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  • Writer's pictureEmma

Vintage Fashion Definitions Explained

Updated: Feb 1, 2020

Vintage. Retro. Rockabilly. Mod. There are so many terms that fly around in the world of vintage fashion. Sometimes these terms can be a bit daunting, and sometimes it’s frustrating for me as a collector and dealer when these terms are misused or misrepresented. So to make things a little clearer I have compiled a small beginners vintage related glossary that should see you through!

Vintage Clothing There are several schools of thought here and many people think of vintage as just clothing from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. But the definition of vintage clothing is different to that of vintage cars, vintage wines or vintage cheeses and this must be remembered. If you ask 3 different dealers you may get three different answers but the true definition of vintage clothing is any item of clothing over 25 years old. So don’t dismiss clothes from the 60s 70s, 80s and 90s as yes, they are vintage too!

Retro Clothing The word retro is short for retrospective so retro clothing items are those that are in the style of times gone by. Therefore a brand new t-shirt that has a 1980s slogan on it is retro as it takes its inspiration from the past.

Reproduction Clothing Often shortened to “repro”, these garments are newly made but imitate iconic clothing styles of the past. The most popular types of repro clothing are from the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Blue polka dot swing dress | Vintage Dress | Retro Dresses

Antique An antique item is collectable or desirable due to its age and its value is dependent on rarity, condition, provenance, beauty and utility. As a general rule of thumb, an antique object is at least 75 years old.


If something is kitsch it’s basically so bad it’s good! Considered bad taste, kitsch items are garish and tacky but often in a cool ironic kind of way. Kitsch tends to be mass-produced, melodramatic and gaudy. We love it!

Rockabilly music is rock and roll and country, originating in late 50s America. When it comes to clothing, the rockabilly look is bold American 50s style with lots of denim, gingham, bandannas and tattoo prints. The rockabilly look is really fun to try and can be easily achieved with a few key pieces.

The mods were a cultural group of the 1960s, opposed to the rockers and renowned for their clean-cut modern dressing. Mod clothing is very distinctive with mini skirts, scooter dresses and colour blocking for the girls and slim-cut trousers, dapper shirts and pea-coats for the boys.

Vintage Dresses | Mod Dresses | Mod Clothing

Flapper After the first world war, the flapper girl emerged with her short bobbed hair, fringed dress, long strands of beads and cloche hat. She was quite controversial and eyebrows and hemlines were raised!

Hippy The original hippies were the peace sharing, free-loving movement of the 1960s. The hippy look is full of lose fitting ethnic styles, natural fabrics, peasant blouses, maxi skirts and flowers in the hair. Psychedelic and tie-dye prints are a must.


The disco clothing movement was born in the mid-seventies following the infamous Saturday Night Fever. Think Bell bottom trousers, spandex, polyester jumpsuits and leotards plus lots and lots of sequins! All teamed with big hair and bright palette make up complete with the birth of the glossy lips.

Vintage Clothing | Party Dresses | Disco Clothing

New Romantic

This was a short-lived fashion movement of the eighties, heavily influenced by the mythical fantasy films of the time. Pop bands dressed in fancy clothes played synthesized music and sang about love and heartbreak against glamorous backdrops.

Hope you found this post useful!

Bye for now! Emma x



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