Dressing Vintage: Simple Tips to Avoid Looking Costumey

Vintage fashion is becoming very important nowadays and gives us more opportunities to dress the way we like due to all the selections from different styles. Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to wear a specific vintage outfit without looking too costumey or older than we are, and it’s one of the things we want to avoid. There is some advice to be aware of to achieve that goal. First of all, it is essential to know what kind of vintage style suits you best, for instance, the 70s, the 90s, and 2000s, and then focus on the things to look out for wearing the best outfit combination. 

1. Avoid Color-Blocking 

Color Blocking is an often-made mistake, where two to more colors don’t match. It is a quick way to distract from the actual cool outfit because it’s often too much for the eyes. Vintage clothing tends to be more colorful, especially from the 70s and 80s, so it’s best to have just one clothing item with bright color and let everything else be in the background. 

2. Mix Vintage with Modern Clothing

Being a vintage fanatic is a good thing, but sometimes there needs to be a line drawn because too many vintage items can look exaggerated and make you quickly seem older. Popular vintage items are already an eye-catcher themselves, like a good 80s windbreaker jacket. Instead of wearing an 80s jogger pants to the windbreaker, modern fitted jeans would be the better option or even the other way around – a cool vintage wide-leg Levi’s jeans with a cute modern top for the summer. In conclusion, don’t be afraid to mix and do not only stick to one style. It is not only going to make your outfit look better, but it also lets you find new options. 

3. Find the Right Fitting

It is often the case that clothes do not fit us the way we want them to, and the biggest mistake is to wear dresses that are way too big, especially when it’s a dress with patterns. 

Patterns tend to broaden your figure more, and it is one of the things we actually want to avoid. It not only changes your true figure but also makes you look costumey and older easier. It is an essential guide for vintage clothing to not only trust the sizing that is written on the labels. Due to the many washings, the product can easily be distorted in the sizing. So, it is best to try on the clothes before buying or if you’re online shopping, look out for “our sizes” next to the size given on the vintage clothing labels. Too loose clothes or too tight is not great, and I’m sure no one would feel comfortable. Try to find the right sizing where you feel beautiful and comfortable. 

4. Avoid Wearing Outdated Trend

Many vintage clothes have their come-back, but some are still very outdated. The problem is that you still can find outdated clothes in a vintage clothing shop since they do not sort the items for their actuality. Some of the trends are: 

- overdramatic shoulder pads

- pattern ties 

- wearing too many neon colors

- leisure suits

- sportswear from the 80s (spandex bodysuit, tight shorts for men)

- and most certainly, the 2000s look 

As you may realize, most of them come from the 80s era, and the last point is giving credit to the outfits from the 2000s. I didn’t list them because it would’ve been ten pages long. 

There are still some cool outfits from the 80s, like the Jeans look! 


5. Patterns

Patterns are a good way to enhance your outfit… or destroy it completely. It is very important to know how much pattern is too much because it gets quickly out of sight. If you’re not sure if it’s good-looking or not, feel free to ask friends or loved ones for advice because other opinions help to see what you can’t. Whether it’s for women’s or men’s vintage clothing, both parts can contain patterns in dresses, skirts, blazers, ties, shirts…– so if you’re deciding to wear them, just wear one clothing item with a pattern. 


Dots, for instance, can look cute, but it’s very dangerous, especially when the piece is vintage. Vintage clothing with dots is often outdated; I wouldn’t wear them anymore at whatever age I am. On the other hand, modern clothing is not a big issue, since the fitting and cut have changed, which means it won’t look too costumey.  

6. Vintage Accessories

This point is especially for women. We love to wear jewelry or accessories, and the vintage ones also have a huge come-back! Scrunchies, bandanas, loop earrings, bucket hats, hair clips, or colorful rings. These accessories enhance outfits in a very playful way but careful – again, too much can look too costumey very easy. It won’t make you look older, though, but rather way younger, but not in a good sense. Choose one, max. two of your favorite accessories or jewelry to pep up your outfit since it’s an essential part of the women’s vintage clothing look.

7. Make-Up

Some of us love to wear Make-Up, and some don’t spend their time on it. There is no right or wrong since you know what suits you best. I recommend not to look out for make-up tutorials because every face structure and every technique looks different for everyone. 

Not only the clothing from the earlier decades is coming back but also the Make-Up trends. Whether it’s the classic eyeliner and red lipstick look from the 50s but also the 90s/2000s with the thin eyebrows and smokey eyes. Pamela Anderson has inspired a lot of girls with her fierce look back then after the new Series “Pam and Tommy” came out and even before. 

Wearing a lot of blush has also become a big trend initially from the 80s. Unfortunately, some of the Make-Up trends look a bit exaggerated and help make yourself seem older than you naturally are. Love your facial structures and the way you look; you don’t need extra tutorials and trends from back then to change your whole face. 

These are some aspects of possible ways to avoid looking out of place with vintage clothing. Fashion was always a way to express oneself, and it’s not new, but due to all the options, it has become very easy to wear the wrong clothing.

I’ve often felt like I’m wearing clothes that do not express my true self, but after trying and learning, I finally found my style, and what should I say? I’m very happy and finally feel very comfortable! It is also an excellent way to reflect on how you want to be received by others. 

While shopping, it’s essential to keep a keen and clear mind after deciding which style suits you and your wonderful personality best. And do not forget: Be open. You never know what awaits you :) 




Meet The Author

Dan Shewan

Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.

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