New to vintage? Here are a few quick dating tips in no particular order.
Metal zippers usually indicates pre 1968. There are exceptions, zippers were replaced and plastic had been put in garments as early as the
30s. These older (30s - early 50s) plastic zippers will have individual teeth just like the metal ones, unlike todays nylon coil zippers.
Diamond shaped panels under the arms indicate a 1940s - 1950s garment.
Large thick shoulder pads, much like 80s clothing, to create a blunt look are 40s and cuspers to the 40s.
Super thick but narrow shoulder pads with poufing/rouching at the shoulders indicate mid-late 30s.
Long waist less dresses are common flapper styles. The 20s being overly loose, highly decorated and gaudy.  The 30s narrowing down a bit
with more plain velvets (figure hugging drapes) and sweetheart necklines and moving back towards feminine silhouette.
Very full gathered skirts to the knees are usually 1950s to early 60s.
Long maxis with high empirical waistlines are mid 60s to the 70s (70s having a slightly lower waistline).
Very flowing long maxis with raised waistlines, caped collars or angel sleeves are 70s.
Short one piece dresses in bold reds, blues, greens, are usually 60s to early 70s
Renaissance, prairie style, and romantic (Edwardian and colonial) dresses are 70s
In the 80s styles often copied the 40s and 50s. The 80s reproductions will generally be shorter, have exaggerated bows and/or shoulders, have
lower neck lines, plastic zippers and care/content labels.
You can determine the date range by the IGLWU label. Click HERE for more on this label.
Rayon, a desirable vintage fabric, was very popular but more common between the 20s and 40s. Often seen in the 50s as well but a lot of
other fabrics were "new" wrinkle free and preshrunk so rayon became a fabric of the past.
Polyester is a late 60s fabric but not overly common. In the 70s it seemed everything was made of polyester. Unfortunately polyester can be
finished to appear and feel like almost any fiber. The most common was the generic stretchy kind of the 70s. But be careful silky satin
textures are often poly, especially from the 80s onward. A sure way to tell polyester is a burn test. For that click HERE.
Hooks and snap side closures indicate 30s and below (but not always) side metal zippers are later 30s-early 50s. Long side zippers and long
center backs are common of 50s and 60s. 30s - 40s side zippers will generally be short (less than 10 inches) while late 40s - 50s are generally
more than 10".
Labels in the side seams of dresses and none on the neck are usually pre 1940.
Belts were standard with dresses including formals all the way up into the 60s and most dresses have belt loops attached. Until the 60s the
belt matched the material of the dress. In the 60s belts were different colors as accent pieces.
Care labels we required starting 1971. Though some garments have very minimal instructions before this date. You will see a standardization
from 1971 and later.
Wiggle dresses are very popular in the late 50s to mid 60s.
None of these methods are guaranteed dating tools. Dating a garment takes some handling experience as well as a combination of factors.
These tips will help you narrow dating down or give you an idea of what to look for. These are tips that I picked up along the way handling a
lot of vintage clothing.