What is Vintage Clothing?

What is vintage clothing, retro and antiqueThe definition of ‘vintage clothing’ is actually more difficult to pinpoint than you may think. You see, it seems as though almost everybody out there has their own idea about what vintage clothing actually is. For some people, vintage clothing is clothing which is incredibly rare. For others, it is simply clothing which originates in an earlier decade. Other people may claim that vintage clothing is anything that is older than fifteen years ago.

As you may well know, vintage is a term which is often attributed to wine bottles. It is used to define when that wine was created. After all, the longer a wine is left to age, the better it generally ends up tasting. This is where the term vintage originated. It was not until a few decades ago that the term really began to enter popular culture and ultimately start to refer to vintage clothing, amongst other things.

The problem with many definitions of vintage is that many of us actually lived through the time period where those clothes were popular. 60s fashion is, of course, incredibly distinctive. However, there are still many people alive to this very day who wore this fashion. Yet, people describe it as vintage. Of course, this has also resulted in a great deal of confusion when it comes to the world of vintage clothing. When you purchase vintage clothing you will, generally, be purchasing it based upon the definition of vintage that somebody else has given it. It may not necessarily match up to what your idea of vintage is. This is why there are a number of proper vintage clothing companies out there who have worked hard on ensuring that their clothing is not just labelled vintage but is properly categorised. Let’s take a little look at some of these categories, shall we?


Antique clothing, much like furniture, is anything older than 100 years old. Whilst the clothing was incredibly good during this time period, the amount of clothing available on the market has dwindled in recent years. It is very tough to purchase proper antique clothing unless you know where to look. Some of the best pieces out there have been snapped up by museums and the like. Other pieces are being used by collectors. It is not often that people will wear this type of vintage clothing outside. This is mostly, in part, due to the fact that it is not going to hold up to daily usage. It is incredibly old, after all. The majority of people who do end up purchasing antique clothing will most likely do so with the intention of putting it in display somewhere.

Vintage Clothing

The vast majority of reputable suppliers of vintage clothing will class anything from the 1920s to the 1960 as vintage. Sure, there are a few sites out there which will class anything ‘vaguely old looking’ as vintage, but the majority of collectors of vintage clothing will only look for something less than the 1960s, but not quite so much an antique.

One of the marvellous things about vintage clothing, particularly this time period, is the fact that the styles that people adorned changed drastically. In fact, it is surprising how much the clothing style in various countries around the world changed in those 40 years. As a result, many people out there who collect vintage clothing will likely aim for clothing from a very particular time frame. This is either going to be for the purposes of collection or simply because they wish to convey their own particular style when ‘out and about’.

Remember, much of the vintage clothing available, particularly the clothing which was produced closer to the end of the 1960s, is actually still incredibly good and should be capable of standing up to the wear and tear of daily life. You just need to make sure that you keep it in decent condition! Designer example Balenciaga.

Retro Clothing

Once you head into the 1960s and 1970s, you are going to get retro clothing. Yes, people will class this clothing as vintage still, but it is not technically. In recent years, 80s fashion has very much become associated with retro clothing and as time goes on, it is likely to continue to do so.

One of the problems with 1960s and 1970s is the fact that it is in a huge abundance. Many of the more popular vintage clothing stores and online sites out there will crowd their selection with retro clothing. This is all well and good for people who like this stuff, but there are still people out there who are after genuine retro clothing and they simply are not going to find it on these websites.

That being said, retro clothing is still incredibly wearable and many of the fashion styles that were popular back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s are still incredibly fashionable today. It does seem to be making a comeback. This clothing is often produced to an incredibly high standard, far better than many of the mass-market produced options that you have available to you in this day and age. Designer example Ossie Clark.

Of course, in addition to vintage clothing options, you can also purchase replicas of various pieces from times gone by. In most cases, these replicas tend to be that of antique clothing. This is mainly down to the fact that clothing from that era is incredibly difficult to source. In addition to this, a lot of this clothing is incredibly difficult to wash. Remember, washing machines and the like were not invented back then. Clothing of this nature is going to be very easy to clean and often built to an incredibly high standard. It is also going to work out a whole lot cheaper and you will likely find it a great deal easier to obtain a piece which suits your body type. Replica clothing is often used for re-enactments but you can use it for pretty much whatever you wish.

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