December 5, 2012

A beginner’s guide to buying and wearing vintage appropriate clothes

A couple of months ago in a comment left on one of my vintage outfit posts (this cute 1950s novelty print skirt to be exact), a lovely reader named Dolly asked, “Have you ever written a post on how to shop for modern clothes and make them look vintage?"

The short answer is, no, I haven't. Not until today that is! While the subject of shopping for vintage appropriate modern pieces is certainly something that I've touched on in numerous posts over the years, to the best of my recollection, I haven't devoted a piece solely to the topic of how to select modern clothes that have a distinctly vintage vibe to them.

As I love answering your questions and helping others embark on their own vintage wearing journeys (which is what our lovely question asker Dolly is doing), today, before we really get into the thick of the holiday season, I wanted to take a stab at tackling this excellent query.

This however, is not a cut and dry topic, and I'm sure that there are many different opinions on this interesting point (which of course you're encouraged to share in the comment section). As such, I'm going to tell you how I shop for vintage appropriate modern pieces and provide some tips that I believe can benefit anyone who wants to, or already enjoys doing, the same.

{A summery gingham example of an outfit, which like many I wear, combines vintage and modern vintage appropriate pieces together. For the exact outfit details – including which pieces are new and which are vintage – see the original post from last Canada Day.}

While many of us have been wearing vintage for years or even decades, and shopping for pieces (be they vintage, reproduction, or modern) that fit our personal styles has become second nature, it's important not to forget that there are lots of folks out there who are just starting to get into vintage, who may need some guidance, or who are are looking for a bit of a refresher course if they've been away from the vintage scene for a while.

This post was written with these categories of people in mind, but the suggestions and advice offered herein certainly apply to everyone who enjoys wearing vintage styles.

Determining what decade or decades you want to emulate

First of all, if you're just starting out with wearing vintage, it can help to have one or more specific decades in mind that you want to emulate the looks of. I, as many of you know, wear fashions from the 1940s and 50s, two decades which are very popular amongst vintage clothing fans. However, you may feel your passion lies in the roaring twenties, swinging sixties, or any other twentieth century decade (for the sake of this post, we'll assume you're picking a decade from the last century).

Often times vintage fans enjoy wearing styles from multiple decades, and many of us tend to be drawn to two (or more) decades that touch one another, such as the 20s and 30s, 30s and 40s, 40s and 50s, or 50s and 60s. Others however, enjoy sporting fashions from a wide range of periods, and may mix fashions from different decades in the same outfit, or stick to one decade per ensemble.

The choice is completely up to you, and while some people are steadfast devotes to a certain era, crafting their whole wardrobes around the years they love best (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with in the least - it takes a lot of work, knowledge and dedication to commit to one distinct period/look all the time), you may find that you'd prefer to sport styles from various decades in the same outfit.

Today however, we're going to assume that you're interested in wearing clothes that are appropriate to one decade (or small group of years that shared similar fashions, such as the late 40s into the early 50s) per outfit, and that you already know what decade (or decades) it is that you're passionate about.

Chances are, even if you're a complete greenhorn when it comes to wearing vintage, you have a general sense of the fashions that are associated with each decade of the twentieth century and probably feel like one or more of those time periods are calling your name.

However, just as enjoying food doesn't automatically make you a skilled cook, so too does take research and time to hone your ability to pinpoint styles from certain eras and to develop a sense of how to put together a period appropriate look and how to date pieces (this doesn't mean you take you clothes out for dinner and movie, instead "dating clothes" means that you have the knowledge to look at a piece and know when, give or take a few years at most, it was most likely originally created and in fashion).

This is a topic that really is a post (if not a whole book!) unto itself, but for those who are looking to better study and understand the fashions of certain various decades, I highly recommend checking out the images on sites such as Wikipedia, Flickr, Pinterst (I have Pinterst boards devoted to all the eras of the twentieth century, as there are tons of other Pinterest users with historically related boards there, too), Tumblr, the Life Magazie achieves, The Costume Gallery, Glamour Daze, Fashion Era, other vintage fashion related blogs (you'll find lots on my blog links page), and videos on Youtube.

In addition, knowledge and inspiration can be gained from a great many books (modern and vintage), yesteryear magazines, movies, sewing pattern sleeve art, and of course old photographs.

Getting started & examples of timeless wardrobe choices

Let’s assume that you have a favourite decade and you want to wear the looks of that time frame. No doubt you'll be interested in sporting genuine vintage pieces, however these can sometimes be expensive, hard to find in certain sizes, and tricky to track down in person (especially if you live in a small town).

