Retro vs. Vintage vs. Antique Clothing – Simple Differences

Retro Vs Vintage Vs Antique Clothing: Fashion is ever-evolving. Every year we see different styles that designers create and sell. Sometimes old clothing styles return or inspire artists to create something new with a classical hint.

If we tour the centuries, we will realize various fashion trends of which we weren’t even aware. And the truth will only amaze us even more.

These evolving trends have been given specific titles and names so that the layman can easily differentiate between them. These terms include ‘retro’, ‘vintage’, and ‘antique’.

In fact, in the internet era, we hear these words quite often. But you may not have given them much attention. This is why we will discuss these trends and what these specific terms stand for. Here’s a breakdown of all that we will discuss:

What Do These Terms Mean?

What is meant by retro fashion?

Retro fashion refers to a style of clothing, accessories, and design that is influenced by trends from the past, usually from the 1920s to the 1980s. The term “retro” is derived from the Latin word “retrograde,” which means to go backward.

Retro fashion is characterized by elements such as bold colors, high-waisted pants, A-line skirts, bell bottoms, mini skirts, platform shoes, oversized sunglasses, and graphic prints. The fashion industry frequently revisits the past for inspiration, updating and adapting vintage styles for modern audiences. Some popular retro fashion movements include mod, hippie, disco, and punk.

Many people enjoy retro fashion because it offers a way to celebrate the past while still being stylish and trendy. It can also be a way to express individuality and stand out from the crowd.

What does vintage clothing mean?

Vintage fashion refers to clothing, accessories, and other items that were made in a previous era, usually at least 20 years ago. The term “vintage” originally referred to wine, but it has since been adopted to describe anything that is old and of high quality.

Vintage fashion items can range from classic designs to more unique and rare pieces. Some popular vintage fashion eras include the 1920s flapper style, 1950s full-skirted dresses, 1960s mod fashion, and 1970s bohemian looks. Vintage clothing is often characterized by its high-quality materials, attention to detail, and unique designs that are not typically seen in modern fashion.

Many people are drawn to vintage fashion because it offers a chance to own and wear something with a unique history and story. It can also be a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option, as it extends the life of clothing and reduces the need for new manufacturing. However, vintage fashion can also be expensive and requires care to preserve its condition over time.

What is antique clothing?

The oldest type of fashion and style can be referred to as antique (older than retro and vintage as well) This includes items worn even more than a hundred years ago. These items are generally rare and valuable due to their age, condition, and historical significance. They are often collected by enthusiasts and museums for their cultural or historical importance.

Key Differences between the Terms

Retro vs Vintage

The main difference between retro and vintage fashion is the time period in which the items were produced. Retro fashion refers to styles that are inspired by trends from the past, but are produced in the present day, while vintage fashion refers to clothing and accessories that were made in a previous era and are at least 20 years old.

Retro fashion often incorporates elements of vintage fashion, such as bold colors, graphic prints, and silhouettes from past decades, but the items themselves are new and often mass-produced. Retro clothing is made to resemble vintage styles, but it may feature modern fabrics, construction techniques, and details.

Vintage fashion, on the other hand, is authentic clothing and accessories from past eras. Vintage items can be rare, unique, and have historical significance, making them highly sought after by collectors and fashion enthusiasts. Vintage clothing may require special care to preserve its condition, as it can be delicate and fragile due to its age.

In summary, retro fashion is a modern interpretation of past styles, while vintage fashion is authentic clothing and accessories from past eras.


Vintage vs. Antique

The main difference between vintage and antique is the age of the item. Vintage items are at least 20 years old, while antiques are generally considered to be items that are over 100 years old.

Vintage items can include clothing, accessories, furniture, and other decorative items from previous eras. They are typically associated with specific styles or trends from the past and may hold sentimental or historical value.

Antiques, on the other hand, are typically rare and valuable items that have survived for over a century. They may include furniture, artwork, jewelry, and other collectibles. Antiques are often sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, and their value can vary depending on their rarity, condition, and historical significance.

In summary, vintage items are at least 20 years old and are associated with specific styles or trends from the past, while antiques are over 100 years old and are typically rare and valuable items with historical significance.

Retro vs. Antique

Retro items are inspired by recent styles from the past and are less than 50 years old, while antiques are over 100 years old and often have historical significance and value.

Another key difference between retro and antique is that retro items are typically mass-produced and often easier to find and purchase, whereas antiques are often unique or one-of-a-kind, making them more difficult to find and generally more expensive to purchase.

Retro Outfits

Retro outfits are constantly inspired by outfits from different eras. What we have to find out is the source of inspiration when it comes to the retro outfits that we shall be discussing.

