times, can surpass the modern competition's price point.

Bandanas - Bandanas had a surge in popularity when the dreaded COVID hit, and many folks, never stopped wearing them. Bandanas have a way of sharpening up your look. You can wear them around your neck, and even this decision has variety. Some people wear the bandana to show the tied ends in front, others want to show the bandana instead, and some folks wear bandanas in their hair or around their wrists. Heck, even a bandana in the pocket gives you an edge to your outfit that others don't have. Bandanas are quintessentially American and everyone should have at least one.

I've been wearing bandanas for a good decade now and unlike jewelry, they give a unique look that is very different than a necklace statement piece. Bandanas, like scarves, can accent an outfit and if you've watched any modern-day western, (think Yellowstone) they sure come in handy on your ranch. Or at least, for me, my proverbial one.

Hats - This is one element that I've shied away from. Not because I don't like hats,  but because hats are absolute statement pieces and I'm not one for attracting attention to myself. Baseball hats, not so much, but any other kind of hat, and I can guarantee people will stand up and take notice. We've got cowboy hats, berets, Greek fisherman's caps, fascinators... all of these pieces are incredible and with the right outfit, will take your look up a notch. Vintage hats are easy to find. I'm in thrift stores regularly and old hats are there. They're everywhere, in fact; wide-brimmed "racehorse hats" (the kind the ladies wear to the races), to trapper hats with flaps over the ears. Hats are magical.

While I own a few hats (a couple of beanies, and a couple of ball caps), I've sold a plethora to the happy masses and there's a reason for it: hats make the outfit. If you're hesitant like me, start small... maybe a newspaper boy hat, or a beanie, and if the wide-brimmed cowboy hats are something you've wanted to try, then do it! And how about this: you don't even have to buy vintage for any of these. The point is, new or vintage, these things can make you look your best. But, if you want to add vintage to your wardrobe, this is one of the easiest to incorporate.

These are three simple ways to add vintage to your modern outfits -- belts, bandanas, and hats -- and are generally inexpensive, even if they're new (Okay, cowboy hats can fetch and demand a pretty penny, particularly name-brand ones like Stetson, etc).

Vintage clothing has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t know how not to wear it. Half of my closet is vintage, and that's not changing anytime soon. I love the blend of modern and vintage styles and they work seamlessly together if you know what pieces you want and the style you're going for.

These vintage pieces may be small and simple, but they make a statement. I've gotten compliments for years on these three items and it never surprises me because these three forgotten accessories can make anyone look like they have it all together... even if they don't.