Online vintage shopping is a terrific option, and one I avail often myself, but there are times when you may want to shop in person, and/or really need to keep your budget in mind (vintage bargains can be had online, especially if you're patient, just as they can off line at thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, car boot sales, op shops, etc sometimes, don't get me wrong).

Or you may want to turn to your favourite modern online clothing sites to find vintage appropriate pieces. In either case, there are things that can help make finding period appropriate garments easier.

For starters, there are certain garments that, while they may have changed a bit over the years as styles have involved, remain absolutely true classics. It is wise, no matter the era(s) you enjoy wearing most, to build your wardrobe, at least in part, around these kinds of basics. While by no means a complete list, some pieces that are often viewed as timeless wardrobe staples are as follows:

Classic white button front blouse, timeless vintage appropriate wardrobe staple

{Apt. 9 Essential Solid Blouse in white, $24.99, from Kohl’s.}

-Well tailored button front blouses (often in white, neutrals and various solid hues hues). Look for blouses that are either extremely basic and timeless in their design (like the example above) or which include vintage-y details, such as peter pan collars, interesting sleeve details, bows or ruffles.

Yellow Rachel Zoe tie neck blouse, vintage appropriate wardrobe classics

{Rachel Zoe Tie-Neck Blouse, $103.00, Neiman Marcus.}

-Tie neck (aka, pussy bow) blouses. A look standing classic amongst stylish lasses, this beloved style of blouse can work for looks from many decades, assuming you find one in a cut, colour, fabric and pattern (if applicable) that calls to mind the era you’re dressing in the style of.

Fly and By Cardigan ModCloth. vintage swallow tattoo art sweater, vintage appropriate wardrobe staples

{Fly and By Cardigan, $57.99, ModCloth.}

-Lightweight knits, including cardigans and sweaters (for more on the subject of lightweight knits, and plenty of examples - both vintage and vintage appropriate - of them, be sure to check out this post I wrote about them back in 2009).

Le Château Satin Open Front Shrug, vintage appropriate wardrobe staples

{Satin Open Front Shrug, $59.95, Le Chateau.}

-Shrugs and bolero jackets. Look for styles that channel a mid-century vibe in knits, satin, silk, cotton, and tweed.

Viola Senorita Skirt ModCloth, vintage appropriate basics, how to put together a vintage wardrobe

{Viola, Senorita Skirt, $74.99, ModCloth.}

-Pencil skirts  in a solid colours (black, brown, navy, and grey in particular are excellent options as they can easily be paired with vintage blazers/jackets for a suit look or worn with tops, blouses, sweaters, and cardigans on their own), in lengths that hit at or anywhere below the knee.

Alfani Skirt A-line skirt, Macy's, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{Alfani Belted A-Line Skirt, $73.00, Macy’s.}

-A-line Skirts (same general criteria as for pencil skirts)

High Waisted Thrills Skirt, vintage wardrobe staples, building a vintage appropriate wardrobe

{High Waisted Thrills Skirt, $49.00, Plasticland.}

-Circle Skirts (again, same general criteria as for a-line and pencil skirts).

Classic shirtwaist dress J Crew, vintage wardrobe basics

{Classic Shirtdress, $99.99, J. Crew.}

-Shirtwaist dresses. Look for styles that hit just below the knee or longer, with crisp collars and classic detailing.

MICHAEL Michael Kors Peplum Peasant Blouse, Nordstrom, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{MICHAEL Michael Kors Peplum Peasant Blouse, $54.00, Nordstrom.}

-Peasant style tops (all the better if it’s at least semi-fitted, though a bit of blousing is often part and parcel with this charming style of top).

Ralph Lauren Cotton Twill Sailor Pants, high waisted vintage appropriate pants, vintage wardrobe staples

{Ralph Lauren Cotton Twill Sailor Pants, (currently on sale for) $29.84, Lord & Taylor.}

-High-waisted trousers and jeans (prior to the 1960s, it was uncommon for women's pants, jeans or shorts to hit below the navel).

Foxfield tweed jacket Coldwater Creek. vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{Foxfield tweed jacket, $129.99, Coldwater Creek.}

-Tweed blazers, jackets and coats in classic weaves and neutral hues (tweed jackets look so smart with with vintage skirts for the colder months).

Prim the Know ModCloth, vintage winter coat, Victorian coat, wardrobe staples

{Prim the Know Coat, $109.99, ModCloth.}

-Timelessly tailored winter coats in fabrics such as wool, felt, cashmere, Persian lamb, and camel hair.

DKNY Diamond Stitch Double Breasted Trench Coat, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics, spring coat

{DKNY Diamond Stitch Double Breasted Trench, $143.00, Zappos.}

-Classic (belted) trench coats (camel, beige, and black are good colour choices).

