How Wear Vintage Accessories to Look Chic
How to Wear Vintage Accessories to Look Chic
Written by Hannah Mae Webster
Vintage fashion often carries the false stigma of consisting of dated clothing and accessories. However, there are many avenues of vintage style including chic, vintage or vintage-inspired pieces that can fit seamlessly into modern style, whilst adding a classic element. It can be a challenge to style vintage accessories as it is necessary to differentiate the timeless accessories against the bold, short-lived trends that may appear dated in a modern setting.
Vintage Style Icons
As a starting point, observing the accessorizing style of elegant vintage icons is a great way to discover versatile accessories that can be easily adopted into modern outfits.
Jane Birkin’s undeniable style featured minimalistic styling and accessories that achieved a certain air of charming carelessness. The “basket bag,” is one of the most memorable pieces popularized by Jane Birkin. The “basket bag” is the perfect accessory to a spring or summer outfit due to its practicality and ability to complement almost any outfit. Jane Birkin adopted the iconic accessory during the 60s and proved its versatility for any occasion, from street market shopping to airport attire. Birkin’s basket bag originated from a Portuguese fishing village and is the ultimate wardrobe staple.
Did you know?
The brand “Bonjour Coco” sells authentic handmade basket bags sourced from that same village in Portugal.
The basket bag was worn by Birkin throughout the 70s with basic, chic outfits such as her iconic low-rise flared jeans and white t-shirt ensemble, a simple yet enduring outfit. The basket bag is the perfect choice of accessory as it would easily work with most modern clothing such as jeans, spring and summer dresses, and skirts.
“I never have more than one bag at a time. I think one is already quite enough. Also, I hate changing bags, so I never have the thing of having ten bags. Any bag that's with me will take the same course as I will. It will take the same airplanes and will be squashed in the same way and will be used as a cushion in the airports.”
Brief history of the “Birkin”
The Hermès “Birkin,” released in 1984, remains one of the most coveted designer handbags of all time, and its creation was inspired by Jane Birkin. The idea for the “Birkin” was formed following the meeting of Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas and Jane Birkin on a plane in which the need for a practical yet chic handbag was discovered. Jane Birkin’s own use of the “Birkin” bag was iconic as she customized and used the bag to the maximum. A unique way to inject an element of vintage style is through a customized tote-style bag. Jane Birkin used charms, beaded strings, ribbons, and stickers to add a bold, slightly messy look to her handbag.
Known for her elegant approach to styling and accessorizing, Audrey Hepburn is a great source of inspiration for vintage styling. Ballet flats are the perfect option for a minimalistic vintage-inspired look and they were popularized by Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s. Following introductions in films such as “Funny Face,” the ballet flat became the go-to choice for practical yet chic footwear.
Today, the pumps have experienced a revival and are adored by those wishing to embrace an Audrey-inspired, French style. Ballet flats can be styled with cut-off jeans, tailored trousers, or even dresses.
The beauty of these flats is that they can be styled with almost everything. You certainly cannot go wrong by adding a black ballet pump to your wardrobe.
Did you know?
Chanel released their signature ballet pumps in the 1980s, and they remain highly desirable today. A Chanel pump is a great option for a more modern-looking take on 1950s styles.
"Elegance is the only beauty that never fades."
“Pearls are always appropriate.”
Pearls and large sunglasses were favored by first lady Jackie Kennedy. Although adhering to modest styles, Jackie Kennedy’s accessories remain classically bold.
Her large collection of sunglasses included square, round, and hexagonal shapes that were always statement-making. Another more subtle way to incorporate vintage accessories is by finding pairs of large vintage sunglasses and styling them with tailored basics for a sharp first lady inspired look.
Pearls are the perfect option to amplify the beauty of an outfit and introduce a piece of vintage glamour. If a pearl necklace is too much, other vintage pearl accessories are a good alternative such as a pair of earrings or even hair accessories.
“The trick is to find the style that is right for you. When it comes to trying new clothes, my advice is not to take it too seriously - it's all about having fun.”
For a striking and bold approach to accessorizing, study British model, Twiggy, for inspiration. Twiggy dominated the 60s with her colorful looks, flaunting accessories such as wild sunglasses, bright jewelry, berets, and colored tights. Twiggy’s style, although very bold, can be injected into an outfit, through a piece of statement jewelry for example, whilst maintaining simpler, chic pieces throughout the rest of the outfit. Plastic bracelets and necklaces can be effectively styled to achieve a Twiggy-inspired look. Statement sunglasses are undeniably cool and make classy vintage accessories if styled correctly. Colored tights can be too much when trying to achieve a chic vintage inspired look, however, can be a fun statement with a mini-dress or skirt.
More Chic Vintage Basics
Large sunhats are an easy way to create a vintage summer outfit. Tying a bold printed scarf around the hat is also a way to add a statement. A vintage sunhat is glamorous and can be styled well with modern sun dresses, a black sunhat would also work in creating a stunning monochrome outfit. For more sunhat styling inspiration look at Zsa Zsa Gabor, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, and Audrey Hepburn.
Popularized by French icon Brigitte Bardot, plain headbands can be excellent for embracing vintage styles with modern outfits. Any outfit can be amplified by a volume-filled hairstyle and vintage inspired headband. Colors favored by Bardot included navy blue, black, and green. Including the signature heavy black eyeliner is a simple way of incorporating Brigitte Bardot’s chic style into any outfit.
More on Sunglasses
Iconic cat-eye sunglasses are both vintage inspired and sharply feminine. Cat-eye sunglasses can be added to a black outfit to exude power or even styled with a relaxed summer dress. Introducing this highly versatile shape will likely create endless vintage styling possibilities. Grace Kelly effortlessly wore cat-eye sunglasses to accentuate her femininity. Cat-eye sunglasses are a must have vintage accessory.
Love the idea of cat-eye sunglasses? Try our 1950s inspired Grace Sunglasses.
Inspired by the “space age” fashions of the 1960s, white boots are a bold choice but have great styling potential. André Courrèges, one of the pioneers in space age fashion, introduced the white “go-go” boot in the 60s, featuring a low heel. Calf-length white boots can be styled with a mini dress for a 60s inspired look. If calf-length is not your style, ankle boots are a good alternative.
Other vintage inspired accessories with great styling potential:
- Mary Jane shoes for a dainty vintage look.
- Other hair accessories, as seen in Sharon Tate’s bridal look.
- Other vintage designer-inspired handbags.
- Belts to accentuate the waist and create an hourglass figure.
- Headscarves for an understated look or worn around the neck.
- Evening gloves – long or short for a classy party look.
- Vintage inspired diamond jewelry.
- Other space age accessories including PVC handbags.
- Minaudière bags – decorative 1930s inspired handbags treated more like jewelry.