The creative art of dressing retro: Add grace and elegance without seeming outdated
February 27, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
Before we talk specifics about clothing, can we just pause a minute and talk about the semantics of clothing eras? Many people, even though they might be extremely fashion-conscious, often confuse retro clothing with vintage fashion. The act is that these aren’t the same; yet it’s easy to understand how people might think they are. The result? Going shopping for 80s fashion in a vintage store could spell a fashion disaster.
Read on to know why, and learn how to avoid a similar fate!
Understanding fashion trend nuances
Sometimes, even fashion retailers (who should know better!) fall victim of the semantics around clothing eras. In their exuberance to push out what’s fashionable in the now – from a bygone era – they often bring out the wrong trends. The most frequent victim of this misunderstanding is clothing from the 1980s and the 1990s.
So, without further ado, lets understand the misconstrued nuances between vintage and retro clothing.
A piece of vintage clothing is actually an original piece from a bygone era that’s anywhere between 20 and 100-years old. Notice the underlined “original” in that sentence. Retro ware, on the other hand, is a newly released style that imitates a fashion line up from the past. So, what’s the nuance here?
Well, vintage clothing describes actual items from a bygone era – which were manufactured up to 100-years ago. Vintage is therefore the age of the item, not the style. Retro clothing, on the other hand, is very much about clothing styles. These are contemporary productions that either mimic something from the past, or are inspired by designs from that era.
A great example might be today’s creations of a 1980s-era blouse or dress. Most vintage stores or thrift shops might offer them, and they’re popular selections for many costume or fancy dress parties. Pop quiz: Retro or vintage? The answer: Retro. Why? Because this is not a creation that dates back more than 20-years – so, by definition, it can not be called vintage!
Muddying the waters
So, lets confuse matters – just a bit further!
80s fashion today is still available with vintage undertones from many reputable online vintage clothing stores. From 1970s vintage dresses and skirts, to vintage era jumpers, cardigans and tops and blouses – vintage clothing are great. But knowing embracing true retro style requires careful curation of your wardrobe ensemble. True retro can add grace and style without making your fashion style look dated.
Understanding the differences between 80s fashion and vintage clothing might seem trivial to some, but to the fashion connoisseurs among you, it can be the difference between night and day. Think of this situation: You were really aiming for a retro look, but you came home with a gorgeous-looking (almost mint condition!) pair of Capri overalls.
Guess what? You just fell into the trap of confusing retro clothing with vintage style. The Capri is a vestige of the 1950s. Sure, they’re functional and may look fashionable even today. But, are they the retro look you were looking for: Definitely not!