Black Calfskin Belt Brooks Brothers, vintage appropriate wardrobe staples

{Black Calfskin Belt with Antiqued Brass Hardware, $48.00, Brooks Brothers.}

-Black and neutral hued belts (often) with understated buckles and detailing.

Black patent bowling bag purse, vintage appropriate wardrobe staples

{Black Patent Bowling Bag Purse, $69.99, Mango.}

-A small to medium sized leather, patent leather, faux leather, vinyl, silk, or sturdy cotton handbag in black, brown, camel, navy, grey, or another dark neutral (burgundy and hunter/pine green can both be surprisingly versatile shades) with minimal hardware and very classic lines.

Cashmere Lined Lambskin Gloves  Brooks Brothers, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{Black cashmere-Lined Lambskin Gloves, $138.00, Brooks Brothers.}

-Solid coloured, classically tailored leather (or faux leather) gloves.

Glass Pearl Necklace with Deco Clasp Brooks Brothers, vintage appropriate wardrobe staples

{17” 8mm Glass Pearl Necklace with Deco Clasp, $198.00, Brooks Brothers.}

-Single stands of pearls, pearl bracelets, and pearl stud earrings. Pearls exude elegance and beauty, and are as timeless – and vintage appropriate – as the sky is blue.

Eastland Classic II Penny Loafer Shoes, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{Eastland Classic II Penny Loafer Shoes, $53.00, Sierra Trading Post.}

-Brown or black penny loafers.

Frye Delia Brown Saddle shoes, vintage appropriate wardrobe basics

{Frye Delia Saddle Shoes, $110.99, Zappos.}

-Traditionally styled saddle shoes and buck shoes.

Nine West Ambitious black pumps heels shoes, vintage wardrobe basics

{Nine West Ambitious black pumps, $68.95, Zappos.}

-Basic pumps (court shoes) in black, navy, white, brown, red, and other versatile colours (or for an extra jolt of alluring style, opt for leopard print).

4 inch leopard print peep toe pumps, vintage shoes, vintage wardrobe basics

{4 inch leopard print peep toe heels, $45.97, Amazon.}

-Peep-toe heels (all the cuter if they have bows or rosettes on the vamp).

Now, of course there are examples of all of these garments that work better for certain decades than others (and, by the same token, versions that are wholeheartedly modern to the point where they really couldn't be styled so as to look like a piece from an early era), but as a general rule, these are amongst the most timeless pieces any woman can have in her vintage appropriate wardrobe.

Things to keep in mind when shopping for vintage appropriate fashions

When looking at a modern piece and trying to size up if it's going to work with your vintage wardrobe, here are some things that you’ll want to keep at the forefront of your mind.

-Fabric: What material is the garment made out of? Is the material one that would have been around during the decade you love or which looks very much like it could have been? Is the pattern and/or colour appropriate for your time frame of choice? Is the weight of the garment in keeping with the period? Are there any embellishments (buttons, zippers, frogs, sequins, beading, embroidery, ties, etc) on the material/garment and if so, do they lend to, or detract from, the vintage feel of the piece?

-Colour: Though it's easy to think back to the past and see the world through largely a black and white lens, the reality is that many vintage garments were loaded with colours of all types, from whisper soft pastels to blazing bright, and everything in between. Though you'd not likely have found a highlighter yellow flapper's dress, you could have encountered one in rust, jade green, crimson, teal, or silver, for example.

Certain colours are generally associated with each decade, and as your knowledge of your favourite eras deepens, you'll soon come to recognize the hues that really tie into your decade of choice.

Though there's definitely some wiggle room when it comes to colours, generally speaking, the more you opt for colours that were appropriate (or best suited to) a certain period, the more likely a garment or accessory may be to have a wonderful vintage appropriate feel to it. One great way to quickly get a feel for the colours that were worn during a certain time frame is to look at old (colour) catalogs and magazines from that time, as well as colour movies (if applicable).

-Lines: Whether from memory or while looking at images from that era (or your favourite bloggers wearing their vintage threads from that time period), look at the lines of a garment and see if the tailoring is similar (or virtually identical, as the case may be) to the decade(s) you're interested in. If it is, this is often a key point in helping to determine if a piece may work for your vintage look.

-Construction: When you look at a piece (or better yet, when possible, hold it in your hands) does it appear (or feel) well made? While shoddy clothes have been around for eons, many vintage pieces, even at lower price points were well made and designed to stand up to years of wear. Check seams, hems, button holes, zippers, and other potentially weak (in terms of construction/risk of damage) points on a piece, even if it's brand new, to make sure that this is a quality garment.

