Find a fashion style that’s
right for you with vintage clothing. From a
stylish cocktail dress to a nostalgic concert
T-shirt, going vintage is a great way to enhance
your wardrobe. Sure, styles may come and go, but
eBay remains a shopping mainstay for people who
seek something different from what everyone else
is buying at the mall or department stores.
Discover Vintage Clothing for the Ages
What’s considered “vintage” can be partly a
matter of personal taste. However, certain
agreed-upon qualities define clothing as
First and foremost, vintage clothing is clothing
from another era, usually classified by decade.
It represents a time period, serving as a
cultural expression of that time.
Vintage includes garments from the Victorian era
and earlier, but generally encompasses anything
from the Victorian period through the 1960s.
Clothing from the past 15 years is considered
contemporary clothing, and some vintage purists
contend that any clothing made after the ’60s
should be classified as retro as opposed to
Just because an item is old, however, doesn’t
necessarily mean it can be labeled vintage. A
piece of vintage clothing also possesses an
aesthetic quality that makes it stand out.
In short, vintage clothing can consist of
unusual examples of an era’s fashion or, more
often than not, typical clothing from a
particular time period that possesses a style
and design that appeals to collectors and
Vintage clothing offers a number of options for
both women and men. Remember: Shopping for
vintage is not only about style and price; it’s
also fun to track down those fashion blasts from
For women: You’ll come across
an array of vintage dresses, blouses, sweaters,
jackets, pants, skirts, suits, coats, and
lingerie. Moreover, you can purchase
couture/designer garments from top designers.
For men: Choose from an assortment of vintage
shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, suits, coats,
and more. Popular vintage brands for guys
include Polo, Levi’s, Izod, and Lacoste.
Shoes: Everything from cowboy boots and go-go
boots to pumps and platform shoes fall under the
category of vintage shoes. You can also pick up
vintage Nike and Adidas tennis shoes.
Accessories: Don’t forget about vintage
accessories such as handbags (beaded bags, for
example) and scarves (such as Pucci scarves), as
well as purses, shawls, fans, gloves, hats,
sunglasses, belts, ties, and handkerchiefs.
Know Your History: Vintage Clothing Periods
Although there is some occasional crossover,
connoisseurs generally group periods for vintage
clothing as follows:
Pre–1901: This broad category includes
everything from the high-waisted dresses of the
early part of the 19th century to the bustle
gowns and lace tea dresses of the Victorian era.
If you like your vintage clothing from way back,
look for items described as Renaissance,
Regency, Romantic, Victorian, antique, or 1800s.
1901–1919: Designated primarily as Edwardian or
WWI, this era reflected the influence of Eastern
fashion and the designer Paul Poiret. Examples
include embroidered Edwardian blouses and
corsets, and garments made of linen and lace.
1920–1938: A time when fashion radically
changed, these two decades transitioned from the
extravagancies and excesses of the Roaring ’20s
(the flapper dress and cloche hat) to the more
reserved clothing of the Depression era and
1939–1946: During World War II, fashion ran the
gamut from chiffon dresses and fitted jackets to
taffeta and lace eveningwear. Also popular: hats
and the Hollywood high style of the 1940s. Track
down items listed as WWII, ’40s, and glamour.
1947–1964: Clothing style changed once again, as
women took their fashion cues from Jackie O:
one- and two-piece dresses and the boxy jacket
and skirt suit. Knee-length pleated skirts
eventually gave way to miniskirts, mini dresses,
and hot pants. If you’re a fan of this era, seek
out clothing that’s labeled new look,
rockabilly, swing, ’50s, early ’60s, and ’60s.
1965–1976: Natural/ethnic styles, bright colors,
floral and psychedelic patterns, denim, and
bell-bottoms were all the rage during this time
frame. Look for clothing from Gunne Sax, or
that’s described as mod, boho, Renaissance,
hippie, or disco.
1977–1989: This most recent period exhibits the
punk rock and new wave influence—leather jackets
and leather skirts, ripped jeans and T-shirts,
and so on. If you like to walk on the wild side
of fashion, look for items marked as punk, New
Wave, or ’80s.
Know Your Vintage Clothing Condition
Because vintage clothing is not new, it’s
important that you properly understand the
condition of a garment. Some sellers rely on a
naming system that will help you assess what you
can expect when you buy vintage clothing and
accessories on eBay. Here’s a listing of terms
from the Fashion-Era Web site.
Mint: An item is as perfect and pristine as when
it was originally made and shows no sign of wear
(mint condition is rare for vintage clothing).
Near mint: An item shows only the slightest
signs of wear.
Excellent: An item shows typical signs of wear
due to occasional use.
Very good: An item is considered wearable but
has some surface flaws (staining or soiling, for
Good: An item is wearable but cannot be returned
to excellent condition even if repairs are made.
Of course, the older a piece of clothing is, the
more likely it will display indications of its