Vintage clothing dating research

Two young men stare out at me from a small old photograph. A variety of websites offer tips and tools, and they have the great advantage of being able to provide visual aids.

On the back, in my grandmother's handwriting, is written "Grandpa King's brothers." At least I've got some information to work with, but I'm eager to learn more: When was the picture taken? Which two of my great-grandfather's brothers are these? Type of photograph To learn more about my mystery photo, I checked examples of photos in the collections of Andrew J. Both websites detail the history of photography, including samples of various types of photography, such as daguerreotype, cabinet card and tintype.

Close examination of sleeves and collars can provide valuable information.

Other things to look for on women are the presence and size of a bustle and the fullness of the skirt.

The placement of the zip can also help – 1930s-1940s dressers usually had a zip in the side seam, whereas dresses from the 50s onwards favoured a placement at the centre back.

Labels The label can be full of clues as to an item’s age, making it your go-to when dating vintage.

Later in the decade, cravats were wider and fabric was held in place by frames. Tight trousers and waistcoats, high upstanding collars with neckties tied around them. During this time, men’s frock coats had wider lapels and waistcoats were adorned with metal buttons and patterns. Collars were then worn down with long, knotted ties during the latter part of the decade.

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Look at the style of the lettering and the detail contained.I mean when you’re in a charity or vintage shop, and you find that adorable beaded bias cut dress, how do you know if what you’re holding is 1930s vintage or last weeks Primark? It’s unlikely that they opened Grannies wardrobe and thought, “ooh, lets send all those really old beaded evening gowns to Oxfam”, and if they did it’s likely that shop itself would have recognised it.If you’re in a reputable vintage store then the hard work has probably been done for you, and you’ll pay accordingly. I rarely find anything older than the 1960s in a Charity Shop, unless it’s marked, and priced, as such.Personally I do most of my vintage hunting in Charity Shops or at Boot Fairs so how do you know if what you’ve found is genuinely old, or just made to look that way. But there’s always the chance, and that’s the thrill! If you like the style and it fits and is in great condition surely the decade isn’t so important?It’s only important if a retailer is asking you to pay over the odds for a “vintage” piece that actually came from Primark (and trust me, I’ve seen that happen) If you’re stood in store, though, trying to get an idea of a garments age before you buy here are a few easy, on the spot, tips to look out for.These tips are aimed mostly at the UK shopper and deal with UK regulations.


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