The Origin of the Vintage Aesthetic

Whether you’re admiring a beautiful dress on display at the Met or wearing it on the streets of New York, fashion is an art form.

image for article The Origin of the Vintage Aesthetic

Whether you’re admiring a beautiful dress on display at the Met or wearing it on the streets of New York, fashion is an art form. Maneuvering between being self-referential to futuristic, the past always finds a place in fashion. No matter how far or region-specific a type of style may be-the foundation for innovative fashion is the ghosts of fashion past. Without the history of any art form, the present and future for it wouldn’t exist. Just the way we wouldn’t have the Macbook Pro without the invention of the seemingly unrelated Apple 1, we wouldn’t have many of the most avant-garde cutting edge styles without colors, patterns, fabrics and, most importantly, silhouettes us by the past of the fashion industry. 

Sometimes, even the existence and popularity of entire fashion houses exist due to their ability to effectively and innovatively revamp past aesthetics. After all, what would Gucci in its current iteration be without its ability to masterfully make the colors, patterns, and silhouettes of the 1970s feel new and exciting again? What would Chanel be without its ability to keep its popular tweed fabric and skirt suit silhouette true to tradition and still feel timeless?  Fashion houses have long kept their own archives to reference past styles as creative directors come and go.

The History of “Vintage” Fashion 

The concept of “vintage” fashion or “vintage” aesthetics began as a result of the first iteration of a “modern recreation” of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s style. However, this expression of “vintage” style was not just limited to fashion — photography and furniture both played a strong role in immortalizing the tastes and styles of a period. Some may say that the  resurgence of vintage fashion was a reaction and response to the monotonous and uniform style of the mid-2000s. During this time, many young people felt that fashion lacked intention, creativity, and individuality which hindered their ability to express themselves sartorially. 

While choosing more decadent and creatively extravagant styles comes the concept of pulling bits and pieces of fashion from different decades. In no time at all, it was typical to see teens photographing their vintage-inspired outfits on film cameras to further add to the “vintage” aesthetic.

And with this newfound interest in vintage clothing came the popularity of thrift shops. Over the last decade, as vintage fashion has become the backbone of many fashion-forward individuals’ sense of style, we’ve seen thrift shops, vintage shops, and secondhand shops evolve dramatically. 

The “vintage” aesthetic has influenced personal style, trends, and the way that people shop and develop personal style, it has also influenced the way that brands, fashion houses, and the fashion industry embrace the history of fashion and past trends. 

History of Fashion in Modern Fashion 

Although fashion has always taken pieces of its past with it as it moves from era to era, never before have we seen a resurgence of archival fashion being pulled from the vaults to be refitted and repurposed for celebrities. These looks promote a more democratic fashion industry that is a far cry from monumental fashion events like the MET Gala, which used to be the only venue at which we’d see archival pieces. 

It’s not unusual to see Kim Kardashian regularly sporting archival Gucci, Versace, Thierry Mugler, and Jean Paul Gaultier pieces, whether for a red-carpet look or personal photoshoot. Kim is no stranger to regularly incorporating archival looks into her daily style. 

Regardless of where you stand on the presence of the vintage aesthetic in fashion, we can agree that our best outfits and personal style would be nothing without it. In some ways, vintage fashion is now a status symbol! Thrilling is just the place for you to explore what vintage fashion niche your personal best style best fits into, or what fashion era you may have never considered before that may be just for you! 

Below are our top picks of pieces from different decades. There is truly something for everyone!

Our Picks

The 1960s 

'60s Handmade Long Pink Quilted Brocade Dress with Lace Trim

It’s pretty and pink. This brocade dress’ high neckline and waistline is straight out of the ’60s flower child era.

'60s Paisley Print Sleeveless Blouse

This stunning paisley printed blouse is a versatile statement piece that pairs well with, well, everything.

'60s Ivory Pointelle Textured Knit Duster

Stay warm while looking cool with this collared duster featuring elegant bell sleeves and a chunky knit fit for Chris Evans himself.

‘60s Black Chevron Sequin Top

Get ready to boogie all night to “My Generation” and “These Boots are Made for Walking” in a statement tank fit for a dance floor. 

’60s Colorful Paisley Wrap Dress

It wouldn’t be the ‘60s without a swirling, psychedelic pattern that’s Woodstock ready. Playful pinks and vibrant blues dance across a wrap dress sure to make you the center of attention.

The 1970s

'70s Plaid Checkered Lightweight Collared Sport Jacket

Put on a sartorial ’70s show with this wide-lapel showpiece. 

'70s Burgundy Leather Jacket with Removable Faux Fur Trim

This versatile ’70s outerwear silhouette from the ’70s instantly adds an off-duty cool look to your wardrobe. 

'70s Blue and Purple Floral One Piece Swimsuit

Step up your swimsuit game this summer. This unique one-piece from the ’70s is vibrant and flattering on any body.  

70's Burnt Orange Halter Dress with Swarovski Crystal Medallion

This halter dress provides comfort and luxury in one with a Swarovski crystal centerpiece nestled into its comfortable orange knit.

‘70s Silver Disco Diva Jumpsuit

You’ll be the dancing queen in this disco-inspired, puff-shoulder jumpsuit. This jumpsuit will shimmer and shine as you shake it on the dance floor—and it has pockets.

The 1980s 

'80s Teal Taffeta Party Dress

This incredibly unique teal party dress from the 80s features tulip sleeves and a  teal and black polka dot colorway is a maximalist approach to the little black dress. 

'80s Pink Puffer Coat

For the fashion lover who is also a utilitarian, a practical and warm coat that’s as bold as the wearer.  

‘80s Slouchy Teal Plaid Mohair Cardigan

This cardigan somehow evokes every character from The Breakfast Club at once, for those of us who can’t decide whether they’re a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or Judd Nelson. 

The 1990s 

'90s Wrap Around Sunglasses

Ready for your Y2K close-up? These incredible glasses look straight off the set of a Destiny's Child music video.

'90s Pink Dress

While the little black dress is timeless and irreplaceable, why not swap it out for a little pink dress? 

'90s Patent Leather Shoulder Bag

No accessory-dominated ’90s womenswear like the baguette bag. Made popular by “Sex & The City” star character, Carrie Bradshaw, the bag shape would eventually make way for the micro bag trend.

To Wrap It Up.. 

Vintage fashion is stylish and sustainable. When you purchase the patent leather shoulder bag of your dreams from Thrilling, not only are you expressing your unique sense of style, but you’re also cutting down on waste and helping protect the environment. Thrilling sells and ships our items directly from our partner boutiques to reduce our carbon footprint while supporting small, local businesses. We understand that small businesses are the backbone of our communities, and 95 percent of Thrilling’s boutiques are female- and/or BIPOC-owned.

If you can’t find the perfect piece for you, send us an email at We’ll search through our offline inventory and our partner boutiques to help you find a high-quality vintage outfit tailored to your point of view.


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