Retro #atozchallenge

The terms “vintage” and “retro” are used almost interchangeably, particularly on Craigslist, eBay, and Etsy. I’ve been trying to figure out the difference between the two, and, after searching around the Internet and reading articles like this one, I think I’ve figured it out.

Above you see a couple of catalog pages from the 1970’s. On the left, a page from a Wards catalog advertising the bane of masculine existence during the middle of that decade, the leisure suit. On the right, another catalog page (not sure when it was from, but it was probably from late that decade) showing three sweater and skirt ensembles in the colors of the day, matched with the chunky-heeled shoes that were so popular then.

Now, here’s the difference:

  • If you were to go to a second-hand clothing store and purchase the clothes that you see here, they would be considered vintage clothes.
  • If, on the other hand, a current-day clothing manufacturer were to produce the fashions shown above, they would be considered retro clothes.

In short, something is vintage if it comes from a particular era; something is retro if it’s new and made to look like something from a different era. The same holds true for a kidney-shaped coffee table from the 1950’s: if it actually came from the 1950’s, it’s vintage; if it was made in 2020 to look like it came from the 1950’s, it’s retro.

Has anyone heard anything different? Leave me a comment…

32 thoughts on “Retro #atozchallenge

  1. Thanks for helping me understand the difference! I hadn’t stopped to consider the terms and I’ve been using them interchangeably.


  2. You gave a great description about the difference between the 2. When I saw those pictures it just reconfirms why the 70s were so bad. I remember dressing like that in school…ughh.


  3. Your definition fits what I have been told, as well. Although, I am guilty of using the terms interchangeably. I’ll try to be better about it! Great post.

    ~Tui Snider, @TuiSnider – Historic Cemeteries & Symbolism from A to Z


  4. Retro was a great time for style… don’t you think? I liked it because it was a toss to being dressed up for a luncheon or dinner. Great job here John & yes Debbie Reynolds was a beautiful woman at any age. I couldn’t believe how young she looked at 82 when I saw her on you tube being interviewed by some ol’ guy!!! hahaha Have a great day my friend.


  5. Far as I’m concerned, vintage just means “it has a year associated with it”. That year could even be recent, last year, say. As long as it has a year. Just because the origin comes from wine. But people tend to use it very differently. I concur with you – mostly the difference is about $250.


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