Dating vintage fabric
--- However, homemade clothing often doesn't have serged seams, so it can look vintage even if it's not.If your item's seams aren't serged, look for a manufacturer's tag to see if it's commercially made.Since 1960, clothes have been required to carry labels saying the fiber content (with percentages) and place of manufacture.If your garment has a retro-looking label without any fiber content, it might be older than 1960.My day job is business research, so it was easy to find a lot of great sources. A dress with a tiny waist and huge, below-knee skirt screams 1950s, while a slim-fit dress with huge shoulder pads is probably from the 1980s. If your garment has "serged" seams, it probably dates to after the mid-1960s.I read a ton of books and talked to lots of people. See the "Retro Fashion History" and "Vintage Fashion and Art" links below to learn more about silhouettes and see lots of great photos by decade. Serged seams were uncommon before the mid-1960s, when manufacturers began using sergers routinely to finish seams.Since then, I've practiced on hundreds and hundreds of items. I've also included other sources to contact at the bottom of the page. Older garments also sometimes had very large seams to allow for alterations.They might also be finished by "pinking," or cutting with zig-zag scissors.
Union labels are a good clue but they don't always mean vintage. Union labels have been appearing in US-made clothing for over a hundred years--so it's true that a lot of vintage clothing has them.
But, in fact the labels show up in clothes made after 2000. Look for labels that contain the letters ILGWU (International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union).
Lots of garments from the 1950s will have a fiber tag without a percentage--for instance, simply "Cotton." Of course, people sometimes just cut tags out, so lack of a tag doesn't always equal vintage.
--- There's a common misperception that if a garment has a "union label," it's always vintage.
I've rounded up the most important tips I've found as a vintage shop owner about how to date your vintage finds.
When I was setting up my business, I really wanted to finding the best and most reliable resources so I could offer the best possible product to my customers.