By Tina Faulkner of American Jane Vintage

It’s vintage!” Have you heard that yet? You compliment a friend or even a stranger on their super fresh outfit and they proudly squeal, “It’s vintage!” They go on to tell you that you can’t find it at one of those big chain stores but that it is a treasured piece of clothing that used to be their grandmother’s or maybe their mom wore it in high school. Sometimes it doesn’t have a family lineage, but they regale how they found it while out thrifting.

Makenzie Evans photo

What is vintage? According to my junking big sister, Jenifer Hendrix from Jenifer’s Antiques, it’s anything 20 years or older.

“So … you’re saying those Y2K shirts are now vintage?”

Yep, I am.

“Wait, what?!? That cannot be.”

‘Tis true.

Granted, vintage has now taken on a meaning that is more than just age or a date of manufacturing.  Vintage has come to now be synonymous with quality, one-of-a-kind items, and quite often they were made in the USA.

The workmanship of the garments as well as the quality of the fabric used in the garment industry are things that have drifted over the years. You hear talk of fast fashion these days. In the past, the fashion industry would have four collections a year; now they are cranking out 16 micro collections annually. No matter how hard they try, it is hard to sustain quality with that kind of turnaround. Vintage is slow fashion; Father Time has curated this collection himself. So many items these days cannot make it through three wash cycles before they have holes, lose their shape or just give up.

With vintage, you can be confident no one else is wearing an outfit like yours. Where you found it, the inventory is often only one deep; there is not another one like it in the whole shop! When it fits, it sure does feel like providence that you found each other. Often in our shop, it seems like the clothes pick the people instead of the other way around. Frequently, I have felt like Merlin watching Excalibur pick his King Arthur. I say, “Many have tried but this dress has chosen you,” in my most Disney-animated-movie wizard voice.

The majority of vintage clothes were made here in the United States well up into the early 1990s, when the garment industry started the exodus to overseas. In fact, when we were trying to decide what to call our vintage clothing and home goods shop, I was reminded that my husband had recently done a genealogy deep dive. He discovered he had a great-great-great- (I don’t remember how many greats she was) grandmother whose name was America Jane. We thought that fit perfectly with selling vintage because so much of it was made in America.

One thing I love about wearing vintage is that we have all of fashion history to pull from. WE decide what works for us. WE’RE the boss. What sets off MY silhouette the best? What are YOUR go-to colors that make your eyes sparkle or compliment your skin tone? Sometimes trends don’t always leave room for that. Letting ourselves pull from the past opens a whole other closet to help us present the best visual version of ourselves. We are so much more than the clothes we wear, but it sure does feel good when we have fun getting dressed again. Remember to smile; it is always your best accessory.