Five fashion tips I learned from my grandmother

1) It is OK to be a pack rat. My grandmother’s closet is a treasure trove of vintage clothes and jewelry. It’s not as though she never got rid of anything, though; more like she saved the best, most important things. My favorite is a tight red dress (with a faux fur trim!) that she wore to a New Year’s Eve party fifty years ago. It’s in great condition, gorgeous, and way better than anything you could ever find in a vintage shop. Grandma also has a few of her old Homecoming dresses, tons of beautiful costume jewelry from the sixties, veiled hats left over from the days where a hat completed every classy lady’s outfit, and even a few of her (fake) fur coats. And did I mention that everything fits me perfectly? It’s the beauty of genetics — I am the same size that my grandmother was when she was twenty, so all of her old clothes fit like a charm.

2) Costume jewelry can sometimes be better than the real thing. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but when your granddaughter is rifling through your closet looking for something to wear with her prom dress, does it really matter that your diamond tennis bracelet is actually cubic zirconium? Costume jewelry is every bit as beautiful as the real thing, but without the cost and the stress of keeping it safe and insured.

3) Glamour never gets old. I rarely see my grandmother without her lipstick impeccably done, her jewelry perfectly matched, and her nails polished. Even if she is just wearing sweats, she always looks glamorous and put together.

4) Dress for you, not for the times. A lot of the pieces in her closet aren’t necessarily a decade specific, but they look fabulous on my grandmother. She was never one to follow trends, instead dressing for what she loved and what looked good on her. Grandma loves costume jewelry and she loves the color red, and her closet is filled with both. With all of the crazy trends going on (orange lipstick? Really?), I think it’s good to remember the simplicity of wearing what you like and know looks good on you.

5) At the same time, don’t be afraid to have fun with fashion! In my grandmother’s jewelry box are all of these crazy things — brooches in the shape of bras, wooden earrings shaped and painted to resemble colorful parrots, a giant ring with a red stone she had gotten from a gumball machine in the fifties, and countless other little fun things she had picked up over the years. Fashion is meant to be played and experimented with, so have fun with it.