I love vintage shopping. It’s one of my favorite activities when I’m traveling (you never know what you’ll find in a new city!) and it’s how I find some of my absolute favorite pieces in my wardrobe. From vintage fur coats to vintage jewelry and even vintage furniture, I all too often am lured in by a tucked away shop and the thrill of finding a hidden gem.
I know some people are weirded out by the prospect of wearing someone else’s castoffs, but I like to think of the stories these pieces carry with them. I love that I bought a vintage clutch when I was out in Healdsburg, and when I opened it up that evening to use it, I found a place card tucked inside the pocket. When I googled the name, I found that the previous owner of this beaded purse was a lifelong resident of Sonoma County who passed away at 101 just months before. I don’t see that as bad juju, I see it as a piece of someone’s history that’s living on.
However, I know that there are a lot of people who are like nope, absolutely not. And that’s where this post comes into play. Maybe vintage doesn’t have to come from someone else. Maybe it’s hiding right there in your own closet.
AT WHAT POINT ARE MY OWN CLOTHES VINTAGE?
Before I pulled this silk Lilly Pulitzer dress out of my closet a few weeks ago, I probably hadn’t work it in 6 or 7 years. Maybe more. It’s from the days when Lilly did an actual fall line – not just her normal prints but heavier on the navy and teal. There were fall fabrics, fall prints, quilted coats, corduroys. It was over-the-top preppy and perfect for when I lived in Charlottesville. I bought this dress at least 10 years ago. I remember it was a splurge at the time, even on major sale (let’s be honest, a $90 dress is still more than enough to give me pause before buying), but it was the sort of thing that felt boring and old when I tried to wear it after a year or two. Fast forward to this fall, and I thought, wait, this dress is still pretty…couldn’t I just throw it on with new accessories? And, that’s what I did, and that’s what got me thinking about shopping vintage in my own closet.
At what point are our own clothes considered vintage? I’d say when you’ve hit the decade mark, your clothes have officially migrated into vintage territory. Most of my items don’t make it that long – I sell them on Poshmark or take them to a consignment store to make way (and make money) for new items. But, there are those few that I either spent enough on or have some sort of attachment to or just thinking that maaaybe I’ll want to wear them again that make it into the vintage pile.
RE-MIXING LOOKS WITH CURRENT PIECES
The key to giving those “vintage” pieces in your closet a new life is remixing them with current pieces that feel a bit more relevant to your life and style now. For example, when I first bought this dress, I used to wear it with navy tights (still do), a navy blazer, and knee-high riding boots. Well, I don’t often wear riding boots anymore, I’ve realized booties fit my look better, and I wanted to make this outfit a bit more casual, so I chose to pair it with a vest.
Take your vintage wardrobe piece and just think about what could make it feel fresh. Don’t use the same items you did in its first trip through your closet. Refresh the look with new layers, new accessories, and make it feel like a completely new item.
MY FAVORITE PIECES TO HANG ONTO
There are, of course, some pieces that are going to stand the test of time both in terms of wear and tear and cycling back into style better than others. Dresses are something that I believe you can wear again and again for years, particularly if it’s a statement dress. Dresses are less likely to go in and out of fashion if you pick something classic or something crazy.
Coats are one of my favorite items to shop vintage – and to keep around in my closet. There are J.Crew coats I have from 10 years ago that are still sold in the exact same style and color. I also have statement coats and blazers that are timeless and I’ve hung onto since college.
And, of course, jewelry. Jewelry rarely goes out of style unless it’s THE piece of the season (think back to those bubble necklaces from 2012…), so it makes sense to buy pieces you love and hang on to them for years and years.
So, what’s my best advice for finding pieces that will stay with you over the years, long after they’ve become vintage? Buy what you love, invest in quality, and it will always be in style for you.