The History of Vintage Fashion

The History of Vintage Fashion

While gaining significant popularity over the last few decades, vintage clothing has been around for centuries.

The term “vintage” is derived from the French word “vintange,” meaning “past its time.” The phrase was first used in the 1920s to describe old-fashioned items that were considered a throwback to an earlier era. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that “vintage” became more and more popular as people began to collect and covet these historic pieces.

Corsets and top hats aside, the vintage fashion we’ve come to know and love only truly emerged in the 1960s. Woodstock and The Kennedy’s meant that the hippie lifestyle was prevalent at the time and was positioned as anticonsumerist. People chose to express this by wearing a few items of high-quality clothing instead of filling their closets with fast fashion. This style was seen as a symbol of rebellion against society’s norms and conformity which led to significant growth in the industry.

Like most forms of expression and creativity, the history of vintage fashion intertwines with the past’s social and cultural changes. It’s not just about looking good – it’s about being a part of something bigger.

Here, we will explore everything you need to know about the history of vintage fashion by taking a closer look at the following topics:

  • How old is vintage clothing?
  • What makes clothes vintage?
  • Examples of popular vintage pieces by era
  • Modern vintage fashion style

Let’s dive in!

How Old Is Vintage Clothing?

While the vintage fashion trend continues to burn bright, there’s still a lot of confusion around what is considered a vintage piece. So, how old does clothing have to be to be deemed as vintage clothing?

Well, for an object to be considered a legitimate vintage item, it has to be at least 20 years old. So anything from the 20’s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. However, if a vintage garment is more than 100 years old – this is considered antique, not vintage.

What Makes Clothes Vintage?

A garment’s age is not the only factor for it to be classified as a vintage piece. It also must reflect the styles and trends of the era they represent.

However, it’s important to remember that the term vintage has a rather fluid definition. Every decade will bring new vintage items, which eventually become antique when enough time has passed.

Examples of Popular Vintage Pieces by Era
  • The 1920s: Long-beaded necklaces and flapper dresses
  • The 1930s: Puffed sleeves, bolero jackets, fedoras, slingbacks and peep-toe shoes
  • The 1940s: Wool plaid skirts, brooches and platform shoes
  • The 1950s: Full skirts, shirtwaist dresses and strings of pearls
  • The 1960s: Flowing tops, bell-bottom jeans and anything hippie or bohemian styled
  • The 1970s: Boho-chic, thigh-high boots and platforms
  • The 1980s: Blazers and sweaters with prominent shoulder pads, gold chains and stilettos
  • The 1990s: Flannel shirts, plaid prints, oversized sweaters and chokers

Modern Vintage Fashion Style

However, wearing vintage clothes is still possible even with limited resources. The modern vintage fashion style is rapidly growing within the clothing industry. It is a design style that uses clothing and materials of the past and mixes them with modern pieces or vice versa.

In modern vintage style, the look often involves bold prints, collared shirts and high-waisted bottoms. It’s about merging the old with the new and breathing life into fashions of yesteryear. Many high-profile fashionistas find that perfect balance between mixing modern and vintage pieces.

Find Authentic Vintage Pieces at LA Vintage

At LA Vintage, we are a wholesale supplier of vintage clothing based in Los Angeles. As a business, high quality vintage clothing and sustainability are at the heart of what we do. We believe in the importance of sustainability and emphasize the “Three R’s” (reduce, reuse and recycle) to minimize our carbon footprint. Every year, our team sorts through millions of pounds of clothes and shoes, enabling us to provide unique and high-quality vintage pieces in bulk to retailers, designers, and stylists.

Our selection includes clothing, bags and accessories from the 1940s to the 2000s, all at wholesale prices! Have a look at our vintage collections online or book a virtual shopping appointment today.

Want to learn more about the history of vintage fashion? Read our blog post, “Fashion History - A Tribute To 1940s Women’s Vintage Fashion Trends” here.

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