When it comes to vintage shopping, it can be tricky to find pieces that perfectly toe the line between old-school glamour and grandma’s closet. Because while you don’t want to buy anything too costume-y, you also don’t want to end up with an outdated look that should have stayed back in its decade of inception. Luckily, there are pros out there who know just what you need to curate the ultimate vintage-inspired wardrobe. And no one does it better than celebrity stylist Liz Meyer.
Back in 2003, she opened her own Chicago-based vintage shop, Silver Moon, sourcing bridal, cocktail, and evening wear dating all the way back to the 1890s. Over the years, Meyer has continued to split her time between touring with rock star clients like Paul McCartney and filling her store with retro discoveries. Now, she’s taken the next step in her vintage journey by launching Circa, a line of period-inspired pieces she designed along with her husband, Andy. Available at silvermoonvintage.com, the first four-piece collection features two faux fur wraps (one pictured below), a beaded top, and a cropped cape, all available in multiple color options. “We were really inspired by the stylish women in our lives,” Meyer recently told InStyle, giving us her step-by-step guide to vintage shopping, below. “Every piece is fashioned and named after a stylish woman, including our moms and my great aunt.”
For Meyer, designing a line of glamorous beaded and faux fur pieces was a change of pace from her styling career. “I mainly work with men, so I’m dealing with a very masculine and more tailored silhouette,” she said. “Then I get to come home and express more of my feminine side while dealing with brides and working with lacy, beaded, fun, frilly things.”
“I love working with fashion icons and seeing how the celebrity clients I've worked with have started trends in fashion history,” she added, of her high-profile muses. “I currently work with Paul McCartney, and he makes you better at your craft. When we’re coming up with looks, we tend to do modern versions of Beatles-type slim silhouettes from the ’60s. In general, though, once you find a style that works, you can enhance it and add trends here and there. But sometimes when something works, it just works. It becomes your signature look and that's really exciting, as well.” Scroll down for 7 of her best tips for nailing your own signature retro look.
1. Look for an amazing LBD.
“I always feel like every woman should have a vintage little black cocktail dress—especially with the holidays coming up," said Meyer. "It can be from any period—the '20s to the '60s. You always stand out when you wear a vintage dress to a party."
2. Be sure to add some sparkle.
"If you want to get into vintage and start off just with accessories, jewelry is a great way to do that," said Meyer. "Look for pieces that you can wear with jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers and you can just slowly work your way into it."
3. Score a statement coat—and don’t be afraid to tailor.
“Now that we're hitting cooler weather, vintage coats are fantastic," said Meyer. "If you find one that's a bit too boxy or needs a little modernizing, keep in mind that you can always get it tailored. You can change the sleeve length, the hem length, and just make it work for your body and your style.”
4. Know how to navigate the trends of the decades.
"Body shape definitely plays a role in choosing the right vintage pieces," said Meyer. "Girls with a smaller frame tend to fit well into pieces from the 1920's, and the '40s and the '50s are usually perfect for someone with a curvier build. Clothes were made so differently in the past, with amazing patterning and every seam had a purpose. Once you start trying on different eras, you can really get a feel for what’s working on your body type. And again, you can always get things tailored."
5. Make sure your choices are in good shape—but don't discredit something that's a bit beaten up if you love it.
"Always take a good look and make sure a piece is going to be wearable," said Meyer. "You don't want something that's starting to disintegrate on you, so it's important to make sure you'll be able to get wear out of something—especially earlier pieces from the '20s. I once found a stunning piece of beading from the 1930s, but it was attached to a tattered piece. I held onto it, and when I got married, it became the focal point of the wedding dress I designed for myself. I knew that I would find the right place for it to be showcased one day, and it ended up being part of my wedding gown."
6. But don’t feel the need to stick to one era entirely.
"I love to mix and match, and if there's something that's drawing you to a piece, grab it," said Meyer. "I don't think there's any rule—and that's the fun thing about fashion. I like to take a vintage piece and then reshape and recut it into something with a bit of a modern twist. You can also mix a vintage top with a modern bottom and jewelry from different eras."
7. There’s no such thing as too over-the-top.
"It’s usually best to just choose one standout decorative piece, but it's really all about how you wear it," said Meyer. "If you're going to do a faux fur jacket or wrap, that's your standout piece and you should keep the rest of your look a little more low-key. If you're going to do something beaded, like a top, it’s best to pair it with something a little simpler and sleeker. But don't be afraid to experiment with a dressier component, like a beaded piece. You can always throw on motorcycle boots with jeans and a distressed jacket to play around."