February 2, 2010
Today's "How to Date Vintage Clothing" lesson will be a quick guide through the different decades and the popular clothing trends from each era.

The other day I received a question from { Dani Red } asking how to date vintage clothing as she was quite new to collecting. So, I hope this simple guide will be useful!

I don't come across too many clothes from the 1910s-1920s, they are rare finds these days (considering they're nearly 100 years old!) and it is even more rare to find a dress that is in mint or excellent condition. Therefore, most vintage clothes dating in the earlier part of the 20th century can garner a pretty high price. All that being said, here are a few patterns and illustrations to give you a better idea of the silhouttes of the earlier portion of the 20th century.

{ The 1910s & the 1920s }

Notice the waist bands and waist locations of the dresses from the 1910s... then notice the disappearance of said waist bands in the dresses of the 1920s. In the 1920s the "Flapper" girl was born. But, more on that another day.

{ The 1930s }

Notice the difference in the skirt silhouttes? The waistline has returned! I love many of the evening dresses from the 1930s, mostly cut on the bias, so they skimmed the female form in the most elegant way.

{ The 1940s }

One of the biggest changes in fashion in the 1940s was the length of the hemline for day dresses. Hemlines gradually got shorter in the first part of the 20th century, but in the 40s, they took huge cut mostly to war shortages. Skirts became a little fuller, eventually leading to the voluminous poufs in the later part of the 40s and into the 50s. Notice also that dresses had far less decorations and details as previous decades.

{ The 1950s }

Hemlines continue to rise in the 1950s, but not by that much. Skirts and dresses became much fuller usually with the help of crinolines and ruffled slips. The waist was an important focal point, waistbands and belts were very common in fashion. Towards the end of the 1950s the sheath and wiggle dress became popular shapes. This also marked the beginning of 60s fashion.

Part II of "How to Date Vintage Clothing, A Study in Silhouttes" will be posted later on this week!


  1. thanks for this! I always get tripped up on items that seem to come from later in a decade (i.e. late 30s items and early 40s ones can often seem only very slightly different; ditto with late 40s/early 50s (when not New Look) and later 50s-early 60s. Any tips for those in-betweeners? ;)

  2. Thanks so much! Loved this & can't wait for the next update!

  3. Just found your shop via polyvore and I'm sold. I'll be doing a little shopping...

  4. Very useful! I couldn't recognize the difference between the 30's and the 40's...

  5. This might have been the first time I've ever seen drawings of clothing from 1910! Looking forward to your next installment :]


Thank you for taking the time to leave me a little comment, I do try to respond back as often as I can. Have a lovely day! xoxo - Rodellee