Top Tips for Dating Your Vintage Clothing

Top Tips for Dating Your Vintage Clothing

Do you find it challenging to handpick vintage wholesale clothing items? Are you unsure which piece of clothing is vintage and which isn’t? Would you like help dating vintage clothing?

If you answered “Yes” to all or most of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we teach you a few simple techniques that you can follow to date vintage clothing. We are sure these tips will be super helpful when you go out to handpick vintage wholesale clothing items the next time.

What is vintage clothing?

Before you begin to handpick vintage wholesale clothing items, let’s understand how old clothing needs to be considered vintage.

Well, the global industry standard is that any item of clothing that is 25-100 years old (from the date of purchase) is considered vintage. Any piece of clothing older than 100 years is called “antique wear”.

When you handpick vintage wholesale clothing items, the first thing to check is the age of the textile. If the label says the item is between 25 & 100 years old, you can rest assured that it is a vintage item.

A few ways to date vintage clothing

What if the vintage clothing doesn’t have a label? Or what if the seller is unaware of the precise age of the item? Well, in these cases, you can employ any of the techniques we share below to successfully date and handpick vintage wholesale clothing items:

1.    Check the buttons

The type of buttons used are a big giveaway of the age of the clothing. Typically, buttons are made from three types of plastics - bakelite plastic, lucite plastic, or modern plastic.

The bakelite plastic was created in 1909 and has been used predominantly in clothes from the 1930s-1940s. Bakelite buttons are almost always colored. Spray 409 cleaner on a Q-tip and rub it against a button. If yellow stains are visible, the plastic is bakelite, and the clothes are at least 80-90 years old.

Finally, the advent of modern plastic happened in the 1960s. These buttons tend to be very flimsy and flammable (which the other plastics aren’t).

2.    Unzip the zipper

Pre-1920s only men’s and boy’s clothing used to have zippers, but not women’s. This was because zippers indicated a dress that would be easy to take off, and it was a massive social impropriety for a woman of good morals to wear a zippered dress. So, pre-1920s clothing will never have zippers if you’re buying women’s dresses.

In the 1930s, the zipper was hidden inside women’s dresses underneath layers of fabric to keep the presence of the zipper a secret. Come the 1940s; a tiny metal zipper was placed on the side seam of women’s dresses – practical but discreet.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the position of the metal zippers shifted to the center of the back. Post-1970, most zippers were made in plastic and were more prominent on the dress.

3.    Look closer at the seams.

If the seams resemble French – raw fabric edges enclosed in clean lines – they probably are the turn of the century creations. Some of these clothes may border the vintage-antique collection.

If the seams of the items you come across when you handpick vintage wholesale clothing items that have unfinished seams, they might be pre-1950 creations. After the 1950s and onto the 1960s, pinked seams and serged seams were very common. It’s very easy to identify pre-1970s and even pre-1980s clothing since the seams would have looked very rough, compared to the smooth finish that comes from post-industrial machine seams of today.

4.    The sleeves say it all.

All clothing – for men and women – made prior to the 1970s had their sleeves tailored perfectly to the wearer. Plus, you’ll notice that pre-1960s sleeves tended to be more modest. What this means is, they were typically longer, and there was space between the fabric and the arm (I.e., no arm-hugging sleeves).

5.    Check the location of manufacturing.

When you handpick vintage wholesale clothing items, check for the manufacturing location. Typically, your clothes will have been made during –

  • 1960s – Japan.
  • 1970s – Taiwan, Korea.
  • 1980s – Eastern Europe, Taiwan.
  • 1990s – China, India, Singapore, Malaysia.

6.    Browse through your country’s textile database

If all else fails, find out if your nation has a registered textile database that records clothes manufacturing information and import information. You can enter any details you find on the label/tag (in case they are present) to find out some information about the clothing. This will help you handpick vintage wholesale clothing items with ease.

LA Vintage is a respected family business specializing in selling premium-quality and sustainably sourced vintage clothing. Their experts have many years of experience and can help brands and designers handpick vintage wholesale clothing items with personalized advice.

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