How to mix new and vintage wardrobe pieces
Style mavens from the SoBo Co. and Modern Mess show us how to mix old and new.
With NYFW 2017 in the books, attentions are turned toward updating our closets for a stylish season (hello, sweater weather!).
As much as I’d love a shopping montage, I don’t exactly have the budget to go out and buy every single must-have item that Harper’s Bazaar insists I should have. Plus, you’d stick out like a sore thumb rocking a runway look in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Not that we aren’t fashionable in our own right — in fact, I’d argue our earnest Okie values of thrift, practicality and self-sufficiency might just put us on the cutting edge.
On that edge, you’ll find The SoBo Co., where owner and stylish human being Lauren Spears is marrying name-brand resale and well-curated vintage. For this article, Lauren joined forces with Carley Johnson, owner of the boutique Modern Mess at the Boxyard. Though Carley’s wares are all new, they are selected with the same care and discernment Lauren employs.
It turns out, these two are a yin-yang match made in fashion heaven, and their expert advice on mixing vintage pieces with contemporary finds will help you look stylish all season — without breaking the bank or over-contributing to fast fashion cycle.
In each of these outfits we put together, one item is vintage from SoBo Co., and one is brand new from Modern Mess. Can you spot the difference?
When it comes to vintage pieces, Lauren describes a “natural selection of clothes” — only the most well made clothing survives long enough to become vintage.
“Vintage clothes tend to be higher quality.” SoBo has pieces from as early as the 1940s, still in perfect condition after being stuffed in a suitcase for decades. The jacket you get from a fast fashion retailer will likely not have the same longevity.
Often the biggest hurdle for newbie vintage shoppers is fear.
Thoughts of “But I don’t have anywhere to wear that” or “Will people stare?” might discourage them from getting a piece they love. To that, Lauren offers this reminder: “If people are looking at you, it’s probably because they are admiring you.”
So, why do these outfits work? Lauren and Carley offer approaches you can use in your own ensembles.
Outfit 1: Modern Color Combo
Vintage Red Knit Poncho, $40; Fuchsia Diane von Furstenberg Top, $39.99, both from SoBo Co.; Patchy Denim Culottes by English Factory, $74, from Modern Mess.
If you simply saw it on the rack, you might not think a knitted red poncho is the height of fashion (more Meemaw than Model). But Lauren insists it’s all about how you wear it. “The right poncho is timeless,” she says, pointing out well-designed armholes and the quality of the material. Lauren pairs the bright red poncho with a more contemporary fuchsia top and saturated blue denim culottes — creating a trendy color combo that screams 2017. The patchy details of the culottes add a homespun, vintage feel which looks right at home with the kitschy-chic poncho. Plus, the silhouettes of both pieces mirror each other in a fun way.
Outfit 2: Statement + Staples
Striped Metallic Tee by Glamorous, $36, Modern Mess; Vintage Miss Jackson’s Blue Wool Skirt, $20 and Liz Claiborne Collection White Jacket, $38, both from SoBo Co.
Fashion’s obsession with the throwback feel of velvet continues, as the striped tee from Modern Mess indicates. Since this contemporary top has a vintage feel and is already quite a statement, Lauren pairs it with vintage pieces that are more timeless, and will complete the outfit without competing for the spotlight. We all know that Miss Jackson’s will never go out of style (RIP), and this pencil skirt in a bright hue looks like it might have come off the rack yesterday. As for a white jacket after Labor Day ... Why the hell not? Oklahoma weather doesn’t play by the rules so neither should Okie fashion.
Outfit 3: Opposites Attract
Ann Taylor Black Silk Pants (Resale), $18.99, and Dejac Paris Vintage Trench, $75, both from SoBo Co.; Your Grandma’s Table Runner Top, $38, from Modern Mess
Pair a crop top with a long coat. Rich textures with smooth finished. Embroidered details with clean lines. Loud patterns with basic solids. And of course, new with vintage. And when vintage is all the rage, which piece serves which purpose is entirely up to you. In this outfit, it's hard to put a finger on which piece is the statement. Because they are paired together, they balance each other out.
Outfit 4: Monochrome
Black Beaded Vintage Top, $25, SoBo Co.; Black Tulle Skirt by Glamorous, $72, from Modern Mess
You don’t have to worry about clashing colors if they’re all the same, amirite? Pulling together a monochromatic ensemble is not only a bold statement of your own fashion-forwardness, but also allows you to play with texture and shape in interesting ways. Bonus, you can also mix vintage and new to chic effect. And I don’t care who you are, black on black will always be in style (#TheatreLife). You’d never want to mix a purple, heavily beaded top and a floral-patterned tulle skirt — but since they’re both black in this instance, go right ahead! This instantly gives the vintage piece a contemporary edge. Get matchy-matchy with your colors — but not fabrics — to take Queen of England to YAS QUEEN.
Outfit 5: Go themed or go home
Vintage Purple Top, $16.99, SoBo Co.; Embellished Jeans, $72, Modern Mess.
“Mix old and new by choosing a theme for the outfit,” suggests Carley. In this case, the theme was “Prince concert.” Because if you’re the sort of person who rocks a shiny purple blouse, you definitely need some pizazz on your jeans, too, just so people know you mean it when you walk in the room. Carley anticipates the embellished denim trend to continue full-force into fall, and leaning into that trend can also allow you to make bolder choices in your vintage pieces.
Special thanks to our model, Regan Robertson.
Lauren’s tips for shopping vintage:
- Be careful and really look over a garment. Check for stains, holes and things that can’t be fixed. Learn to discern between fixable and non-fixable defects.
- Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to alter a piece. Just because it’s vintage doesn’t mean it’s sacred! Make it your own.
- Things with elastic waists, for instance, are especially easy to alter.
- Remember, it’s easier to cut out than add material.
- Keep in mind that even with vintage clothing, there are trends. For instance, vintage denim jackets are big right now, but may be surplanted by another must-have vintage item.
- Don’t be afraid to try on a vintage size 14. Sizing has change a lot over the years, and if you are a modern size 4 or 6, you may fit into vintage 10 or 12.
What's in, what's out
Fresh off the inventory-shopping circuit, Carley shares what's in style this fall, and what's about to look off-trend.
Vintage patent leather
1970s-80s-90s — Yes, all of it!
1344 E. 11th St. | 918-884-7307 | shopthesobo.com
11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday; open Monday by appointment.
502 E. 3rd St., Unit 4 | 918-900-2219 | mymodmess.com
11 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 12-5 p.m., Sunday