High-end & sustainable: vintage dresses reflect the modern zeitgeist

A homage to the past: vintage dresses are trendy. Discover essential vintage fashion knowledge and how to get the look

Vintage dresses
Source & Copyright by REBEL

Author: House of Eden

Revival of great fashion moments: baguette bags in pastel colors, tinted sunglasses, Denim on denim and art nouveau ornaments. This year the throwback to retro chic is in vogue. This is how Prada produces Re-editions iconic models from the 2000s and Resale platforms for designer fashion are experiencing a boom. This year it just has to be vintage.

Especially trendy: vintage dresses. We show what is important for the look and how to best implement the vintage style.

Vintage - what does that even mean?

The word vintage originally comes from English, denoting the year of one Wine. Of course, the classic motto applies: the older the better. Today vintage refers to various everyday objects, interior, Music, Cars and jewellery and fashion that comes from another time. However, due to their age, they have in no way lost their function or value.

Traditional craftsmanship, timelessness, longevity and an exciting history of origin often guarantee the value of a vintage piece. For a long time, the only way to get hold of them was to go in search of treasure at flea markets or to pass it on from generation to generation.

It's easier today: For example, platforms for exclusive second-hand fashion open up an endless pool of opportunities to shop professionally curated vintage fashion from the high-end sector.

Real vintage vs. vintage look

Inspired by the aesthetics and popularity of retro pieces, the "vintage style" developed at the beginning of the 21st century. Without actually being old, production processes were established in order to recreate pieces with the look of the past. The principle: historical design through modern manufacturing methods.


Light signs of use, epochal prints or stylistic characteristics of bygone times adorn products of new collections and define a season that takes place several decades later. This means that both old and copied items can and are referred to as vintage.

However, the value and the points of contact to get hold of pieces that are actually vintage or with a vintage look differ. While the ready-to-wear vintage look is presented on current catwalks and is mostly available online and offline in retail, it looks a little different with true retro treasures.

Since these are not collections, but mostly high-quality unique items, it is often more difficult and more expensive to purchase the exclusive goods. Thanks to flea markets, thrift portals as well as modern auction platforms online though, it is not impossible.

Typical characteristics of vintage clothing

Colors, cuts, patterns - what is typically vintage? That cannot be clearly stated. After all, every decade is characterized by its own individual style, which is once outdated, then repeated and modified again. What must be given, however: Vintage must have been there before.

A piece - be it actually old or modeled - must clearly relate to an existing look, the style of a time. Nevertheless: With regard to currently particularly hyped retro clothing, 5 characteristics can be identified for vintage it-pieces.

1. Opulent motifs

Decorative prints, flowing silhouettes and bright colors - here's the modern vintage trend. Oriented towards Art Nouveau, floral patterns bring a natural touch to the urban jungle this year. From Louis Vuitton to Gucci - In the current Spring / Summer 2020 collections, the well-known fashion houses show how it works.

2. Denim

Comeback of the 90s. Washed out jeans in an oversized look. Trends that had a big fashion moment in the 90s are finally back in focus. Even with high-end brands. This year there are particularly casual models available at Balenciaga or Versace.

3. Flared trouser legs

Goodbye skinny jeans. The 70s are back and trouser legs are flared down. In short: bell-bottoms are back in vogue - from any material. This is proven by Marc Jacobs' spring and summer collection, which he is presenting for 2020.

4. Matching sets

Fashion forward and self-confident: combinations that consist of an upper and a lower part. These do not only bring back the 90s, but also bring more comfort to life. Anyone who decides on one of the trend pieces just has to put it on and immediately has a perfect look.

5. Satin skirts

What used to serve as a petticoat now makes for a stylish appearance. While the satin skirt in the past ensured that tights did not get caught on clothes thanks to its silky feel, today it can be combined effortlessly and elegantly in everyday life and for special occasions.

Vintage trend: story telling and consistency

It is no wonder that many fashion houses are transferring the retro charm to their latest designs. In the Business Insider, trend researcher Mathias Haas explains: The vintage look makes you interesting. Even if the used look is brand new, it gives the impression of an exciting story of origin.

However, only a real, authentic vintage piece can achieve a higher quality level. It actually is about something real and constant, the journey that a piece of clothing has behind it. And it is precisely this real thing that people currently want - in a time characterized by fake news and uncertainty, according to Haas.

Must-have: vintage dresses

The must-have for the general retro trend are vintage dresses. These can be stylishly combined at any time of the year and give the outfit an individual touch. In summer with sandals and sneakers, in colder seasons with silk stockings and boots. But always timeless.

Our top 3 vintage dress trends

  1. Oversized collar
  2. Puffed sleeves
  3. A-line

1. Oversized collar

The big collar, also called pilgrim collar, guarantees 80s vibes. The vintage dress can be mini, midi or maxi and blouses and shirts are also upgraded by the trend - it doesn't matter. Only the large collar, which is mostly white or made of lace, is mandatory. And that also among the stars. For example, Elle Fanning and Harry Styles appeared on the red carpet with a pilgrim collar.

2. Puffed sleeves

A trend steeped in tradition: From the Renaissance to the Biedermeier era, to a comeback in the 80s, the puffed sleeve is now experiencing its renewed revival. Long or short - the voluminous sleeve makes a statement and can give simple clothes that certain something. For example, there are particularly beautiful pieces available at sustainable high-end label Amur.

3. A line

In 1955, Christian Dior launched the fashion silhouette, which has since become a timeless and popular classic. The reason for this is not only the elegance of the A line, but also its figure-flattering effect. The vintage dress trend cannot be missed on the big catwalks in 2020 either.

Where to Buy

The trends can not only be bought in official retail, but also actually vintage. For example, on second hand platforms for exclusive designer fashion. From Vestiaire Collective to Rebelle, pre-loved pieces that are carefully curated, verified and originally retro can be found.

Hands-on types who prefer to shop in the offline world can find their luck at flea markets. Where and when these take place can easily be seen online. And vintage shops also house exclusive vintage treasures. For example, the Vintage Kilostore PICKNWEIGHT has branches all over Germany.

Tips & tricks for vintage shopping

  1. Take time
  2. Check pieces for quirks
  3. Rely on stores that verify goods
  4. Know the value of certain brands to rule out fakes - some deals are too good to be true
  5. Compare prices online - especially for popular vintage pieces

Vintage promotes sustainability

According to the Greenpeace Magazine Textil-Fibel 5, in Europe alone, around 4.3 million tons of clothing end up in the landfill, while the textile industry is one of the largest CO2 emitters in the world. There are also other negative environmental impacts such as the threat to resources and inhumane working conditions. Vintage can make a clear statement against this.

The vintage idea extends the life cycles of products, minimizes waste and makes the frequent, environmentally harmful production of new goods superfluous. And thus actively promotes environmental protection. While items with a vintage look do not necessarily meet these requirements - unless they come from sustainable and ethical labels - reproduced vintage collections can promote sustainability in an indirect sense.

These create awareness for retro clothing, make the styles of the past desirable as well as present in the media and thus expand the focus of consumers on actual vintage fashion. The result: more consumption of used items and thus a clear sign against the environmentally harmful fast fashion movement.


Always informed about the latest lifestyle trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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