-Overall appearance: There have been times when I've been out shopping and instantly been struck by how very much a modern piece looked like it could have just hopped through the time space continuum and landed here from another era. In fact, I had this happen to me while in a consignment store a couple of months ago with a black dress that, though thoroughly modern, looked incredibly like like many black dresses I've seen over the years from the 1920s.

If a garment strikes you as clearly looking like its from a certain era, that's perhaps the best element to try and find when shopping for modern pieces that have a definite vintage vibe to them. Look at the waistline, sleeve length, hem length, garment construction, embellishments, and material, if these stack up and meet the grade, you likely have a winner on your hands.

-Size: Beyond merely aiming to buy garments that are the right size for your body shape and height, is the the size of the garment in keeping with the proportions that a piece from your decade(s) of choice would have originally have been?

While women sometimes donned men's clothes to intentionally get a baggy look in the 40s and 50s (in particular), often times ladieswear was form fitting and meant to hit at certain spots on the body. Slouchy, excessively baggy, overly tight, hugely oversized, or strangled portioned (e.g., the high front, low back skirts that were all the range last year) pieces are not very likely to look vintage appropriate (with the exception of a few garments, such as swing coats, that are supposed are supposed to fit large and loose).

-Length: Much like size, length is another important factor when it comes to your vintage appropriate garments. With exceptions made for shorts, beach wear, and certain 20s dresses, few skirts and dresses prior to the 1960s hit above a woman's knees. Look at the length and proportions of a garment and ask yourself, objectively, if it really does look like it could have just hopped out of the 30s, 40s, or 50s.

If the answer is "no", this may not be a deal breaker, but you have to think, right then and there, about if there's anyway it can still work. Sometimes alteration can help, other times all a piece may need is to be tucked in (for example, longer shirts and sweaters tucked into high-waisted jeans and trousers often lend them a wonderful 1940s feel), and others still you may have to pass, because length (and heel height, while we're on the subject of length) can easily make or break the vintage appropriate-ness of a garment.

-Alteration-ability: Not a real word, I know, but a real concept for sure. By alteration-ability, I mean, if you look at a piece and it strikes you as being relatively vintage appropriate, is there anything that can be added, removed, or altered to make it appear even more so?

For example, could the buttons be swapped with vintage or more classically styled ones on a blouse or coat to instantly lend it a great 40s feel, or could you remove the lime green fur collar from a black 1990s winter coat to make it seem more like a classic 30s winter topper? If this kind of alteration is something you can do yourself or can afford to have done professionally, then it may be worth getting the garment and having it altered.

-Layer-ability: Again, a homemade term, with practical real world application. Sometimes you'll find a piece that is vintage looking in some respects, but not so much in others. Case in point, certain camisoles, blouses, and dresses. In such instances, clever layering may be all it needs to help a modern piece suddenly look like it hopped out of the tumultuous thirties or fabulous fifties.

Look for necklines, cuffs, collars, and hems with vintage appeal and see if layering a vintage (or vintage appropriate) piece (or pieces) over the not-so-vintage parts of a garment helps it to take on an old school appeal. If a piece is well priced and is able to do so, it may be worth picking up, especially for the colder months when layers are often a must.

Sourcing vintage appropriate modern pieces

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, no matter where I go, I always (always!) keep my eyes peeled for vintage appropriate fashions. While certain stores and locations (e.g., yard sales and flea markets) will obviously lend themselves more to finding such pieces, anywhere that sells clothing has the potential to offer up a piece that may work for you.

I've found 50s looking sweaters in the clothing section at grocery stores, 40s appropriate skirts in trendy teenybopper shops, shrug sweaters in avant garde modern boutiques, lucite/Bakelite looking plastic bangles at the dollar store, and rayon scarves that look like they could have been made seventy years ago at the local drug store.

Train your eye to constantly scan your surroundings and to look for tell-tale signs (certain colours, lines, hem lengths, fabrics, etc) of a piece that will work for your wardrobe.

Odd as it may sound in relationship to vintage clothing, it can also help to keep an eye on modern trends. Fashion is incredibly cyclical and designers often look to the past for inspiration when crafting their present day collections. Though most of-the-moment pieces will likely not work that well for mid-century looks, there’s usually at least one trend each season that pulls so heavily from the past (case in point, the resurgence of peplums this year) that may suddenly provide you with a wealth of garments that could work for your vintage look.

You don't need to buy new to get a vintage look either, be sure to check out local thrift, charity, second hand, and consignment stores, as well as yard sales, flea markets, rummage sales, swap meets, auctions, and estate sales for modern pieces that channel the era you're after. By the same token, falling somewhere between vintage and modern, are pieces from more recent decades (the 1970s-2000s) which may have the look of the era your after.

