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Vintage Clothing: Fashion That’s Always in Style

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Looking for a clothing style that is sustainable, high-quality, and has a familiar feel? You want vintage clothing. Clothing made between 20 and 100 years ago is considered vintage, and it is coming back in a big way.


Vintage brands are in demand. The availability of vintage styles is creating a unique clothing opportunity for those who love the designs and looks of previous decades. When you want to recreate that retro glamour look from your favorite movie of the ‘90s, vintage clothes shopping is the only way to go.


Newer is not better when it comes to vintage clothing and fashion. Older styles are coming back and with a level of obsession that leaves some baffled. But fashion isn’t like having the latest iPhone, newest car, or zippiest electric bike – newer definitely does not always mean more desirable.




Why Buy Vintage Clothing?


Vintage clothing has a timeless look and feel. Vintage brands make you look and feel comfortable. Each piece of vintage clothing has been worn and loved by someone before, each telling its own tale while you create your own story through unique clothing.


5 Reasons to Buy Vintage Clothing


1. Better quality

2. Great value

3. Sustainable

4. Unique look

5. Stylish


1. Vintage clothing is often of better quality than modern clothes.


It is hard to find modern clothes that are made well. Mass-produced with manmade fabrics, contemporary clothes aren’t made to last more than a few seasons. Many vintage brands were made with attention to detail and though previously enjoyed, are made to last a very long time.


2. Vintage brands provide unique clothing at a great value.


Designer items often come with a very high price tag. As luxury brands become more popular, their price tags continue to rise. Vintage clothing offers the opportunity to own designer labels at a fraction of the cost. Because these items were not mass-produced, they don’t have the same inflated price tags as modern designer clothing.


3. Vintage clothing reduces the fashion industry’s impact on the environment.


Fast fashion is all the rage in the current clothing environment. Vintage clothing provides unique clothing styles with pieces that are already made, so they don’t require any new resources to be used. If sustainability is a factor in your fashion decision-making, vintage brands took the importance of the environment to heart long before it became fashionable to be Earth-friendly.


4. Unique clothing makes your look one-of-a-kind.


Vintage clothing has a certain history and charm. If you are looking to make a statement, vintage dresses and other unique clothing from times gone by will definitely keep you standing out from the crowd. In a world where everyone is wearing the latest trends, it is refreshing to see vintage clothing coming back with confidence and style.


5. Vintage clothing never goes out of style.


Vintage clothing is always fashionable. Whether it is a classic black mini dress or a funky pair of overalls, you can be sure you will always be in style. Fashion may be ever-changing, but a vintage look never goes out of trend.


What am I Looking for When Shopping for Vintage Clothing?

If you fall in love with it, that is what you are looking for! Remember, with vintage dresses and other pieces of unique clothing, the look of the time may have also included specific undergarments. Keep that in mind when lusting after the fitted shape of a little black dress – sizing has changed as well, so don’t be shocked when your size 6 body is being called a size 12!


Details to Look For

  • Metal zippers

  • Side-snap closures

  • Saw-toothed edges (pinked seams)

  • Blue-printed union labels


Vintage Examples from each Era


1920s: Flapper dresses, long beads, heeled Mary Janes

1930s: Bolero jackets, puffed and fluttery sleeves, fedoras, oxfords, slingbacks

1940s: Straight tweed and wool plaid skirts, reptile handbags and shoes, brooches

1950s: Full skirts and petticoats, shirtwaist dresses, fur trim, twin sweater sets

1960s: Anything Jackie Kennedy style – box-jacket suits and pillbox hats; later – bell bottom jeans, flowing tops, hippie/Bohemian style

1970s: platforms, Birkin bags, flare jeans, boho chic, boots (thigh high), khaki

1980s: Izod golf shirts, gold chains, blazers and sweaters with shoulder pads, stilettos

1990s: Oversized flannel shirts, leggings, big sweaters, chokers


How Do I Know if Clothing is Vintage or Vintage-Inspired?


Vintage-inspired style uses influences of past fashion trends from 20 to 100 years ago to put together an outfit using modern pieces. This clothing is not necessarily vintage but has a vintage look. Personal style can evolve in a variety of ways, and deciding if you want true vintage or vintage-inspired clothing is a big step in that journey.


Truly Vintage Clothing Details


  1. Labels – brand name, union insignias

  2. Made in the USA (newer vintage, ‘80s/’90s, may be made in China, India, or Pakistan)

  3. Fabric composition


What’s the Difference Between Vintage and Classic?

Classic style describes a piece of clothing that remains stylish through time. It doesn’t reflect a specific era but is popular in all eras (with minor style adjustments) due to its timeless appeal. The little black dress, for example, is a classic piece of clothing that transcends all eras. Who doesn’t have an LBD (or six!) hanging in their closet, all distinctly different, yet all the same in a classic, timeless way?


Are Vintage Dresses Trendy?


So. Trendy. For any vintage clothing enthusiast, a vintage dress is a must-have. The most popular styles are easily paired with sandals and sneakers in the summer and boots with silk stockings in the winter. These timeless trends are getting better with age.


