Choosing Vintage Clothing as a Gift

It’s eco-friendly.

 It’s thrifty

Hip Fashion at an Affordable Price


All Good Reasons to Buy Vintage Clothing!

Is it Designer and Vintage?

Many designers hid their labels in the linings and up near the sleeves.  If you are buying online, insist on a photo of the label.  There are knockoffs of many designer gowns and you don’t want to pay more money for a fake label.  You may still want the gown because good style is good style.  Know your recipient’s taste.  If they love a certain fashion era, look for items from that era. Also, look for a union card attached to the inside seam. A union tag is proof that the piece was produced and supported by a clothing union, which existed in the U.S. before the overseas boom of clothing production beginning in the 1980s. They’re usually square and about 1/2-inch-by-1/2-inch; red, white, and blue; and state the name of the union, like “The Ladies Garment Workers Union” and “Made in U.S.A.” If you find a union tag, you’re definitely scoring a vintage piece, which by definition is at least 20 years old.

Will it Fit?

Size matters if the item will be worn. Plan to buy what fits with a bit of ease…don’t strain these older textiles! Standards for sizing changed through the years and a size 6 today and a size 6 in the 1960s are not the same.  It is important to know the measurements of the person you are buying for.  Compare the measurements of the garment at bust, waist and hip.   If buying in person, you often have the luxury of trying the item on. If buying online, look at the measurements listed. Remember that fashions from different eras had differing amounts of ease built in.  For example, items from the 50s and 60s were closer fitting than many garments of today. When matching measurements for older garments, be sure to add a bit for ease or you’ll find your recipient unable to wear the garment comfortably without putting strain on the fabric.

Is it in Great Condition?

With vintage clothing, more so than other vintage collectibles, CONDITION is Everything.  If you’re going to wear it, you want to know that you won’t damage it it by simply putting it on. So here’s what to look for:

  • Fabric  Check the fabric carefully for separations and or tears.  Older fabric can get “dry rot” which separates the woven fibers causing splits and tears.  This can’t be fixed or repaired…only replaced.  Avoid fabric that has separations.  Check areas of the garment for signs of excessive wear.  Areas like the underside of arms, collars, cuffs and across the seat are likely to have thinned fabric due to wear.  This is weakened fabric and not likely to last very long.  For thicker fabrics, look for pilling in these areas.  For woolens, check for indications of moth eaten areas.  These conditions are all to be avoided.
  • Stains  Check for perspiration stains under arms and around the neckline.  These stains can be very hard to remove. Other stains to look for are oxidized stains (light to dark brown or yellow in color), mildew (small dark grey to black stains) and rust.  All of these stains can be very difficult or impossible to remove.
  • Odor Musty odors could indicate mold, look over the garment for small dark grey to black stains. Mold stains are difficult to remove unless the garment can be bleached. Strong body odors in vintage garments that can’t be washed may not be removable; let your nose be your guide.  The odor of smoke does come out with washing and airing, so unless your garment isn’t cleanable, this can be removed by gentle washing and or dry cleaning.
  • Hardware  Check all of the fasteners and applied pieces.  Make sure the zipper works, that the buttons fit the buttonholes firmly, that snaps stay snapped, that the Velcro isn’t full of fuzz and not working properly, and the hooks and eyes fit snugly.  If there are embellishments added to the garment like sequins or beading, look it over carefully to be sure that the sequins/beads are all there and still sewn on firmly.



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Vintage Fashion Guild


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