Casual Style using Vintage Finds

When I left work to have my daughter almost 8 years ago I made myself one promise. No track pants (that's sweats for my American readers) unless I'm having a lazy Sunday. I know it would be all too easy for me to walk around in trackies every day of the week. That doesn't mean that I totter off to school drop off in stiletto spikes either. My aim is to be casual and comfortable with style. And since I love vintage and I'm on a budget, most of my clothing comes from thrift stores.

Most of my time is spent at home with my preschooler Ben. We play and do craft together, go on walks, do the groceries, run errands. My clothes have to be practical and not get in the way of being a hands on mum.

In this instalment of my Style series I'll show you how I use vintage finds to dress up jeans and a t-shirt - whether it be short sleeve, no sleeve, or long sleeve as the weather dictates.

We all love jeans and a tee right? But it can come across as a little too casual and dare I say it, sloppy. These simple ideas will show you how look casual, but effortlessly stylish too.


My latest fashion obsession is Winter Kate, a label designed by Nicole Richie. I love the vintage style prints, the floaty fabrics, and how easy they are to wear. The designer is, of course, a mother with small children herself. My only problem with the jackets and tops I so love from Winter Kate is the small matter of the price tag. I've been stalking things as they come up on eBay but I knew that I could do better than that with a bit of luck.

This is the silk Eden jacket from Winter Kate. See how cute that is with some simple jeans and a singlet top? Totally wearable.

When I was home in New Zealand recently I found a shop selling vintage kimonos and scraps of silk fabric.

I found a beautiful silk short kimono jacket with a detailed floral print for $25. Yep, I was pretty excited about that.

Because the jacket has volume the key here is to make sure the other pieces are fitting. The jeans need to be a straight or slim fit (no bootleg either) and the top needs to be relatively slim fitting also. A belt also looks great with this look.

Another great match for jeans and a t-shirt is a tailored blazer. Roll the sleeves up a bit, add some red lippy, and a long necklace. Ballet flats, boots, or heels complete the outfit.

A simple cardigan in a good colour with some ballet flats can lift a jeans and tee combo. Cardigans are cheap in thrift stores, look for the colour first and don't be afraid to change buttons to update it.


I know what you're thinking. I promise we're not talking about huge crazy hats here, we're talking understated. You can do it!


When you're starting with something simple like a plain white t-shirt and jeans adding colour and interest through accessories is really important. The Wow Factor is in the detail.

I love bright, big necklaces and bracelets and I wear them often. When picking a necklace remember your colour palette from the first instalment. If you're going with something quite bright, make sure that your t-shirt is plain. Pick up a colour from the necklace and try and feature it somewhere else - your shoes, lipstick, or your handbag.

Let's talk handbags for a moment. I know some women who have a little handbag obsession. I have a very modest collection. My favourite every day bag is a vintage Ferragamo that I bought second hand for $355. Now I realise that $355 is a lot of money for something that's second hand. But I can tell you that I've had that little baby for almost 6 years now and she looks as good as the day she arrived in my post box. Whenever I have that bag on my arm I feel great. It goes with pretty much everything and the quality is amazing. I'm not saying you should go and buy a designer handbag right away, however the next time you're in the market for a new bag have a think about investing in something that's well made, elegant, and timeless over a knock off of the latest trend.


Scarves and wraps are an inexpensive way to dress up a simple outfit. Whether it's a soft cotton one or something with weight for winter, throwing a scarf around your neck can completely transform your look.


What you wear on your feet is going to say a lot about your look. Please, please, do not match big white runners with your jeans. I get that it's comfortable but it doesn't look good. It says: Seinfeld! 1990s Soccer Mom! And what do you see on the feet below?

Enough said. Now if you do like a casual shoe with jeans there are some alternatives to the big white sneaker that will work.

These are my limited edition gold boat shoes designed by Missy Elliot for Adidas. I bought them about 5 years ago. I had a thing for gold shoes at the time (still do actually).  I still wear them, and I still love them. 

