It all began with a trip to Buffalo Exchange. My mother and I were taking a bunch of old clothes there to see if we could make a little cash, when she started asking if BE was a vintage or a thrift shop. I thought I was confident in my reply that it definitely wasn't vintage, but that got me thinking - what exactly does vintage mean? How is it different from antique, second hand, or just plain old? And that's what brought me here.

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Vintage generally refers to clothing of a previous era. Antique clothing is any piece that is at least 100 years old, while vintage encompasses fashion from that time up until 20 years before present day. So right now, antique means dating from 1914 or earlier and vintage means anything from 1915 to 1995.

Many people and stores will emphasize a certain level of quality when talking about vintage clothing, although the word doesn't inherently have any meaning associated with quality. It's likely that the words 'vintage' and 'designer' automatically go together in your head, but unknown names and brands are also vintage and can have just as high quality.

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Here are a few other handy definitions, just to clear things up:

Thrift shop - a store often associated with a charity that sells donated clothes, typically already worn/used

Retro - clothing that imitates the styles of a previous era

Modern/contemporary clothing - clothing designed and produced in the past 20 years