FASHION HISTORY: What is Vintage?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Continuing with my "no-outfit" posts. I'm in a week-long training with my job and everyday I've been wearing jeans and workboots, nothing to take a pictures of and blog about! So in the interim, I've decided to post on a few topics instead.  Today I want to blog about vintage clothing. If you follow as many blogs as I do,which now is over 70, the term vintage comes up in 95% of the posts I read daily.  This got me thinking...What is really meant by vintage clothing? Are people using the term vintage correctly? I'm not a vintage shopper so I decided to research it's definition.

Dictionary.Com Definition
Vintage (n) - the class of a dated object with reference to era of production or use: a hat of last year's vintage.
Vintage (adj) - representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies. old-fashioned or obsolete: vintage jokes.
1400–50; late Middle English (noun) < Anglo-French, equivalent to vint ( er ) vintner + -age -age; replacing Middle English vindage, vendage < Anglo-French; Old French vendange < Latin vīndēmia grape-gathering, equivalent to vīn ( um ) grape, wine + -dēmia a taking away ( dēm ( ere ) to take from ( see redeem) + -ia -y3 )
Wikipedia Definition
Vintage clothing is a generic term for new or second hand garments originating from a previous era. The phrase is also used in connection with a retail outlet, e.g. "vintage clothing store." It can also be used as an adjective: "This dress is vintage."

The word vintage is copied from its use in wine terminology, as a more elegant-seeming euphemism for "old" clothes.  Generally speaking, clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 1980s is considered vintage. Retro, short for retrospective, or "vintage style" usually refers to clothing that imitates the style of a previous era. Reproduction, or repro, clothing is a newly-made but faithful copy of an older garment. Clothing produced more recently is usually called modern or contemporary fashion. Opinions vary on these definitions. 

Most vintage clothing has been previously worn, but a small percentage of pieces have not. These are often old warehouse stock, and more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if they have their original tags. Referred to as deadstock, they nevertheless sometimes have flaws.

I'm glad that Wikipedia called out a timeframe.  Because I honestly did not know what time frames were considered vintage? As in, do vintage pieces include items from the 90s, since we are now in the 21st century? Could it be as recent as an item that was popular in 2010 but not this year? According to wikipedia it appears to currently end at the end of the 80s. I'm sure as more years are accumulated in the 21st century that the 90s will soon become a vintage decade.

Like I said, I don't really vintage shop. I like modern, trendy, & classic pieces. However I do like sites like where they create "vintage-inspired" pieces. I guess these would be called "retro". I have ordered a few items from them. I also don't do a lot of thrift shopping, though I'm sure I should to save money!!

If you read this post, I'd be interested in your opinion and your answers to the following questions.
1. Do you like to wear Vintage clothing?
2. If so, what is your favorite decade between 1920s and 1980s for vintage pieces?
3. Where do you shop for your vintage clothing?
4. Do you like to incorporate vintage pieces with modern items? Or dress full vintage?

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  1. LOVE VINTAGE but I just can't can't can't do Vintage Shoes. That grosses me out! LOL if you're considering vintage, Jewelry is a good way to start, it's like the gateway drug ;)

  2. Shasie, this is a great post! Informative and helpful. Well done!!!

  3. @NY Don't Leave Me - I actually have some vintage pieces from fairs, etc that I've attended. I agree the vintage jewelry is fun! Haha on vintage shoes, I don't think I'll do that either

    @Kristen - Thanks! I figured there'd be others out there who would enjoy the information

  4. 1. I enjoy wearing vintage clothing if it fits properly and I can do so without venturing too far from my comfort zone.
    2. I enjoy pieces from the mid 60's to late 70's
    3. Thrift stores mostly. But flea markets are also a good place to find quality pieces.
    4. I prefer to incorporate. I am not someone who will wear head-to-toe 50's fashions. Maybe throw on a good piece of vintage jewelry, or dress up a vintage blouse with more recognizable modern pieces.

    These are great questions. Vintage is such an odd topic sometimes. It has to be recognized though that styles that are popular now, are just slightly altered versions of stuff that were popular before. Think of bohemian looks and bell bottom jeans. High waisted skirts and dresses are another great example.

    Good post!!

  5. @Skye - Thanks for answering the questions!

  6. 1)I love vintage clothing. It gives me a chance to wear one of a kind outfits.

    2) Well I like the 70's the most, and the 80's as well, there's a lot more clothes from those decades in vintage shops. Does 90's count as vintage? I love the floral dresses from that decade.

    3) I shop mostly online. There's LA Vintage and Nastygal, which I shop the most at.

    4)I like to do both. Full vintage can look really daring, but incorporating it with modern clothing makes your outfits truly stand out

  7. Great post, honey!It was great reading it!xoxo

  8. This is one of the best post I've ever seen!!!Thanks for it and thanks for sharing!

  9. Great post, got my mind working early in the morning!
    1. I've started getting in to vintage recently, mainly because i love the styles and its usually cheap in the UK!
    2. Hmm... i love dressed from the 50's but they are hard to find so i'd say 60 - 80's really...
    3. There's this great chain starting in the UK called COW and they have so much vintage stuff its unreal! I also Love 'Kissing Tree Vintage' on ebay
    4. i dont have enough vintage yet to wear full vintage, and i dont think i could pull it off! I mainly have vintage skirts which i like to match with more modern blouses... im not mega stylish i admit!


  10. Ilove your blog
    lovely pictures

  11. I so know what you mean, i'm awful with the whole timeframe of vintage clothing too :) & here are the answers to your questions:
    1. I've never worn vintage clothing before, so i'm not really sure :)
    2/3/4/5. I don't wear vintage, so I geuss I can't answer the rest of these, sorry.


  12. @Mely - I think it's up for debate what decades are included, but there are definitely items from the 90s that I would consider vintage too!

    @ChiccaStyle - Thanks! Glad it was informative!

    @Phily - I agree on dressing full vintage. I have some jewelry and one top, but I definitely pair them with modern pieces because that's more my style

    @Zoe - Awe thank you!!

    @Sanaam - I'm with you! I don't wear a lot of vintage either!

  13. I think I have clothes that are vintage style but not really vintage...anyway I prefer the 50s-60s style, so classy and feminine ! I only have original vintage jewellery for now.

  14. honestly I don't get the idea of vintage clothing, too haha
    I don't shop from second hands but I love wearing my mom's old clothes, so I think that it doesn't really matter when was the piece made :)

  15. Loved this post. Topshop and the rest of the high street seem to class anything with a pre era influence as vintage!

    Helen, X

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