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quiddidyquestions's avatar

What's the difference between vintage and old?

Asked by quiddidyquestions (1869 points ) June 20th, 2011

I have some clothes from high school (over a decade ago) that I like to joke are “vintage J Crew” or “Vintage Gap.” In stores that call themselves vintage clothing shops, I often see clothes that just seem plain old. I have leather sandals from the 60’s that my mom gave me… are they vintage?

Is there a standard period of time that has to pass before something becomes vintage rather than just old? Does it depend on the designer or label?

writing “vintage” this many times has made it stop looking like a real word.

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16 Answers

lookingglassx3's avatar

I’m guessing vintage means something is old, but it has other characteristics like it’s quirky, funky, stylish, and also easily represents the era it’s from. Also, something may be old, but not very aesthetically pleasing and it’s difficult to tell when it’s from, therefore making it just plain old and not vintage. (:

wundayatta's avatar

A copy writer.

GladysMensch's avatar

it’s vintage if it’s being used to make money, or get attention. Otherwise, it’s old.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Whether or not you’re trying to sell it or throw it out. :)

YoBob's avatar

A 60% markup.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

The spelling.

Seriously, I see tons of people trying to sell old spice racks from the 60s that weren’t exactly a great investment the first time around listing them for $20 on eBay (they were worth $11 the first time around). It’s a marketing gimmick.

gailcalled's avatar

Whether its your precious antiques or his old junk.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I was taught antique was 80yrs or older and all else was whatever you want to call it that makes you feel good buying or collecting it.

_zen_'s avatar

You have an old pair of pants. The second hand store gives you 2 bucks for them and sells them as 40 dollar vintage jeans.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@zen What second hand stores are you shopping at? 40 bucks… damn.

quiddidyquestions's avatar

@zen Do they actually call them vintage, or just second-hand/retro?

TexasDude's avatar

Nobody here actually consulted a dictionary? Fluther, I am disappoint.

Vintage adjective /ˈvintij/

1. Of, relating to, or denoting wine of high quality
* – vintage claret

2. Denoting something of high quality, esp. something from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work

Old adjective /ōld/ 
older, comparative; oldest, superlative

1. Having lived for a long time; no longer young
* – the old man lay propped up on cushions

2. Made or built long ago
* – the old quarter of the town

3. Possessed or used for a long time
* – he gave his old clothes away

4. Having the characteristics or showing the signs of age
* – marble now so old that it has turned gray and chipped

5. Belonging only or chiefly to the past; former or previous
* – valuation under the old rating system was inexact

6. Used to refer to the first of two or more similar things
* – I was going to try to get my old job back

7. Dating from far back; long-established or known
* – we greet each other like old friends
* – I get sick of the same old routine

8. (of a form of a language) As used in former or earliest times

9. Of a specified age
* – he was fourteen years old
* – a seven-month-old baby

10. A person or animal of the age specified
* – a nineteen-year-old

11. Used to express affection, familiarity, or contempt
* – it gets the old adrenaline going
* – “Good old Mom,” she said

So it looks like vintage, by definition, means something old that is of high quality whereas old is just… old. Therefore, something vintage is necessarily old, but something old is not necessarily vintage. I think the colloquial use is a bit of a marketing ploy. The real question for me, is what the difference between retro and vintage is, at least colloquially.

ucme's avatar

Mickey Rooney’s crusty ballsack?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard For me, the difference between retro and vintage is that vintage is something you get your mother for a nice, nostalgic Mothers Day gift. Retro is what you get when you’re going for a whole counter-culture originality thing.

TexasDude's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs that seems like a pretty reasonable way of looking at it. I always thought of vintage as pre-1940 and retro as 1940–1970 or so.

MagsRags's avatar

I’ve collected vintage clothing since the 1970s and have been selling it online for more than 10 years.

Generally, it has to be at least 20 years old to be considered Vintage. Antique at least 100 years old. “Retro” is generally used for things that are designed to look vintage but are not. So for example modern tie dye is retro while tie dye from the 60s is vintage. But sometimes it gets confusing because an item can be both vintage and retro. For example, a lot of 50s inspired fashion came out in the 1980s – full skirts, strapless. Now that 80s is old enough to be vintage, those dresses are 80s Vintage, 50s Retro.

As a few Flutherers already said, just because an item has survived for 20 years doesn’t mean it has enough aesthetic value to be considered collectible “vintage”. Pilled drab drek from Sears doesn’t become valuable just because it reaches legal drinking age…

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