Vintage Dress


How to say it:  vin-tij  dres

Traditional Features: 

Vintage Dress

  • dresses from the 1920s to the 1960s that are particularly representative of the era
  • true vintage clothing was actually made in the era it represents, rather than being made recently in the ‘vintage style’ of a particular era
  • designer and couture styles are most popular, but a garment doesn’t have to be designer to be vintage

21st Century Vintage Dresses

In the 21st century vintage dress are readily available in department stores, boutiques and online. There are many imposter styles that have been made recently, based on the designs of another decade (like the recent 20s flapper style revival) but to be truly vintage, it must have been made in the decade it represents, so make sure to check the label and manufacture labels.

Chloe Comme de Garcon

Chloé Vintage, Comme des Garçons Vintage

Dior Halston

Dior Vintage, Halston Heritage Vintage


…of the style:  For a dress to be considered ‘vintage’ it must have been made between 1920 and 1960 and should be clearly representative of the era in which it was made. Flapper dresses from the 20s, New Look styles from the 40s, circle skirts from the 50s and Mod minis from the 60s are all good examples of vintage style dresses that portray the quintessential styles of their decades while styles from the 70s, 80s and 90s are currently considered ‘retro’; although as the years progress these clothing from these decades will eventually be considered vintage too.

While designers have always looked to the past for inspiration the desire for genuine vintage garments is thought to have become popular in the 1990s thanks to a number of different reasons. Like many trends in fashion, celebrities have had a hand in the rise of vintage fashion, with stars like Julia RobertsRenée Zellweger and Kate Moss wearing vintage designer gowns on the red carpet. Period dramas and movies are also thought to have helped popularise vintage clothing (The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey are classic examples of this) as has the resurgence of historically based sub-cultures like Rockabilly. Lastly, the increased awareness of environmental factors and sustainability have increased the desire to reuse, repair and recycle and further helped to make ‘vintage’ a cool word in modern fashion.

In the 21st century, vintage is so much on trend that designers and high-street brands alike are all but reproducing the iconic styles of old to keep on top of the vintage market. However, a true vintage dress is made in the era it represents, using the fabrics, construction methods and styles of that time. Anything else is merely a copy.

…of the name: The term ‘vintage’ was originally used in relation to wine and olive oil as a means of acknowledging the year it was bottled. It was then used to describe cars that were more than 50s years old, and in the 1980s it was finally applied to clothing that had been manufactured between 1920 and 1960.

For more info on Vintage clothing try Wikipedia, Fashion Era, Vintage Textile or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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