What is vintage?

Good morning everyone. With the rebrand well underway, we have an extremely special post in the pipelines for the day that we launch our revamped site. I have been asked more times than I can count what “vintage” is. It seems like an obvious question, but actually the vintage-lover’s world is one that’s fraught with misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This can leave brides who love the vintage look to be a little bit bewildered about what’s out there, especially as people tend to slap a label on anything that looks old and call it “vintage”.

As I said, there is a colossal post coming out soon to demistify all things vintage, antique, retro and beyond. But today I’m going to focus on four terms you might come across as a vintage bride and explain the differences between them as best as I can.

“Vintage” is a term covering goods from various eras that are more than 20 years old and less than 100 years old. The term “vintage” often denotes quality, and within the context of the vintage lifestyle, I would say it means something beautiful from the mentioned timescale that is worth preserving.

“Vintage” refers to something that was actually created in the past, so a genuine 1950s wedding dress would be “vintage”, an art deco mirror from the 1930s would be “vintage”, a veil from the 1920s would be considered “vintage” and so on.

It is very hard to have an entirely “vintage” wedding, and what most brides mean when they say they are having a vintage wedding is that their wedding will be vintage inspired, which leads me to…

Does this look more like your understanding of “vintage”? Vintage inspired takes ideas, themes and motifs from the past 100 years (excluding the last 20 years) and makes new products that have the look with a modern twist. For example, a lot of the “vintage” china you hire won’t actually be vintage, it will be vintage inspired with brighter patterns that appeal to the modern eye.

The reason for this is that it is very hard to find things in good condition that look nostalgic buts till current somehow. There are particular items that seem to recur in vintage-inspired weddings, but they weren’t necessarily used in actual era weddings. A lot of the time, because there is very little to go on when it comes to vintage wedding styling, we use vintage-inspired household goods (photo frames, typewriters, china) and apply them to the wedding world.

Some people theme their vintage inspired wedding by era, others by colour and style, others have quite an eclectic wedding when it comes to the decade that inspired them.

Retro is anything outmoded and from the last 20 years. It’s usually confused with vintage (lots of vintage shops sell clothes from the 80s and 90s) and many people wear the fashions ironically (I actually saw someone carrying a boombox the other day – it was awesome).

There are few brides currently emulating the eighties and nineties (they’re both bold looks, and I suspect you have to be super cool to pull them off  – the fact that I just said “super cool” probably proves that I’m not cool enough) but I reckon in the next ten years we’re going to see a massive eighties resurgence as it heads further into the past and gains its vintage credentials.

An antique is anything that is more than 100 years old. When most people refer to antiques, they are talking about items of value that, if kept in good condition, will appreciate in value over time.

There are many antique eras, and we will go into all of those in the post I mentioned earlier, but lately I’ve been seeing a surge of brides using antiques at their wedding, or having an antique-inspired day.

The obvious flaw with this is that many antiques will be expensive or too valuable to leave lying around a wedding, but the antique-inspired look is one that’s becoming (to my utter delight) increasingly popular!

Does that help to clear things up? Do you agree with my definitions above? Is there anything you would add or not mention? I’d love to hear from you! 

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