In this article, Katie Abson shows you ways in which you can incorporate your mother’s vintage pieces into your modern wardrobe.
I’d like to begin by stating that this article is not limited to a mother’s wardrobe – you can steal from any wardrobe. Who knows what treasures you may find in the back of you Gran’s drawer? Or even your Dad’s, for that matter. Okay, maybe not steal. Perhaps ask politely first?
Many of these pieces can also be found in charity shops across the country. London offers a thriving hub of thrift stores, such as Traid, Oxfam, Octavia Trust, Salvation Army shop and more. Preloved Kilo also runs pop-up vintage kilo sales across the UK and has altogether saved 500 tonnes of clothing from going to landfill. In Covid times, there is still a variety of online shops to browse, such as Depop, Thrift+, eBay, Beyond Retro and Etsy.
But why not start from the comfort of your own home?
Here are a few pieces you can look to re-style from your mum’s wardrobe.
SHIRTS AND BLOUSES
If you think your Mum’s shirt may be a little out of your comfort zone, try pairing the top with high waist mom-jeans (excuse the pun), an oversized jacket, and chunky trainers to achieve a casual overall look.
Shirts are a staple in any wardrobe, whether it be a classic button-down or a silk wrap shirt. An Edwardian or chiffon blouse is a great example of a type of shirt your Mum or Gran might have lurking in the bottom drawer. Blouses embellished with ruffles, lace, buttons, and high collars can add a touch of classic glamour to any outfit.
Alternatively, wear the shirt over tight leather trousers, tucked into a pair of biker boots to add an edge to the fit. Blouses can also look superb under fitted dresses. Match the shirt under a tartan dress or corduroy pinafore. Add accessories such as a pearl choker, colourful scrunchies, or delicate rings to add to this sophisticated feminine look.
For a more work-appropriate uniform, style the shirt with black or block- coloured trousers, plain pumps, and an up-do hairstyle to show off that beautiful high-necked collar. Shirts are a super versatile piece of wardrobe, easy to dress up or down to suit any occasion. So, my advice? Steal away!
Jackets can tie a look together in a matter of seconds. A good quality jacket is key for the chillier months, so pinching a vintage jacket that has survived the test of time due to its sturdy material can be a great substitute to purchasing something new.
It may be of no surprise to you that the first jacket I mention is the distinguished leather jacket. This jacket is timeless and can be paired with casual or evening attire. A great tip is to style a lighter underlayer beneath a dark jacket and finish by matching the colour of the jacket to your shoes. Be playful! If you spot a fiery red leather jacket, be bold and marry it with thigh-high boots, saucy heels, or chunky red trainers. You can’t go wrong with bold leather jackets, so go wild. Your Mum may even have a secret stash hidden away, and some greater stories from the ‘80s that derive from each piece. Contrarily, a tuille skirt or layered dress in lighter feminine colours can juxtapose the edginess of the jacket; an all-round-eye-catching look.
Is it just me, or does everyone, myself and my Mum included, own a puffer jacket? These versatile coats consistently crop up all over the country when the winter months hit. Their popularity is a testimony to how great they look with any outfit. Modernised puffer jackets often similarly feature a funnelled neck and cropped cut. Look for alternative shapes and patterns on your mother’s clothing rack. These may include knee-length maxi coats, belted jackets, criss-cross lining and faux lined hoods. These would pair well with skinny jeans, winter boots, and accessorized with a matching scarf and bobble hat.
Too boring for you? How about pairing your puffer jacket over a colourful maxi dress? Cinch in the waist with a black belt to match thigh-high suede boots. Tall boots are a great alternative to tights in the cold weather for keeping those calves nice and toasty. A lengthier puffer jacket would accentuate the straight line of this outfit, giving the appearance of an extended torso.
This beloved material exploded in popularity in the 60s for its practicality and wearability, so the likelihood of finding this material in almost any wardrobe is pretty high. Denim can take the form of jeans, jackets, shirts, dresses – you name it. ‘Double denim’ is a classic two-piece look that can create a unified aesthetic. Pairing dark and light shades can contrast each other, so it is best to choose tonal denim for a cohesive finish.
When hunting through your chosen wardrobe, search for the un-obvious. Knee-length denim skirts are not just an antiquated fashion trend. Wear the skirt with a sleeveless top, tied at the waist to accentuate your figure. Alternatively, tuck an oversized shirt into the skirt and finish the look off with a chunky brown belt. Mules and sandals go great with this look in the warmer weather. Or, you could match platform leather boots to the colour of your belt to unify the complete fit.
A denim waistcoat may seem a little old-fashioned, but it can produce that desired 90s-vibe in seconds if styled properly. Style the waistcoat over an off-the-shoulder ruffled white top to expose a little shoulder. Or, wear nothing underneath at all! The beauty of a waistcoat is that it can double as a top, and can look super flattering with embellished buttons.
Dungarees are a great addition for my fellow lazy day lovers. This one-piece takes seconds to style and leaves an effortlessly flawless finish. A colourful patterned T-shirt, a sophisticated turtleneck, a mesh long-sleeved top, a fitted jumper, or even that ruffled Edwardian shirt you found earlier are all fantastic options to pair with your dungarees.
Pearl earrings, gold-plated watches, brooches, belts and more can add small but impactful touches to your outfit. Large hooped earrings are flattering on everyone and can look great with layered chain necklaces and chunky rings. Thick white hoops add a pop of seventies charm, whereas diamond-embedded earrings add a splash of sparkle and glamour.
Colourful berets are a wonderful addition to an outfit if you want to add a touch of French allure. Berets can be styled with dresses, print trousers, denim, ruffled shirts, and patterned jackets. This versatile piece of wardrobe is playful and suits all type of face shapes and haircuts.
To put it simply, no wardrobe is empty of potential. Modern fashion is all about reinterpreting styles from the past. Protecting the environment is so important, and this is a great place to start if you want to build a more sustainable lifestyle through fashion. It’s all about starting small. Explore your creativity by bringing new life to each piece of clothing you find.