This Lacoste slip on is very cute.

The Chuck Taylor is a classic that can look really cool. 

I'm not a huge second hand shoes person so I tend to buy my footwear new. When buying casual shoes online what you're looking for is Fashion Sneakers not sports shoes or runners.

  • First and foremost, buy a well fitting pair of jeans. Go into a store that specialises in denim and try lots of pairs on. Most denim stores have well trained assistants who can give you suggestions and help with sizing. Don't forget that jeans do relax so that well fitting pair can end up looking quite sloppy. In some cases it's a good idea to buy one size down - have a chat to your shop assistant about how the jeans wear in.
  • Have a think about what t-shirts you want to buy and what you'll be matching them with. If you want to use bright accessories like necklaces and bags then a plain t-shirt is best. Stick to your colour palette, and remember you can't go wrong with white! 
  • Necklines - V neck? Crew? Boat? Try on different styles and see how they work with your body shape. 
  • Don't be afraid to try something different. It might feel strange at first to wear something with colour, or to try a hat but keep stretching your comfort zone.
  • Lastly, I want you to know that you deserve the extra few minutes it takes to wear something you feel good in. If you're a mum like me it's so easy to forget about yourself in the rush of taking care of everyone else. I don't have much time in the mornings (I plan what I'm going to wear in the shower!) but I do make sure I have a couple of minutes to myself to get ready for the day.

Style Notes

1: Winter Kate silk 'Eden' jacket. 2 - 5: Op Shopping. 6 & 7: Vintage silk kimono $25; Citizens of Humanity jeans $8 from Vinnies; Something Else singlet; 1970s clutch $4 from Vinnies. 8 & 9: Tigerlily blazer $10 from eBay, Citizens of Humanity jeans $8 from Vinnies, Something Else singlet; 1980s vintage turn down boots $10 from eBay. 10 & 11: Wool crochet beanie from PeonyK; Citizen of Humanity Jeans $8 from Vinnies; white long sleeve tee from Target. 12 & 13: Vintage Red Cross hat $8 from Vinnies; white long sleeve tee from Target. 14: Vintage Salvatore Ferragamo bag $355 from trademe; stone and metal necklace from kagi jewellery. 15: Red wool wrap from Greytown, NZ. 16: Green cotton scarf from Malaysia. 


  1. Great post Becs. You and I have a fairly similar taste in casual dressing. A few simple accessories go a long way don't they. My favourite shoes at the moment are my Deuce casuals - so comfortable and look great with slim fit jeans.

  2. Love this post!
    I have a question though - I've always thought it's rude to leave a hat on inside, so how do you go about wearing a stylish hat but avoiding hat hair?

    1. Oooh good question! It's the heat inside the hat that causes your hair to go flat. For long hair I recommend tying it up into a twisted bun before putting on the hat, that way you can shake it out and tousle it with your fingertips. For short hair you can either do a quick restyle in the bathroom with wet fingertips or a small pot of hair product kept in your purse or do what some stylists suggest which is to twist the front section into little bumps with bobby pins before putting on the hat. When you take it off remove the bobby pins and tousle your hair with your fingertips. I haven't tried it yet but I'll report back when I do!

  3. Great post, really helpful! Don't suppose you'd let us in on the location of the kimono shop?! Pretty please?

    1. Oooh well, the thing is, the person who took me there swore me secrecy. It's in Wellington (NZ) message me on and I'll give you a big hint :)

  4. This is a great post and very timely as I am trying to update my "mummy" wardrobe. Off to check out the rest of the series!

  5. SO proud of you putting yourself out there xxx

    1. Aww thanks Rosie. I still struggle with putting my photo on here but it's getting easier each time. I wish I had your confidence!

  6. becs really you are doing a gr8 job...


Thanks for your comments, I love to hear from you!


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