5 Modern Shabby Yet Chic Styles

Soft, Muted Colors
The shabby elegant style originated from fashions in the 1940s, like the ones shown here.
The shabby elegant style originated from fashions in the 1940s, like the ones shown here.
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

The shabby elegant style originated in Britain during the war years. Unable to buy new clothing or fabric due to rationing, residents had to launder and mend clothes to make them last much longer than they normally would, leading to faded fabrics in washed-out colors.

This muted color scheme characterizes the shabby yet chic style of today, which emphasizes soft colors, neutrals and pastels. Clothes appear as though they've been washed and mended a million times, even if they're brand new. Skip the bold or dark colors and look for fabrics in shades like cream, ivory, white, faded gray and pastels such as robin's egg blue or celadon green for a classic, timeless look.

Mixing and matching patterns is fine too. The muted color scheme that characterizes this style keeps patterns from clashing, so go ahead and pair your stripes and florals, or polka dots and paisley.

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  • Ashwell, Rachel. "Shabby Chic Treasure Hunting and Decorating Guide." Harper Collins. 1998.
  • Fashion Four Men. "Shabby Chic." December 6, 2011. (October 8,2012) http://www.fashionfourmen.com/?p=1839
  • Hackler, Nadine. "Sheer Fabrics." University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. April 2004. (October 8, 2012) http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/FACTSHTS/CT-MMB-179.pdf
  • I Heart Shabby Chic. "I Heart Shabby Chic Dresses and Fashion Fabrics." April 17, 2011. (October 9, 2011) http://iheartshabbychic.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-heart-shabby-chic-dresses-fashion.html
  • Waller, Maureen. "London 1945: Life in the Debris of War." John Murray. 2004.


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