A lot of people- whether vintage shop owners or shoppers- struggle to understand what era something is from, and whether it’s of any value. I know I used to! It’s important you can identify what era an item is from, especially when you go thrifting. I put together this list of ways you can identify era and I hope you find it useful!

How to identify era:

1. Usually, a metal zipper means a garment older than the 60‘s, whereas a Nylon zipper means a garment newer than the 80’s. Beware though, because zippers could have been replaced.

2. Care labels have only been a requirement in the last few decades, so an item lacking one may indicate a pre 1970’s garment. It might also be of help to remember that symbols used on care labels are a trademark of a company called Ginetex, who launched in 1963. If you spot this trademark, you’ll know your item wasn’t made before the 60’s!

3. Pay specific attention to the garment’s construction (this really applies when you’re vintage shopping, ladies!) Older items are more likely to be handmade ones, made with much detail and care. Little details to look out that would show you’re item was more than 50 or 60 years old could be small clips in the lining to attach to bra straps, or poppers to stop the garment from gaping.

4. If you see a Union label, it often indicates that the garment is older than the 70’s.

5. The first garments to ever feature sewn-in labels were produced in the mid 80’s. Pay real close attention to the look of the label inside the item. Labels are really interesting because they’re the first feature you forget about an item, but the feature with the most to tell about the era your garment has originated from. An item from the 50’s will have a label with graphics and details that reflect that 50’s class and elegance, whereas an item from the 70’s will have a label with a bit more of a groovy, cool design to it. The label style can tell you a lot.

6. Wide seams that are pinked or have hem tape usually indicate an older piece, but serged seams identify a newer piece.  

7. Don’t forget to always look at the prints and colours! A ‘scribbled’ graphic in greys and hot pinks might date an item to the 80’s, but if you see oranges, browns and purples then the piece is probably from the 70’s. Try and research colours and prints that were most popular in certain eras.


Nesha xo

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Photography by The Button Owl

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