Downsizing and Real Estate

1/3/2024 | By Terri L. Jones

Many of your castoff, outdated items in storage may be poised for new life. Vintage trends can work in your favor if you’re downsizing, clearing clutter, or looking for a unique gift.

When my husband and I moved a couple years ago, we whittled down our possessions, selling some of our castoffs and donating the rest of them. As a result, I rode around with a trunkful of stuff for a while. One day, my sister noticed these bags and announced that my 21-year-old niece would take any “old lady china” that I might have. As luck would have it, I had a few pieces that had belonged to my grandmother (her great-grandmother), which I passed along to her.

My niece’s affinity for “old lady china” surprised me, but after that incident, I began to notice how the rest of her generation also seemed to appreciate items like those gathering dust in our attics. While the appeal of these things can be largely attributed to young people’s focus on the environment, scoring these cool, retro items is part of these vintage trends, which allow young consumers to express their originality (who wants an Eddie Bauer jacket when they can wear Members Only?!) and connects them to past generations and simpler times.

5 popular vintage trends

Below are some “outdated” things from our generation that the younger generations now can’t get enough of:

1. Polaroid and disposable cameras

Our generation was thrilled with the advent of smartphone cameras that made carrying an extra piece of technology to take photos unnecessary. But because smartphone cameras are all Gen Zs have ever known, Polaroids and disposable cameras have the same novelty for them. And it’s not despite their low quality but because of it! After a lifetime of posing, editing, and sharing, it’s precisely these cameras’ lack of perfection and candidness that they seem to love.

This low-tech way of capturing the moment “pushes people to be their authentic selves” clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman told BAZAAR. Also, because everything is intangible these days – from money to books to photos – having a print to hold in their hands, tape to their mirror, and show to their friends has a definite appeal.

2. Vinyl records

Young woman listening to vinyl records with an old portable record player

In 2022, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported that vinyl sales rose 22 percent in the first half of the year. While that’s probably no surprise, you may not have realized that the increase in sales is due in large part to young listeners. The main reason for this new audience is, as with Polaroid cameras, the tangibility of the medium. Explained 24-year-old Tristan to Vinylmeplease.com, “An album is so much more than the music – it’s the cover art, the credits, the art design, the colors, the smell of the paper, the story behind the art, etc. It’s something that I can collect, and that identifies my character and who I was listening to at different points of my life.”

In fact, many young listeners don’t even own record players and simply purchase the albums to support their favorite artists or to display them. And with many artists aware of the aesthetic draw, they’re releasing their albums in a selection of colors to make their albums even more visually pleasing.

3. Wired ear buds

Some younger folks are even opting for corded headphones or earbuds to showcase their own quirky individuality. “In short, AirPods have become too widespread to be cool,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “So, perhaps inevitably, contrarian trendsetters are reviving some ancient technology: corded headphones.” Wired headphones are also less expensive and don’t need to be charged (however, newer iPhones need an adapter to plug them in, but that doesn’t seem to deter the cool kids embracing vintage trends!).

4. Crafts

Crafts that used to be the domain of old woman in rockers have experienced a resurgence with young women in bean bag chairs (yes, bean bags are also making a comeback!). Case in point (pun intended): needlepoint! In 2014, Taylor Swift gave Ed Sheeran a needlepoint piece that she made herself, followed by USA Today explaining “Why millennials are trading their cell phones for needlepoint.” Then during the pandemic lockdown, this time-honored craft experienced a huge boost in popularity thanks to the numerous Instagram posts from young needlepointers showing off their skills. Similarly, crocheting is having a moment because of how this craft reduces stress levels, replaces screen time with productive time and allows young “hookers” to make something one-of-a-kind.

5. Clothing

rack of vintage clothing, including furs, jean jackets, and faux leather jackets.

The younger generations’ interest in things from the past doesn’t stop at hobbies and technology. They also seem to have a passion for fashions that our generation cast off long ago. Young women are seeking out track suits, miniskirts, and loose, comfortable clothes in neutral colors, known as coastal grandma, in thrift stores and relatives’ closets, with their male counterparts embracing the grandpa version of this trend, including collared shirts, cardigans, loafers and fisherman’s bucket hats.

Recently, a young Facebook poster announced that she had scored one of those ’70s ceramic Christmas trees at a Goodwill, which was met by a stream of mostly young people excitedly commenting that they were looking for one of their own. Deciding that maybe this young vintage trendsetter was onto something, I went digging through my dad and stepmother’s attic for the one she made decades ago.

Perhaps the younger generation can inspire us to start liking our own stuff again – or at least they can take it off our hands!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones