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Guides In Dating Vintage Clothing

There are a lot of interesting things about vintage clothes—their unique fabrics, flattering silhouettes, meticulous trimmings, and of course history. Only few, however, take interest in digging deep into the history of a given vintage item. They know it is from the past, but where exactly in the past, they are clueless. Remember that the ability to date vintage items saves you from buying fake ones.

How sure are you that a garment is an authentic vintage piece and not just something that is made to look like one? Every vintage-loving person—whether a collector or a fashionista—should be skilled in dating vintage clothing items. The following are some guides.

1.) Peruse fashion history books. Fortunately, a lot of books written by reliable authors are available today. Make an investment and get yourself copies. You can also check websites that have detailed and interesting presentations on the fashion plates for every decade. Study the lines and silhouettes and notice their differences. Take also a closer look at the prevailing lifestyle at any given decade and the subsequent trends.

What were the most stylish fabrics in the 1930’s? What were the fashion innovations caused by World War II in the 1940’s? How long were the skirts in the 1950’s? This may be too overwhelming a task, but this is a good starting point. Keep in mind that in terms of dating vintage clothes, nothing can replace your knowledge of the fashion history.

2.) Look at the zipper. Many people take zippers as clues in dating vintage garments. Zippers were first created in 1891, in the Victorian era, but appeared in garments only in the1930’s. That time, however, traditional button fastenings or press studs were more widely used in garments. Until 1950’s, zippers were sewn in side seams of garments, and later began to appear on center backs. Metal zippers are believed to appear before 1960, although plastic zippers were already available in the 1930’s.

Concealed zippers were first introduced in 1958 and plastic coil zippers in 1971. Zippers, however, may not be a very reliable clue to identify the age of a garment, as some zippers may have been changed either to replace a damaged one or to make a phony garment look like vintage. As a general rule, pay attention to other indications of age such as trimmings, fabrics, and silhouettes.

3.) Check the seams. It is said that the seams in mass produced garments during the 1950’s were pinked, while those more expensive and possibly haute couture had overcast, welted, or Frenched seams. It was also in the same decade that overlock seams were made in lingerie, which were eventually done in other garments in the 1960’s. Like zippers, seams may not accurately point you to the date your vintage garment was created, so consider other factors.

4.) See if the garment has a label. Sewn-in labels started in the mid-19th century and were usually hidden beneath layers of linings. Care labels, on the other hand, were introduced in 1972 in the United States and 1975 in United Kingdom.

You may date a vintage item wrongly in your first experiences. The silk dress you thought was from the 30’s was in fact from the 50’s. But don’t be discouraged; dating vintage clothing requires a lot of practice.


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