The Versatility of Vintage

Both an alliteration and a fun fashion hack!

One year ago, I was frightened by the word vintage. Thrifting, Goodwill, second-hand shopping, the whole shebang. Wait, what?? 

When I was a mere 18 year-old, first entering the pits of college and living in a city (D.C., if you didn't know) for the first time, the idea of buying clothing that had already been worn freaked me out. Coming from a suburb of North Atlanta, I only knew Goodwill, or the southern-suburban version of Goodwill, to be more exact. What a scary place! I didn't know that good vintage finds existed. Yes, suburban Goodwills are filled to the brim with good (and cheap) buys, but that required the right amount of time, a ton of energy, and a specific mood that consisted of being able to be open to anything. Way too many requirements, if you ask me.

But then I went to Seattle this March, and everything changed. I learned that the certain art of thrifting actually wasn't that difficult to master—you just have to be really open minded and be willing to wear pieces in different, at times unexpected, ways. These are the things you're taught your entire life if you're raised by thrifting pros, but I wasn't so lucky. My mom was so unknowledgeable on the subject of vintage fashion that she even got rid of most of her wardrobe from the '70s, '80s, and '90s, assuming it would be worthless now. After some short-term anger at this act, I realized I was being a hypocrite—I don't even like vintage clothing. Why would I be mad at her for depleting her closet that was a thrifter's dream when I didn't even own thrifted clothing myself?

So—back to Seattle. This city is filled to the brim with thrift stores that charge you at reasonable prices (unlike NYC) and usually have excellent finds, unlike the suburban stores I was used to. My first official thrifted piece of clothing was my pair of vintage Levi shorts (which will be showcased below!), presumably coming from the early '90s, that started from way above my belly-button, just how I liked them, but reached to the very top of my knee caps. An awkward length, if you ask me. So my first thrifting lesson was applied—always be ready to tailor your thrifted pieces. The scissors came out, and I cut them myself that very day, transforming them from '90s mom to trendy NY summer blogger. I finally felt like a real thrifter, then the purchases kept coming. One vintage coach purse for only $3 and one black silk bandana later, I finally hopped aboard the thrifting train.

Living in New York this summer changed everything, too. It was a whole different game there—thrift stores practically raided the East Village, Williamsburg, and Bushwick, but each borough brought out a different kind of thrifting. Manhattan's was far too overpriced but carried designer brands (from Acne to Alexander Wang) and those it-pieces that every editor and blogger were wearing on a day-to-day basis. Bushwick was fortunately the opposite—similar to Seattle with the pricing, but a bit more East coast than PNW. Williamsburg fell right in between, where many shops were overpriced but held more of an artist vibe than a fashionista's. This plethora of options upped my vintage game even further, opening my world view to other outlets, like buying vintage through Instagram (which is an excellent invention, by the way). The opportunities to buy used clothing are endless these days, making me love the concept even more, and I haven't even mentioned how sustainable it is!

Yes, it's obvious that you can buy vintage practically anywhere these days, but what about how we wear it?

Vintage Dress bought at Antoinette Vintage. Shoes by Urban Outfitters (similar here).

Above, you'll see me wearing a midi, almost maxi, vintage floral dress that slightly resembles a mix of cool grandma and Little House on the Prairie. How tf am I supposed to style this without looking like the aforementioned persona? I could wear it alone with slides and embrace this lewk, ooooor...

Shorts are vintage Levi's (remember the ones I talked about a few paragraphs ago?).

I could wear pants! I hope you all were thoroughly surprised by my big reveal. 

Almost exactly one year ago I wore a dress with jeans for the first time and I felt a bit funky, but in a cool, sartorial way, and now, 365(ish) days later I feel like I've mastered the art of this technique. It usually only works with button-down dresses (at least to my knowledge), pairing this with high-waited pants vs. low will most likely look better, and showing a tad bit of skin makes the combo even more interesting. However, my main point isn't how to style dresses in a ~kewler~ way, but how to style vintage in a non-traditional manner. Unbuttoning more than half of the Grandma-esque dress just transformed antique into edgy. Where's my that was easy button? Oh, also adding shorts in the mix makes it socially acceptable, but this step is not the key in my hypothesis. The key really only lies in the dress—it was designed to be worn fully-buttoned, but altering this construct and only buttoning six of what feels like a million can do so much. No scissors or stitches required! Reworking vintage doesn't only mean cutting the hem of those vintage jeans or fixing some broken seams; it could mean just wearing a piece in a way it's not designed to be worn. This is when it gets kind of freaky: aren't there technically an infinite amount of ways to wear something that differs from its intended manner? 

Another perk: wearing lengthy dresses this way makes you feel like you're wearing a sartorial cape, making you feel so much more powerful than a typical dress.

How do you rework your vintage pieces? Comment your thoughts below!

Photos shot by Brisa, back when I was living in NYC.

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