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What's the difference between old clothes and Vintage clothing?

Can any old dress or purse be considered Vintage? Do Vintage items need to have been previously owned by someone else? Will my entire wardrobe become Vintage if I keep it for long enough?

Keep reading to find the answers!

The terms "Vintage" and "Old" are both subjective, se we need to establish a couple of characteristics to distinguish what's what.

Age is key

It has become an industry standard to consider clothing and accessories "Vintage" once they are at least 20 years old. A prime example of this rule is Etsy, an online marketplace for vintage and hand made items, who states the following on their "House rules" page:

For an item to be considered vintage on Etsy, it must be at least 20 years old.

While accessories and clothing between 20 - 100 years old are considered Vintage, pieces older than 100 years are considered "antique".

So, Old is Vintage?

Well, "old" is a relative term. You might consider your four year old designer purse old, not to mention your 10 year old Manolo Blahniks. However, were you to sell these items today, they would be considered premium second hand or pre-loved designer fashion. Keep them for another decade or two though, and they will become official vintage pieces.

A symbol of an era

Another factor playing into if an item is considered vintage or just plain old is borrowed from the world of winemaking. A vintage wine is made of grapes grown and harvested in a single year, making the wine represent the specific conditions and circumstances of that period.

The same goes for vintage clothing which can be emblematic of a specific era or time period in fashion. Vintage lovers will seek out iconic pieces like a 20s flapper dress, or a 80s Power shoulder Escada jacket.

The term "Vintage" connotes quality and desirability in the sense that the clothing pieces are made to stand the test of time. Both in the way the materials age beautifully, and in the timeless cut and design of the garments.

The word "Old" easily makes you think of something damaged or out dated, while the word "Vintage" draws to mind images of glamour and timeless elegance.

Want to shop for vintage, but don't know where or what to look for? Check out these posts with hands on tips for your next vintage shopping trip!


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