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Ask Laura
The Art of Mixing Vintage With Modern

Laura of Suburban Revival shares how she got started, her inspiration, and tips for a modern vintage look.



What is most appealing to you about vintage clothing?

Everything about vintage is so appealing—the history behind it, the quality, and the craftsmanship. You are wearing a one-of-a-kind piece that no one else has and making it your unique style.



If someone is new to vintage, what's the best piece for them?

If you're starting to look for vintage, go for an accessory to add to your contemporary outfit. You can never go wrong with a vintage bag or statement necklace. Look for trending pieces and find a vintage one; for example, scarves are trending now, and wear them unexpectedly, i.e., on your wrist as a bracelet .....   



What's the easiest way to mix vintage with contemporary? 

Mixing and matching vintage with contemporary is an easy way to add uniqueness to your wardrobe. Again, look at what is trending or just what speaks to you! If big statement earrings are trending, why not find a vintage pair from the 60s or 80s and always wear them confidently?



How has your view of vintage clothing, or the world's view of it, changed since you started buying it?

The vintage culture has always been out there. Possibly starting in the late 50s and early 60s when young college students with little money used their imagination and realized thrifting could add newness to a tired wardrobe. 


You also have people who collect pieces as they would invest in art. Vintage became popular in the late 70s and early 80s, and many shops popped up. One that was well renowned was Harriet Love, as many considered her the first lady of the vintage clothing business. Many celebrities, like Faye Dunaway and Bette Midler, shopped at her boutique. Many designers were also inspired by the relevance of vintage at the time.


Today, vintage is making a comeback again, not only for its uniqueness and inspiring silhouettes for designers to interpret, but it is another way to reduce the ecological footprint that so much fast fashion and throw-away clothing has caused to add to our environment's pollution.


So what has changed most is how vintage is looked at for its quality and timeless designs that withstand time. 



What's the difference between vintage and thrift? 

Thrifting is shopping second-hand, but not necessarily vintage or antique. You can visit a thrift store and find a great piece, but it could be current and from Home Goods or Target. But if you're a hunter, you may find an iconic vintage piece from the 1990s: a SCORE!



What made you open a store?

I started with the idea of Suburban Revival in 2009 when the Fashion Industry as I knew it was collapsing. Having worked with designers and textiles for years, I decided to use my expertise and talents to help others learn how to use what was around them in their homes and wardrobes. I came up with the name Suburban Revival, having always been a suburbanite and a NYC commuter (best of both worlds!). And I thought, why not show that Suburban NJ can be as relevant as its NYC neighbor? There is so much history and stories in these suburban homes. I opened an Etsy Vintage Shop in 2009 to find a new home for many of my inherited pieces that I couldn't keep. And in 2016, I began to introduce vintage clothing. Passing this vintage tin-ceiling storefront, now the Suburban Revival home, gave me the idea of bringing my shop to life for all to experience!  



Who inspires you when you search for vintage items for your store?

I am inspired by staying on top of the design world through runway shows, social media, and, yes, I still like a glossy magazine to keep me on top of current trends and what will be next, exactly as I did during my career in the fashion industry.


Again, fashion is cyclical, and design is always derived from a previous decade but worn differently or modified in some way. Of course, the silver screen and glamorous icons are always an inspiration. I love anything from the 1920s,1930s, and 1940s. I've been inspired by the late 60s and early 70s Mid Century Glam, think Valley of the Dolls. And, of course, the Iconic and flamboyant 80s will always steal my heart...Look out because it's back!



What is the stylistic difference between vintage and new?

In vintage, there is usually more handwork, more attention to detail, and a durability that you don't see much anymore in contemporary fashion. Definitely not in fast fashion. With a vintage piece—you likely won't see anyone else wearing or carrying that same bag or dress. Newer or more contemporary pieces I have in the shops are anywhere from 2000 up until today. I am selective in what I bring in, looking for uniqueness and quality. If it has a vintage vibe, even better! 



What is the condition of your vintage pieces?

Our staff examines all pieces and selects only the best for the store. Occasionally, the finest representation of a piece may have flaws. We will point out anything which affects the wearability or value of the item. We professionally clean and repair all items as much as possible, so we rarely accept or sell anything in less than Excellent Condition unless it is an extra unique piece, a collector's item, or an exception due to its age or era. 


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