When shopping online, such garments are sometimes listed with titles such as "1980s does 1940s black cocktail dress" or "1970s does 1930s wide brimmed hat". These pieces can often provide a more budget-friendly version of garments from your favourite decade for a fraction of the cost of an actual (earlier) vintage piece.

Online shopping is a great way to find vintage appropriate clothing (as well, of course, of vintage reproduction clothes, too), as there are literally thousands of online clothing sellers around the world.

Some of my favourite sources (be it for visual inspiration and/or actual purchasing) for vintage appropriate pieces are the fifteen that follow (as well as the others mentioned in the wardrobe basics examples earlier in this post):

-American Eagle Outfitters


-Banana Republic

-Brooks Brothers

-Cath Kidston

-Coldwater Creak

-Forever 21 (yes, you have to weed through tones of modern/trendy pieces, but whether online or in person, I almost always find at least one great vintage appropriate piece when I shop at Forever 21)



-Old Navy (I've gotten a lot of great thin knits, such as the cardigan I'm wearing here, from Old Navy over the years)


-Ralph Lauren


-Sears (I've found some really nice vintage appropriate blouses, sweaters, cardigans, and shoes there over the years)



That little something extra

Earlier in this post we talked about altering and/or layering a modern piece to give it more of a vintage feel, by the same token you can sometimes use accessories to inject more of a period appropriate quality to a garment. Some examples that can help in this regard are vintage jewelry and hats, classic belts, vintage scarves, detachable collars and/or cuffs, lady ties (such as those sold by etsy seller Flapper Girl), vintage or vintage appropriate shoes, and classic coats.

However, just as the old expression states that you can't get blood from a stone, so too are there times when, no matter how much you like a garment, accessory or pair of shoes, if you have to face the fact that it's not going to work for your chosen decade.

Of course you can still buy it to wear at other times, if you'd like, but, again, don't try and force a square peg into a round hole. Instead, look at the garment (or accessory) and determine what you like most about it (colour, fabric, pattern, cut, etc) and then see if you can find an actual vintage or other vintage appropriate piece that incorporates that quality, but is more in keeping with the styles of your favourite decade.

Always try to keep in mind that vintage styling isn't just about the clothes, important and integral as they are to any period appropriate look. If you're aiming to really recreate the exact styles of a certain decade, it helps a great deal to ensure that your hair and make-up (as well as your accessories and shoes) are in keeping with those styles that were in use at time.

One could argue that this rings even more true if you're using modern pieces to appropriate a vintage outfit, instead of sporting actual vintage garments. In either case though, hair and make-up can go a long way towards helping you create the fabulous yesteryear look you're after.

What it all boils down to

Though I know that some vintage clothing fans out there only wear genuine vintage pieces, I'd venture to say that a good percentage of us incorporate some combination of reproduction, handmade, and/or vintage appropriate pieces into our wardrobes in conjunction with our vintage garments. Those just starting out in the vintage fashion world, may even be basing their whole old school inspired wardrobe on such pieces.

As the years roll on and vintage prices most likely continue to rise, while at the same time the available amount of vintage clothing dwindles, likely more and more of us will turn to (or continue to buy) modern pieces that we can convincingly put to use in our everyday wardrobes.

Knowledge of the decades you enjoy wearing most, common sense, and the tips in this post should help steer you in the right direction when it comes to, as Dolly asked, shopping for modern clothes that you can effectively, beautifully use in your day-to-day vintage looks.

Have fun, enjoy shopping online and off, and feel free to share snaps here anytime you put together a great vintage appropriate outfit.


  1. This is by far my favorite outfit!! So So So cute! This is a great post. Love taking a look into this vintage wearing world. I think mixing vintage with modern is perfect!! It must be so fun to always be on the hunt!!

  2. Great post! You have a lot of really great examples and ideas. I really need to get myself a nice pair of penny loafer. I like the look and they are totally comfortable.

  3. Great advice. My favourite dress is a floral cotton target number that is a few years old. I get asked a lot if it is vintage as it is a great vintage looking print, fitted bodice and full-ish skirt. As I have never even come close to finding something similar that is vintage in my size I love it even more.

  4. This is a great post! I haven't gone into detail about this on my blog but maybe I should. I am always incorporating modern 'vintage' pieces into my daily wardrobe. Certain things like sweaters, pants, coats and blouses can be challenging to find vintage. As long as you know what elements to look for it is pretty easy to find them at the mall.

