How to wear vintage – 5 tips to get you started!

by Sylvia

how to wear vintage over 40 |

As an avid collector and regular wearer of vintage clothing I’m excited to share my love of vintage and 5 tips on how to wear vintage clothing over the age of 40.

Do you want to create unique timeless looks that stand out from the crowd? Vintage clothing is ideal!

Vintage ensembles for women over 40 |

1970s vintage skirt, top and boots contemporary

Bold colored vintage outfit |

All items vintage

Yes you can wear vintage after 40.

I am obsessed with vintage clothing. I’m over fifty and I don’t plan on giving up my vintage treasures anytime soon.

5 Tips on How To Wear Vintage Clothing

1. How can I start wearing vintage without feeling like I’m wearing a costume?

Start by choosing just one vintage item and pair it with contemporary items. Most of the time people won’t even realize you are wearing vintage. Did you know that almost all contemporary designs are inspired by vintage pieces?

Choosing vintage accessories is a great beginner’s way of dipping your toes into the vintage pool.

vintage outfits and how to find them |

Vintage 1950s handbag, all other items contemporary

How to shop for chic vintage outfits |

Vintage 1980s boots, dress DIY, turtleneck contemporary

Unique vintage pieces |

Vintage 1970s top. Jeans and booties contemporary

How to style vintage looks |

All items vintage except the top

2. Why should I choose to wear vintage clothing?

Vintage clothing is often higher quality with better tailoring and attention to details. The fabrics are mostly natural such as cotton, silk, linen or wool and more comfortable to wear. Corners were rarely cut when creating vintage pieces. Items will have finished seams, linings, pockets, etc.

Vintage clothing creates a strong personal sense of style. No one else will look like you.

Stylish checkered dresses for women |

1950s dress all other items contemporary

Statement accessories to style with your vintage outfit |

1980s 90s dress all other items contemporary

Look elegant with vintage pieces |

1960s 70s vintage skirt, blouse and hat. Jacket and boots contemporary

Parisian chic inspired looks |

Dress and bag 1950s 60s vintage, hat and shoes contemporary

3. Is vintage clothing expensive?

Vintage clothing can be expensive, especially if you are after designer pieces but generally you will pay less for vintage than you would pay for a similar quality piece purchased retail.

How to shop vintage |

Vintage 1980s dress all other items contemporary

Groovy 70's dress |

Vintage dress, all other items contemporary

Dark and elegant looks to inspire your outfit |

Vintage 1960s maxi dress contemporary boots

Enjoy thrift shopping with these tips! |

Vintage 1960s 70s dress

Mix prints for a fun eclectic look! |

1970s skirt. All other pieces contemporary

4. Were can I buy vintage clothing?

You can sometimes find vintage pieces at thrift stores, estate sales or you can shop retail for vintage clothing at independent stores in your city. You can also shop for vintage online through Etsy where I also have my store, Vintage By Suzanne.

How can you tell if an item is vintage?

Look at the label. Most vintage pieces will be made in a country other than China or Vietnam.

Vintage labels look different from our contemporary labels. This is a great article on how to date vintage clothing from the label and shows examples of vintage labels.

Below are some examples of vintage pieces currently in my store for sale.

Classic and vintage coat |

Vintage handmade jacket size S/M.

Stylish vintage prints |

Vintage suit. Size XS/S (sold out)

Lovely vintage prints! |

Vintage 1950s velvet embroidered dress. Size XS.

Chic sequin dress and how to style it |

Vintage 1980s black sequin dress. Size medium

5. What should I be aware of when buying vintage clothing?

Understand that the older the piece the more fragile it will be. Here are some things to check and be aware of.

  • Make sure to check the seams. Sometimes these may need to be reinforced.
  • Look for moth holes. Hold the item up to the light and turn it inside out. Normally when you find one moth hole you will find others.
  • Check the closures. Make sure all the buttons are there and the zipper works correctly.
  • Try it on. Most of the time I don’t spot problems or stains until I’ve tried on the piece.
  • Many stains are superficial and can be removed quickly with Oxyclean stain remover. Be aware however that certain stains such as sweat or oil can be very difficult to remove.
  • Occasionally vintage clothing may have an “old” smell attached to it. I have an easy solution to removing all bad smells from clothing here. Alternatively, you can have the piece dry-cleaned.
  • If you buy your vintage item from a thrift store be sure to remove any surface stains by spot cleaning and then put the item (dry) in your dryer on high for thirty minutes. This removes any chance of bed bugs. I recommend washing the item too if possible. Generally items bought via thrifting have not been cleaned.
  • If you can’t wash the item though, a quick spray with Febreeze and then a toss in the dryer on high for thirty minutes will freshen the item quickly.