So, let us dive in with no further delay.

14 – Striped Shirt With Leather Pants

Striped shirts and dresses with more than one or two colors in them were pretty popular during the 1930s. These looked extremely trendy then and the same goes for today as well.

What makes this outfit retro is the multi-color stripes with the leather pants. Additionally, the fur completes the modernized look to fit today’s time.


13 – Rust Colored Flary Jumpsuit

Dresses with shoulder pads were really popular in the 1950s, particularly in the United Kingdom. However, jumpsuits are considered to be a fashion item of this century.

The look of the dress combined with the idea of a jumpsuit gives rise to a new concept which is why this outfit can be considered to be retro.

another aspect of vintage fashion is the cute barret.


12 – Red Skirt With A Printed Shirt

The red skirt shown is a typical vintage skirt that is worn by people and also celebrities on several occasions. The modern-looking shirt with clouds printed on it and the massive color contrast are what turn this outfit into a retro one.

The brightly colored bangles are another item obtained from one of the more vintage outfits which the fashion world has previously seen.


11 – Printed Knee Length Chiffon Retro Dress

Butterfly sleeves and a V-neck on dresses were a major ‘thing’ during the 1960s. This dress keeps those factors but adds these to a shorter length than those that were usually worn by women during the old times.


10 – Plaid Skirt With A Cardigan

Plaid is a rather classic-looking clothing item and cardigans have also been worn in many eras by women. This look is, however, retro and not vintage or antique because it reveals a lot of skin.

This is considered to be very sexy today, but historically, women did not wear such revealing clothing.


Vintage Outfits

Vintage outfits are very era specific and are worn as they are. No modifications are done to them, and that is the best thing about these outfits. Now, let’s take a look at some of the vintage clothing to define what this term really means.

9 – Yellow Skirt With A Tucked In Blouse

We discussed the fact that striped is a very typical vintage style. That knowledge can be reinforced here.

If you take a look at chick flicks from the 80s and 90s, you will surely find girls looking extremely perfect, wearing similar outfits.


8 – Blue Skirt With A Chequered Blouse

This look reminds us of movies like Midnight in Paris and Strangers on a Train.

This look highlights an era of female empowerment when women appeared much more confident wearing their vintage skirts and carrying short hair cuts extremely well.


7 – The Vintage Goth Dress

Goth looks are very in today but similar outfits were worn even by women in the previous decades.


6 – Printed Co-ord Set

We saw stripes being a recurring trend of the vintage times. This look contains the same colors as the striped outfits but this time repetitive digital printing is what we see.

If you are looking for a vintage outfit that can be worn comfortably and effortlessly, you should be considered purchasing a similar outfit. This look would be carried nicely by plus-size ladies as well.


5 – Denim Jacket With Denim Shorts

Just look up vintage outfits and you are surely going to come across several looks similar to the one shown below.


Antique Outfits

After retro and vintage clothing, we have antique fashion. Notice all things these outfits have in common with each other and also look at the ways they differ from the looks we talked about above.

4 – The Marilyn Monroe Look

The title and the image say it all.

This is a slightly modernized antique look. We say this because a hundred years ago, women did not wear dresses with plunging necklines because exposed cleavage was not considered to be ladylike.

The color of the dress is also an ‘old Hollywood’ color.


3 – Long Formal Dress With Shoulder Pads

Women, historically, have been huge fans of shoulder pads. This dress is no different.

The small elegant hat is a good depiction of most antique looks you might come across.

Another thing that stands out about this look is the leather gloves.

Simplicity and grace were always present in these antique outfits and that is why we love them so much!


2 – Another Long Dress With A Hat

Do you see how we can only see her ankles? These women really had to hide their skin, didn’t they?


1 – Printed Floral Dress

Finally, we have this beautiful light-colored sun dress along with a beach hat. In these times, women cared more about protecting their skin from the sun than we do today.

This look gives us major ‘Sound Of Music’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ vibes, which is why we are trying hard to imitate this woman’s style lately.



Q. Why is vintage clothing so popular lately?

Every generation gives tribute to old fashion in their own way. These days the dominant generation particularly on social media is ‘generation Z’ and they have developed a special liking for vintage fashion and continue to promote it all the time.

This is why vintage clothing has been extra popular since 2020.

Q. Where can I buy retro and vintage clothes from?

Usually, local and online thrift stores sell affordable and stylish retro and vintage outfits. Check those out!

Additionally, we have attached links to similar clothing with the outfits we added to this article. So, you should definitely click on those!

Q. Can I wear retro, vintage or antique styled outfits in the work place?

Of course, you can! Workplace outfits have become very diverse these days so you should definitely explore this area of fashion as well.

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