7 Tips for Identifying Vintage Clothing ...


These days, vintage is a fairly generic term. Anything ‘vintage’ is seemingly on-trend, so the term gets thrown around quite a bit. In general, any item of clothing produced between the 1920s and 1980s can be considered vintage. The following tips should help you identify true vintage pieces.

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Ask Questions

Ask Questions Photo Credit: Ibai Acevedo

Inquire about an item’s origin, if possible. If you have inherited an item from a family friend or relative, ask about previous owners to gauge an approximate time of purchase. If buying from a store or dealer, they may be able to tell you specific details about its origins.


Check the Care Label

Check the Care Label Photo Credit: Fontourist

Checking the care label can help narrow down the date that an item was made. For example, care symbols were introduced in 1971, so if you spy these on the label then the item was made after 1971. In the USA, fabric content labels date back to 1960. While they may not be able to provide specific dates, checking labels is still a useful method.


Assess the Sizing

Assess the Sizing Photo Credit: Fontourist

For women’s wear, standard sizing scales have changed greatly and continue to fluctuate. One of the reasons for this is that the proportions of many garments have changed over time. The prevalence of vanity sizing is also another reason. For example, a size 14 in the 1950s is comparable to a size 6 in today’s measurements.


Check the Fabric

Check the Fabric Photo Credit: Fontourist

Read the garment labels to determine the fabric used. You will often be able to associate certain fabrics with certain eras. Crepe was a classic fabric of the 1940s. Nylon, the first synthetic fabric, was not widely used for clothing until the 1950s. Polyester dominated the 1970s. If there is no fabric label, compare the fabric against those in your current wardrobe.


Determine the Cut

Determine the Cut Photo Credit: Vindemial Vintage

Assessing characteristics such as the hemline and cut can greatly help identify vintage pieces of clothing. In the 1940s and 1950s, waist measurements were much smaller in proportion to hip and bust measurements than by today’s standards. From the 1950s to 1970s, armholes were quite narrow. As for hemlines, they did not rise above the knee until the 1960s.


Look at Zipper Location

Look at Zipper Location Photo Credit: Vindemial Vintage

Much like cut and sizing, the zipper location is another characteristic of clothing that has changed throughout the years. Up until the late 1930s, ladies’ garments were fastened with buttons, ties, or clasps. A zipper starting under the sleeve can indicate a garment made from the 1930s to 1970s. A metal shortage in the 1940s resulted in smaller zippers being used on dresses from this era. A zipper at the centre back of a dress can date an item from the late 1950s.


Research Old Fashion Magazines

Research Old Fashion Magazines Photo Credit: fruitcakey

Look through old fashion magazines and books covering vintage fashion. This will help you become acquainted with the specific styles of each era. Observe things such as fit and patterns, as well as when various synthetic fabrics were introduced. The more you educate yourself on the topic, the easier it will be to identify vintage items of clothing.

Do you wear vintage? I’d love to hear your tips for identifying vintage pieces!

Top Photo Credit: kthread

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Wow..these are so informative tips.

ooooo i love vintage! thanks for the tips

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