Vintage clothing. Whilst for some this phrase will make their very skin crawl at the idea of wearing somebody’s old or discarded clothes, for others it will be a familiar friend.
Vintage fashion has become increasingly popular over the last few years, to varying degrees. Some choose to adopt fashionable styles that form the bread and butter of their wardrobe whilst others immerse themselves completely in bygone eras – from their clothing choices to their musical tastes and everything in between. This article is not for the latter.
Recently, the mainstream consciousness has become increasingly aware of and critical towards the common ‘hipster’, which has in turn given vintage clothing a slightly bad name by association. This stigma is unfair, as vintage fashion can have an important place in a modern wardrobe with the proper consideration.
If, like me, you want to be able to integrate certain pieces into your life without appearing like the negatively painted hipsters we all know and love, then read on. I will be covering the styles that transcend the barrier of time and are generally of superior quality when compared to their modern counterparts. Often replicated, but never bettered.
One of my suggestions to shop vintage for is the classic leather biker jacket. A wardrobe staple for decades, it has been seen on every style icon from James Dean to Justin Bobby – it is a piece every man should own.
Whilst some high street brands make great biker jackets (AllSaints, Diesel etc.), most fail to recreate the quality and style of the classic pieces. In today’s economic climate, materials like leather are becoming increasingly expensive, which leads to higher manufacturing costs (and therefore price points to cover this) – the end result is that some brands choose to use lesser quality or artificial materials to counteract this.
A great biker jacket is an investment piece that can last you forever if you choose right. That said, there is no need to spend a fortune on a new piece made using premium leather – you can instead go vintage. Leather is one of those unusual materials that only gets better with age, developing a softness and character that you can only achieve from extended wear. In fact, many premium brands now try to replicate this effect with aging processes before sale, proving how desirable an already worn-in vintage piece can be.
Vintage leather jackets also tend to be of a higher quality, yet much less expensive than the new versions on the market – and for many brands, classic styles are still the construction standard that they desire and work towards.
A vintage leather is just as easy to wear as a brand new one from AllSaints. Throughout this article we shall be providing modern lookbook inspiration in order to help you visualise which style of vintage piece would best integrate into your current wardrobe:
In terms of styling, the leather biker is extremely versatile. Throw over a white tee, indigo jeans and trainers and you have effortless cool a la Marlon Brando.
Alternatively, the biker can give a hard edge to a smarter outfit such as a white shirt, wool trousers and casual shoes. If the jacket is too motorcycle inspired (thick, padded leather and cropped high) this will not work, but a more relaxed style can be added to a smart-casual outfit easily.
Below is a selection of leather jackets currently available online from a variety of vintage sources. Whether you constantly scour eBay, regularly visit your local Oxfam or browse online vintage specialists, there are hidden gems ready to be picked up for minimal investment:
The plaid flannel shirt is by no means a stranger to modern menswear and has been an autumn/winter staple for many years, cropping up every now and again like an unreliable friend. Typically constructed from thick flannel and often crossing the barrier between shirt and jacket, the plaid or ‘lumberjack’ shirt is perfect for winter layering and casual outfit builds.
Many brands, from high street to designer, champion this style and there are lots to choose from. However, the choice between a vintage or new piece, in this case, comes down to price point.
Unlike the previously mentioned leather jacket, quality may not be an issue – new versions may actually be superior due to softer wool or better insulation – but the price point will vary significantly. You can literally pick up a vintage flannel shirt for a couple of quid, with them often only being worn on rare occasions by previous owners, who frequently treat them as a trend piece.
A thick shirt/jacket will be much cheaper and more authentic looking if you choose a vintage style, and they are perfect for this winter’s workwear trend. Layer your plaid shirt over a t-shirt and shawl neck knit combination, and pair with jeans/thick chinos and walking boots for a perfect casual winter look.
Alternatively, get creative with your layering by choosing another shirt to wear open under your flannel version – try a contrasting check or denim for extra impact. Layer a chunky knit over the top and you will be both warm and on trend. Who could ask for more?
The humble wax jacket has made a resounding comeback in recent years and is now no longer reserved for the game hunter or farmer, instead having an important place in modern menswear.
Brands such as Barbour and Lavenham have rightly flourished as a result of this resurgence, and their prices mirror the increased demand for such styles. Whilst these brands are offering modern twists on classic styles and not simply rehashing them for commercial success, sometimes you can’t beat an original.
A classic waxed Barbour jacket will set you back a significant amount if bought new, but opting for a vintage piece will be much more affordable. Be warned though, some retailers will still try to overcharge for a vintage piece. However, shop around, as they are definitely not hard to come by.
Styling wise, a waxed jacket lends itself perfectly to the British heritage look that has been huge throughout 2012.
However, you will need to be careful not to go too far, especially if you live in a city and not a country manor. Team your navy wax jacket with an Oxford shirt, chunky cardigan, tweed trousers and brogue shoes for a smart-casual look that is the right side of huntsman.
Alternatively, throw on a classic green wax jacket and team with a neutral tee, dark denim and Chelsea boots for a city-chic heritage look. Try and steer away from a jacket that smells like a farm, unless you actually live on one.
So there you have it, incorporating vintage clothing into your wardrobe can be as easy as swapping out your outerwear pieces for second-hand versions, which will in turn save you a lot of money. Simple additions such as these will also prevent you from having to modify your personal style or current wardrobe, instead slotting perfectly into your life.
There are of course other vintage styles that are extremely popular these days, but I find that outerwear is the most cost effective and easiest to wear.
But now I want to hear your opinion:
Let me know in the comments section…