Floral outfits for women |

1980s dress, contemporary shoes

Holiday and party looks |

1950s sequin dress 1970s disco handbag 1960s gold shoes

Unique and vintage pieces |

1970s maxi dress. Boots and hat contemporary

I hope that should you decide to try out vintage that you come to love it as much as I do! Small choices in life create big changes for our world.

Suzanne CarilloAuthor bio: Suzanne Carillo previously worked in illustration and design. She currently writes about adventurous style for woman over 40 at Her sense of humour, love of pugs, vintage and thrifting feature prominently on her blog. She shares her joy for vintage with the rest of the world through her online Etsy shop Vintage By Suzanne. You can also find her on Instagram @SuzanneCarillo

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen Amantea

Suzanne, wow! Such an inspiring article. Who knew vintage clothing could look so fabulous. I loved how you’ve styled your outfits. Your handbags, boots and hats were gorgeous accents to already amazing pieces. And that pooch of yours is just too adorable! Thanks so much for these great tips on vintage clothing and showing me just how chic it can be. ~ K


2 Suzanne

I’m so happy you liked it Karen : )

Zoë has a bit of a diva complex and would like to be in every photo if she could.


3 Elizabeth Kay Pinder

Amazing post. Thank you. Fabulous.


4 Suzanne

I’m delighted you enjoyed the post Elizabeth.



5 Greetje

This was a lovely recap of everything you have taught us Suzanne. The black sequinned sleeveless sheeth dress is still to die for. You look sooo good in that one. And I am also still swooning over the black with red “Vintage 1960s maxi dress contemporary boots”. Such a great outfit.
You are the queen of vintage dear.


6 Suzanne

Thank you Greetje : )


7 Samantha Blair

I love this post!
Suzanne is the master when it comes to vintage… and make it look SO easy.


8 Suzanne

Thank you Samantha!


9 Denton Taylor

All stunning Suzanne, thanks!


10 Suzanne

Thanks for the comment Denton : ) I know you and Teresa are also lovers of vintage clothing.


11 Melanie

Suzanne always finds the most interesting standout and quality vintage pieces around. And she wears them to the max. Great article! It’s clear from all the positive feedback on her blog as well how people look to her for fun and encouraging style advice for contemporary and vintage clothing, with many laughs along the way – and a pug! I’m glad you could share Suzanne’s talents here, Sylvia!


12 Suzanne

From one avid thrift/vintage wearer to another you inspire me regularly Melanie! Thanks for the comment : )


13 Shana L McCracken

Thank you for this fun and inspiring article! I am a vintage lover and collector and nearly 50 myself. I wear vintage or thrifted pieces every day, including accessories (great suggestion for nervous newbies, btw). Unfortunately the classic 50s silhouette, with the nipped-in waist, doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ve been moving more toward 60s and 70s and am happy enough in those eras. I’m also hoping to adjust a 50s sewing pattern one of these days—adding a few inches to the waist—so that I don’t have to give up entirely on that beloved era. Thanks again for your post!


14 Suzanne

Thanks for the comment Shana. It is thrilling when I find another vintage lover.

I’m also a huge fan of 60s and 70s, especially 70s maxis.

I’ve seen people that have done wonderful 1950s handmade reproductions that turned out fabulous. Good luck!



15 Lady j

Thank you Suzanne for the vintage piece. I have tips too. 1. Shop your mom or grandmom closet for vintage pieces. I was able to get beautiful earrings, necklaces, from there. 2. Shop your own closet; you may have pieces in there. 3.look at old pics of Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn or Grace kelley for great vintage dresses 4. Try on pieces and see how look. 5. Look at Pintrest old family and get vintage inspired ideas


16 Mary

Love some of these pieces, but finding vintage clothing in larger sizes (especially in sizes 18 and up) is nearly impossible. Too often I see photos (especially on this website) with models that are small and medium clothing sizes. (The sizes are even specified in some of the pics above as x-small, small and medium.) It would be nice to see clothing modeled by those who aren’t wearing clothing on the smaller end of the clothing spectrum.


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