Back in the day, a respectable lady wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without donning a tweed overcoat and her little white gloves. Luckily, today all bets are off with fashion rules. While you love that amazing topper, you’d also like to make it a bit more modern. Enter vintage. Check out our six must-haves for building a great collection you’ll cherish for decades to come--and how to wear them without looking like a costume.

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Start Small (and Sparkly)

Dipping your toes into the vintage scene for the very first time? Jewelry is the perfect introduction to this exciting new world. A cluster of bejeweled brooches on the lapel of your coat or blazer feels fresher than a statement necklace but offers just enough dazzle to spark a conversation. (It just so happens to be the right amount of “quirky lady,” too.)

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Look for Quality

Secondhand heritage brands (think: Chanel, Cartier and Burberry) are always a good investment because they’re timeless and well-made. Buying vintage also means you’ll likely find a real bargain. A brand new Hermés silk scarf, for example, might be out of your reach, but a gently used one that’s well within your budget…not so hard to hunt down. The added bonus of buying vintage: You can daydream about each piece’s romantic backstory. (Did this printed Ferragamo go on holiday in the Riviera with a French debutante at one point? Sigh.)

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Choose Garments in Line with Current Trends

What goes around comes around, and right now, ’70s flared denim is front and center on the trend circuit (rejoice!). Mix a high-waist pair into your own wardrobe with everything from a minimalist plain white tee to maximalist bow-tie blouse. And fear not: Even if you snapped up a crazy ’80s fringed moto jacket last year but haven't yet found the courage to wear it, hold fast onto this gem, as it will surely cycle through again. (Next spring, perhaps?)

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When In Doubt: Go Micro

Trust: A top-handle mini bag is always (always) going to be a season-to-season staple. The structured silhouette instantly dresses up any outfit while the petite size says “I’m vintage!” without being all in your face. Look to the 1960s for inspiration, an era in which you’ll find everything from sleek patent leather and woven rattan to patchwork and embroidery.

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Or Go Big With One Standout Piece

If “demure” (see: micro bags) is not really in your sartorial personality, the one vintage piece you’ll crave is a really great overcoat. This singular statement piece can be as loud (leopard print, anyone?) or as luxe (hello, floor-skimming cashmere wrap) as you’d like. And if you’re going to splurge, this is where we’d suggest doing it.

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Mix Eras, Textures and Trends

A brocade purse that nods to the Victorian era can still work with a mod 1960s-style jumper. In fact, mixing eras is a surefire way to make your outfit seem more relevant (and totally unique) without coming off too costume-y. And any vintage collector will tell you: Mixing and matching is one of the great joys of expressing yourself through clothes. Now, go have some fun.

Opening image: Collage Vintage

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