August 29, 2013

Retro versus Vintage: What's the Difference?

We often throw these two words around interchangeably, but what exactly is retro and what is vintage? Are they the same or different?


: of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : classic

: dating from the past : old 

I did some googling and found the above definition of "vintage". The definition of vintage is pertaining to something "old". This definition is pretty broad, meaning something from the 90s could, by this definition, be considered vintage. In my opinion a vintage piece of clothing needs to be at least 20 years old, but that's just me...


: relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past : fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned <a retro look> 
The definition of "retro" is a little more specific, it is used to describe a piece of clothing inspired from the past. A retro look for example can imitate the same shapes (tight leggings, flapper hem,  oversized silhouettes, etc..) or prints and fabrics (fringe, velvet, etc...) of a specific style from the past.

Vintage piece from Etsy
Retro piece from H&M
Notice the subtle difference between vintage and retro; vintage is a piece of clothing that is old, while retro is a piece of clothing that is styled in relation to the past. It's easy to get these two mixed up, and even their definitions seem a little broad.

I created a visual example of what I interpret both definitions to be. The vintage example is a dress I found on etsy; it is a 70s sheer sequin beaded dress. On the bottom is an H&M beaded dress from its website. The H&M dress has a retro look because of the beading and fabric. It is also possible that the vintage dress has a retro inspiration from the 1920's flapper dresses.

What do y'all think? What do you consider vintage? What about retro? Let us know below


  1. thanks for the info. I had no idea what the difference was :) xo

  2. That was helpful, it's funny that few days ago I was thinking the difference between those two words.
    Stella from a A Shiny Place

  3. I agree with you! Vintage has to be at least 20 years plus. Love the first dress!

  4. I personally prefer vintage to retro (: , vintage gives off more of a gentle kind of look! Do you mind if we follow each other ? Do let me know on my blog (: x

  5. I didn't quite know the difference, thank you for explaining! :)

  6. I always figured that was the difference, but thanks for clearing that up!

  7. So glad somebody has put this out there! I hate when somebodies like "Oh yeah it's vintage!" but they actually just bought it in Topshop haha.

    I agree 20 years old at least, that's the requirements for Etsy too :-)

  8. I love this post! I'm all for correct grammar and this is one that I actually didn't know! Now I do. Thanks <3 Hope you have a great weeks!