Leading Vintage Clothing retailer
Devoted 2 Vintage reveals five key indicators to tell a
vintage garment from a modern reproduction.
The market for vintage clothing continues to grow and with
that more and more sellers are entering the market. However,
without the experience and knowledge many modern items are
being sold incorrectly as vintage.
There is no substitute for experience but for those just
starting their vintage collection there are some basic
indicators to look for. There are always exceptions but by
following these simple checks you should be able to avoid
Indicator 1 – Look at the zip. Does the dress have a metal
or vinyl zip? Vinyl zips were not widely used on dresses
until mid-late 1960's so the presence of a metal zip could
indicate a pre-1970's dress. The location of the zip is also
a key indicator. Also the location of the zip is important.
Up to the 1950s the zips were often placed at the side of
the dress, moving to the back during the 1950s and 1960s.
Indicator 2 – Look at the labels. There are three types of
labels to look for; the makers label, the size label and
care label. There is an excellent vintage label resource on
the Vintage Fashion Guild web page were you can look up most
important vintage labels. If you can't find your label here
look at the other labels. Before the 1960's the size labels
typically indicated the hip size in inches, after this sizes
such as 12, 14 etc. were more commonly used. These standard
sizes have change over the years so a 14 in the 1960s is
equivalent to a 1970's size 12 and modern size 10 so check
the bust measurement. Care labels are also a good indicator;
they were only introduced in the mid 1960's and only became
widely used in the 1970s. The Pure New Wool symbol was only
introduced in the 1970s. The absence of any labels would
normally indicate that the dress was home made and very
common before the 1970's
Indicator 3 – Look at the garment construction. Vintage
dresses are more likely to be hand made with details like
hook and eye fasteners and poppers to secure the garments.
Also, internal bra straps were common in the 1950s.
Underskirts were common in the 1950's; look for net and
muslin underskirts, often with metal hoops sewn in the hem
to give the skirts more volume.
Indicator 4 – Look at the fabric. This is a skill that will
be developed by handing vintage clothes. Modern mass
produced fabrics are rarely the same quality as vintage
fabrics. So it is worth spending time in a reputable vintage
shop feeling the fabrics, when you then compare this with a
modern dress the differences are apparent. The type of
fabric used is also a good way of dating dresses. Rayon and
taffeta were widely used in the 1950's and in the 1960's
polyester; nylon and Crimpolene were commonly used. Lycra
was only introduced in the 1980's.
Indicator 5 – Look at the style of the dress. This alone is
not an accurate indicator because there are many vintage
styles have been reproduced over the years. The 1940's
shoulder pads were widely used but were also popular in the
1980's. The two most popular styles in the 1950's were the
shirtwaist dress, with buttons to the front, a nipped in
waist and full pleated skirt and the wiggle dress with
lovely fitted hourglass shape. The 1960's saw the
introduction of the classis mini skirt and simple shift
dress. The maxi dress became more popular in the late 1960's
and into the 1970's. The more flamboyant 1970s demanded more
fitted styles with plunging necklines and angel sleeves.
Using all these key indicators should lead you through the
minefield of buying vintage and help to prevent you from
making mistakes. As your collection grows so will your
experience and confidence but as long as you buy items that
you love then even the mistakes don't matter too much.
If you need a second opinion just contact an expert like
Devoted 2 Vintage.