In today's blog post we're going to talk about Vintage Fashion Throughout History! A Reseller’s Guide for Sourcing, Identifying, Dating, and Selling Vintage Style.
Featured Reseller and Vintage Expert Breezy Von Breezy has been selling vintage for approximately twenty-two years. Breezy has an incredible vintage collection, selling on Etsy, Poshmark, Depop, eBay, and Instagram. Daughter of a costume designer, Breezy grew up with ornate and funky vintage clothing around her home. She turned her childhood love of playing “dress up” with her sister into a lucrative business model selling items online for a profit. Breezy has a true love for vintage, especially Edwardian pieces from the 1920’s and 1930’s, and her most profitable flip of all time was a Vivian Westwood camel hair plaid coat from the 1980’s!
Fun Fact: An item is not “vintage” unless it is at least 20 years old. An item is an “antique” once it is 100 years old!
#Vintage is trending! High waistlines, bold patterns, retro t-shirts, and vintage accessories are in style right now! Fast fashion brands are mass-producing vintage-inspired pieces (with consequently poor quality and environment blight). As such, people want the real thing, and they are willing to pay up for it! This article explores fashion trends throughout history, reseller tips and tricks, and “Breezy’s BOLOs” (Be-on-the-lookouts) for selling vintage clothing online.
The Vintage resale market is booming on Etsy, Depop, eBay, and in vintage-themed Facebook Groups.
Resellers are sweeping thrift stores, estate sales, auctions, and flea markets for amazing vintage pieces for resale. With a limited supply available, it can be tough to find older vintage pieces. Despite the massive resale value, many resellers avoid vintage pieces due to the particular challenges associated with finding, photographing, sizing, authenticating, and dating vintage pieces.
Sourcing vintage pieces for resale can be difficult, requiring patience and a fine eye. Vintage expert Breezy Von Breezy recommends keeping an eye out for:
✔ Single stitching on t-shirts
✔ Red lines and Selvedge out seams on denim
✔ Paper Tags on any garment
✔ Sheer tags on dresses (as they were worn with slips)
✔ Hand-finished hems
While it is tough to find, it is also challenging to photograph vintage pieces. Vintage fashion is best modeled as to showcase the style, shape, texture, and fit (silhouette). Stunning and funky vintage garments are not done justice on a clear hanger, but rather when being worn and styled. While some resellers style pieces in accordance with the time period, others style them with a modern aesthetic.
“When you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you’re not just buying the fabric and thread- you’re buying a piece of someone’s past” - Isabel Wolff
Vintage sizing is also tricky, as it is much different than modern sizing. While it is advisable to select a modern size based upon the measurements for SEO purposes, always include measurements in your listings for vintage pieces. Due to the variation in sizing, provide all chest, shoulder, sleeve, waist, hips, inseam, and length measurements for vintage clothing.
Fun Fact: Brooks Brothers is America’s first and oldest existing clothing brand, founded in 1818
Vintage style has a huge resale value, but it can be difficult to authenticate. There is a global market for true American Vintage. Avid collectors are passionate about authenticity, and it is crucial that vintage is dated properly. Dating vintage items can be arduous, often involving studying tags, zippers, and even performing “burn tests” on fabric swatches. Breezy Von Breezy offers a course for dating and authenticating vintage pieces, including manufacturer and brand information, tables of materials and burn test charts, and style information from each decade (1930’s-Y2k). With a focus on tags and labels, materials, and hardware, Breezy features catalogs of labels and manufacturers to help resellers authenticate and date vintage pieces.
“When sourcing from estate sales, I do a little research about the original owner. I never disclose personal information, but I include a little backstory such as ‘The original owner was a Broadway producer, or a well-known local seamstress.’ My buyers really enjoy knowing the story behind an item.” -Breezy Von Breezy
Vintage Sourcing Guide: Trends, Tips, and Tags for Every Decade
Here is an index of vintage labels, an excellent resource for vintage resellers.
Y2k Aesthetic (Early 2000’s)
In the words of Paris Hilton, “That’s Hot.” The millennium brought some major fashion trends that are back!
