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How to dress in shabby chic

Updated February 21, 2017

Dressing in shabby chic is wearing the perfect combination of new and antique pieces of clothing and jewellery. The term shabby chic means dressing in vintage-inspired, often layered clothing that evokes a feminine feeling. The antithesis of modern fashion, shabby chic clothing is pastel in colour, such as antique rose, lavender, white, grey, butter and pale blue. It's also loose fitting on the body. Usually women dress in shabby chic style, with a big push toward baby clothing that resembles old-fashioned play and values.

Look in your closet before shopping. Seek out loosefitting sundresses, skirts and tops that are flowing and pastel coloured. Look especially for soft, flowered prints and ruffles. Light-coloured trousers also work when paired with vintage-inspired shoes and antique jewellery.

Set aside the pieces of clothing that already feature a shabby chic look. Write down what you need to fill in the missing shabby chic wardrobe pieces. Head out to clothing stores that carry vintage-inspired, romantic clothing and accessories.

Layer everything. Wear camisoles, preferably with lace, and tank tops underneath button down, gauzy shirts. Tops with ribbons work well when paired with a faded pair of jeans. Add a pair of footless tights, with lace at the bottom, underneath a flowing, linen skirt. Pair a long-sleeved, pastel-coloured thermal shirt with a tank on top. The idea is loosefitting without looking sloppy.

Add antique-looking, delicate necklaces such as long chains with petite flowers or heart lockets, and layer choker necklaces. Chandelier earrings, broaches and rings featuring roses, rhinestones and aged metal complete the shabby chic outfit.

Add faded outerwear to your outfit if the weather permits. A loosefitting, small-knit weave sweater that hangs below the waist, in a neutral colour such as beige, tends to go with all shabby chic outfits. Patterned jackets, such as small flowers or thin stripes, and crocheted, fitted hats work well with the shabby chic look. Remember that the overall look is feminine and old-fashioned looking, so no baseball caps or top hats, for example.

Put on shoes that are simple in pattern and design. Beige, pink or cream ballerina flats with or without a tie bow are perfect with any outfit. Wear classic loafers in cooler months, and sandals and feminine-looking flip flops when the weather is warm.

Tip

Check out second-hand stores for vintage fashion. Visit a fabric store and look at vintage fabrics for inspiration.

Warning

Wearing several flowered patterns together looks busy instead of sophisticated. Stay away from black, unless it's a shoe colour. Make-up should be soft and subtle to complement shabby chic clothing.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.