    What I usually do is think of a certain vintage piece or style that I really want. I search the web for it and get ideas and if it is not something I can find easily, then I turn to modern clothing sites. I was really inspired by this image of a 40s starlet wearing a peasant blouse, skirt and ankle tie flat sandals. The only thing I didn't have were the sandals so I went on a hunt for them. I wound up finding exactly what I wanted on Victoria's Secret. Now my look is complete and no one cares that my shoes aren't vintage!

    1. Thank you very much, dear gal. I'm totally with you when it comes to the approach you take to hunting for various pieces. I often follow a similar pattern, and love that there are so many modern sources out there to try and track down vintage appropriate pieces at (you know, the only VS piece I've ever owned is a lovely floral print cotton robe that I bought second hand online and wear all year round - I should definitely check them out more often for potential vintage appropriate pieces).

      ♥ Jessica

  5. It's surprising how many stores have vintage-inspired collections. Here are some more Canadian ideas:

    Bootlegger, the jeans store, has a 1920's-inspired collection (they sent me an e-mail, the tops are 50% off today if you order online):

    The Superstore (of all places) often has 1960's-inspired clothing.

    Jacob has a lot of vintage-looking pieces, but I find that their clothes feel like polyester.

    1. Hi Kim, thanks for adding those great Canadian sources. I've found some wonderful 50s appropriate pieces from Joe Fresh before and have definitely seen many 60s ones there, too (I don't wear 60s fashions as a general rule, or else I'm sure I would have bought some of Joe's).

      For further Canadian sources, I'm very keen on Reitmans (great for blouses and cardigans sometimes), Suzy Shier (for tops in particular), and Ricky's (everything from pencil skirts to fitted blazers).

      ♥ Jessica

  6. Wow, great post! Also, I think we vintage lovers just gravitate to vintage inspired clothing, when we going shopping.

  7. This post has been absolutely fascinating, Jessica!! I too love vintage inspired items and have loads in my wardrobe that range anywhere from 30s style to 60s style! I recently picked up a cute 50s insp polka dot dress and it looks like it has crinoline peaking out from under the skirt. I found it at goodwill. :)

  8. Hello lady,
    Thank you for posting such a wonderfully informative and thorough piece. I am financially challenged (aka cheap) and at least half of my wardrobe is from Forever 21. Especially right now with peplums and peter pan collars being "on trend." I am also pretty far away from being 21, as I am 35, but they always have classic pieces, novelty prints, and the occasional skirt that goes down past the mid thighs (occasional!).
    Thank you for always brightening my day with vintage goodness!

    1. Thank you very, very much for your wonderfully sweet comment (compliment!). I'm so happy to know that my posts help brighten your day - that's a really vital part of why I blog (to help bring vintage cheer to others) and such a motivational factor to keep giving my blog my all.

      I love Forever 21 and have found some really stellar pieces there over the years. It's one of the few shops that I truly miss not having around us anymore (we live hundreds of miles from the closest ones these days - but thankfully they do have an online shop for Canadians, phew!!! :) ), and one which I know I'll always turn to as a great source of relatively affordable vintage appropriate pieces.

      Thank you again for brightening my day, in turn, with your comment,
      ♥ Jessica

  9. Oh my goodness! This is a marvelous post! You have touched on so many topics and offer up so much wonderful advice!!


  10. Wow! Excellent post. I can't wait to pore over it at length and in great detail later today. I love the shoes. (They're usually my favorite thing to shop for, aside from books and bracelets!) Lots of wonderful advice from what i've read so far. Of course, i'd expect nothing less than a fabulous post from you.) :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. WOW! What an amazing resource you've given us vintage lovers, here! Comprehensive, easy-to-read, and very informative! Not to mention fun pictures of pretty things...
    Thanks for a truly outstanding post!


  12. Oh my goodness, what a very detailed post! This is a great resource for starting out vintage. I love that you found some great images of vintage looking modern day fashions. I love the a-lined skirts:)

  13. Thanks very much for this post! You've given me loads of great ideas x

  14. Thank you for writing this post. Your blog has quickly become my favorite and I look forward to seeing your posts show up in my bloglovin' feed. This was very helpful and you gave some really wonderful tips on how to incorporate modern with vintage feel.

    1. You are thoroughly welcome, Jaime, it's my absolute pleasure. Thank you in turn for your terrifically nice comment. I'm very touched to know you enjoy my blog so much and adore having you as reader and online friend.

      ♥ Jessica

  15. This is extraordinarily comprehensive! Thank you for being candid with your shopping habit, not everyone is as generous;)

    I don't get on very well with the high street, but you've given me plenty of ideas, uh oh!

