Vintage style is tough to define. It involves more than just owning old stuff. Embracing vintage style is both a design aesthetic and a lifestyle choice. Those who have it embrace objects evocative of periods long past, but manage to mix them seamlessly into unmistakably modern 21st-century lives.
Some use the words antique, vintage and retro interchangeably. Others use vintage to describe anything old that’s not an antique; antiques are officially 100 or more years old. Historically, the word vintage is used alongside a specific year of origin. Users sometimes disagree about the manufacture dates included in its standalone descriptive use. To make it simple, classify objects made from 1930 to 1965 as vintage. Later 1970’s and 80’s pieces are retro.
Vintage apparel and accessories are increasingly fashionable. Wearers range from socialites sporting a single piece of estate jewelry to rockabilly fans dressed in vintage from head to toe. Design pros and do-it-yourself decorators shop secondhand sources for vintage furniture, lighting, housewares and home accessories to add vintage style to today’s interiors. Some even install entire vintage kitchens in their current homes. Vintage auto aficionados flock to classic car shows to admire chrome-clad roadsters manufactured before gas prices and pollution became issues.
Scour classified ads, junk stores, consignment shops, garage sales and antique malls for vintage home furnishings. Antique malls frequently have more vintage items than true antiques. Look for clothing, shoes, jewelry and fashion accessories at both virtual and brick-and-mortar vintage clothing shops. You may find pieces to adorn your body and your home at flea markets, auctions, estate sales, thrift stores and your own family’s attic. Browse vintage automobile offerings via specialty dealers, auction companies and enthusiast groups.
Using vintage objects is environmentally responsible. Giving a second functional life to existing pieces keeps them out of landfills. It also preserves the materials and energy required to make new goods, and it prevents the pollution caused by the manufacturing process. Vintage goods frequently cost less than new equivalents, even when the materials and construction surpass today’s quality standards. Developing vintage style also distinguishes you. You don’t have the cookie-cutter look of those who dress and decorate according to the pages of the latest catalog.
Vintage paint may contain lead. If you buy a vintage piece with peeling, flaking paint -- or if children or pets are likely to chew the surface -- lead poisoning is a risk. Vintage textiles may not meet modern flammability standards. Vintage vehicles and children’s furniture frequently lack the safety features present on newer versions. If it’s required for tagging, vintage vehicles may also fail local exhaust testing if exceptions aren’t made for older autos.
- Photo Credit 57' thunderbird image by Susan Rae Tannenbaum from Fotolia.com
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