We were thrilled to partner with Bowline Style for this vintage shoot. Bowline Style is an online boutique that provides high-quality vintage clothing. I have always loved buying vintage clothing. The article of clothing has a whole story before me. I love to think about how the previous owner wore something, and how it made her feel. But I have noticed many people can get a bit intimidated. Many times we get caught up with uncertainty about caring for the item, how to put outfits together, and what eras to look for. Today owner of Bowline Style, Tara Gragg, has answered many of these questions below!
With her suggestions in mind we have taken one simple pair of vintage blue shorts and curated two unique vintage outfits incorporating modern accessories. I love how these shorts can be transformed into different looks and hope it inspires you to incorporate vintage pieces into your wardrobe. Also, a big thanks so Silver Cup Artist Courtney Leigh Photography for shooting these vintage pieces!
Why did you pick vintage clothing?
Vintage style has always been a love of mine...ever since the days of playing dress-up with my grandmother's clothes! I think it's an incredible feeling to put on a piece that fits you perfectly and imagine the story of the woman or man who wore it first. Also, from a sustainability standpoint, I think it's important to invest in quality vintage pieces rather than buy cheaply made clothing meant to last only one season.
How do you pick a new piece to add to your collection?
I'm not always looking for something specific, so often if I find a nice item that stands out to me for whatever reason, color/pattern, brand, material. I'll scoop it up. A good rule of thumb for me when picking out Bowline Style clothing is that a piece should look timeless; if it's every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first made, I know it's a winner. Other times I'll be on a personal shopping mission for a friend, which is a lot of fun and so satisfying when I find exactly what they wanted!
Have any good tips for putting outfits together?
First of all, the key to looking great in vintage is confidence. It's usually nice to keep your look updated by pairing a vintage piece with more contemporary elements; for example, I would pair a classic cardigan or twin set with skinny jeans and heels, and keep the jewelry modern. On the flip side, I love to accessorize more recent pieces with vintage costume jewelry or brooches. Another good rule of thumb is to make sure that if you're wearing a full skirt or billowy pants, keep it streamlined on top; conversely, an oversized top usually requires slim pants or a fitted skirt.
What is your best advice/tips for someone interested in buying vintage items?
I'd also advise people not to be afraid of taking care of their clothes! These days we are spoiled by modern washers and dryers, and often people don't want to buy something that they can't just throw in the wash, like a wool blazer or silk dress.
How do you clean and store vintage items?
I always search the tag first to see what the item is made of. Usually there will be some sort of symbol or indication on the tag if an item is 100% cotton, wool, leather, silk, cashmere, etc. I'll clean items on an as-needed basis depending on what they're made of: cotton items can be machine-washed if necessary, otherwise if they smell a little musty I mist them with a mixture of one part vodka, one part distilled water to sanitize and deodorize them. I find this to be an all-natural alternative to something like Febreze, which contains artificial fragrances. Depending on the material I will either fold the items and store them in labeled bins and boxes (or my dresser drawers, if it's for me), or hang them in my closets if the material needs to breathe, like wool or velvet.
What era is your favorite for vintage clothing? Why?
I will always have a special place in my heart for the 1950s, perhaps because my senior prom dress was a periwinkle, Grace Kelly-esque 1950s gown! I also have a fairly hourglass-shaped figure, so the feminine silhouettes of the 50s tend to be flattering on me, especially the dresses. Right now I'm on a blazer kick--I recently treated myself to a couple of 1960s blazers, a tweed Pendleton and a bright orange one with cute anchor detailing on the buttons. The 60s and 70s were a really fun and creative time for fashion, so pieces from that era tend to be a little bit more of a statement.