    Ruby xx

    1. Thank you very much, dear Ruby. I debated splitting the post up, but thought that ultimately, it would be most helpful to my readers (and all those who may come looking for information on this topic in the future) to corral all of these points together into one hefty post.

      It's very sweet of you to thank me for being so candid. The pleasure is all mine. I see no reason to keep any element of my style a secret, and am always pleased as punch to share my knowledge on, and approach to, vintage dressing with all of my wonderful online friends. If there's anything particular that you'd ever like to know, please don't hesitate to ask.

      ♥ Jessica

  16. What an amazing post!! So well thought out and explained!! :D I'm sure that this will help many a vintage fan, and I thank you for your detailed explanations and examples. :D
    (I've always been a huge fan of the 1940's-1950's style era in clothing, hairstyles and cosmetics. So romantic!!! :D)

  17. What an amazingly well written post! I really enjoyed it. xo

  18. Such a well written post! Remind me to get your autograph one day so when you become a famous writer I can see...look I know her! hehehe Really though-this is one of your best posts to date! Very informative and detailed-I appreciate all the work you put into it!! xox

    1. Thank you very, very much, dear Bunny! Awww, stop, you've got me blushing redder than the stripes on a candy cane over here. Writing is a sincere pleasure for me, and I love knowing that others enjoy and can glean from what I share with the world. (An autograph is yours whenever you'd one has ever asked me for one before - you're the absolute sweetest!)

      ♥ Jessica

  19. What an incredibly valuable post, Jessica! I can see you publishing a book with all the great advice you share here. No kidding, it's so generous and thoughtful of you. And, I might add, that photo of you on Canada Day is one of my very favorites.

    Have a lovely weekend, filled with fun and festive activities!


    p. s. I'd like an autograph, too. Oh, wait, I have one. :)

    1. Thank you deeply, dearest Georgianna, that is one of most wonderful compliments I've ever received about my writing. You always give my soul the most cheerful boost of confidence and support.

      ♥ Jessica

  20. What a great, comprehensive post. I appreciate how much time you put into your educational posts. I wish that I could buy everything vintage, as having the history of the garment is so much fun to me, but that's pretty impossible and sometimes unaffordable. So I appreciate the tips! I definitely want to get more period-appropriate knitwear, because I love staying warm and the vintage items can be so expensive! I have had a lot of luck with 1970s button-downs - you can find them pretty cheap (my local vintage store sells them for $12) and it's easy to find classic looks and styling. My favorite is white with embroidered polka dots and a peter pan collar!

  21. Just in case you didn't see my response to your comment, I wanted to make sure you know how thankful I am for your answers to my questions! I really appreciate it and I feel very enlightened! And I'll definitely be trying out stockings. And the suggestion of is very helpful. I'm looking forward to buying my first petticoat!

  22. very cute tutorial! thanks for sharing! very useful!

  23. What an amazing post. So full of knowledge and illustrated beautifully. Your pictures show us pieces that melt my heart.

    And the advice is so sound. I'm heading in this direction 'cause I find such artistry in it, so your tips are greatly appreciated.

    And, lastly, I'm uber-impressed at your industry. You're blogging like someone possessed with passion!

    1. What a wonderfully nice comment (and compliment), thank you very much. I derive a great deal of joy from blogging, and it also incredibly cathartic for me (I have a lot of chronic health problems and blogging is a very fun way for me to distract myself from them on an ongoing basis), so it means the world to me to know that others can sense my passion for it through my posts.

      ♥ Jessica

  24. Great informative post! I appreciate all the time and effort that must have gone into it and Im sure it will be a tremendous help in my efforts of developing my wardrobe. Thank you so much!

  25. Great post! Perfect primer for what every lady needs in her closet, too! Excellent as usual.

  26. An excellent post! And I really love your source choices..many of them are where I find "modern vintage" pieces myself.

  27. Fantastic post love! It's so great to mix and match vintage and new garments, you can't beat a good staple garment like a classic blouse or pencil skirt!

  28. You always take so much time helping ladies out, weather it's withs tips and trics or just a little inspiring bit about yourself. You must be such a beautiful person, inside and out :) x

    1. That is so immensely sweet of you to say, thank you deeply, my dear. It is a joy, honour, and privilege to share my thoughts, knowledge and passion for the past with other vintage lovers like yourself.

      ♥ Jessica

  29. Ha! I think all the women in my family have vintage wardrobes without knowing it--since we're all old and keep our clothes forever! Wonderful post! Also love the great Saturday snapshots and of course the delightful images of Christmas past...just terrific!

    1. That's such a charming thought, dear Ann. I wish the same was true of the ladies in my family - I'd love to raid (or at least look at) the clothes they'd worn in earlier decades, but alas it seems like no one has held onto anything pre-90s.

