How to Wear Vintage Clothing: Styling the Old with the New

How to Wear Vintage Clothing: Styling the Old with the New

by Madeline Berger
April 14th, 2022

Over here at Ragstock headquarters, we think about how cool vintage clothing is most days of the year. With Earth Day around the corner, however, sustainability in fashion is on the top of our minds. Purchasing vintage clothing instead of new is a perfect way to up your environmental consciousness, but how to wear vintage clothing can feel like a totally different ballgame.

You’ve probably heard some soul-crushing figures related to the detriments of fast fashion, but I’ll repeat them anyway: The UN reports that it takes about 8,000 gallons of water (the amount you’d drink in seven years) to produce one pair of jeans. That’s bad. What’s also bad is that about twenty-one billion tons of textiles are sent to landfills every year. While many clothing brands are slowly implementing environmentally-focused initiatives to better their processes and slow fashion is gaining traction, nothing is as good as keeping the clothes you have and adding vintage pieces into the mix.

None of us are saying that you should stop buying new clothing, full-stop. Heck, we sell new clothes, too. One thing you can do, however, is to add a piece of vintage into your closet the next time you’re feeling a wardrobe refresh. Now, some people have a hard time picturing vintage clothing fitting in with their existing collection—I get it. I’m here to show you that it’s not actually that hard and can quickly elevate your outfit’s cool factor. Scroll on for eight ways to wear vintage clothing.

PS. All images are shoppable, so tap those labels to shop new and vintage categories on our site!

Vintage Denim Jackets

One easy and extremely effective way to add a piece of vintage to your outfit is to pick up a vintage denim jacket. Opt for one that fits perfectly or is oversized—both are prime for a wide variety of looks. On Dallas, we styled a vintage denim jacket we found in an off-the-cuff color with modern pieces for a look perfect for spring. To build your own, pick up a pair of corduroy shorts and a patterned button-up shirt (both vintage-inspired). A vintage denim jacket as your outer layer adds a bit of edge and helps save the planet.

Vintage Jerseys

Trending up the past couple of years, jerseys are a surprisingly simple way to pull an atypical piece of vintage into your wardrobe. Whether it’s a vintage hockey jersey like the one shown on Mckaylee or a pick in a different style (just check out our vintage jersey page), it’s truly a piece of cake to style. Throw on with a pair of vintage denim shorts for an alternative spin on a t-shirt or wear it with statement pants, eye-catching combat boots, and a bright beanie for a full-on fashion moment.

Vintage Hockey Jerseys

Leather jackets

One well-known way to wear vintage clothing is to throw on the drool-worthy leather motorcycle jacket you inherited from your cool biker aunt or found during a jackpot-level trip to the thrift store. A different approach, however, starts with a more unique leather jacket. Seek out a leather trench or jacket with interesting details like this fringe-covered piece we shot on our friend Raquel. Layer over a vintage tee and pair with vintage jeans and vintage cowboy boots (all items you can shop at Ragstock, btw) for a head-to-toe vintage look that’s grounded in easy basics.

Simple Vintage T-Shirt

While there are tons of vintage-inspired t-shirts out there, nothing compares to the real deal. A simple recycled or vintage t-shirt can perhaps be described as the core of a vintage wardrobe: it’s arguably the easiest vintage to procure and looks effortlessly cool. While we have hundreds of vintage t-shirts, The one we styled on Dajuan is instead a recycled t-shirt (second-hand/used/under twenty years old, you get it). Worn with a pair of our new men’s corduroy joggers, it creates a simple, cool, and casual take on a mixed new and vintage outfit.

Worn + Remixed

Vintage flannel shirts are a perfect piece of second-hand clothing to have in your closet—not only are vintage flannels particularly soft, but they come in color variations and hues that just aren’t as great in their modern replicated glory. We’ve taken some of our recycled flannels and bleached them, bestowing a one-of-a-kind grunge spin. Pair an updated flannel like the one on Moses with worn vintage jeans for major cool guy points. Top it off with a vintage hat—you can find the best graphics in baseball caps from the ’70s and ’80s.

Vintage Hockey Jerseys

Vintage Sweatshirts

We’ve watched as vintage sweatshirts have blown up over the past couple of years. Why? They’re pretty much the cool older sister to their vintage t-shirt sibling. Featuring similarly dope graphics, the typically thicker material of vintage sweatshirts causes them to last longer in better condition. A great vintage sweatshirt is perfectly broken in and cozy, with many modern brands replicating the look and feel. Pair a real one with a flirty bottom like a mini skirt (trending hard right now) or a pair of cutoff shorts.

Vintage + Vintage-Inspired

One of our favorite styling tricks to bring to the studio is pairing a piece of real vintage with a vintage-inspired t-shirt or sweatshirt that has recently come in at the warehouse. So many of the modern-day pieces we wear were designed based on vintage styles, so mix a piece of real vintage into your wardrobe that looks really similar to something new you already own. Here, we found a vintage jacket that features a logo extremely similar in color and style to the new, vintage-inspired Budweiser t-shirt we just got in.

Vintage Maxi Skirts

We love a good vintage skirt and are especially into floral maxis like this one shot on Anna. There are plenty of boho-inspired modern maxi skirts that take a feather straight out of vintage skirts’ caps, so they’re surprisingly easy to fit into your current wardrobe. Pair with a simple seamless top for balanced proportions and top off with a vintage leather jacket for a bit of edge.