The summer market season is in full swing and the nice weather is a fantastic opportunity to find some “new” vintage digs!
Markets that feature traveling vendors can be a gold mine for the vintage clothing enthusiast. Their stock will be completely new to you, versus the old stand by shop around the corner from your house that you’ve sifted through a dozen times already this week. That being said, your local shops may participate in these same markets and may have stock in reserve just for such an occasion. Be sure to ask!
Once you’ve established where all the hot spots will be this summer, it’s time to go into shopping mode! Here are some tips to help you sort through the vintage clothing jungle, and to help you understand the history of your piece!
For many pieces of clothing, including dresses, suits and hats, it is likely you will find a Union label on the inside of the garment. This label insured the buyer of the fair treatment and payment of the employees of who created it! There are all kinds of guides online to help you date the exact piece based on its label. Here are a couple! Take a look at the zipper as well. Most dresses in the 1950’s were made with a zipper on the side. Zippers running up the middle of the back appear more in the 1960’s.
Another handy way to date a piece on the fly is to look at the buttons! Bakelite buttons reigned from the time of its invention in 1909. They are considered a hard plastic and will not burn. Once the 1960’s rolled around, cheaper synthetics such as nylon replace the more expensive Bakelite.
Are you a fan of costume jewelry? Made widely acceptable in high fashion by Coco Chanel, the beautiful and often decadent looking pieces created throughout the 20th century can have varying degrees of quality. Base and pot metal being the lowest of these have a very dull finish and are easily recognizable. This was used predominately prior to 1940 as metals traditionally used were being diverted to the war effort. Sterling silver became the standard. Before the 1961 amendment to the National Stamping Act required manufacturers to add their maker’s mark to each piece, sterling jewelry was simply marked “925,” or “sterling.”
Sizing can be tricky even with contemporary clothing! Unfortunately vintage can be even more so. A good place to start is by sizing up two sizes. If you are usually around a size 8 in contemporary clothing, look for size 10 in vintage. Trying the garment on is crucial to whether or not that price tag will be a good or bad investment. Make sure to dress appropriately in case a fitting room is not available. Most outdoor markets will not provide one. Light leggings and a bandeau top underneath a loose fitting dress or top allow for some de-robing in public and will let you slip into a garment without requiring you to strip to your skivvies!
Happy Vintage Hunting!
Second Chance Ladies