What Is The Difference Between “Vintage” And “Classic” Style?
Kittens, I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities and differences between what is considered a “classic” style and what is considered “vintage or retro” style (hereafter I will use “vintage” and “retro” interchangeably). I am concerned that some of you reading this blog might feel I only subscribe to the vintage aesthetic and if you like modern clothing than you can’t be a glamorous housewife. But this just isn’t true! I ascribe to finding shapes and silhouettes that flatter you and make you feel good about yourself, which for me means dressing in a retro way. I also believe that one should try to look their best when making an appearance out in public, but that doesn’t mean you have to dress vintage! It is in my opinion that pretty much everyone looks best when sticking to a classic style and then accessorizing in whatever way makes you feel glamorous. You could go more modern and trendy, or you could do like I do and swing more retro. But whatever way you choose, just know that it needs to make you feel beautiful.
In order to come to a better understanding of what I am trying to say, lets get out the definition of classic style vs. vintage style:
Classic style is a design that has stood the test of time because it is flattering on almost everyone and is never out of style.
Vintage style is usually a classic design that is accessorized in such a way that it hints at a specific period of fashion from a bygone era.
One could make an argument that all vintage style is classic as well, but not all classic style is retro. I would also like to point out that even though by definition a classic style is not trendy, every now and again something that is considered classic becomes uber trendy. For example, a few years ago trench coats were all the rage and you could find them everywhere. Now they have settled into the background and are once again considered a classic. There are other trends that one might assume is a classic style when in fact it is just a design aspect that has been seen in the past and has once again become a trend, and when that trend is played out it won’t be seen again for years. I point to the peplum as an example. It was a trend in the ’40s, ’80s and right now. I bet you next fall we won’t be seeing them at all because that trend is coming to an end.
So what makes an outfit “classic”, apart from the clothing being a style that has stood the test of time? In order for a ensemble to be classic, it need to have these five aspects:
Discretion: The outfit doesn’t show off too much skin; it leaves something to the imagination
Flattering: It accentuates the wearer’s best aspects and hides the problem areas
Effortless: The person wears the outfit, the outfit doesn’t wear the person.
Tailored: This can also be called the “Goldilocks rule”; the clothing cant be too tight, nor too loose. It must fit just right.
Cultivated: The outfit must be accessorized in a way that compliments and doesn’t detract from the wearer.
Notice that all five of these aspects can also be used to define a vintage style outfit. The difference between a classic and retro styled outfit is usually just in the details. For example, in a classic fit and flair dress, the fabric is often subtle, and usually a solid. A vintage fit and flair might have a retro print, or vintage details that take it from classic to vintage. Though of course there is a lot of overlap between the two. Notice that both women look amazing in their respective ensembles. The reason is because they both follow the five points of classic dressing, just the one on the left has kept a more modern look to her outfit, and the one on the right is more retro in her appearance.
Another example is in the accessories. A retro outfit might be accessorized with a vintage brooch and hat, where as a classic style would probably not wear a hat, and keep the accessories subtle. Notice above that both women are wearing navy pants, a blouse, and a cardigan. Also notice they both look gorgeous! The only difference is the woman on the left has a classic watch as jewelry, and the woman on the right has a vintage styled sweater detail and a kerchief in her hair.
When push comes to shove, there is quite a bit of overlap between what a classic look and a vintage ensemble have in common, and only a few minor details will set one apart from the other. As a glamorous housewife, I tend to dress in a more retro fashion, but that is because I adore the vintage aesthetic. I think it is just as good to dress in a classic way, especially if your tastes run modern. But whether or not you consider yourself a vintage dresser or classic lover, or both, it is important to always try to look your best whenever you are out in public. A nice set of slacks and a blouse can be just as comfortable as a pair of yoga pants and a tank top, but are infinitely more flattering and appropriate when running errands- unless, of course, you are actually going to the gym! Then I say it is Lululemon time!
I end with a few examples of modern clothing that can be either classic or retro, depending on how it is styled: