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Functional Girl: A column

Q: Over the last year I’ve fallen in love with vintage style, but I’m completely clueless when it comes to where to shop and how to put together stylish outfits. Can you give me some basic guidelines? — Melissa L.

A vintage outfit purchased at the Kyle Library Thrift Shop

A: Dear Melissa: First, let me congratulate you on your fabulous taste! Vintage is a unique way to make an inspired fashion statement.

Here are some simple rules to keep your look fashion forward: (1) Make sure your garments are in good condition! No rips, frays or stains. (2) Focus on one era at a time when assembling an outfit. Your presentation could become confused and chaotic if you try a ‘40s/’70s fusion. (3) You want your vintage to be the star of the show, so accessorize with simple, complimentary elements to pull the look together. See the photo for a perfect execution of ‘80s Glamazon. (4) The best accessory is your personality, so set your whimsy free and enjoy yourself! As for shopping, your options are endless.

You can find vintage-inspired items at virtually any store, in every price range. But if authenticity makes your heart race, then thrift and specialty stores are the way to go.

Thrift stores require patience, but are your most budget-friendly option. Basic sewing skills also come in handy, as many great pieces will often require minor repairs.

The dress pictured below was purchased at the Kyle Library Thrift Store. Specialty shops tend to be pricier but offer everything from off-the-rack to designer couture, all in ready-to-wear condition.

My least favorite means of shopping for vintage is online. There is risk involved, as you cannot try the garment on or properly assess the condition. Make sure to work with a reputable vendor and clarify the return/exchange policy before ordering.

“If you shop online, you must know your measurements as sizing was very different 30 years ago,” says Stephanie Brudnicki, vintage expert and owner of Blender Clothing in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Her vintage tip: Visit the lingerie aisle at your favorite thrift stores and stock up on detailed, lacy slips. They’re perfect under your favorite sheer ‘70s dresses.

Q: I’m a plus-size pear. Not literally, but I’m a size 20 and my body type is pear shaped. I absolutely cannot find pants that fit. If they fit my hips, they gap in the waist. Please help!!! — Karen R.

A: Dear Karen: I hear you girl! I’m not pear shaped, but as the saying goes, I’ve got plenty of junk in my trunk. Thankfully, I have two fail-safe options for you.

The Charming Shoppes Co., which owns Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug released a new line of pants called Right Fit. There are three different cuts of trouser or jean designed to perfectly fit your body type. I own several pair and let me tell you, they fit like a glove! The only drawback is the limited selection.

This brings me to your next option: tailoring. When you find an amazing pair of pants, fit them to the largest part of your body, i.e., your hips, and have the waist taken in. It’s not as expensive as you might think and beautifully fitted clothing is the proper way to celebrate your timelessly fashionable silhouette.

Functional Girl CJ Legare lives in Kyle with her husband, Joshua, and is addicted to 2 percent organic milk. If you’ve got a question or comment for Functional Girl, email her here. She blogs at

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