Generally speaking, clothing which was produced before the 1920s is referred to as antique clothing and clothing from the 1920s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage.
In the United States, due to changes in clothing sizes, vintage sizes often are smaller than the corresponding contemporary size. For example a garment from the 1970s labeled as Medium (M) might be similar in size to a 2010s Extra Small (XS). As obesity was relatively uncommon prior to the 1980s, larger sizes are typically rare.
Most vintage clothing has been previously worn, but a small percentage of pieces have not. These are often old warehouse stock, and more valuable than those that have been worn, especially if they have their original tags.
Vintage clothing may be either commercially produced or handmade by individuals.
Women’s fashion in the 1920s was a rejection of stuffy Victorianism and the rejection of the “Gibson Girl” look. 1920s fashion, instead, was the embracement of vice, youth, and frivolity. The embodiment of this was the flapper, a cigarette smoking, boozing, young look that tried to hold on to the look of the prepubescent girl while at the same time being overtly, and casually sexual.
Women’s fashion in the 1930′s featured long gowns, modest heeled shoes, and the new two piece suit. Butterfly sleeves, floral prints, and ruffles shaped 1930s dresses into beautiful and feminine silhouettes.
1940′s fashion for men and women experienced deep changes but also created some of the most flattering designs of the 20th century.
Cool cats and hipsters made the 1950′s iconic for the youthful freedoms and fun sense of style. Fifties fashion goes beyond poodle skirts and saddle shoes and teenagers were not the only ones setting clothing trends.
Fashions in the early years of the decade reflected the elegance of the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to the pillbox hat which is discussed in detail below, women wore suits with short boxy jackets and over-sized buttons. Simple, geometric dresses known as shifts, were also in style.
1970s fashion, which began with a continuation of the mini skirts, bell-bottoms and the androgynous hippie look from the late 1960s, was soon sharply characterized by several distinct fashion trends that have left an indelible image of the decade commemorated in popular culture. These include platform shoes which appeared on the fashion scene in 1971 and often had soles two to four inches thick. Both men and women wore them. Wide-legged, flared jeans and trousers were another fashion mainstay for both men and women throughout most of the decade, and this style has been immortalised in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, which starred John Travolta.
The 1980s fashion had heavy emphasis on expensive dressing and fashion accessories. Apparels tend to be overly bright and vivid in appearance. Women expressed an image of wealth and success through shiny costume jewelry like large faux-gold earrings, pearl necklaces and clothing covered with sequinsand diamante.