Clothing styles come and go … and come back again, thanks in part to thrift stores offering a variety of options for the past-fashion conscious. Vintage clothing is fashion from 20 to 100 years ago that is representative to that era. What was most popular in 2000, a time when Millennials were coming of age? Frosted lipstick, trucker hats, low-rise jeans, halter tops and lacy-looking choker necklaces. Go back another 20 years and you will find a world full of landing-field shoulder pads, sequined dresses, and dresses with cinched waists and wide belts. Vintage clothing collectors should look at what is hot now, buy it, wear it, then save it for the future, including oversized Victorian sleeves, pastel bucket hats, bucket-style handbags, and oversized gold necklaces.

Shop for vintage clothes at thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, flea markets and of course one of the many online shopping places.  Your new “old” fashion is a way to jump on the trend of mixing vintage with current styles. See our buy/sell guides for online buying and selling websites.

Collecting tip: If clothing has a metal zipper, it dates from before 1970. A side zipper on a dress was used in the 1940s or 1950s, and also started appearing in the 2010s. No zipper usually means before the 1940s.


asymmetrical dress embroidered sequins with a tiger image over one shoulder kansai yamamoto 1978-80

Asymmetrical dress, embroidered sequins with a tiger image over one shoulder, Kansai Yamamoto, 1978-80, $3,216.  (Photo:  Sotheby’s)

black satin and lace guipure slip yves saint laurent 1970

Black satin and Guipure lace slip, Yves Saint Laurent, c. 1970, $1,316.  (Photo:  Sotheby’s)

blue silk and lace blue dress with pink satin lined and open shoulder accent side zipper 1940s

Blue silk and lace dress, pink satin lining, open shoulder accent, side zipper, 1940s, $129.  (Photo:  Jeffrey S. Evans & Assoc.)

brown fitted cotton jacket padded shoulders martin margiela 1989

Brown fitted cotton jacket, padded shoulders, Martin Margiela, 1989, $5,555.  (Photo:  Sotheby’s)

medusa print baroque jacket chest pockets cotton gianni versacew 1992

Baroque jacket, cotton Medusa print,  chest pockets,  Gianni Versace, 1992, $875.  (Photo: Hindman Auctions)

blue stilettos kingfish feathers louis xv heels christian dior delman 1953-55

Blue stiletto-heel shoes, Kingfish feathers, Louis XV style, Christian Dior for Delman, c.1955, $3,947.  (Photo:  Sotheby’s)

silver fox short coat with a shawl collar hook closure and dolman sleeves silk lined 1980s

Silver fox coat, shawl collar, dolman sleeves, hook closure, silk lining, 1980s, size 12, $625. (Photo:  New Orleans Auction Galleries)

7 responses to “Happy National Vintage Clothing Day! Tips to Date Your Vintage Clothes”

  1. Doriskid says:

    My great-grandmother + grandfather were furriers, meaning they designed and created fur coats. These coats were, in their time, the only coats that kept you warm in the winter. Now we live wear it gets to be -40 (it’s the 40 whether it’s C or F, an interesting fact). I was born in 1946. We walked a mile or two to school, the worst part was over a long dam at the base of a lake. The wind whipped through there. As girls had to wear nylons and skirts to school, we were freezing. We asked permission to wear dress pants under our skirts and take them off when we got there. “No” was the answer. My grandfather took my grandmother’s “sport’s fur” (who knew they existed) which was sheared mouton (think sort of beige fun-fur, it’s really a sheep with a very short, even haircut) and made a cute high knee-length jacket that kept me warm through high school. PS If you have rescued a fur, keep it cool in winter. Otherwise the skin dries out and your coat stars “dying” is the best word I can think of. Your coat needs a good base (skin) to hang from.

  2. DD97 says:

    DD97 says;
    To cheim45,
    I know much time has past since your comment on June 10th, 2021 @ 12:17AM. I can’t get an answer unless I ask. I collect ANY & ALL Vintage clothing that I possibly can & hope most of it will fit if I get any donations, since I can’t afford to buy any new clothes. I love anything Vintage, ie; 8 & 1/2 M shoe, tops XL or 1XL, jeans (prefer bell-bottoms) size 16-18P (I’m just 5’ 2”) If by chance you still have your mothers complete wedding ensemble, I would be very interested in either taking it off your hands & treasuring it forever & taking extra special care of it OR possibly trying to buy it from you if it’s still available. My mom was born in 1934 & just felt a connection to what I’m sure is a lovely gown, veil, etc. I look forward to hearing a response from you. Thank you so much,
    Sincerely & Best Regards,

  3. RareBird says:

    Cheim45: If you are not looking to sell then why not donate the outfit with a copy of the photo (not original–that’s family property) and details on your parents, to a local and/or state museum. Even historical societies may want it. Take a look at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC costume dept. Does your dress have a label? That’s very desirable. If you want to sell the dress, you can try Hindmans in Chicago, Augusta Auction or Jeffrey S. Evan’s auction. Or you may wrap it up in acid free tissue paper along with the history and place all in an acid free box marked For My Grandchildren and allow them to have a piece of family history. You never know they might really like it! Cheers!

  4. cheim45 says:

    I have a vintage dress that my mother wore when she got married in October of 1934. Because she was Catholic and was marrying a man who was not Catholic, she could not be married in the church. They got married in the priest’s rectory. Her dress had beautiful lace crochet on it and was dark brown. She had a small brown felt cloche hat. I have both in excellent condition. I also have the full length picture of them when they got married. My mom had on the cutest dark shoes. She was so beautiful. I have never really known what to do with them. I am almost 76. I do have 3 grown children but they would not know what to do with these items either. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am sure it would not have any memories factor for anyone else but maybe there is a sort of a cemetery for vintage clothing. I was thinking of a museum of vintage clothing where they would be wanting clothing to cover all of the years. I am just not familiar with this type of item.

  5. DM1 says:

    Oprah44, I’d wear them during the winter months not only to keep you warm as God meant them to be used for…but also for their vintage stylish beauty. Don’t cower to the political correct crowd. Just tell them to shut up and go away. Scotsirishterry is correct…keep them and wear them!

  6. Scotsirishterry says:

    Oprah44 They are still beautiful coats. I would keep them and wear them. In Colorado during winter, the ski resorts are full of people wearing various furs and nobody bats an eye. In fact, they probably get better service at the restaurants than the ski bums because the servers’ know who tips and who skips. 🤫

  7. Oprah44 says:

    I have two of these fur coats. Can’t seem to sell for $50 each. Is that a good price to offer or should I go lower. I know fur is not in style but great for winter sports and skating on our canal

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