How to wear (and shop) vintage

leopard print coat

Photo taken from this post in tailored vintage coat found at a local shop.
I get a lot of questions centered around how I shop for vintage. I figured a cheat sheet of tips was in order…

Use A Tailor: Vintage clothes are cut based on tastes from a different time. Use a tailor to correct a  feature.    The above vintage coat had the BIGGEST 80’s SHOULDERS EVER. I took it to a tailor and told them to 1. remove the giant shoulder pads 2. Cut out the excess fabric that covered them.  One week later the shoulders fit snug and the bulk removed.
How to style it: Wear big coats like this with flat boots, flat shoes and sports trainers. Heels with this read overkill.

vintage blouse

Photo taken from this post in vintage sequined top with shoulder pads removed.


Rip ‘Em Out:  A tailor fixes something you can’t (like the above coat).  Otherwise I rip the pads out of blouses and dress that make me look like an extra from the 80s.  The shoulders of this above top hung better on bare shoulders for a slimmer more flattering look versus with it’s padding.

How to style it: Wear sequin tops with complimenting colors. eg. Gold and blues pair well hence the above (also see tip 4).   Other good colour pairs: pink/chocolate or silver.  Team a bold primary colour with a basic eg. old denim works with everything or clash two opposite colors together. I usually don’t do two sequin separates together (although it’s crossing my mind now). Wear what works based on your own personal style. 

leopard coat

Photo taken from this post wearing my floppy hat with a found belt around it.


Re-think belts and scarfs:  Vintage shops are gold mines for both. Consider wrapping one around a hat instead.

How to style it:  Take a plain brimmed hat and secure the ends of a wrapped scarf with a pin.  For belts consider superglue for a hat/belt combo that you’d want to keep. Just glue the belt itself and switch it out with different hats. 

fur vest

Photo taken from this post in a vintage vest found at Gypsy Vintage Nation in the Artist & Flea market. 


Look for fur/faux fur vest: To me the best ones are at vintage shops.  Stick with colors that will  work with most wardrobes eg. black or camel.

How to style it: I got the above one so I could wear it with anything dark.  I like to layer them over jackets, thick knits, parkas and slim cut coats. If you find a thin fur vest, layer it under a coat or parka instead. 

ditsey tea dress

Photo taken from this post.  Wearing a Salvation Army dress. 

Look for small prints:  Small coloured prints e.g florals tend to not date and look similar to tea dresses that Topshop make every season.  Larger prints on softer fabrics can look distracting and date.  Look for cuts that skim through the body. Form fitting cuts can be tricky.  
How to style it:  I usually clash ultra feminine with ankle boots to make it more me.  You add the accessories that work with your own style and to update.  

white lace dress

Photo taken from this post.  Wearing an ivory vintage dress.
Check the white dress section:  Some of the prettiest white dresses are vintage and I always have a rummage through to find the a new one each spring.  Avoid stiff fabrics. Being white, check for any stains or holes. Consider long vintage slips to wear as dresses.  Go for a size larger so it hangs well and feels more effortless.  

How to style it:  I look for oversized dresses with sleeves. That’s me. If I wear a vintage slip as a dress, it’s usually layered under a jacket like the one from this post. Pair white dresses simply: think flats, boots, oxfords, Chuck Taylors (so effortless). Make them girly with strappy heels. Try heeled ankle boots like this one on Elle Strauss. Contrast with plain coloured bags if the dress has a pattern (like the above). Update hemlines with a side knot, pinned (like this older post) or have the front only sewed to sit higher (see above photo).


Photo taken from this post. Pairing a beaded top with ripped denim.

Get One Elaborate Piece:  The craftsmanship that goes into vintage beats what’s made today. Always check out the highly ornate or beaded pieces.  They are one of a kind usually (beats buying current versions).  Look for missing beads and check the lining. 
How to style it: This top has a zip up the back.  Dress down a flashy piece with the opposite: worn denim jeans, or shorts. Add a leather belt (optional).  Keep the pairing basic to keep the focus on embellished top (or skirt).   Wear day or night.  I’d layer this top over a dress like this too. 

trophy jacket

Photo Taken from this post. Wearing a beaded cardi as a jacket.

Look for Trophy Jackets: Look for heavily beaded, mirrored or sequined cardigans to wear as a trophy jacket.

