Introduction

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.

Key Vintage Piece: The Leather Biker

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.

Leather Jacket Lookbook

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:

Men's Leather Jacket Lookbook

Vintage Styling

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.

  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Biker Leather Jacket BlackBiker Leather Jacket Black
  • Allsaints Brut Cigarette JeansAllsaints Brut Cigarette Jeans
  • Converseall Star Hi White Mono Canvas ExclusiveConverseall Star Hi White Mono Canvas Exclusive

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.

  • Gitman Vintage G400 White Round Collar ShirtGitman Vintage G400 White Round Collar Shirt
  • Vintage Black Leather Perfecto Style Biker JacketVintage Black Leather Perfecto Style Biker Jacket
  • Lanvin Mens Elastic Loops Large TrousersLanvin Mens Elastic Loops Large Trousers
  • Dr. Martens – 10078102-1 Lace-upsDr. Martens Unisex - Adults 1461 Smooth 10078102-1 Lace-ups 10078102-1
Current Vintage Picks

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:

  • Vintage Brown Leather Biker JacketVintage Brown Leather Biker Jacket
  • Mens Genuine Leather Perfecto Motorcycle JacketMens Genuine Leather Perfecto Motorcycle Jacket
  • Chevignon Of Paris Vintage Leather Jacket Mens Bomber StyleChevignon Of Paris Vintage Leather Jacket Mens Bomber Style
  • Leather Jacket Tan With Inner Slot PocketLeather Jacket Tan With Inner Slot Pocket
  • Leather Jacket Soft Brown With EpaulettesLeather Jacket Soft Brown With Epaulettes
  • Vintage Leather Biker JacketVintage Leather Biker Jacket
  • Vintage 80s Leather JacketVintage 80s Leather Jacket
  • Leather Jacket Black With Full LiningLeather Jacket Black With Full Lining
  • 60s Cafe Motorcycle Dark Brown Leather Jacket60s Cafe Motorcycle Dark Brown Leather Jacket
Key Vintage Piece: The Plaid Flannel Shirt

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.

Plaid Shirt Lookbook

Men's Plaid Flannel Shirt Lookbook

Vintage Styling

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.

  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Pocket Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Reiss Milton Textured Shawl Cardi EcruReiss Milton Textured Shawl Cardi Ecru
  • Vintage 80s Wool Check Tartan JacketVintage 80s Wool Check Tartan Jacket
  • Carhartt Japanese Denim Klondike JeansCarhartt Japanese Denim Klondike Jeans
  • Nudie Wayne Black Leather BeltNudie Wayne Black Leather Belt
  • Nike Air Revelstoke Premium Cobblestone Anthracite BootsNike Air Revelstoke Premium Cobblestone Anthracite Boots

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?

  • Topman Ink Acid Wash Denim ShirtTopman Ink Acid Wash Denim Shirt
  • Brown Checked Padded ShirtBrown Checked Padded Shirt
  • Navy Random Mix Crew SweaterNavy Random Mix Crew Sweater
  • Allsaints Brut Cigarette JeansAllsaints Brut Cigarette Jeans
  • Allsaints Sergeant BeltAllsaints Sergeant Belt
  • Dr Martens X Pendleton Cherry BootsDr Martens X Pendleton Cherry Boots
Current Vintage Picks
  • Vintage Lumberjack Checked Plaid ShirtVintage Lumberjack Checked Plaid Shirt
  • Vintage Plaid Shirt Taupe With Nautical ButtonsVintage Plaid Shirt Taupe With Nautical Buttons
  • Vintage Flannel Plaid Lumberjack Outdoors Over Shirt.Vintage Flannel Plaid Lumberjack Outdoors Over Shirt.
  • Priestleys Vintage Spruce Green Plaid French Worker ShirtPriestleys Vintage Spruce Green Plaid French Worker Shirt
  • Vintage 60s Pendleton ShirtVintage 60s Pendleton Shirt
  • Priestleys Vintage Tan Plaid French Worker ShirtPriestleys Vintage Tan Plaid French Worker Shirt
  • Vintage Plaid Shirt Light Olive Green With Buttons On CuffsVintage Plaid Shirt Light Olive Green With Buttons On Cuffs
  • Vintage Red And Cream Plaid Levis Shirt JoshVintage Red And Cream Plaid Levis Shirt Josh
  • Vintage Plaid Grunge Flannel ShirtVintage Plaid Grunge Flannel Shirt
Key Vintage Piece: The Wax Jacket

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.

Wax Jacket Lookbook

Men's Waxed Jacket Lookbook

Vintage Styling

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.

  • Topman Ecru Heavy Herringbone ShirtTopman Ecru Heavy Herringbone Shirt
  • The Elder Statesman Monster Cashmere Shawl-collar CardiganThe Elder Statesman Monster Cashmere Shawl-collar Cardigan
  • Barbour Gamefair Waxed JacketBarbour Gamefair Waxed Jacket
  • Asos Smart BeltAsos Smart Belt
  • Farah Vintage Trousers In TweedFarah Vintage Trousers In Tweed
  • Sanders Light Tan Leather Jude Gibson BroguesSanders Light Tan Leather Jude Gibson Brogues

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.

  • American Apparel Military Surplus TeeAmerican Apparel Military Surplus Tee
  • Barbour Beadnell Waxed JacketBarbour Beadnell Waxed Jacket
  • Asos Slim Jeans In Dark WashAsos Slim Jeans In Dark Wash
  • Grenson Fred V Black Leather BootsGrenson Fred V Black Leather Boots
Current Vintage Picks
  • Vintage Antartex Mens Navy Blue Wax Jacket LargeVintage Antartex Mens Navy Blue Wax Jacket Large
  • Mens Vintage Retro Barbour Bushman Country Heritage Outdoors Wax Jacket Brown MMens Vintage Retro Barbour Bushman Country Heritage Outdoors Wax Jacket Brown M
  • Belstaff Waxed JacketBelstaff Waxed Jacket
  • Barbour Waxed JacketBarbour Waxed Jacket
  • Luhmuhlen Country Wear Size M Navy Waxed Mid-length JacketLuhmuhlen Country Wear Size M Navy Waxed Mid-length Jacket
  • Vintage Green Mens Wax Jacket – Brown CollarVintage Green Mens Wax Jacket - Brown Collar
  • Mens Vintage Retro Barbour Beaufort Country Heritage Outdoors Wax Jacket 46Mens Vintage Retro Barbour Beaufort Country Heritage Outdoors Wax Jacket 46
  • Barbour Beauchamp Hooded Waxed JacketBarbour Beauchamp Hooded Waxed Jacket
  • Vintage Bedale Barbour Wax JacketVintage Bedale Barbour Wax Jacket
Final Word

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:

  • Are you a fan of vintage clothing?
  • Where are your favourite places to shop vintage?
  • What is the best vintage bargain you have picked up?
  • How do you like to integrate vintage into your personal style?

Let me know in the comments section…