How to Date Vintage Clothing as Accurately as Possible

How to Date Vintage Clothing as Accurately as Possible

Dating vintage clothing can be both fun and valuable for collectors, historians, and fashion enthusiasts. Here are some tips to help you date your vintage clothing:

Check Labels and Tags:

Care labels and brand tags can provide valuable information. Look for labels sewn into the garment, especially at the collar, neck, waist, or inside seams.

Inspect Zippers and Fasteners:

The type of zippers, buttons, and fasteners used can help date clothing. For example, metal zippers were common before plastic ones became widespread.

Examine Fabric and Material:

The fabric type and print can offer clues. Certain materials were popular in specific eras. Vintage garments often use natural fibres like cotton, silk, and wool.

Study Silhouette and Cut:

Silhouettes change with fashion trends. The shape of a dress, skirt, or jacket can help you identify the era.

Analyse Hemlines and Sleeve Length:

Hemlines and sleeve lengths go through cycles of short and long. High hemlines may indicate the 1920s or 1960s, while longer hemlines are associated with earlier decades.

Observe Necklines and Collars:

Necklines and collar styles can be distinctive to certain periods. For instance, high, ruffled collars were popular in the Victorian era, while plunging necklines were fashionable in the 1930s.

Look for Shoulder Pads:

Shoulder pads became prominent in women's clothing during the 1940s, 1980s, and 2000s. Their size and shape can provide clues.

Check for Union Labels:

Union labels, often sewn into a garment's interior, may include the date of manufacture. Research these labels to interpret their codes.

Search for Dye Techniques:

The method of dyeing fabric has evolved. Look for particular dye techniques, like dip-dyeing, that were fashionable in specific eras.

Refer to Reference Books and Online Resources:

There are books and websites dedicated to dating vintage clothing. These resources can provide extensive information on styles, brands, and manufacturing techniques.

Examine Accessories:

Hats, shoes, gloves, and other accessories are often indicative of the era. Studying these details can help pinpoint a garment's date.

Get Professional Appraisals:

If you have valuable vintage clothing, consider getting an appraisal from an expert in vintage fashion or textile history.

Talk to Vintage Sellers and Collectors:

Vintage dealers and collectors can be knowledgeable resources. They often have a wealth of experience in dating vintage clothing.

Remember that fashion is cyclical, and some styles from the past may come back into vogue, so dating vintage clothing can sometimes be a bit challenging. However, by considering all these factors and cross-referencing your findings, you can often narrow down the era in which a garment was produced.

Back to blog