What is Vintage?

“What is Vintage?”

I hope I find you well!

What is Vintage?

If reading this, I assume you have an interest in vintage. Vintage clothing, fashion, decor, the culture behind a vintage piece – it all is deeply fascinating. Though, exactly what is vintage? What does it mean? And what are its constituents?

My personal understanding of the word was as an adjective used to describe something made before my time. I also came across a video on Instagram that claimed its anything made 20 years or more ago. Which would make your 20th birthday all the more a mile-marker. (I don’t know how reliable this claim is. Though a bit skeptic, it could very well be true.) From a more reliable source: for many Antiques Vendors, an item is such if produced at least 40 years ago. And according to a Car shipping company, cars built between 1919 and 1930 are within the category. So, there are some varying opinions between markets.

And indeed, the concept is a subjective one.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, vintage has a lot to do with wine, especially when used as a noun. To relate to our particular interest, vintage as a noun is “the time that something of quality was produced”. And more importantly, vintage as an adjective is “denoting something of high quality, especially something from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work”.

This would suggest it does not indicate how long ago or what specific period throughout time an item was produced. But rather the quality and craftsmanship of said item. And this, I believe, fits quite well into one’s general understanding of the concept.

Vintage is Quality

Why is it we enjoy vintage so much? Because it is of high quality. Think of the time and effort required to make something by one’s own hand; the quality and timelessness of certain styles and cuts; the attention to detail not found in many mass manufactured items in modern time. For an item to be around to this day after decades of use is a testament to its quality.

From this, one can say it is an item of high quality.

What is Vintage?|Ardently Ana
This is one of my favorite authentic vintage pieces. I don’t know the exact year this was produced. Though if I had to give it a guess, I’d say 1980’s. And what a beautiful piece of patchwork it is!

Greater Than

Though that then begged another question. Is there a threshold where an item is too seasoned to be vintage? Simply, what is the drop off of vintage and the pick-up for historical? I believe all things vintage are also historical. Though not all things historical can be vintage.

I personally would consider any item dating from the Edwardian Era and prior strictly historical. Though I’ve witnessed Edwardian and Victorian pieces described as vintage.

But what about when referring to the Tudor Period? If one saw a woman walking around in an English or French Hood, one wouldn’t refer to it as such. Perhaps that is the ticket! If it is not common place to wear (or utilize) a certain style and/or item, then perhaps it has passed and entered into the category of strictly Historical. Of course, this is just theory, though I think it a sound one.

This specific time period would fall into a category of which its criteria has already been determined. Antiquities. Also referred to as artifacts. To an Antiques Vendor, an item is an antiquity if it is man-made and has been around for at least 100 years. (A naturally occurring item more than 300 years of age would be…*drum-roll please*…a fossil!)

So, What is Vintage?

So, what is vintage? When referring to clothing, I think we can safely say a well-made object existing from (arguably) 40 to 99 years that is representative of its time.

I’d be very interested to know how you understood the concept and if this conversation has altered your personal definition of the word. Please leave your comments below!



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