I see the word vintage being used to describe everything under the sun lately. Just because something is old or secondhand does not mean it is vintage.
What Is Vintage? How Old Is Vintage Clothing?
Fast fashion is not vintage.
Reproduction fashion (new items copied from vintage designs) is not vintage.
Style has nothing to do with what is considered vintage. The term vintage refers specifically to age.
How Old Is Vintage?
Etsy defines vintage as anything over twenty years old. This is strictly Etsy’s definition of vintage. I adhere to Etsy’s definition when selling in my store Vintage By Suzanne.
There is no legal definition of the word vintage.
My personal definition of vintage is anything created before the nineties.
At the end of the eighties companies started moving their manufacturing plants overseas and the quality of clothing began to decline. Fabric contents began to change (fewer natural fabrics) and designs were streamlined to create larger quantities at lower costs.
Wikipedia defines retro clothing as reproduction clothing based on vintage designs.
I define retro as items between 10-24 years old.
Defining these terms is very subjective.
One term everyone agrees upon is how to define antique.
Antique clothing or items is anything over one hundred years old.
In our consumption obsessed world we have become addicted to disposable items. Understanding and appreciating the quality and timelessness of vintage pieces requires a shift in perceived values. Just because something is new does not mean it is better. Older items were designed to last. Most newer ones are not. Recognizing the value in older items is a skill that serves not only your pocketbook but the world as a whole.
How do you define vintage?
Come back soon to see more photos from my recent NYC trip and the surprise blogger I met.
Linking up with Visible Monday, Turning Heads Tuesday, Fancy Friday, and Spy Girl
I still struggle to call the very clothing I wore to work in the 80’s “vintage.” But I know what you mean about the shift in quality. I used to buy a skirt suit and several silk blouses every season, and they lasted forever – until I left the corporate world, anyway : >
Your shop is full of wonderful examples of well-made, stylish clothes that are “modern” enough to be easy care. I never loved any dress as much as the early 40’s velvet gown I sold years ago, wish I’d kept it. But it was not truly wearable.
Keep rocking that vintage, and your plaid skirt is fabulous! xox
I am the same as Patti and struggle with thinking of things that I still remember wearing and a couple I still have as vintage, maybe its an age thing. I agree about the quality , things were made to last and the workmanship showed.
Thank you for explaining the details .
Jazzy Jack says
So I am vintage! Made to last ;-D
xo Jazzy Jack
No Fear of Fashion says
I think mass production with materials like polyester already started in the sixties. But it may well be that it really took off at the end of the eighties. I don’t know.
We used to call it “old clothes”. Now it is vintage. Sounds a lot better. (Just winding you up girl, don’t get into a frenzy haha.)
Taste of France says
That is a gorgeous outfit. The leather is such a rich color, and the long skirt is so dramatic.
I still have the navy silk shirt I wore for job interviews in the late ’80s. I recently decided to try washing it by hand–I had been avoiding it because of dry-cleaning. It was fine. I removed the shoulder pads, and I don’t think anybody can tell it’s 30-some years old.
I also have a simple gray-and-white checked cotton dress that I had made for me by a tailor in Nairobi circa 1986. It’s so cool and comfortable. I wish I still had the gray pumps I had custom made there (for about $20).
As for clothes from the ’90s, don’t get me started. Lots of my closet dates from then, when I had a good income and bought good quality. For me, vintage needs not just age but a certain retro style; if it looks like what’s on sale today then it’s just classic. I have a dress of my mom’s from the early ’60s, very Jackie Kennedy, with a little sleeveless vest and a big satin bow–all in black. I guess it’s vintage–it’s possibly older than me–but you wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a store.
When my parents died and I was helping clean out the house, I found a box of old clothes. Some gorgeous dresses of my mom’s that I didn’t fit into and which went to a friend who sells vintage. But lots of really nasty polyester stuff. And a crocheted vest (remember those?!).
I’ve seen many assert a definitive number as qualifying for the label vintage but, as you note, there’s no legal or even standard definition of the term. Most use it as a synonym for “old.”
Which means, I guess, that I’m vintage. 🙂
jodie filogomo says
It’s a little funny how we could call things before the 80’s vintage. Because I wore cool stuff then, LOL!! I always think of vintage as more of my grandma’s era. But it goes to show that my birthdays are starting to add up. And that’s a good thing, right?
LOVE, love, love this skirt, Suzanne. Seriously, my mom has one like it that I bet she made years ago. I bet it’d be considered vintage!!
Veronica Cooke says
It’s a minefield isn’t it – this vintage, retro thing!
Because I’m in my sixties I would consider anything from the 1970s and before as vintage; I remember the 1980s only too well! I was surprised by Etsy’s definition but it was very helpful – thank you Suzanne!
I love your kilt and how beautifully you have coordinated it with the top, jacket and boots. I remember mini kilts as being very fashionable in the late 1960s; I had a yellow plaid one and wore it to death!
Hope your week is going well
it drives me crazy when sellers describe their secondhand wares as “vintage” when in reality, they are just used clothes. I know Etsy considers anything 20 years and older as vintage; personally, I feel that only items from the 80’s and older deserve that description. It’s hard to believe that in one more year, 30 years will have passed since 1990, but I will still never accept anything from the 90’s as “vintage”.
I love the colour combo of that beautiful (real) vintage skirt.
Marilee J. Gramith says
For those looking for authentic vintage clothing I suppose there must be a set of definitive guidelines. The longer I live the more I appreciate those items in my closet that I’ve kept forever. I just keep loving them. I don’t care if they fit any particular criteria.
in the funiture/art department everithing over 100 y.o. is antique – and all things more then 30 y.o. is vintage. so i use this to describe clothing too.
in 10 years the 90s will def. be “vintage” 😀
retro is reproduction – not the original (vintage) items.
the word vintage is very often mis-used – it seems to be a good selling point for “stuff”…….
the tartan-skirt is fabulouse! you look gorgeous!
Señora Allnut says
I’m still shocked because 80’s clothes are now considered Vintage, but you’re right, not every second hand piece should be called this way, there’s some confussion. I think that vintage means age+quality!.
Did you know that it was originally a word used for wine harvest? (isn’t it amazing how words evolve?)
Love your skirt, it looks high quality and cool!. And love the way you styled it, enhancing its colors with more rusty orange shades that suit you so nicely!. Gorgeous!
Lots of people do not know the definition of vintage and it can indeed mean something else to different people. I struggle with calling anything younger than the eighties vintage, but my favourite vintage shop tends to stock more and more nineties gear which the generation born in the nineties or later call vintage. I’m still getting my head around the fact that the eighties are considered vintage, though. What makes my blood boil is when people confuse vintage with retro. Anyway. That vintage plaid maxi is gorgeous. Such stunning colours! xxx