Dating vintage fabric

1970s – TODAY: Plastic zippers found along the center back of a garment officially reign supreme — and are what we’re left with today!

TOP LEFT: Frenched Seam (1900-1940s)/ TOP RIGHT: 1950s Pinked Seam / BOTTOM: Post ’50s Serged Seam DATING TIP: Identify whether the garment has frenched, pinked or serged seams.

It’s amazing how history has evolved the most simplest of garment details — and how when you compare pieces of the past, you can begin to see how this “puzzle” of dating vintage clothing isn’t as complicated as you once thought!

LEFT: 1940s Bakelite Plastic Button / RIGHT: 1960s Plastic Button DATING TIP: Identify whether the buttons are bakelite plastic, lucite plastic or modern plastic.

1980s: Batwing, dolman and puff shoulder sleeves were all the rage in the ’80s. DATING TIP: Identify whether a garment has lining or not.

NO LINING: Garments prior to the ’70s were often made without lining because a woman’s slip would operate as the lining instead.

A zipper in the ’30s would most likely be found along the side seam and is always metal.

UNFINISHED SEAMS: If the piece has unfinished, frayed seams there’s a good chance it was made before the ’50s since both pinking shears and serger machines weren’t available to at-home seamstresses.

Speaking of thrifting, I’ve also shared clues on how to identify vintage clothing labels in a thrift store and I’ve explained 11 ways to know a piece is vintage by its labels and tags and how the ILGWU union label can help you to date a garment’s era, too.

Today’s post is different than the rest because it teaches you five easy ways to identify a garment’s most probable era based on construction details like buttons, zippers, seams, sleeves and lining.

1930s: The infamous zipper is rarely seen on garments.

When included, a flap of fabric conceals this “vulgar” detail.

Search for dating vintage fabric:

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The spacing between the fabric and arm was equidistant along all points of the sleeve.

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