Why Vintage? Reason #1

vintage fashion-2When I mention to people that I sell vintage linens and house wares, they usually respond in one of two ways. They look at me blankly because it has simply never occurred to them to buy something that wasn’t brand new or they get it immediately and say, “Oh, and vintage is really ‘in’ right now, right?”

It does seem that vintage is really popular right now. I honestly think that, to some extent, there’s always an interest in some sort of vintage but currently a vintage look, or a variety of vintage options, seem to appeal to a LOT of people.

And, I’ve been thinking about why. Why vintage? What is it about clothing and home décor and cars of decades past that appeals to people? When we have an endless supply of new, clean, cheap goods available, why would some of us be drawn to the pre-owned, used, and recycled?

So far, I have identified 5 reasons why people are drawn to vintage:

It’s a choice motivated by a sense of fashion

It’s a choice motivated by a sense of ethics

It’s a choice motivated by a sense of finances and quality

It’s a choice motivated by a sense of nostalgia and sentiment

It’s a choice motivated by a sense of individuality

All five of these may motivate some of you, while others may incorporate vintage into your lives for just a few of these.

I’ll explore my 5 theories over the coming couple of weeks. Who knows, I may even come up with more as I go!

1) It’s a choice motivated by a sense of fashion

This is the one that I understand the least because anyone who knows me will agree that fashionable, I ain’t. If I can’t get it at LL Bean, I don’t need it.

But according to the magazines and blogs I read, fashion motivates a lot of people! Vintage is cool and, because it can come in so many looks, there seems to be something for almost anyone. Do a search in your WordPress Reader for the word “vintage” or go to Pinterest and search on “vintage fashion” to get a sense of how prevalent the interest is and the extent to which people go to create their vintage look.

Vintage-themed weddings seem especially fashionable right now and the vintage look can extend from the formal wear of the participants to the props. I’ve had people contact me, because I sell vintage linens, and ask for 100 blue and yellow vintage napkins for their wedding! It’s the sort of request I’d love to be able to fill but sellers of vintage can’t order their finds in bulk. We find napkins in sets of 4 or 6, if we’re lucky, and almost never see duplicate sets. I’ve often wondered what a bride would DO with all those lovely linen napkins once the wedding was over . . .

Some of the eras that seem to be most popular in vintage fashion group around the mid-20th century. The looks of the ‘40s and ‘50s tend to be chic and fairly conservative but then we hit the 1960s and can choose among bohemian hippie style or Carnaby Street mod or Andy Warhol-inspired Pop Art. Of course, movies and television add to the appeal. As a result, right now, anyone selling anything from the 1960s on Etsy or eBay seems to be using the phrase “Mad Men” in their listings!

Just an example from today!

Just an example from today!

And, of course, fashion isn’t just what we wear on our backs. Decorating a home with a vintage vibe seems to have a continuous appeal, it’s only a question of which vintage era is “in” right now. The cottage chic look seems to be fading now with more interest given to the clean lines of Danish modern or the kitschy look of the 1950s. I know I can always sell vintage dishtowels with a pink and aqua color way! And Downton Abbey is offering viewers a new old look to emulate.

What’s your sense of fashion, in dressing and decorating? Is it at all motivated by a vintage look of a particular era? Which era “speaks” to you most?

pink and aqua towel


29 thoughts on “Why Vintage? Reason #1

  1. Great Post,Kerry! Lovely pic of the happy Christmas housewife! I have a fondness for vintage from fifties and funky retro from the sixties. To me there is a kind of cheerfulness and excitement to it. It can be incredible clever and stylish design or simply delightful whimsical;0) And I just love ‘hunting’ for my desired items for the right price of course!

    • I love the hunting, too, and anything that seems quirky and a little tongue-in-cheek. But then I like rustic, too. Oh, and I love elegant table linens from the ’30s and ’40s! We’ll never get bored, will we?

  2. I’m far from fashionable, too. Salvation Army is where I do most of my clothes shopping! As far as interior decorating goes, I’m more into antique than vintage.

  3. I do love vintage for the fashion element. I’ve always loved 1940s style clothing and mid-century modern furniture. It makes my mom laugh because those things just look like garage sale fodder to her.

  4. I would say fashion is my number one motivation for shopping vintage, but I also love the style and so many vintage patterns. I’d say 20’s to 50’s…but also decorate my house in vintage as well. I feel it just has more character and can’t really put my finger why:). But I know I like whatever it is. Part of that is probably the sense of nostalgia and maybe simpler times.

  5. I used to feel I was born during the wrong century. I enjoy antique stores, I have lots of old, vintage linens that I’ve used for my kids’ weddings…when I go to a thrift store I look for antiques that may have slipped in… I wonder who owned these things, what was their story? –where were they from? etc… I guess I see a lot of character in those old items while new shiny items have no stories to tell yet.

    • I feel very much the same way! For me, the main drawn of old things is the story and the sentiment, the reminder of people in our past. It’s not just stuff!

  6. Pingback: Why Vintage ? Reason #2 | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  7. Pingback: Why Vintage? Reason #3 | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  8. I buy vintage for all those reasons. I just prefer wearing the classic feminine styles pre 60s, it’s a part of my style and is also more ethical and eco friendly 🙂 And vintage decor is very often more my style as well. Thanks for selling vintage, vintage sellers and antique shops will always keep my love of retro going!

    • And the scary thing is that, before you know it, the stuff that is brand new and trendy right now will be considered vintage! The 1970s still seem like yesterday to ME!

  9. Pingback: Why Vintage? Reason #4 | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  10. Pingback: Why Vintage? Reason #5 | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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