Ask Style

Modern vintage chic

Turn vintage clothing into statement pieces by pairing them with modern clothes and accessories

How do I pair vintage pieces with modern clothing?

Mention vintage clothing and shapeless chintz-patterned dresses usually come to mind.

However, with proper styling, vintage clothing can become statement pieces in your wardrobe, rather than make you look "like the curtain at your grandmother's house", says Ms Lim Siu Fang, senior designer and fashion stylist at Esquire Magazine.

Thanks to a resurgence of vintage fashion, vintage clothing is now seen as a chic addition to any outfit.

Celebrity fans include American model Bella Hadid, who enjoys collecting vintage jeans and sunglasses, and British fashion designer Alexa Chung, who often wears vintage slip dresses with modern designer accessories, such as a Louis Vuitton box bag.

The trick is to mix and match vintage styles with high-street clothing, says Ms Lim, adding that modern clothing typically draws inspiration from archival designs.

Pairing vintage and contemporary pieces also makes an outfit look more complete.

Here are three ways to pull off the look.


Opt for a modern silhouette when choosing pieces to complement vintage, says Ms Lim, to prevent the outfit from looking dowdy and formless.

One fool-proof way to achieve a more form-fitting look is to throw on a denim jacket over a ruffled or flowy dress.

Classic vintage accessories, such as a pair of large hooped earrings or a long necklace, help to tie the look together.

Suggested outfit (above, clockwise from left):

1. Felicia Rockabilly Swing Dress Turquoise Florals, $82, from Dayglow Vintage

2. Vintage 80s oriental folding fan and tassel gold necklace, $45.08, from Five Stones Vintage

3. Dark wash denim jacket, $59.90, from Mango

4. Textured Dorsay heels, $60.70, from Charles & Keith


For those who are apprehensive of the vintage trend, Ms Lim recommends raiding their fathers' closets.

"I'd take one of my dad's funky printed shirts from the 1980s or 1990s and wear it as an off-shoulder top. Then I'd tuck it in on one side and finish the look off with a belt."

This look is an easy way to ease into the style, she says. To add interest, she suggests using a wide belt to cinch the shirt at the waist and create a more shapely silhouette. Complete the outfit with a tote bag for a casual vibe.

Suggested outfit (above, clockwise from left):

1. Sheer top, $75, from Dark Horse Vintage

2. Pierce buckle waist belt, £8 (S$14.30), from Asos

3. Topshop Moto High-waisted Mom Shorts, $59.90, from Zalora

4. Bacterio tote bag by Depepea, $35, from Naiise


Ms Lim says a quick and simple way to wear vintage clothing is to pair a long lightweight coat with jeans.

Pick chunky accessories in metallic or bold hues that make the outfit pop.

Add a glamorous touch to the ensemble with brightly coloured or iridescent ankle boots.


Suggested outfit (above, clockwise from left):

1. Long black leather coat with pinstripe lining, $189, from Moodswings Vintage

2. Skinny low jeans, $59.90, from H&M

3. Silver hoop earrings, $11.90, from Pull&Bear

4. Metallic leather ankle boots, $49.90, from Zara

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'Modern vintage chic'. Print Edition | Subscribe