How to Make Old Clothes More Modern

Posted in Daily Outfits, Fashion, Second Hand Shopping.

It’s no secret that I love second hand shopping. I can’t walk past a charity shop without ‘popping in’ (read – emerging an hour later with armfuls of stuff) and my favourite Sunday morning pastime is not reading the papers in bed, but getting up at 6am to wade through the mud of a car boot sale field. The excitement of finding a bargain is too great to miss, and I never come home empty handed.

The downside to my passion for second hand clothing is that I often get swept up in the moment and end up with items that leave me clueless. A sleeveless denim jacket springs to mind – save it for an 80s fancy dress party, maybe? Or the two-sizes-too-small-and-SO-not-me DM boots (which I actually sold on eBy for a tidy profit, so there is hope). More recently, it’s this burgundy pleated midi skirt that’s got me stumped. Bought on a whim because I love the colour and it has a vintage label (I LOVE old labels), it’s hung in my wardrobe waiting for its first outing. And there it stayed for weeks, because every time I looked at it I could only see one thing – old lady.

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how to wear charity shop clothing
Vintage skirt via charity shop, Gap tee and blazer, Bertie boots, H&M necklace, ASOS belt

The calf-length, pleated polyester skirt is quite synonymous with OAPs. The demure length, muted colour and entirely opaque fabric (backed up by an underskirt) is the everyday uniform for many mature ladies, and so styling one for your average 20-something is no easy task. But, with the addition of a few key pieces I think I’m about there… here are my tips for making any old item look on trend:

  • Accessories are VITAL. Very few old ladies wear perspex necklaces. Go for bold pieces inspired by modern design in bright colours
  • Hitch it up and belt it in – vintage trousers and skirts always look better when they sit on the waist (as they were usually designed to do so). Adding a belt will define your shape and help the item stay in place
  • Choose heels over flats – especially when wearing clothing designed for someone a fair few years older than you are. A chunky heel will stop legs from looking frumpy under those modest hemlines
  • Mix with modern basics – never underestimate the power of a grey marl tee or well-cut blazer
  • A bright lipstick never fails to cheer things up if you’re feeling a little dowdy
What do you think – any tips for making old clothes look modern?



WOW I just love that skirt, great find. I love the midi length. I would usually wear with a modern top, but I am happy to wear flats with a midi though xx


Lovely!! I would also stitch with a bright contrast colour down the sides of each pleat and maybe sew on a motif of some sort xxx


Love the way you’ve styled it – I think the brightness of the top definitely makes the entire ensemble look more youthful. I’d probably get my lovely mother to try and shorten it for me, as my stumpy legs wouldn’t suit the length – it looks fab on you though! x


The neon orange belt works so well! Would never have thought to pair something that colour with a brown skirt. I love my midis and tend to wear them with sparkly, ‘young’ tops, though I still wear flats with them!

Gemma Satire

I don’t care if the skirt is “OAP” I love it! You pull it off so well! And to look more modern, high heels are a certain must! Also juxtaposing an old item with a new trend like like a studded leather jacket/denim jacket I feel always makes me outfits feel on trend and modern!

Gemma x


that skirt is amazing the colour is gorgeous, love the way you have styled it with the bright top 🙂



I would say that adding quirky accessories is a must to stop things looking frumpy and also bright bright colours! You look fab here jen.


I love your modern take on this skirt! The accessories you chose are perfect for bringing it up to date – love that necklace!

Cathy of Eye Puffiness

Your article is both informative and interesting. You’ve made your points clear and I agree on most of them. Your content has given me reason to think and this is my favorite kind of material.


Hey how do you know how to make everything match? I’ve never been one to be able to put colours together and match them!! Iv’e been trying, but I’m not sure that it has been working!! 😛


LOL! i used to think i was the only one who ended up clueless with old pieces……


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