Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday: What vintage really means

This has nothing to do with the holidays, but I've been seeing this mistake for months now and it's driving me nuts. That's right, the word vintage is being grossly misused and overused.

I see the word tacked onto everything from paper straws to cardigans to jewelry, and it's misleading. While vintage used to describe the year a certain type of wine was bottled, it now refers to anything old-fashioned or antique. Lately, though, the meaning has degenerated even more to just refer to something that looks old-fashioned.

Here's why it bothers me: If I am buying or selling vintage items on Etsy, they have to be at least 20 years old to deserve the name. But now, an online boutique can sell "vintage leg warmers" and no one bats an eye — even though the leg warmers are brand-new and there's absolutely nothing old about them.

I like vintage clothes. REAL vintage clothes. I like that I'm wearing something that has a story (like the polar bear sweater vest above) and rescuing something that would otherwise be relegated to a dumpster or spend years in a thrift store. So if something says vintage in the description, it had better be at least 20 years old or it's deceptive advertising.

You may be wondering what the solution is, since the word is invading shops everywhere. Here's my fix: Use vintage-inspired when you're selling something that just looks old (or is inspired by a 1950s style, for example) so you don't mislead shoppers. I promise you'll have happier customers!

Does this bother you? What words do you see that have changed meaning?


  1. I've noticed this trend too, Lindsay. I guess 'vintage' is so in nowadays that naming most of the things vintage is a great promotion however a little misleading.
    Have a fab weekend, dear! xx

  2. i always thought vintage meant 20 years or older--had no idea it was being misused so. that would drive me crazy! now, i'll see it everywhere i bet. hehe

  3. This makes me crazy too! I mean... say vintage-style, not straight out vintage! Grrrr! People need to get this figured out... it's false advertising to sell something new as "vintage."

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  4. this bothers me so much. I was recently emailed by a clothing company who wanted to work together. everything on their site was listed as vintage... except it wasn't!! it was new clothing that was vintage-inspired. I think that the term vintage applies to clothing that is at least 30 years old but i don't think most people are aware of that.

    we both have the same opinion on this topic!


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.