Vintage connotes something better, more mature, and seemingly more tasteful. But while a bottle of wine gets better with age, the same can’t always be said for clothes. In fact, a lot of vintage clothing is not only subjective in terms of what actually qualifies as being vintage, but is sometimes poorly made and horribly out of style. Although vintage shopping has become a very popular trend as of late, the stock itself can tend to be a little too scruffy or worn, which means it might just be better to opt for clothing inspired by its vintage counterpart, rather than going for the real deal. You want a vintage look — not an outfit that makes it seem as though you walked out of your grandfather’s attic with clothing that’s been packed away for years.
Although there are some vintage pieces that work great with the modern wardrobe, the key is finding very high quality, lightly used pieces. With fashion being a never-ending cycle of what once was out is now new again, the possibilities of style have become endless and encourage men to embrace their own personal style. For those of you who want to delve into the world of vintage clothing, here are some streamlined upgrades that put a modern spin on classic looks. Bonus: You can find these items in your favorite stores.
1. The plaid flannel shirt
Although this style has been around for years, its heyday peaked in the early ’90s, in part thanks to Kurt Cobain. The plaid flannel shirt, which tends to look like it’s broken-in, is done using mechanical brushing and has a plush-like softness to it that can age badly if you opt to buy a true vintage shirt. This grunge-infused staple also tends to be awkwardly boxy and just happens to be in season right now.
The modern style plaid flannel shirt is much more fitted and, while still rugged, is a bit more refined and much easier to mix into both casual and finer styles. Try this style buttoned up with a pair of your favorite jeans, or if you really want to go grunge, tie one around your waist.
2. The borg collar denim jacket
This style carries with it the aura of vintage. The fuzzy-collared denim jacket is a fantastic transitional style from fall to winter. Many of the borg collar jackets come lined with faux or real shearling for extra warmth. This style is so fantastic vintage-wise, mainly due to the fact that denim ages very well and the style is so classic American blue-collar cool. Even though a true vintage version of this style is great to wear if you can find a nice looking one, many vintage versions of the jacket may make you look like you should be wearing a cowboy hat while simultaneously herding sheep. Instead, try a newer version by Levi’s: The Sherpa Trucker Jacket.
If you’re not feeling the denim, try it in a leather version.
3. The tweed blazer
The tweed blazer is a classic British style and has since become a contemporary tailored must-have. Although this style is easy to find in a vintage store, many vintage or second-hand shops may skimp on quality and carry largely untailored options. Your best bet is to opt for a newer, modern take on the jacket to try wearing as a casual go-to that can be worn with jeans or slacks. You can never go wrong with a grey tweed jacket for its versatility, or this well-made Harris Tweed jacket.
4. Converse and Nike sneakers
Vintage-style sneakers were popular in the ’80s and have returned in full force: They are the go-to casual hipster sneakers of today. Your best bet with Converses is to buy them new; look for Chuck Tailors in either low or high-tops at any of your favorite sneaker stores. There are also old-school Nike “swoosh” sneakers, most notably in white.
In fact, sneakers are becoming the go-to dress shoe for men, so much so that Jian DeLeon, the deputy editor at Complex magazine, who was seen wearing a plaid suit with a pair of white sneakers at the ballet, said that sneakers are “just as luxe as a pair of oxfords, and are 10 times more comfortable.” Isn’t that good news for all men?