The terms - vintage and couture has become diluted over the years especially since the dawn of internet selling and the recent popularity of vintage clothing.
So let’s define what these terms really mean...
Vintage Clothing is clothing that is at least 25 years old. So in the 2010 for clothing to vintage is must have been manufactured before 1985. Anything garment manufactured after 1985 is pre-owned, pre-loved or just plain used. Not all old clothing needs to be sold as vintage.
Couture was once applied only to the haute couture items created under the strict rules of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. The requirements stated that couture must be made-to-order for a private client and include several fittings.
One of the modern uses of the term couture is when reputable vintage dealers use it as a way to highlight items that have been constructed (usually by hand) with meticulous quality and detail. When buying vintage couture or couture, remember that fashion designers have lines of clothing that are manufactured as ready to wear (RTW). The vintage couture designer RTW is still a valuable garment and something to be proud to own. Most of the vintage couture listed on vintage clothing websites are vintage RTW.
Currently, the label “Vintage” is now being applied to brand new merchandise in many retail stores. Fashion brands are incorporating the word into their names even though their items aren't authentic vintage, just vintage-inspired.
Retro Clothing is the wearing of styles in the past. This way of dressing includes garments and accessories that are characteristic of the past. The garments are generally made new with vintage patterns. Also, retro clothing can be used in an exaggerated way such as rockabilly style or pinup girl style of dressing.