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Vintage style.

Vintage-style sewing has become popular in recent years. Learn how to incorporate vintage details into your contemporary wardrobe.

Vintage Perks

There are many reasons why vintage clothing has become so popular in the past few years. The classic styles, with defined waists and feminine silhouettes, flatter many body shapes that aren't necessarily treated so well by today's loose-fitting, ready-to-wear styles. Frequently, vintage styles also include many wonderful design details and excellent construction that aren't found in off-the-rack fast fashion today. Vintage clothing often uses much higher-quality fabrics as well. When you buy vintage clothes at a second-hand shop, you're getting great quality at a very good price. Plus vintage clothing doesn't look like the clothing that everyone else is wearing, which allows you to stand out when everyone is wearing the same separates purchased from the same stores.

Because there's been an increasing demand for vintage fashion, pattern companies have been re-issuing some of their vintage pattern styles (1). But how can you sew and wear vintage styles without looking like you're wearing a costume? Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction.

Mix & Match

Wear vintage-style clothing with contemporary accessories, hair styles and makeup (2). Or style contemporary clothing with vintage-style accessories. The key is to not wear too much vintage or vintage-inspired at once. This way your look can be personal and unique without looking like you've just stepped off the set of Mad Men. When choosing vintage patterns, focus on the silhouettes that flatter your body, but wear them in a contemporary manner with contemporary styling.

Focal Point

Choose one item to be the central element of your outfit and let it shine. Select the rest of the outfit to complement it without competing for attention. If you're wearing a great 1950s dress, pair it with cute strappy sandals and an elegant cuff bracelet. Steer clear of anything that might distract from the dress itself. This is a great opportunity to wear your neutral basics with vintage pieces. For example, a classic fitted jacket with a statement flared vintage skirt looks interesting without giving the impression that you're trying too hard.


Make an unexpected fabric choice for your vintage-inspired sewing projects. Try sewing vintage patterns from contemporary fabrics. For example, instead of using a printed cotton for your vintage day dress, choose a sophisticated solid (3). Or use a fabric completely unheard-of back in the day for a vintage style, such as neoprene for a pencil skirt. You could also choose a monochromatic palette for a pattern that was originally designed for contrasting trim. The tonal colors work to de-emphasize the contrast, giving it a more sophisticated appeal. Another approach would be to use a vintage-style print fabric to sew a contemporary style. Again, it's all about the mix and balance, plus a dash of the unexpected.


Many designers reference vintage styles and silhouettes in their work, but they update something about those styles to give the designs a contemporary twist. Be inspired by vintage details, such as collars, cuffs and plackets, and then add one or two of those wonderful elements to a contemporary style (4). If you love the French cuffs on a vintage dress, add them to a contemporary shirt for a little vintage flavor without the full-on effect. Many 1940s styles are especially notable for their great tailored details, such as unusual pockets or scalloped collars, but the very boxy silhouettes and strong shoulders can be a bit overbearing for today. Pick and choose from those interesting details and use them to add a bit of vintage flair to an otherwise contemporary style.


Make sure you feel comfortable in your vintage-inspired choices. If something feels inappropriate or uncomfortable, you won't feel confident. And confidence is the key to looking your best.


Simplicity carries patterns 1459 and 1587:
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Title Annotation:Haute Topics; clothing
Author:Gibson, Liesl
Publication:Sew News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Previous Article:Pleated skirt.
Next Article:Applique & hemstitching: learn how to replicate vintage details to take garments from simple to stunning.

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