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A Guide: Date Naming Your Items

A little note from me to you.

I get asked often, both online and by those around me things like “What’s the difference between retro and vintage?” and “Is this really an antique?” The vernacular in my world can be really confusing to outsiders (I say that lovingly). Especially when you are bombarded at the mall with signs in stores and online that advertise MOD, vintage, retro clothes with only a narrow few followed by the word style. In order to clarify some of that for you I’m going to give you a quick and dirty guide to the terminology.

We’ll start with the basics.

Antique: Generally used to describe an item of 80-100 years or older. Associated with a certain quality standard.

Vintage: To be used for items 20 years old or older.

Retro: Any item assuming distinct characteristics of a true vintage item.

A little more complex. These are the two I see most commonly misused.

Midcentury/ Midcentury Modern: Exactly as it sounds. Items, typically not in reference to clothing, from the mid 20th century. With a certain group of characteristics that span from 1950 to the mid 60s.  At this time, all items that are Midcentury are vintage.

Mod: This is a style. Typically associated with bold, geometric shapes and/or colour-blocking.  Most recognizable as 1960s pop culture fashion, but an acceptable term for currently produced items with these characteristics.

Finally, where people seem to get so very confused is modern manufactured clothing and items.  This is where -style and -like come into play most often. 

Vintage-style/Antique-style: If an item is new, but resembles, with or without intent of mimicking, an item from a previous era. This could be used as well with specific eras, fashion eras, or influential groups. For example “1940s style” , “Edwardian-style”, or “Flapper-style”.

An item can be both Retro AND Vintage at the same time: In the 1970s, there was a resurgence in 1940s style clothing. The 1980s was host to 1950s inspired fashions. (See what goes around does come around!) Today items like these are both retro; because it took inspiration from a previous era, and vintage; because they are greater than 20 years old.

Modern Vintage: This is a newer term that many vintage loving ladies (and I’m sure some gents) may be familiar with. For those of us that are handy with a needle and thread and put it to use on a vintage pattern with authentic fabric for the period  in question, these new creations are vintage with the exception of the time of their assembly. It goes the same for jewelry and other accessories. You have a stash of bakelite from the 30s-50s, they’re all blanks, and you create a brooch using only vintage findings. This is vintage bakelite, but a new creation. This term is arguably the most controversial of those listed, and understandably.

Do you have a term you would like explained or defined?
Did this clear up any confusion for you? Create a new question?

As always, I’d love your comments and feedback!