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How to Modernize Vintage Clothing

by Christi Aldridge

Nobody wants to look stuck in the wrong decade, fashion-wise. However, what's old is almost always eventually new again. Wearing vintage clothing is a creative way to add a fresh twist to your style, but to keep it current, you need to update the look by modernizing your take on retro style.

Bring Hemlines Up

It's a simple fact that many vintage dresses and skirts, specifically from the '40s and '50s, hit your legs at an awkward length. Take the hem up a few inches to make it more modern. This is easily done with a sewing machine or hem tape if you're not handy with a needle. A shorter hemline makes a vintage dress look more current and is generally more figure flattering.

Add Chic Accessories

Bring yesterday's styles into today with modern accessories. Add a fashionable belt, oversize statement necklace or bright bag to give your vintage look some pizzazz. Even one small piece -- a hat, scarf, headband or great pair of trendy tights -- brings the outfit into the present. For an original take on vintage, mix pieces from different decades; for example, wear a '70s belt with a dress from the '50s. This keeps it interesting and makes your look your own.

Keep Your Shoes Modern

The most dramatic way to change a vintage piece into a fashionable outfit is to be bold with your shoes. Skip vintage shoes in favor of current styles. For example, pair modern, colorful platforms with bell bottoms or fresh Mary Jane pumps with a '50s skirt. Wear animal print shoes with a solid-colored shift from the '60s or don cowboy boots to liven up a bohemian dress from the '70s. Get creative with your footwear to completely change the way your outfit feels.

Customize Pieces

The best way to update old pieces is to customize them. Take '80s shoulder pads out of sweaters, tops and dresses to make them look more stylish and less dated. Add or remove collars from blouses or cut off sleeves that look old-fashioned. Change a neckline to flatter your face. Add gathers or ruching to a shift dress to create a waistline or use clothing dye to make a beige dress into something fabulous and purple that looks more modern. Use your imagination to put your own stamp on older pieces and bring them into today.

About the Author

Christi Aldridge has been writing professionally since 2009. She graduated from Texas Christian University, where she was a featured contributor for several campus publications and won an award for best columnist.

Photo Credits

  • Matt Cardy/Getty Images News/Getty Images