Vintage Denotes Quality

Vintage Denotes Quality

When we hear the word vintage, we might think of a great wine, aged to perfection. One could easily think of vintage clothing the same way, especially when it comes to vintage designer clothing, men’s or women’s. Classics always age well. They may fade into “not in style” for a decade or two, but will eventually get re-discovered or revived with a new twist by fashion houses and other trendsetters.

Interestingly, the term vintage itself denotes quality. Merriam-Webster defines vintage as “of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance or quality”, as in “a vintage claret” or “a vintage Porsche”. We will boldly extend that definition to vintage clothing.

The Cost of Quality

Quality costs money and is not generally something today’s fast fashion can provide. At most, the design, fabric, and manufacturing is okay, usually at a high social cost. So if as a shopper you’re looking for quality clothing, it’s either pay the price of today’s top-of-the-line garments or look for quality in retro apparel.

Vintage ale

Since you have come to this blog as a reader, you already know that there are quite a few vintage clothing stores online these days. Now all you need to do is to sift through their offerings and look for high quality items, be it in vintage women’s or vintage men’s wear.

Here is what you should examine carefully in the listings you browse:

  • What kind of fabric is it? Wool, linen, silk, alpaca, cashmere, cotton… all are a good starting point, unless of course you are looking for 70s polyester.
  • Is it a designer label?
  • For vintage footwear: Do they have leather soles? Most higher end dress shoes, men’s and women’s will have all-leather construction.
  • For tailored clothing: is the garment properly lined and interfaced? The best men’s jackets and coats, for example, will be interfaced with hair canvas instead of the fusible interfacings commonly used today.
  • How is the condition of the item described?  Not all vintage items will be flawless - they have a history, after all - but good online vintage stores take care to describe their items in detail so you can make an informed purchase.
  • What is the quality of the design like? How unique and special is it? Is it likely to stand the test of time?
  • Does it offer the overall quality mix that will make me wear it more than once or twice, giving me great enjoyment over time?

Tape measure vintage fashion

Vintage Buyer Beware

Before you purchase an item, especially one that is not that well described, you may want to ask the seller about certain condition-related issues, such as:

  • Is everything original? An experienced seller will be able to tell you whether or not zippers, buttons, etc. are consistent with the period or not.
  • How has the material held up over time? Are there wear marks, what do they look like, and where are they?
  • For vintage or deadstock shoes: how well have the leather soles and heel lifts worn, what state is the stitching in, how have the top edges of the leather held up? What condition are the insoles in?
  • Have there been any alterations or repairs done to the garment?
  • Is the garment clean and free of odors?

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask them. Most good vintage clothing dealers should be both able and happy to answer you.

To some extent, quality is subjective; one person’s beloved item is another’s piece of junk. There are, however, certain standards that apply to vintage clothing and the best pieces will stand above the rest. Your collection deserves these outstanding items that will delight not only you, the wearer, but your friends and admirers as well.

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