Inspired by Pop Princesses Britney Spears (#freebritney), Beyoncé, and Destiny’s Child, Y2k fashion is poppin’ like lip smackers.
Fun Fact: While there are many prestigious designers from this time period such as Christian Sirano, and Marc Jacobs, it is the “younger” pop culture pieces such as Alexander McQUeen, Ed Hardy, Lisa Frank, and Juicy Couture which have the highest resale value
Millennials are purchasing clothing online inspired by their elementary school wardrobe! Popular trending pieces include baguette bags, baby tees (shrunken and unintentionally cropped t-shirts), pleated mini-skirts, velour track suits, and lace camisoles! When sourcing for Y2k fashion, look for bling (rhinestones), pastel colors, and anything that a Bratz Doll might wear!
Keyword Alert: #y2k #y2kaesthetic #00sfashion #bratz #y2kprincess #90snostalgia #pastel #90sbaby #kpop #kawaii #90’snickelodeon #hellokitty
Pivot! To the 1990’s, as Jennifer Anniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez, Wionona Ryder, and The Cast of Fresh Prince of Belair dominated fashion trends with their bleached tips and leather jackets!
Popular Brands in the 1990’s include: Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Versace, Commes des Gar çons, and COOGI.
Reseller Tip: Some Vintage Band T-Shirts have an astronomical resale value- always do your research!
In the1990’s, new music genres such as grunge, hip-hop, and rave emerged, as did cable TV and the world wide web. Major 90’s vibes include vibrant colors, overalls, fanny packs, mom jeans, cardigans, and bucket hats! Many 1990’s prints are trending such as leopard print, acid wash jeans, and crushed velvet!
Keyword Alert: #vintage #1990s #retro #nostalgia #90sstyle #friends #grunge
The 1980’s were known for extreme hair and exciting fashion influence from icons like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, and George Michael. 1980’s Old School Rock N’ Roll staples included spandex, parachute pants, suspenders, turtlenecks, leg warmers, track jackets, and cut-off sweatshirts. Many trendy 1980’s styles are popular now such, as high waisted bottoms, neon colors, shoulder pads, and ripped knees.
Breezy’s BOLOS: Breezy’s favorite brands from the 1980’s include: Harley Davidson, Levi’s, Polo Ralph Lauren, Victor Costa, C-ya in California (1989)
Reseller Tip: When sourcing jeans, look for Levi’s with paper tags, and an uppercase “Big E” on the tag- those were made prior to 1971
The 1970’s are known for peace, love, disco, and groovy fashion. Timeless trends of the 1970’s are embedded into modern fashion including boho blouses, folk-inspired patterns, smocked dresses, and crochet designs. Popular styles of the 1970’s include Co-ords (two-piece outfits), denim dresses, platform shoes, headscarves and neck scarves, pearls, and satin slips. Influencers such as Liza Minnelli, Olivia Newton-John, and Bianca Jagger would have billions of Instagram followers today.
Reseller Tip: Vintage Lingerie has a very high resale value! Never skip the undergarment rack at the thrift store!
Breezy’s BOLOS: The best-selling brands from the 1970’s include: Diane Von Furstenburg, Halston, Dittos, Landlubbers, Whiting, and Davis (disco tops).
The 1960’s is known for the civil rights movement, political activism, and revolutionary fashion. Notable styles from the swinging 60’s include flared legs, pillbox hats, mini-skirts, peter pan collars, berets, off shoulder tops, go-go boots, sequins, and fringe!
“Clothing from the beginning of the 1960’s was similar to the classic styles of the 1950’s. Toward the end of the decade, there was a shift to a more funky, disco counter-culture which brought in a new wave of fashion” – Breezy Von Breezy
Fashion icons from the time of Beatlemania such as Brigitte Bardot, Jackie Kennedy, and Yoko Ono popularized swirling psychedelic patterns, tie dye, and vinyl!
Breezy’s BOLOS: The best brands for resale from the 1960’s include: Pierre Cardin, Pucci, Mary Quant, and Mondrian.
