How to Find Plus Size Vintage Clothing and Make it Fit

Do you love the look of vintage clothing but have a hard time finding it in a larger size?  It takes patience and persistence to find vintage clothing that fits.  When you are shopping consider wearing not only a correctly fitted bra but also a full slip to help smooth you and help the vintage slide on and off.  Here are some creative ideas to help you find and wear vintage clothing in a plus size.

Expand your choices – look in different departments.

When you are shopping for larger size vintage widen your field. Look in other departments like men’s wear.  A lot of men’s shirts can be tailored with darts or a belt to give you a nipped in waist. Hawaiian or resort wear has fun patterns and colors. Tux jackets have potential and are available in black, charcoal,shades of white and pastel colors. Look for pullover sweaters and vests instead of button up since the fabric usually has more give to it . Men’s lounge wear like robes and jackets can make wonderful evening wear. Fabric ties can be replaced with belts to change the look. Check the women’s vintage lingerie section. Lingerie can be layered as daywear instead of night wear. A long robe can be shortened to wear as a jacket. Look for lingerie gowns or nightgowns, add a camisole or a slip underneath to transition into daywear – maybe add leggings . Look at pajama tops and pants, wrap dresses and housecoats. Can you add accessories to change the look ? Wear a robe as a wrap dress ? Separates have a better chance of fitting than a dress and you can mix and match.

Take a second look – rethink the decades

A lot of fashion is a reinterpretation or reworking of previous styles. If you like the 40’s look have you considered clothing made in the 80’s ? You’ll see peplums, big shoulders and flared skirts. Add the right accessories and you’ll have a retro 40’s look. Plus the clothes made in the 80’s are more in tune with today’s body size. Certain fashions in the 70’s had a 1930’s feel with cap sleeves and a softer romantic look in slinky fabrics. The 60’s recycled a longer looser look in pants and dresses that can look like the 20’s. Today’s capri pants have a vintage 50’s look. Pair with a vintage shirt and create a retro look. Add a piece of vintage jewelry, a hat or scarf to a contemporary piece and give it vintage flare.

Measure and know your measurements

Use your tape measure and know your measurements.  When you try on vintage, wear a good slip and bra so it’s not only easier to get it on but you’ll have a smoother shape to check the look and fit. Be open to some renovation or adjustments to make the piece perfect for you. Can you move a button to get more room? Can a wrap dress be worn more loosely ? Can you wear a shirt open as a jacket?   If it fits and there’s a spot, can you cover it with a bit of decoration or trim? Don’t always go for the baggiest thing on the rack. Baggy makes you look bigger – if you need the largest size then try to tailor it to fit with a belt or sash or some tucks.

Revamp your choices and changing vintage

Should you change a piece of vintage clothing or not? Some people think that changing vintage clothing is like changing a piece of history. Others point out that people have always changed clothing to make it fit, to update it and to pass it along to the next in line. If you’re handy or have a good tailor you can remake vintage to fit a larger size with imagination and creativity. Here’s some revamp ideas.

  • Remove shoulder pads or inner linings to give more room
  • Split a dress up the sides like a tunic to make it fit, then wear it over leggings.
  • If it fits in the bust but is too big in the waist, sew in elastic inside at the waist to make a better fit
  • For circle skirts that are too small in the waist cut off the waist band and sew in elastic to your size
  • Vintage sweater a little small? Try tying it around your shoulders or wear it slung over your shoulders with a sweater guard
  • PJ pants cut as clam diggers
  • Try inserts of lacing, lace or stretch fabric to get more give
  • Move buttons over a little in button up shirts
  • Too short ? Then add a band of lace or ruffles at the bottom hem
  • Can’t button it in front? Drape a scarf around your neck and wear it inside the garment.  It won’t be as noticeable, especially if the scarf matches closely in color.

According to Nima Beckie, former Arts & Entertainment Editor of “SKORCH’ magazine, an online magazine for plus size women, “In terms of adapting vintage, this goes without saying for ALL plus size fashions, and I cannot stress this enough, find a good tailor to work with. That beautiful dress, you don’t want to ruin, because it was too long. Or those to die for bell bottoms, you jumped up and down when you found, you want them to also fit on the waist and not just the pants right?”

Remember there are more vintage shopping options than ever before. The internet gives you access to shops around the world. Be creative, be patient, be persistent and you will find vintage to fit you whatever your shape and size. And once you have a piece that fits, take good care of it, make it last. Celebrate your shape and size and dress yourself well in vintage finery.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Coco Chanel