How-to: Wear Vintage without Looking like a Hobo

I have since convinced her that not all second hand clothing smells like a giant Savemart and that in fact, most items are dry-cleaned and pressed before they are sold (well, they are washed and/or dry-cleaned at gran’s loose change that’s for sure).

Because I wear and love second hand clothing, I guess I took for granted that some people just don’t do it, don’t like it or don’t know how…

As the director of an online vintage clothing store, you’d think you’d find me head to toe in vintage – right? Wrong. My philosophy with second hand clothes is the same as when I wear designer – mix and match to save looking like a walking billboard.
Take for example Kate Bosworth. A stunning specimen who always looks hot-dang amazing!

She can wear baggy jeans and a singlet just as well as high-end designer.  Take exhibit A below: Coming out of the airport in a tee, denim vest and puff skater skirt.  Simple right?


If I was to recreate this look, I would throw on an American Apparel cotton tee (Bassike also do amazing cuts), a vintage denim vest (I look for jackets in the kids section of op shops and cut off the sleeves, they are more fitted and cropped than the ones you find in the adult section), a simple black skirt (Cotton On, Glassons and Wild Pair do good cheapy basics) and I would finish it off with vintage ankle boots.

Erin Wasson is another lady love who I think works vintage well. More than well. I would go so far as to say Erin Wasson kills it. She designs for RVCA, styles for Alexander Wang and models, but she also manages to make wearing vintage look easy.

Exhibit B. Wasson throws on a pair of denim cut offs (perfect all year round by the way, rock them with a singlet in summer or with tights and a jacket in winter), adds a blazer and killer heels or boots and suddenly she’s effortlessly glam.  Just like that.


I get dressed every morning with my shoes first and then work my way up. For example, as I write this furiously (seeing as I have overpromised and under delivered on deadlines this week) I am wearing vintage military boots, ankle socks, Kmart tights and a vintage dress brought from Bondi markets. The trick is to not try too hard. If you start to stress about ‘vintage’ and ‘non-vintage’ it starts to make getting dressed in the morning a chore.

I like to think of all of my clothes as just that, my clothes, instead of labelling them as one or the other. However, I am aware once I put them on that I need to mix styles and eras to ensure I don’t end up looking like a hobo, because trust me, there is such a thing as too much.

If you like the idea of vintage but don’t feel overly comfortable wearing second hand because of the aforementioned reasons, try accessorising with a vintage clutch or brooch. Some of my best accessories are hand me down purses, bags, shoes and jewellery from my grandmother that add a little bit of pizzazz to any outfit.

When I styled the lookbook for gran’s loose change I was careful to mix glc products with some of the models’ own clothes. I had four models with four different styles and tastes and wanted to show all customers that second hand clothing is well wearable whether you’re a classic dresser, grungy dresser or chain store chic. Check out the lookbook here.

So my pretties, go forth and conquer. Try mixing a little vintage into your wardrobe this weekend.

Until next month,
Kel x

By Kelly Barriball

Related Articles

Pin It on Pinterest