What Makes Clothing “Vintage”?

What Makes Clothing Vintage blog thisbluebird


When it comes to fashion, it seems that almost any type of clothing today could be considered vintage. Found it in your grandmother’s closet? Vintage. Got it new at Forever 21 but it looks like you plucked it out of the movie “Flashdance”? Vintage. A denim jacket that’s 10 years old? Oh, you bet your antique ascot it’s vintage.

But – did you know that there are actual qualifications for whether or not clothing is truly vintage? Especially if you’re newer to the world of vintage fashion, knowing these tips and tricks will help you tremendously the next time you’re perusing a store and looking for that truly iconic, classical look that vintage clothing has to offer.

When was it made?

Perhaps the most obvious way to know if an item of clothing is vintage is to find out what year it was made. Any clothing over 100 years old is considered “antique” – you’ll commonly find that clothing from the 1920’s up until about 20 years ago can fall into the “vintage” category.

What is the material?

The way apparel feels can tell you a lot about when it was made. If you see the words, “Spandex”, “Lycra”, or “Blend” on the tag, chances are, it’s a newer item of clothing.

What materials should you look for, then? A lot of vintage fashion is made from pure rayon, cotton, nylon, or wool. That’s not to say that newer items of clothing are also not made from these materials, and vice versa – but this is a good way to gauge roughly what decade an item of clothing is most likely to be from.

What Makes Clothing Vintage blog thisbluebird


Get Detail Oriented

Vintage dresses and clothing, more often than not, have high-grade detailing. Are any zippers or buttons plastic? Is the metal heavy and sturdy, or hollow, like alloy? Are the patches and stitching actually stitched on, or were they ironed on? Being able to see and feel the amount of time and effort put into the piece can quickly tell you if it’s uniquely vintage, or mass-produced.

How much does it cost?

While not all vintage clothing comes with a hefty price tag, there’s a good chance you won’t find anything that’s truly vintage under $50 - even sleeveless blouses. Going back to the quality, along with the unique style a lot of vintage clothing has, makes it more than capable of carrying the $50+ price tags. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more when shopping vintage fashion – there’s a reason it’s lasted this long, after all. 

Trust your gut.

Your intuition is your best friend. After trying all these tips you still feel as if it’s not vintage, chances are – it isn’t. Leave it on the hanger and move on…

…Or buy it – don’t deprive yourself of an item of clothing you love just because it doesn’t fit into the exact qualifications of vintage! A big aspect of women’s vintage fashion is loving every piece of clothing – if you love it, buy it!


What Makes Clothing Vintage blog thisbluebird


What are your tips in putting vintage clothing to the test? Have you been duped by fakes, or have you trained your eye to the true style of vintage? Let us know in the comments!