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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.

But a metal zipper in a dress is often a good clue for vintage status.

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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.

Notice how the stripes in the dress on the right meet at points along the front; this is indicative of the use of separate bolts of fabric sewn together at that spot. Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900, 1995 By the mid-60s, the skirt began to change shape, becoming flatter and narrower in the front and fuller in the back.

The use of gored fabric allowed for the flat, smooth front seen in the image on the left.

And a newer item with a metal zipper could have been homemade. The US government started requiring full care labels that year, and many clothes made before then did not have them.

Keep in mind, though, that a lack of care label doesn't necessarily mean the piece is older than 1972. And not all clothes were made in the US, obviously. If you're still not sure, you might check out the Vintage Fashion Guild forums.You might also enjoy Melody Fortier's book, The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping.I highly recommend this if you want a short, one-stop reference for vintage shopping.These come in different colors and may also include the letters AFL, AFL/CIO, or CIO.These variations of ILGWU labels were used through 1995--close to the current vintage cutoff year of 1993. UNION LABEL USED FROM 1955-1945 (with AFL-CIO) After 1995, the union adopted a label that says "UNITE" on it. For more details on when each kind of union label was used, see the Vintage Fashion Guild's guide to union labels, here.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.

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