If you look back at fashion and trends through the ages, one thing is obvious – people are captivated by past styles. So designers revisit them time and time again.
The term vintage (when used as an adjective) can be defined as ‘representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies’ or it can mean ‘being the best of its kind’. Now we have the dictionary definition out of the way (there it goes, flying out of the window), we’ll get onto the more interesting stuff.
No-one truly agrees on what makes an item vintage instead of antique – most people generally go by the rule that vintage items would be of a certain standard, quality, fashion, aesthetic and design as well as being less than 100 years old but more than 50 years old. This is relevant to a wide range of objects that can include items which are regarded as antique.
Vintage and antique and retro, Oh My!
Antique, however, defines an object as being over 100 years old but can include items up to the 1920’s (especially when referring to clothing). For example – an ornate Welsh dresser from 1900 would be called antique but a pretty 1950’s tea dresser would be called vintage. Some people further separate the eras by also saying anything around 20 to 40 years old would be called retro. Retro can also be used to describe people who follow, dress and decorate their homes with a vintage flare – they are usually seen as a sub-culture but this doesn’t mean that it’s an exclusive club.
Second-hand is another term that can be used when talking about vintage or antique items. Generally this means that an item has been resold or given to another person. It can also include used goods (which usually mean the condition of the item is not what it was when it was new) and hand-me-downs, so as you see – vintage items can be (and usually are) second-hand in some way but not all second-hand items are vintage, and not all vintage items are second-hand.
It’s all about style
For today’s stylish consumers vintage means you can have all the style and grace of past eras simply along with the knowledge that your purchases will not go out of style. Everyone can pull off the vintage look; all you have to do is find the era that speaks to you. Whether this means you want to decorate your bedroom with the kitsch, cosy, vintage look of the 1940’s/World War II, enjoy turning heads with a cute 60’s VW bug or impress that man of yours with a gorgeous Sophia Loren dress, you’ll find your niche.
The vintage look already in your wardrobe!
Most people don’t even realise that they probably own something that would be regarded as vintage or at least vintage reproduction as designers can hide elements of vintage in their items. Think about today’s film stars such as Kate Hudson or Jessica Alba – if you take note on any of their red carpet dresses you are bound to find them wearing something simple, classic and sleek – that’s something most vintage clothing boasts.
Another good example is kitchen appliances such as toasters, weighing scales or even cake decorating equipment, many of today’s fashionable items are reproductions of 1950’s kitchenalia. Obviously you don’t have to go fully vintage with anything if you don’t want to – why not add a Tiffany-style lamp to your living room to bring a taste of vintage into your modern living space or add some 1930’s art deco jewellery to your outfits for extra class.
Decades of style to choose from
People who tend to dress vintage all the time and have homes that make you feel you’ve stepped into a time machine usually stick to one or two decades, for example; 1930’s and 40’s or World War II (towards the end of it) and 1950’s but typically those who imitate the love generation of the 60’s, flappers of the 1920’s, the crazy patterns of the 1970’s or the Madonna’s of the 80’s don’t cross the decades.
There are many reasons why vintage has become so popular right now – many modern TV shows and movies are based in different eras – Downton Abbey, The Great Gatsby, so naturally this opens the styles up to a new audience or because of the recession – we’re watching every penny we’re spending and buying vintage items still gives us style but with usually a smaller price tag, no one could ask for more!