      ♥ Jessica

  30. Goodness, that red and white gingham dress is gorgeous!

  31. What a thorough post! Really well thought out, and I agree that there are so many timeless wardrobe staples that it is worth investing in...I still don't have all of those mentioned on your list, but I'm working on it... ;) xxx

  32. This is a great post! I can't afford 'real' vintage half the time, but I find that modern knits and shoes are often inspired by older styles. Getting basics that were made recently is a great way to save money, as often you can't tell the difference between a blouse sourced from etsy and one in the department store. Save your money for those really unique items that just can't be replicated! Vintage accesories or separates can be mixed in with a modern wardrobe quite easily.

    1. Thank you very much, dear Emmi. Excellently said; I really agree with what you said (so true about focusing your investment money on those kinds of pieces that are very hard to find modern version of) and have often taken the same approach to my wardrobe.

      ♥ Jessica

  33. Hi Dolly - Blogger deleted your comment instead of publishing it for some very strange reason (I find this usually happens at random once or twice every few hundred comments). Here's your comment as you wrote it, "*squeals* Oh! Oh! Oh! This is just the post I was hoping for, and more besides! Thank you ever so much! I'm saving this. :D You addressed everything I have been wanting to see addressed! Boy! Thanks a million!"

    You are sincerely welcome - thank you again very much for asking about this point. It was a joy to put together this post (and remind myself in the process of some great US sources of vintage appropriate clothes), and I'm very glad to know that it addressed just what you were seeking more information on. Please feel free to keep any and all vintage fashion related questions coming, dear gal.

    ♥ Jessica

  34. nice post. but to me it's a little strange that people need help to style and mix real vintage and 'nowadays does vintage' pieces. this is what i do almost everyday for over 20 years now ...
    my biggest issue with vintage pieces is washing. i'm always afraid my beloved vintage pieces could get holes or other injuries after washing ... so i decided to check out the local store selling betty page clothing and other well known vintage style labels. ha, what a sad surprise: i'm not allowed to wash 90% of these dresses in the washing mashine!!! i stepped out of the store without spending 150-300€ on a non-washable new dress. this is not what i need. it should be easy to wash an everyday piece. i can't afford taking my everyday wardrobe to the dry cleaner every time it needs to. ...
    because of this - i really like 80s does 50s/40s dresses. they can be washed easily in the w-mashine. perfect for everyday.

    1. Hi dear, thank you for weighing in and sharing some of your thoughts on this topic. I agree that the fragile nature and/or need to dry clean can be a big strike against certain garments for sure. Call me a risk taker if you like, but I'll often wash so-called "dry clean only" garments at home (usually by hand with a very mild detergent). There are some fabrics and garments that really, truly can only be safely cleaned by a dry cleaner, but in my experience many can be washed at home at an absolute fraction of the cost.

      I'm a big fan of 80s does 40s and 50s fashions, too. They're usually considerably more affordable, often well made, and can usually be tossed in the washing machine (or at the very least washed by hand), no problem. As time goes and genuine vintage prices continue to sky rocket, I suspect that "80s does whatever decade" clothes will gain even more of a following amongst us vintage fans.

      ♥ Jessica


      You are extremely young looking - I would have thought we were the same age or that perhaps you were even younger than me (I'm 28), but I'm now guessing that you're older as you said you'd been wearing vintage/vintage appropriate styles for more than 20 years now.

  35. I wear comparatively little "real" vintage but mostly new, repro or self-made. But as you say it is all a mtter of what you choose and how you wear it. I have a friend who style herself wonderfully 30's in almost exclusively "new" clothes.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, dear Isis. I think that creating a successful vintage look can be achieved via numerous paths, and am very impressed by those like yourself who sew many of their own fashions or your friend who puts together a 30s inspired wardrobe with mostly new pieces (that's not the easiest decades to pull off with modern clothes, so my hat really goes off to her). I love that each of us in the vintage wearing community has our own style voice and sources we turn to help build up our wardrobes.

      ♥ Jessica

  36. What a terrific blog -- just found it through another I read. Wonderful suggestions.

    I confess to wincing at the "below the knee" reference, as you are totally right but I am five eight and skirts that might cover someone else's knees do not necessarily cover mine. Until they closed last year, we were lucky enough to have an amazing vintage inspired modern clothing company in the East Village of NYC (D. L. Cerney) and their skirts are almost the only pencils I have that actually do hit below the knee. Tall sizes, which are often available online (for some reason British companies are especially good about this) help with that too. And everytime midis come back into style, I stock up.