There are plenty of vintage fashion tips out there to help you become a vintage clothing expert. Vintage fashion has been enjoying huge popularity lately, so knowing how to spot and decode your vintage can come in handy. With plenty of vintage-inspired clothes being produced at the moment, sometimes it’s hard to separate real vintage from reproductions. Decipher clothing from throughout the decades by checking out these vintage fashion tips.
1. Fabric Type
One of the first vintage fashion tips to help you decode vintage fashion is to check the fabric. Different fabrics came to popularity during different eras in fashion. For example, most dresses from the 1930s are made from rayon or a rayon mix while the 1940s saw a trend for crepe fabric and cotton florals. The 1950s were all about nylon, and polyester dominated the 1960s (although it went under different names early in the decade and “polyester” wasn’t settled on until later on).
2. Clothing Styles
The style of clothing is usually a dead giveaway into the era that it was created. Get acquainted with different fashion styles by looking through vintage fashion magazines. Women’s clothing in the 1930s was feminine and fanciful with bias cuts proving popular. The 1940s saw lots of fitted bodices and fitted or flared skirts. Full skirts and fitted silhouettes were also popular during the 1950s but you also started seeing more leisurewear like jeans and playsuits. The 1960s saw a rise in shift dresses and mod-inspired looks, and the 1970s saw lots of body conscious clothing.
Hemlines moved up and down throughout the decades. Knee-length skirts and dresses were popular throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The 1960s saw a revolution of sorts with mini skirts and short hemlines taking centre stage. Then the 1970s saw hemlines drop to floor-sweeping levels as maxi dresses became a popular reaction against minis.
4. Zips and Buttons
Things like zippers and buttons can help you decode your vintage clothes. In the 1930s, clothes usually had buttons, press studs, or hooks and eyes. Because of WWII and the metal shortage, you won’t see big zippers on dresses and clothes from the 1940s. During the 1950s, big buttons were all the rage and zippers usually stayed at the side of dresses until late in the decade, when they started appearing at the back. The 1960s saw lots of really big zippers that would often go all the way down the front or back of a dress.
5. Tags and Labels
Checking the care tags and labels can help you pinpoint when the clothing was made. Mass-production of clothes became popular in the 1950s so this is when we started seeing clothes with labels. Care symbols didn’t start appearing until 1971, so clothes before this time usually came with very basic instructions. Also remember that just because something doesn’t have labels doesn’t necessarily mean it’s vintage – they could have worn off or been removed.
With advances in technology throughout the decades, how clothes were made changed rapidly. Because of the war, clothes in during the 1940s were usually handmade and were cut to use the least amount of fabric possible. From the 1950s onwards, clothes were more likely to be mass-produced so you’ll see lots off finished hems and seams done with overlockers.
Women’s clothing sizes have changed over time. As a general rule of thumb, numerical sizes were larger the earlier the garment was made. For example, a size 14 in the 1950s is much smaller than a size 14 these days.
The love affair with vintage fashion is sure to stick around. These are just a few things to check out when trying to decode your vintage fashion finds. What other tips do you have for spotting vintage fashion?