UNFINISHED SEAMS: If the piece has unfinished, frayed seams there’s a good chance it was made before the ’50s since both pinking shears and serger machines weren’t available to at-home seamstresses.LEFT: 1960s Tailored Sleeve / RIGHT: 1970s Bishop Sleeve DATING TIP: Identify whether a garment has tailored sleeves or large, billowy sleeves.Today’s post is different than the rest because it teaches you five easy ways to identify a garment’s most probable era based on construction details like buttons, zippers, seams, sleeves and lining.It’s amazing how history has evolved the most simplest of garment details — and how when you compare pieces of the past, you can begin to see how this “puzzle” of dating vintage clothing isn’t as complicated as you once thought!LEFT: 1940s Bakelite Plastic Button / RIGHT: 1960s Plastic Button DATING TIP: Identify whether the buttons are bakelite plastic, lucite plastic or modern plastic.1930s-1940s: Bakelite buttons are plastic buttons found on 1930s and 1940s garments.While “pinking cutters” were patented in 1893, it was the invention of the pinking “shears” (essentially scissors) by Benjamin Luscalzo in 1952 that popularized this seam style.1960s: Serged seams replace the pinked seam in the 1960s.
You know a button is bakelite plastic versus a more modern synthetic plastic because it’s almost always colored.
Metal zippers begin to be replaced after 1963 with the invention of nylon, which introduces the plastic zipper.
1970s – TODAY: Plastic zippers found along the center back of a garment officially reign supreme — and are what we’re left with today!
1970s & EARLIER: Armholes of the ’70s and earlier were small openings, unlike the oversize “muscle man” armholes you might notice in a lot of ’80s garments.
1970s ONWARD: Once the ’70s hit, styles shifted to embracing the space between a woman’s skin and her sleeve.