Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vintage vs. Retro vs. Antique

It can be sometimes confusing on these terminologies. I know this because I see items erroneously listed and advertised all the time! In all honesty, it drives me bonkers. Not to mention, the potential buyer could be purchasing an item they think is one thing that it clearly is not.

In very simple terms, these are the distinctions:
  • Antique - an item that is no less than 100 years old
  • Vintage - an item that is newer than an antique, but no less than 20 years old
  • Retro - simply put, it is a wink to a past style but is much more current than the decade that influenced it.
As you can see, vintage items and antiques have very specific timelines. An item can be one or the other, but not both.

On the other hand, an item can be vintage and retro at the same time. A perfect example of this was the 1980s. Many dresses were clearly influenced by the styles of the 1940s with peplums, puff sleeves, and that broad "Joan Crawford" shoulder silhouette. Here are some perfect 1980s examples from my shop, as well as a comparison dress from the 1940s:

The print, high front neckline with a low back, and bodice extended sleeves are all influential of those film noir movies of the 1940s. You know...the ones where the desperate woman walks into a Private Investigator's office with more sexual tension than smoke filling the room. More pictures and description can be found here.

This one has a wrap style bodice, asymmetrical layered skirt, and puff sleeves which are all a perfect representation of a 1940s version of a tea dress. You can see more pictures here.

Retro style and influence popularity is always changing. Sometimes these styles are mixed and matched and become a whole other craze onto itself. Pin up and Rockabilly go hand in hand. They are influenced by 1940s hair styles, and fashion from the 1940s to mid 1960s. To the average person, it may be difficult to spot a vintage dress from a much newer, retro dress. When shopping on line such as eBay or even Etsy, look for terms such as "1950s style" or "1950s influenced".

In a future post, I will explore this style more with fail-safe ways to figure out if a dress is actually vintage, or just a year or two old.