Vintage Or Repro? They Both Have Their Charms

I had a small business on eBay in the early 2000’s, buying and re-selling vintage clothing. Some truly beautiful pieces passed through my hands, and I wish I had some of them back — 1940’s midnight velvet gown, I am talking to you. But mostly, the fun was in the hunt, the restoration, and the selling to happy new owners.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. A true 1940’s beauty.
And a fabulous early 60’s office dress. I’d wear it now.

I learned to spot an authentic vintage piece from a repro by studying labels, seam finishes, zippers, and fabrics. I still swoon over a genuine 1940’s or 50’s dress, and the fine workmanship.

The styles of the early 60’s are ladylike in the extreme, and I like them for “occasions.” I love the late 60’s and early 70’s casual styles: wrap cotton skirts, sandals, crochet, wide trousers.

Having been fully dressed for success in the 80’s, I don’t find 80’s fashions very appealing now. But give me a few years, and they’ll probably look fabulous again.

There are online retail sites that specialize in vintage reproductions. Their dresses, skirts and shoes share similar silhouettes to the “real thing”, but in modern fabrics. There are some advantages to buying repro’s:

  • The fabrics are easier to care for, usually hand or machine washable.
  • Your size is likely to be available, and:
  • The sizing is more predictable. I’ve worn a vintage size 14 dress, but my modern size is 6, so you need to know your measurements well when buying vintage.
  • Repro’s are mostly more affordable, especially on sale. Unless you have time to haunt the thrifts!
  • Modern usually smells good.

Of course, repro’s are lacking in that vintage je ne sais quoi. They don’t have history, romance, or the thrill of the find. Here are some cute repro’s I’ve seen online lately:

Love this 50’s style skirt from ModCloth.
And this 60’s-inspired dress from eShakti.
Fab-u-lous 40’s style peep-toe heels, at REMIX shoes.

I’ll buy and wear a good quality repro dress, and enjoy tossing it in the washing machine. I save my few remaining 50’s crepe and rayon dresses for events. I do wear true vintage 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s skirts, jewelry and scarves all the time.

Where do you stand on the vintage/repro discussion? Or are you a modern woman all the way, with no pre-owned in your closet?

Have a happy day and stay fabulous,



Not Dead Yet Style is a ShopStyle affiliate – please be aware that all links to these vendors are affiliate links. I do benefit from your purchases through the links on the blog. 

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patti

17 Comments

  1. I buy secondhand not necessarily vintage. If I find a really good vintage piece I'm really happy, but mostly just find secondhand. I also upcycle and hand make my clothes. I find I don't like the stores in malls now. There is no thrill of the chase, and the pieces are so expensive! And often not made as well. So maybe I wear reproduction vintage without knowing if it makes its way through the op shop! Your dresses looked beautiful. I don't know how you managed to part with them. XO JJ

  2. I definitely prefer second hand and vintage when I can find things that fit. That's one of the advantages of repro or vintage style if you're a larger size. I'm not really into the 80s either. I was a teenager then and did the punk thing but have definitely moved on style-wise since then. Love the red shoes!

  3. What a fun business that must have been! I love the vintage look, but it hasn't made its way to my wardrobe yet.

  4. I love both styles, genuine or fake, don't have problems to enjoy a modern piece with a vintage vibe, but you're right about the lack of charm of new clothes.
    Anyway, reproductions are really easier for modern life!
    besos

  5. Well, I'm a vintage gal. I can't afford the quality I find in vintage in new clothes. Even if I could, I'd still rather buy vintage because I enjoy the hunt. I'd like to see you in that early '60s office dress!

  6. Interesting to know another side of you, Patti. What made you give up wheeling and dealing?

    I prefer newer clothes because they don't feel so confining – vintage clothes required girdles and more disciplined snacking habits! And then there's the smell factor…

  7. I will happily do either, as long as it's an ethical purchase for me. I recently found a grey lace dress from the Banana Republic "Mad Men" collection in a thrift store, and I adore it (and just washed it, hurrah!). I wouldn't have purchased it new, but I'm fine with it thrifted. I do love the detail that you find in real, honest-to-goodness vintage, though. It cannot be beat, but like you said, there are some major drawbacks. I got rid of a new-ish thrift purchase because the dress smelled really bad once it was on. Bummer!

  8. ahh, forget about my last comment, it's nonsense. I think everybody should wear what makes her happy! 🙂

  9. Interesting. I much prefer vintage to modern vintage-style clothes (though I do have bits and pieces of the latter, albeit bought secondhand). I mix my vintage with modern things too, so it's not an either/or. You're right, it's the history of vintage pieces that make them special. And the uniqueness – no one else has the same thing, I like that. I am fortunate enough to still find vintage clothes at cheap prices in our charity shops and at flea markets (though I notice Ebay is getting much more expensive, fewer bargains to be found these days.) And Vix's point about recycling is a good one.
    The two vintage dresses you've shown us are gorgeous pieces; are they ones you sold, or do you still have them now? I'd love to see your 1950s dress collection, Patti, I bet you look amazing in them! xxxx

  10. I have to say I only like retro if they put the style to another level somehow. just like spell designs or free people for early 70s clothing.

  11. Wow I never knew you were a vintage trader Patti! I prefer true vintage over repro every time but there are certain era's that you'd never get an original piece for your budget – 1920's flapper dresses in wearable condition for example. Good specimens are sooo expensive. I do however own several inexpensive repros as I love that era and it's style.
    I love those red shoes!

  12. Those two vintage pieces are gorgeous and I love the shoes.
    Repro doesn't appeal – either for houses, clothes or cars (cannot stand modern Beetles!). Vintage comes with flaws and character and you're saving the planet! x

  13. I'm glad to see some of these designs made available for modern life. That said, my own style has moved toward the more minimal, though that green "Joan Holloway" dress would be so wearable.

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