Vintage French Kitchen / Tea Towels - Does 'Vintage' mean “old”, “used”, or “classic”?

At Au Bon Goût Boutique, we laugh at each other, sometimes calling ourselves “vintage” but truth of the matter is the definition of the word ‘vintage’ can be a bit tricky.  According to Merriam Webster, the term “vintage” relates primarily to wine and is an altered form of the French word vendage, meaning “the grapes picked during a season.” One of its secondary definitions, however, is “a period of origin or manufacture”.  A ‘vintage’ car for example.

But what if the “period of origin or manufacture” is present day?  Take French dish / tea towels for instance. We carry a large inventory of French kitchen / tea dish towels, many of which are termed “vintage” or even “classic”, but they are brand new, with “vintage or classic designs”.  Many of our new table linens from quality French manufacturers have the term “vintage” in their title or invariably depict  “french country tea towel designs” that are brand new.

Garnier-Thiebaut, Olives Vintage Nature Kitchen / Tea Towel     Garnier-Thiebaut, Eiffel Tower Vintage Kitchen / Tea Towel


Beauvillé, Alsace Gourmande Kitchen / Tea Towel     Beauvillé, Bon Appétit Kitchen / Tea Towel

Fabric Choice: Linen, Cotton, or Jacquard?

Invariably, the French tea / dish towel regardless of “vintage” will introduce color and warmth, and utility to your kitchen.  The most common types are made from either a linen-cotton blend such as the Garnier-Thiebaut, Isaphire Towel which has more of a linen feel, or those by Beauvillé made from 82% cotton / 18% linen such as their holiday towel, Gretel which has more of a soft cotton feel, or, finally the 100% cotton damask jacquard towel, such as Garnier-Thiebaut’s, Myrtilles (Blueberries).

Garnier-Thiebaut, Isaphire Bleu Linen Blend Kitchen / Tea Towel

Beauvillé, Gretel Christmas Kitchen / Tea Towel

Garnier-Thiebaut, Myrtilles Kitchen / Tea Towel

Choosing a vintage or new linen-cotton blend over a 100% cotton jacquard towel is simply a matter of taste and preference.  Many like the linen-blends because they feel linen is best for drying glasses and china. (Can you guess why?  It’s because linen doesn’t leave any lint!) If properly cared for, linen dish cloths –vintage or newcan last a lifetime getting softer as the years go by. On the other hand, the jacquard cotton towel is equally highly absorbent, making them ideal for drying dishes and hands as well as being extremely heat-tolerant.  Regardless of material, regardless of vintage, classic or new, a French kitchen / dish cloth will serve you well for years.

Some additional uses for a Vintage or New French Dish Towel…

Did you know…

  • if you fold a tea towel twice, you have a nice, rustic placemat?
  • They make a perfect hostess gift when rolled up & tied with a ribbon?
  • If you fold it into a square, it makes a wonderful trivet for hot plates.
  • They’re terrific for use as a quick oven mitt when removing something from the oven.
  • If you put fresh-baked bread in a plastic bag, the moisture condenses and leaves the bread soggy. But wrap the bread in a tea towel instead, after it has cooled off and no soggy bread!
  • Of course, vintage, or new tea/dish towels look great as breadbaskets, or basket liners.
  • And then when the towel has moved beyond “vintage” to truly old, it is great for polishing silver or copper.