Tags: clothing, dresses, fashion, shopping, Style Syllabus

A trip to any vintage shop will reveal an array of teeny-tiny dresses, petite sweaters and slim-fitting skirts. If you’re extra-curvy or even taller than the average girl in the 1950s, finding vintage clothing that fits can be a struggle. Larger size vintage is less common, and depending upon the period, may have been cut down to make a smaller garment once it was no longer needed. To make matters worse, the larger size vintage pieces that do exist are often styled for older women and can be downright matronly. Use these shopping and styling tips to make your wardrobe work, whether you’re a size 12 or a size 20.

PlusSizeVintageBefore you shop, keep in mind that curvy ladies in the past certainly wore a hard-core girdle. Take your measurements or try on vintage wearing appropriate undies, including a girdle or waist shaper and a sturdy, supportive bra. Matching your favorite styles to your body type isn’t just about what’s flattering, but also about what fits. Dresses that are loose at the hips may fit even if you carry weight below your waist, while a loose shift can work with a thicker waistline.

While no one’s advocating that you take a needle and thread to priceless, irreplaceable vintage, you can alter everyday pieces to fit your frame or restyle them to create something flattering out of a playful print muumuu. A loose grandma-style housedress can be lopped off and hemmed to create a cute, casual blouse to wear with modern capris. If you find a great 1960s or ‘70s print dress that has a full skirt, but doesn’t fit anywhere else, remove the top and add a waistband for a skirt you can wear and enjoy.

Vintage accessories don’t come with size tags. Pair purses, jewelry and hats with modern clothing or vintage reproductions to get the look of vintage in your size. Try adding a patent clutch and over-size 1960s rhinestone brooch to your basic little black dress to give it a Breakfast at Tiffany’s style or wear a Duane Bryer’s Hilda,

Pair a modern pencil skirt and fitted sweater with a jaunty hat and sturdy hand-crocheted purse for a 1940s look. Matching your hair and makeup to the period can also create that vintage look even when your clothes are new.

While vintage reproductions can give you the look of vintage, you can also opt to buy vintage patterns and sew your own. It’s still quite easy to find patterns from the 1940s to 1970s in larger sizes, ranging from a modern 12 to 18. If you’re larger than an 18, you can grade up a pattern to fit with simple changes. Several pattern companies have rereleased vintage patterns, allowing you to pick your size without any searching or shopping.

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