What is vintage?
Vintage is generally understood to be over 20 years old, whereas antique is over 100 years. So yes that makes some 1990s clothes vintage - eeek, feeling old yet haha.
Many people consider vintage to be just the Rockabilly, 40s or 50s aesthetic but that is pretty much one specific style.
If you think back in time, all decades of fashion had within that timeframe a myriad of different styles and looks For instance the 70s had fashion styles that ranged from Little house on the Prairie Laura Ashley which is super popular at the moment, to disco and Studio 54 or Saturday Night Fever glitz and glam, then of course there was Ossie Clarke with his slimline elegance that strongly evoked the 1930s, then we can also include punk rick which was also in the 70s as well as flower power hippies and glam rock with David Bowie, Marc Bolan and so on.
So you see there are so many choices for you to experiment with. I enjoy putting looks together for customers to create a style that really suits their shape and attitude, picking the right sillhouette to flatter whatever shape they are and honing right in on a specific era tribe.
My advice for anybody new to wearing vintage would be to look at the shapes of fashion styles that suit your body shape and then narrow that down further by moving towards the type of music you like or which popular celebrities of the time you find inspirational and start to put some outfits together upon that framework.
What is the difference between vintage, retro and repro?
- Vintage is true vintage, when something is authentic from the era it was made and without alteration.
- Repro is when something is made recently but either using a vintage pattern or a design that has been researched to be historically accurate butt made to fit contemporary shapes and sizes.
- Retro is when something is heaviliy influenced with a specific era, a retrospective look back through history with nostalgia and is intending to emulate that era to similar effect but usually with a contemporary twist, perhaps with kitschy fabric or blending several genres togetether.
How can you tell if something is true vintage?
Well mostly with experience but there are some basic things that stand out to differentiate;
- Look at the labels, if they are printed on a white polyester then that's guaranteed to be modern. After a while of looking at lots of labels you will get a feel of not just vintage authenticity but the likely era too. You can find a great resourse on vintage labels at The Vintage Fashion Guild website.
- Check for the closure details, does it have side opening with poppers, a metal zipper, hand sewn buttonholes for instance. Most vintage is tailored to amuch higher standard than our modern off the shelf garments and so with vintage you often get unexpect closures is several places to ensure a shapely form and great fit.
- As I just mentioned in the earlier point, construction is a noteable thing to look at. Check for hand stitching and incredible details. Vintage construction is mostly on par with high end designer clothing, wit the attention to detail. You will find beautiful finishing touches like covered press studs, beautifully finished seams with room in the seam allowance to adjust in later years because clothes were made to last.
- The fabrics themselves tell a story too. Look at the prints, the colours, the weight and drape of a fabric. It is always so much more luxurious than modern polyesters, even the man made rayons are incredibly lush. One word will be coming into your head with all of these points - quality. Vintage is truly quality in every way, from the cut, the drape, the fabric, the style... all that for a fraction of the price you will pay for moder designer, and even then that's not always as superior quality as true vintage.
Will it fit - vintage is always small!
Let me just say no to the myth of vintage being small. People have been all shapes and sizes throughout history and yes you can get larger sizes, we generally refer to plus sizes as volup - because voluptuous is what you are when wearing true vintage that fits and look like a bombshell.
The main reason people assume all vintage to be small is mostly because of the waist but that's because foundation garments were always worn to achive the correct sillhouette shape, before you even put the dress on. The foundation girdles, corsets, corselettes, bustiers etc took the strain of cinching in your waist and smoothing the shape. The Spanx of the time, but curvier. So if you really want to get the right look completely then be sure to get the right foundations for the era and style of dress. If you cannot source true vintage structural garments then brands like What Katy Did will sort you out with the perfect modern equivalent foundation for sure.
If you have any more questions, let me know and I will add to this list.