My Rules to Wear Vintage the Right Way

The Odeon is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC, in no small part because of its super-chic manager, Roya Shanks. She’s always impeccably dressed in clothing she finds at thrift shops and consignment stores. “I’ve been working here for 14 years, and our customers have come to expect my vintage outfits. It’s fun to dress up for them!” says Roya. Here, Roya models my rules on how to wear vintage without looking like you’re going to a theme party.

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Rule #1: It Must Fit Well

As many of you know, without fit, you can’t have style. I understand that if you find something amazing and unique at a consignment store, you may never find it again. But if it doesn’t fit well, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. “I don’t buy much online, I have to try everything on,” says Roya. “I act in regional theater productions and travel a lot, so I’m always hunting for new treasures.” If a garment can’t be adjusted with some basic tailoring (taking in the waist, shortening a pant leg), you’ve got to let it go.

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Rule #2: It Must be in Brand-New Condition

Would you buy a new shirt with a coffee stain on it? No? Then don’t buy an old one with a coffee stain on it! Stains, rips, moth holes—these are deal-breakers for vintage clothes just as they are for new items. Again, minor repairs are doable, but don’t expect your tailor to bring a garment back to life if it looks like it’s been run over by a lawn mower. Once it’s yours, treat it with care. “I have everything neatly hung—I’m lucky to have pretty generous closets for a studio apartment!” says Roya.

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Rule #3: You’ve Got to Make it Modern

Let’s say you find a vintage 60s skirt suit. Hooray! Now you can wear the jacket with a pair of jeans. Or the skirt with an oxford shirt. But not the skirt suit, together, with a pair of stacked wedges, matching cloche and gloves. You’ll look like you got stuck in a time travel machine. Pair contemporary shoes with a vintage dress, break up sets that are too matchy-matchy, and mix your decades. ”I found this 60s dress, then the 80s jacket that matched it perfectly years later. It was up to me to bring them together,” says Roya.

How to Wear Vintage
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