The 1950’s is an era known for compliance, conformity and classic style. Fashion icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Elizabeth Taylor epitomized pin-up and swing fashion at the sock-hops, drive-ins and soda fountains. 1950’s clothing catered an hour-glass silhouette with pencil skirts, poodle skirts, bullet brats, bustier tops, and hot pants. For men, it was all about leather and “rockability”. Timeless prints such as gingham and polka dots were popularized in the 1950’s.
Reseller Tip: When sourcing for vintage, look for back and side metal zippers, this is often an indication of an item being from the 1960’s or before. “It used to be considered risqué for a woman to wear a garment with a zipper, as it made her body accessible. Prior to zippers, women’s clothing often had snaps, hooks, and eye buttons” -Breezy Von Breezy
Breezy’s BOLOS: Top-selling classic brands from the 1960’s include: Catalina, Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain, and Christian Dior.
The 1940’s was an error of sorrow, fear, and patriotism. With the commencement of the war and strict fabric rationing, dresses in the 1940’s became shorter and far more basic. In the 1940s, synthetic fabrics like rayon, acetate, and nylon became increasingly popular, as traditional textiles such as silk were used for equipment for the troops. 1940’s fashion trends included the shirtwaist dress, bolero jackets, coveralls, tea dresses, A-line skirts, girdles, and stockings. Popular accessories were large floral brooches, fedoras, turban hats, and sailor hats. 1940’s women’s fashion is described as “masculine” with neutral colors, boxy square necklines, padded shoulders, plaid patterns, high waistlines, and oxford shoes.
When sourcing, look for the Union Labels New York Creation Dress Institute, used from 1940-1955. These pieces feature a special union tag with an illustrated New York City Skyline. Here is a resource for dating vintage pieces with the ILGWU union label
Fun Fact: Christian Dior’s iconic “New Look” collection was released in 1947. The collection was composed of full-skirts, waspy waists, and short shoulders. The colorful, feminine and flowery patterns were symbolic of post-war culture and jubilation. Original pieces from this collection sell for several thousand dollars.
1930’s fashion embodies romance and glamour. Ladies such as Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, and actress Marlene Deitrich popularized the flat silhouette with an emphasis on youth and innocence. 1930’s fashion featured liquid satins and silks, gloves, furs, chiffon blouses, pussy bows, and frilly trims. Men dressed like classic gentlemen in dapper suit ensembles and pinstripe patterns.
Fun Fact: “Stretchy synthetic fabrics were not yet created [in the 1930’s], so many women’s pieces were cut at a bias to inspire a more body-skimming silhouette”- Breezy Von Breezy
Classic workwear in the early 1930’s was produced by the National Recovery Administration. When sourcing, look for the union label with the NRA symbol and a navy-blue eagle.
Breezy’s BOLO: You have struck gold if you find Schirarepelli! “Italian Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is regarded as one of the most prominent fashion icons between the wars. Her styles were iconic, and she popularized hot pink, or ‘Schiaparelli Pink’”- Breezy Von Breezy
The roaring twenties, or the “jazz era” is known for art, prosperity, dissipation, and major fashion trends such as flapper style. It was in the 1920’s that women began to wear black, a color traditionally reserved for funerals, when designer Coco Chanel introduced the iconic little black dress. Famous 1920’s styles include racoon coats, cloche hats, chemise dresses, petticoats, frock dresses, and silk hosiery. 1920’s pieces are often beige, gray, and white.
Breezy’s BOLOS: Timeless and valuable brands from the 1920’s include: Coco Chanel and Jeanna Lanvin.
Keywords to Use: #vintage #vintage1920s #roaringtwenties #flapperstyle #flappergirl #cocochanel #speakeasystyle #jazz #artdeco #1920sartdeco
Vintage is my favorite to sell and wear! I learned so much about dating vintage from the resources in this article and from Breezy’s vintage authentication and dating course.
Do you have any tips and tricks for finding and authenticating vintage clothes? Share with us below!