All you need to do is look at the red carpet low downs to see how the word “vintage” has become a buzz word in the fashion world. With this hype for vintage it can be a good idea to seriously know what you’re talking about or buying when something is described as vintage. That’s what I’m hopefully going to explain over a series of articles called Vintage 101.
Vintage clothing is clothing that is older than 20 years old. However anything over 70 years old is considered antique. So pretty much you’re looking at the 1930’s to the end of the 1980’s if you’re looking for vintage. It still seems weird to me that the 1990’s are going to be considered vintage soon enough.
Reproduction clothing is clothing that is made in the style of vintage eras and in some cases using vintage patterns. Some retrophiles (people who love a certain era) turn to reproduction clothing because it’s hard to find vintage in their size, they are squeamish about old clothes or it’s just easier.
Shopping for vintage even in vintage boutiques is hard work. It takes searching through racks, baskets, bins, hampers etc. Sizing won’t necessarily be marked on the garment and you’ll always have to try things on, and look over things for damage.
What to look for when shopping for vintage:
The first thing to do when shopping for vintage is to be able to date a piece by yourself so that you don’t end up ripped off by someone lying to you.
1. Learn the fabrics used in different eras. Nylon was only created during the 1930’s and polyester during the late 1950’s. Rayon was hugely popular throughout the 1920’s to the end of the 1940’s.
2. Unfinished Edges. Before the 1960’s a lot of clothing was homemade and industrial sergers weren’t produced until the late 1960s, which means that the seams where rarely serged and if they where it was by hand or with a simple zig-zag stitch.
3. Closings and Fastenings. Metal zippers where used from the 1930’s until the end of the 1950s. Nylon zippers where used after that. Some 1930’s and 1940’s clothing don’t have zippers because in some cases they were seen as inappropriate and so button or hook and eye closures where used instead.
4. Study the silhouettes of the different decades. I’ll be running a low down on this next time.
5. Labels. If it has a brand label in today’s blackberry and iphone world you can easily do a search for the brand. However if you don’t have a brand but you have a material composition or washing instructions label it’s most likely to be from the 1970’s and onwards.
Image Layout: Tiffany Carlin