What to look for when you purchase a vintage fashion item?

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Quality: Just because a piece of clothing is old doesn’t mean it’s a great piece of vintage clothing. Old is old no matter how you look at it. Look for well sewn seams. Metal zippers are a good sign that the piece of clothing is older, but not necessarily a sure sign that the clothing is vintage. The majority of pre-1960 garments were made with metal zippers, but metal zippers are still used today, so be aware.

There are many fake vintage garments or look-a-likes, just like any product made today. Just be on your toes!

Knowledge is your best defense. Many pre-1960 clothes were hand made. The fabrics used for these garments were too costly for mass production. Look for great styling, interesting fabrics, large and unusual buttons, interesting pocket shapes, wide fabric covered belts and good workmanship.Home-made button holes, interesting examples using brass, pearls or bone. Also, look for dress weights and pure satin lining.

Fabrics: Brilliant colors, unusual patterns, heavy wool, soft and flimsy chiffons, heavily embroidered And tightly woven fabrics are a good indication the clothing is vintage. Rayon fabric of the 30’s-50’s is completely different than today’s rayon. The vintage rayon was made from tree fiber. Today rayon is a synthetic material that doesn’t resemble yesterday’s rayon at all.

Sizing: Before WWII sizing was either unrealistic or nonexistent. The sizing for garments that are used today didn’t occur until after 1945. Be aware that a size 10 will probably be a size 12/14 or larger in vintage style women’s clothing.

What to look for when you purchase a vintage fashion item?

Labels: When you find a label on a garment, it can give you many types of glues about the age, where it was made and who created the vintage fashions. If the label is sewn down on all four sides instead of tacked at the corners, you can expect the garment to be of better quality than one that has a union label. (Union label garments were mass produced). A local dress maker or a quality department store may have used their own label and it will be unfamiliar to you, however it still may be of a very good quality.

Condition of Your Vintage Garments

Mint means mint: Never worn, may or should still have original tags attached. The piece should look like it just came from the store!

Near Mint: Garment is in complete condition in all aspects. Wedding suits and special occasion ball or cocktail gowns for, for example, are often near mint. Someone wore the garment for a special occasion.

Excellent condition: The vintage garment may have been worn now and then, but the clothing has been well taken care of and stored properly to keep its good looks. The construction of the vintage fashion is sound, no belt or buttons missing, zipper intact.

Very Good Condition : Very wearable, but might have some slight flaws, such as, removable stains, or some wear will be evident. Overall the garment has redeeming factors such as, a rare print, unusual find, and a style you love, which makes it desirable. The position of the soiling or staining is also important, (under arm stains are very difficult to remove). Slight tears that are repairable, hemline coming lose. These are all things that can be taken care of with little effort.

Good: Wearable, The garment is no longer in pristine condition. If there are repairs to make, it could become a very good condition piece. Remember vintage garments have been around for a very long time. There will be some deterioration. If the vintage fashions have not been stored properly, there may be problems. (Moth holes, fabric has given away due to age). These vintage garments have been worn, but the fact they are still around means the clothes were favorite items or a garment that someone treasured.

Just a reminder, Knowledge is your best defense, when you start on your journey of finding your favorite vintage fashions. It’s a big world out there and many great vintage fashions and accessories are there for the taking. Happy Hunting!