March 24, 2012

Coining a very handy new term: vintage appropriate

For weeks now, as we've gone about packing and now unpacking our worldly goods, I've been thinking about how much I've wanted to write this specific post and am delighted that I have the time now to do so on this fine, fresh spring morning.

As lovers of the past, we're all well versed with words such as "antique", "vintage", "retro", and "reproduction", and know when and where to use such descriptions appropriately.

There are times however when one comes across an item (be it a chair, skirt, piece or art, bolt of fabric, or what have you) that while not intentionally designed to mimic the look and/or style of something from the past, does in fact do just that.

One example that often springs to mind for me of such a situation is when I'm shopping for cardigan. Basic, button front, classically tailored cardigans can easily be found at scads of stores (and online retailers) that while made very recently, have the appearance of a garment that could very, very easily have been purchased sixty or more years ago.

Yet, in many cases, the manufactures of these cardigans did not set out to make "vintage inspired" or "reproduction" pieces. The fact that their garments do suit the styles and tastes of decades gone by is merely a happy coincidence for those like you and I who delight in filling our homes and wardrobes with the look of yesteryear.

And so, one day a while back, a term for this situation popped into my mind: vintage appropriate.


As the description above explains, a vintage appropriate piece is one that unintentionally looks old (or timeless), yet was made recently.

It's an item that you could travel back in time to, say, the 1940s or 50s and buy an extremely similar (if not downright nearly indistinguishable) version of, however the one that you're holding today could likewise be brought back to those decades past and no one would raise an eyebrow (because the piece really mimics the designs of the time).

I find that I use the term vintage appropriate most often when dealing with clothing, though I've also applied it to everything from make-up to home furnishings, sewing notions to Christmas wrapping paper.

To my mind, "vintage appropriate" fills a void in the lexicon of those who embrace the styles and history of the early to mid-twentieth century, as it allows us to easily describe a piece that, while not actually old, looks convincingly as though it could be (even if that wasn't the manufacturer's intent).

The description above is an image that I made, and by all means, if you feel like you can relate to this term and would like to help spread its usage, please feel free to copy, save, or Pin it to your own blog, Flickr stream, Pinterest boards, or anywhere else that you desire (I just ask that you please link back to Chronically Vintage when doing so).

I'd love to hear about some of your favourite vintage appropriate pieces and look forward to sharing some of mine with you in future posts.

Wishing you all a marvelously lovely first weekend of spring, darling friends!


  1. It's great to see a new post from you. I have been wondering about you and hoping you two have been settling in nicely.

    What a great term!! I love it!!

    Did I tell you I was going to see the fabulous film "Casablanca" on the big-screen the other night? If I didn' was the 70th anniversary celebration of that beloved film, and select cities were part of the event. Anyhow, I dressed the pinned up on the sides, red lipstick, black and white vintage-style dress. I was hoping the theatre would be packed with similarly dressed people...including men in suits!!! After all, people in the 1940's would no more have gone to the theatre in jeans and flannel shirts than they would have flown to the moon! Alas, no men in suits...and no women (save me) in dresses. It was disappointing in that aspect, but, oh, seeing the gorgeous Ingrid Bergman on the big screen was amazing. Those movies were MEANT for the big screen!!

    Have a great day, my vintage-lovin' friend.


  2. Hi Jessica

    Know exactly what you mean, you can find gems of things which whilst not designed to be vintage, sometimes just by the nature of their simplicity, are. Either that or the classic cardigna design was perfected in the 50s or so, and can't be improved on?

  3. What a perfect term you have coined. I have many items in my wardrobe and on my shelves that qualify. I wouldn't know where to begin! Things i love just as much as my authentic vintage, retro, etc! I love your blog and your posts! Keep 'em coming.. (when you can!) And you have a magnificent first weekend of spring too!


  4. We/wee folk here in not so sunny South Australia are now headed for our Autumn/Fall. Winter is not far away. Only one good thing about Winter...Summer is not too far off.

  5. Perfect! So much of my wardrobe is 'vintage appropriate' so it really helps to have a term to descripe it so wonderfully!

  6. Hi Jessica, love your new "vintage appropriate" phrase, it does fit so many classic and classy items.

    Autumn here and at the moment, the weather is just superb, cool nights and mornings and perfect days.

    Hope that you are all settled in to your new home and garden for Spring.



  7. Yes! This kind of item is familiar in most of our wardrobes - the classics (pencil skirt, plain sweater etc') which can be worked into a vintage or modern look. Often so much more affordable than repro, too (at least, in the UK) - lots of fellow vintage bloggers use it to great effect creating repro looks which are often made up vintage appropriate items, combined with actual vintage. Where would we be without it?

  8. So true...vintage appropriate is a wonderful term to describe so many things. I love it!

    :) Hope