9 Biggest Vintage Fashion Trends — According To Resale Experts

Over the weekend, the final Manhattan Vintage Show of 2022 (see you again on February 3-4, 2023!) drew a crowd of fabulously dressed folks that stretched out the door of the Metropolitan Pavilion and down the block. Occurring three times a year, the resale event — which features 90 of the country’s top vintage dealers — draws everyone from designers and costumers to trend forecasters, collectors, and secondhand fashion lovers. 

“The show-goers are so bold, and I think they have a true sense of fashion that’s fresh and original,” says Amy Abrams, Manhattan Vintage’s owner and producer. “They’re in head-to-toe-vintage, and with such perspective! It’s really exciting to see, and I’m constantly inspired!”

But it isn’t just the stellar street style that makes Manhattan Vintage Show the must-attend shopping event of the season. Rather it’s the treasure trove of vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories —  from the three-piece sparkling Halston suit set (ready for Studio 54!) showcased at Deals on Designers to the bamboo-handled Gucci bags or the perfectly worn-in overalls with hand-embroidered patchwork — that entice attendees every year. 

With vintage clothing more popular than ever, certain fashion trends naturally emerged from booth to booth — corsets, statement coats, etc. Still, all vendors emphasized the importance of shopping according to one’s personal style rather than chasing after what’s trending on TikTok’s #ArchiveFashion.

“If you look at the community here at the Manhattan Vintage Show, you’ll see people selling all decades and styles, and everyone is thriving in their particular niche!” says Greg Urra of Vintage Black Label.

Still, if you’re not sure where to start your vintage shopping journey, ahead, nine trends that are currently popular with shoppers, according to Manhattan Vintage Show vendors.

Victorian Era

Winning & Losing’s David Moses says that Victorian-era garments (ranging from the 1830s to 1900) like paisley shawls and calico dresses have become popular as of late. In particular, corsets have been big with his buyers: “Fashion is so cyclical and everything comes back around, but sometimes you have to go back really far to get truly inspired!”

Matt Smith, the owner of D Matt Smith Vintage and co-founder of Newburgh Vintage Emporium, agrees. While showing me a Victorian lawn dress — a long white frock with eyelets and lace detail throughout — he said, “This piece is about 120 years old, but definitely wearable today.” 

Nightgowns

In Toots Vintage’s cotton candy-colored paradise of girly, flirty, frilly garments, bias-cut dresses, silks, and eveningwear were the stars. Notably, the shop’s owner Michael Phillips sees nightgowns from the 1930s and ‘40s as a trend to watch: “That’s what I always want to have wherever I go.” 

Recently, the shop has been introducing ‘90s and early ‘00s pieces of the same ilk into the mix because “that period is so hot… Think: Courtney Love and other grunge-style girls wearing elements of lingerie as eveningwear.” 

‘90s Casual

Danielle Coleman of Sisters Vintage says that, just like runway fashion, vintage trends move through a 30-year-cycle, which would explain the popularity of ’90s styles right now.

“When I was a teenager, I was pulling from the ‘70s, and my mom couldn’t believe I was wearing those sailor bell bottoms, just like she wore to school every day,” she says. “[Now] my oldest daughter is almost 14, and I look at her wearing a vintage Nirvana T-shirt, ripped jeans, and Converse high-tops — that’s what’s popular ‘in vintage’ for her — and I wore the same things back in the ‘90s.”

2000s Designers

On the other end of the spectrum, according to Smith, Y2K designers are all the rage. In particular, his customers are clamoring for ‘00s-era John Galliano and Comme des Garçons. “You can’t get things made this way anymore,” Smith says. “There’s still a level of craftsmanship and fabrication — 100% silks, cottons, wools, and other rich, luxe fabrics — found in pieces made in the 2000s that you can’t get today, even in modern designer pieces.”

In terms of silhouettes, he says that buyers are interested in either the boxy styles that defined the fashion of the time, or the second-skin apparel, corsets, and halter tops. 

Sheer Fashion

Ally Bird Vintage’s Alessandra Canario, who has been attending Manhattan Vintage since she was 12 years old, says that the biggest trend she’s noticed of late is sheer pieces and people “having fun with layering sheer of all kinds.” 

The look can be achieved with just about any see-through piece, from gossamer dresses from the Victorian era to 1950s nylon blouses, which Alessandra says are particularly popular in her shop. She’s also seen sheer layering done with ‘30s and ‘40s nightgowns and peignoirs, ‘70s and 80s mesh shirts, and ‘30s chiffon dresses. 

Chain Belts

Greg Urra, the owner of Vintage Black Label —  known for its costume jewelry including clip-on earrings from the ‘70s and ‘80s — says that chain belts are the accessory to be on everyone’s vintage shopping list because they can be worn a multitude of ways — “layered as necklaces, chains, or belts, and they can all hang and drape in many ways.”

He adds, “Plus they’re adjustable for any body type. You can wear them on your hip or on your waist depending on the fit and look you desire.” 

Menswear-Inspired Silhouettes

Sheryl Roberts of Indigo Style Vintage has observed an abundance of oversized pieces bought this season, especially menswear-inspired blazers, worn over printed midi dresses and loafers or brogues and socks, a la recent Miu Miu or Gucci collection: “They’ve made that kind of styling a trend, [though] it’s just borrowed from vintage.” 

Roberts has also noticed her clients gravitating toward “dad jeans.” “They’re wearing the jeans like they have a paper bag waist, and they’re really cinching it in with a belt,” she says. 

Statement Coats

Lexie Griffith of Lexie Butterfly Vintage, which specializes in 1960s and ’70s collectibles, says that tapestry coats are having a moment right now. According to her, the  “Penny Lane style” — i.e. featuring fur on the collars, hems, and cuffs — is especially coveted among shoppers. “I think people are finding that the coat is really the outfit,” Lexie says, “so you might as well have a really funky coat because that’s what everyone is going to see.” 

With this in mind, over the weekend, Lexie pulled a stunning 1960s Country Pacer purple-and-black floral tapestry coat with  bright purple fur around the hem and cuffs and a statement belt buckle from her personal collection to sell: “It seems to be the coat of the moment.” 

Leather Jackets

Michelle Radow, owner of Allegra Vintij, says she’s had high demand for leather coats, both in the ‘80s bomber silhouette and the ‘60s/’70s blazer-like styles featuring lapels and belted waists. “Any color: white, orange, red, green, tan, brown, black — they’re all amazing,” she says.

Mariya Korotko and Paige Wilkins of Deals on Designers agree: “Patent leather is a hotcake right now.”

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