Vintage Fashion: Fashion Term by Apparel Search

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Join us for discussions about vintage fashion at the Vintage Fashion Group.

According to, the word "vintage" represents the high quality of a past time such as vintage cars and vintage movies. The term, which was originally used to describe wine, is defined by Merriam-Webster as a season's yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard; a usually superior wine all or most of which comes from a single year; a collection of contemporaneous and similar persons or things; the act or time of harvesting grapes or making wine; or a period of origin or manufacture (a piano of 1845 vintage), length of existence: age.

Although the word vintage was originally used in reference to wine, it is used widely to describe other items such as clothing and accessories, cars, and beyond.

According to, when describing something as "vintage" it must belong to another era, and most usually because of limited supply. It's not necessarily haute couture vintage only that sells as vintage, but often just good brand names or custom-made garments that are either unusual examples of an era's fashions or more often very typical items of an era that have a certain style and design value.

According to, the term vintage is used to describe clothing, either used or new from dead stock, which was manufactured in a non-contemporary era. Clothing made before the 1920s are considered antique, while clothing made in the 80s to mid-90s are considered retro. To clarify "retro," Merriam-Webster defines "retro" as relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past: fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned.

There are plenty of vintage shops scattered throughout most cities and suburbs, which sell clothing and accessories from a variety of bygone decades. These vintage shops are a great resource for unique, quality merchandise that is often offered at very affordable prices.

Some vintage clothing collectors offer by-appointment only viewings of their private collections to designers, who use the garments as authentic inspiration for up-and-coming collections. For example, if a designer wants to create a collection of handbags inspired by the 20s, he or she may rent several handbags from the 20s to study the design and draw inspiration from these pieces.

Written for Apparel Search by Regina Cooper

Check out some of the vintage shops to learn more about vintage fashion.

You may also want to visit the Vintage Footwear terminology page.

Learn more about vintages fashion style.

You may also want to learn about vintage jewelry.

Join in the discussions about vintage clothing at the Vintage Fashion Group.


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What is vintage fashion?  That is a very good question.  To tell you the truth, we are not one hundred percent certain regarding the proper answer.  I have read online that 25 years and older is collectible and vintage.  However, just because we read something online does not mean it is true.   It is my understanding that on the website Etsy, an item must be at least 20 years old to be considered vintage.  Some were else I had previously read that vintage clothing is generally 25-30+ years old, whereas a vintage wine could be up to 100 years old.  

Since we are not currently certain the exact definition of “vintage” fashion, let’s just use the term as a polite way of describing something that is older.  By the way, I have also read that 100 years and older is thought of as “antique”.

Learn about consignment & second hand fashion.

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Is vintage clothes simply old used clothing?

Apparel Search certainly hopes that you enjoy learning about vintage fashion.  On this page, you will find information regarding women's vintage fashion, men's vintage apparel and more.

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