Top 3 Vintage Dresses


1. Over-sized collar

2. Puffed sleeves

3. A-line


1. The oversized collar, or pilgrim collar, is a classic ‘80s throwback.


It’s confirmed – a pilgrim collar is a fashion must. This vintage dress style is all about the ‘80s vibes and maximum collar appeal. Mini, midi, or maxi, vintage dresses are stylishly upgraded with a mostly white or lace collar. You can even put the collar on a blouse or shirt – but it must be large.


2. If you liked them in the Renaissance, you’ll love puffed sleeves now.


A trend that goes far back in fashion to the Renaissance, the puffed sleeve has experienced a revival. The style had a comeback in the ‘80s, leading to this statement detail that gives even simple vintage dresses a little something extra. Whether the sleeve is long or short, a vintage dress with a puffed sleeve is a coveted addition to any wardrobe.


3. The A-line silhouette is a timeless classic that flatters any shape.


Any vintage dress with an A-line silhouette is an instant popular classic. It is known not only for its elegance but its ability to flatter any figure. This vintage dress trend came back to walk the catwalks in 2020, reigniting the desire for vintage dresses with a flattering appeal.


Are Vintage Dresses Popular on the Red Carpet?


Hollywood has picked up on the trend, and vintage dresses are THE hot choice for actors looking to make a statement. Are the days of paying A-list stars to wear designer fare over? Probably not. But more are choosing to make a statement in vintage dresses.


Whatever happened to not being seen in the same outfit twice? That went out the window when the sustainable choice of previously enjoyed vintage dresses became the norm. Now the question is, “Why haven’t you worn a vintage dress on the red carpet?”


Is Vintage Clothing Found at Thrift Stores?


If you do some digging, you may discover some amazing vintage pieces at a thrift store. However, when you shop at a store that specializes in vintage and unique clothing, they have already done the digging for you. You are sure to have carefully curated clothing from different eras to explore and obsess over – and they have usually already been professionally cleaned!


Thrift stores may have unique clothing at a lower price, but the bottom line – you are going to have to do all the work to find a vintage dress or other clothing that satisfies your desire for vintage style. It can be fun to explore, but if you want to save time while you find that timeless look, shop where they specialize in vintage clothing.


Where Do I Shop for Vintage Clothing?


The best place to start your search for this unique clothing is at a high-quality antique mall. There are vendors in the antique mall who specialize in vintage clothing and can help you find the pieces that are just right for you. If you are looking for a specific era, let them know! They will be thrilled to join your search and locate specific vintage clothing for you.


You can also look for shops that have “vintage” in the name. While these shops often sell all things vintage, you might find a store that specializes in carefully curated vintage brands of clothing to help develop your personal style. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different eras. Focus on accessories that you can pair with modern clothes for a touch of vintage rather than mixing up full outfits of bygone styles.


What are Vintage Accessories?


Whether you have recently acquired an obsession for vintage clothing or have been collecting unique clothing for years, a vintage accessory is always a welcome addition to your collection. You can add a vintage accessory to a modern outfit and create an inspired look that flexes a vintage-yet-modern vibe. If only you had known those bangle bracelets and brooches would make a comeback!


Vintage Accessories


  1. Jewelry

  2. Handbags

  3. Shoes


Layer necklaces in several lengths and textures with a classic V-neck top to rock a decidedly vintage style. Vintage handbags featuring tapestries, fringe, or a boxy style are all making a comeback. Add a vintage twist to a modern look with clogs, loafers, or pointed lace-up Oxfords. Rock Puma suedes, Reebok classics, or iconic white tennis shoes with chunky bottoms for vintage street cred that keeps all eyes on you in all the best ways.


Random Vintage Accessories for the Win


Rock ‘90s style with a butterfly clip or scrunchie for a subtle hint of vintage flair, or top your outfit with a cool fedora, beanie, or beret to stand out with a hot trend. Scarves of all eye-popping colors and patterns can be worn around your neck, head, or coat collar as a nod to the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s fashion-forward accessory that is finding renewed life in modern times. While some styles come and go, vintage brands and unique clothing and accessories survive the fashion cut year after year.


Get Social and Shop Vintage at an Antique Mall


Arguably one of the most social and collaborative ways to buy and sell vintage clothing is at an antique mall. Relationships with vendors pay off through creative friendships, finding and connecting unique clothing with people who enjoy sustainable fashion. You will enjoy conversation with knowledgeable collectors who mix with hundreds of people and bring them together with a common purpose – vintage clothing.


There are plenty of benefits to shopping for vintage clothing at an antique mall. Beyond the relationships you cultivate with friendly vendors, the convenience factor can be a game changer. And you will save money on shipping costs – which gives you more cash to spend on that vintage accessory you’ve had your eye on!


Remember the Good Ol’ Days of Customer Service


Tired of poor customer service from local retail outlets? Your nearby antique mall is sure to be a breath of fresh air! From vintage brands and unique clothing to vintage accessories and décor, a high-quality antique mall is going to satisfy your retro obsession and keep you coming back for more!


If you are looking for an irresistible Bolero jacket from the 1930s, your vintage clothing vendor most likely has the hookup. You’ll add more than just vintage brands and unique clothing to your wardrobe when you shop with a vendor at an antique mall. You’ll find fellow vintage enthusiasts – your people! – and learn more about clothing in specific eras than you ever thought possible!



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