It kind of goes without saying that truly vintage items look old, this is of course the purpose of the style, but there is more than just a dated look to the classical fashions and décor of times gone by. Underneath the designs that were once commonplace there is something even more storied about vintage style – this is its attachment to nature. Unlike many modern aesthetic looks the components that make up authentically vintage wares are closely linked to one natural form or another, often because out forefathers didn’t have the luxury afforded to us today that comes in the form of modern machinery and technological equipment. As a result, many things glimpsed in old sepia photos look so obviously aged because today we are further detached from the natural sources of our environment.
In contrast as the world moved into the retro era, our hunt to seem futuristic meant stepping away from vintage and its origins in one huge leap. Retro is almost the antithesis of vintage in this sense, taking us into a space age and by doing so taking us far away from the earth and its fruit. If this all sounds a bit wishy washy then take a look at the comparisons that follow.
Colour – Vintage
Vintage colours may seem dull and lifeless to those who love the vibrant fluorescents of contemporary styles, but there is a reason behind this. The reason that everything in those scratchy old movie clips and the tea stained photographs in the back of library books look so unsaturated is because the colours are natural. Shirts, dresses and blouses were commonly white, because well, cotton is white and without adding anything else to it this will dictate the colour of your garment. In the same way many satchels, bags and furniture coverings were different shades of brown, simply because they were made from leather and this was the colour of the animal hide they had used. Dyes were less common the further you go back so the result is a world covered in the shades that nature provides.
Colour – Retro
By the time we passed the mid-20th Century the world had gone colour mad, the psychedelic 60’s and beyond created an aesthetic that was all about vivid eye-catching colour. Similarly, the space age brought in bold colours that showed off a more fanciful and prouder western look. What this meant is that the natural colours of old were no longer of interest, the ‘cool’ thing now was to add vibrancy to your clothes, your posters and your living room. Bright burning oranges, raging rocket reds and solar flare yellows all made their way across wallpapers, trousers and kitchen appliances as if after the moon landing our next goal would be the sun itself. On top of this more colour blending occurred, fitting in with the liquid lava lamp styles and trippy gradients of the hippie phase. The more outlandish a colour the more perfect it was in this era which is why many retro items share a colour palette that seems garish even by today’s standards.