Ask Chris Benz: How Can I Make My Vintage Wardrobe More Modern?

Mr. Benz, I hope that this finds you well. So, I'm a vintage addict. My closet is filled with second-hand clothes, particularly stuff from the '50s and 60s. I love the styles, but I'm sick of looking like a girl from my mom's yearbook. Literally. Your clothes are sometimes vintage-inspired, but they look modern, too. Do you have any ideas of how I can make my look more modern without relinquishing that vintage flair? Dear Vintage Addict - So many of my friends are vintage addicts, too, and growing up in Seattle during the grunge years, there wasn’t ever a spare moment that we weren’t combing the Salvation Army and thrifting for fuzzy old cardigans and crumpled prom dresses. There are are few sure-fire ways to make vintage pieces your own and a bit more modern.
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Mr. Benz, I hope that this finds you well. So, I'm a vintage addict. My closet is filled with second-hand clothes, particularly stuff from the '50s and 60s. I love the styles, but I'm sick of looking like a girl from my mom's yearbook. Literally. Your clothes are sometimes vintage-inspired, but they look modern, too. Do you have any ideas of how I can make my look more modern without relinquishing that vintage flair? Dear Vintage Addict - So many of my friends are vintage addicts, too, and growing up in Seattle during the grunge years, there wasn’t ever a spare moment that we weren’t combing the Salvation Army and thrifting for fuzzy old cardigans and crumpled prom dresses. There are are few sure-fire ways to make vintage pieces your own and a bit more modern.
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Mr. Benz,

I hope that this finds you well. So, I'm a vintage addict. My closet is filled with second-hand clothes, particularly stuff from the '50s and 60s. I love the styles, but I'm sick of looking like a girl from my mom's yearbook. Literally. Your clothes are sometimes vintage-inspired, but they look modern, too. Do you have any ideas of how I can make my look more modern without relinquishing that vintage flair?

Dear Vintage Addict -

So many of my friends are vintage addicts, too, and growing up in Seattle during the grunge years, there wasn’t ever a spare moment that we weren’t combing the Salvation Army and thrifting for fuzzy old cardigans and crumpled prom dresses.

There are are few sure-fire ways to make vintage pieces your own and a bit more modern. The number one easiest trick, I think, is to pair more identifiably nostalgic pieces with new things. A '50s party skirt with a white tee or tank top or a bellbottom pant with a shrunken boy blazer. ou can experiment with jewelry and accessories to keep your look fresh.

If you have dresses that you love, but that are a bit too "period," take them to the tailor and have them shortened, take some sweep out of the skirt, maybe let out a bit in the waist to make it feel more relaxed. If a jacket has a bell sleeve or a puff that you’re not feeling, have the tailor take it down to something more "now."

This tip is one we used all of the time in high school: cut things off! A raw edge always looks modern, so don’t be afraid to cut off collars, hems, sleeves, et cetera. You might surprise yourself with a very Comme de Garçons effect when you get scissor-happy with an old dress. Why not cut the lining out and wear it inside out? Cut the skirt off entirely and make it into a top. Hack the bottom off a trench coat and make it a short swing jacket.

Finally, this was a major grunge trick and it’s a goodie: If you’re feeling daft, take a needle and thread and create a running stitch along the raw edge with a contract-colored string.

xx CB

Chris will be back next week with more fashion and career advice. Got a question? Email him on askchrisbenz@fashionista.com.