How to style it Wear them over anything simple – here’s one of mine worn under a coat and with a t-shirt.  I like to dress them down with ankle boots. Try reversing them to have a flash of skin behind – see the same jacket worn back to front
Haggle if you see a rip/stain/hole/bad lining. Tell them their discount funds the tailoring fix. 
Ignore sizes. A vintage small, medium or large was based on different measurements. 
Extend the life of vintage dresses: In winter layer them under knits or sweatshirts.  Add wool tights. 
Look for two things: Fabric (does it look cheap) and pattern (does it look dated).
Check out vintage parkas, military coats and army jackets: the unique way to get these badass looks.  
Rummage the boot section and consider cutting them with scissors to ankle height (like these). Look for classic styles: Doc Martens, oxfords, wingtips, monks, stilettos with a straight heel.  Avoid anything that’s not genuine leather.

Stock up on old rock band t-shirts and sweatshirts from the mens section.

Bags: look for classics eg. leather backpacks that look like this or grab an old Coach.

If you have any questions about wearing vintage – just ask! 


  1. stof enzo says:

    Hi Karen, I love the post. I like to wear long vintage dresses, but sometimes it can be very ladylike. How to wear them in a “sturdy” way?

    • Karen says:

      Depends on the style of the dress but in general you can make them more casual by adding say a parka or even a denim jacket. All depends on the dress itself. I like to clash and where casual shoes or boots so think Doc Martens or a combat style boot. Something to anchor them and make them less feminine? Also a hat like a beanie would be cool.

    • stof enzo says:

      Thanks, for the lovely ideas:)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing!! Your tailor must love you, with all the work you provide her/him! 🙂 Looooove that trophy jacket/cardigan (I have a weakness for blue)
    Cheers from Exeter (Devon),

    • Karen says:

      good timing!

    • Karen says:

      Had a feeling you would like : )

  3. stephanie @ ghrl unltd says:

    Great post. A great tailor is a must have. Mine just smiles when I walk in the door with a random vintage or thrifted find! She will occasionally try to talk me out of hacking off a full length dress into a mini or taking the sleeves off a fur coat to make it into a vest, but in the end she always makes me very happy. A must when you love wearing vintage.
    Thanks for the advise. Happy Holidays

    • Karen says:

      Yes I agree on the tailor. I don’t really use them too often so when I do it has to be something really needed. Hope you have a good Christmas too!

  4. Cyrena Monique says:

    Great piece hun, I love finding a great vintage piece then updating it to make it my own!

    I’ve been meaning to ask you where your friend gets that shoe stretching spray from in Londres?

    • Karen says:

      It’s on AMAZON!

    • Karen says:

      which is good for us who do like them since to me less people go after them.

  5. luckapucka says:

    Perfect !!!!! I like your vintage attitude and style…

  6. luckapucka says:

    Perfect !!!!! I like your vintage attitude and style…

  7. Nadine says:

    Your style is amazing!!! So kind of you to share these tips! Beneficial!

  8. Fashion Musings Diary says:

    Very interesting and useful styling tips! I never shop for vintage but I already wear my neutral faux-fur Zara vest over every outfit!

    • Karen says:

      Oh good they are brilliant aren’t they?

  9. Simona says:

    Excellent! I love vintage shopping, and your guide is the best i have seen.

    • Karen says:

      Whaaa? now that’s a compliment

  10. Nina Stajner says:

    I’m a huuuuge vintage enthusiast and always wear at least one vintage piece per outfit. I thought i knew all the tricks but this post gave me a couple of new styling ideas! thanks <3

    • Karen says:

      Ahhh glad you got a couple of new ideas. I agree about trying to wear it as much as poss. I go through phases : )

  11. Sparrow Lyn says:

    Karen, Thanks so much for sharing these tips, you are a master at mixing it up ! I shared your post on my Sparrow Lyn Facebook page as I thought it was so helpful. Your photos are amazing too ! Thanks again for inspiring everyday !

  12. Anonymous says:

    I honestly believe that this is a very wonderful article you got here.
    Would iit bother you if I like your page on my facebook along with the link and the title of your post:
    “Blogger: WhereDidUGetThat”? I visided this blog as I
    was browsing for cartilage jewelry and I think that I was
    extremely lucky for doing so.
    Best Wishes!!
    Our Cartilage Piercings Team

    Stop by my blog post; breast cancer jewelry

  13. Victoria Anderson says:

    Great article! As for me I love vintage clothes, they are popular all the time. I do prefer items of 80s. The best store ever is, I always find there cool things.

Comments are closed.

Recent Videos