THRIFTY THURSDAYS: Are You a Vintage Label Snob?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

by Keren Charles

In our previous Thrifty Thursdays blog post, one of our tips suggested shopping the label because it tells the story of the garment. This is especially important to those of you who are shopping for vintage clothing. Knowing what to look for in a label can be intimidating for some thrift store virgins, so consider these tips when searching for that special oldie but goodie: 

  • Look for the Union Label:  Pictured below is one of the most commom union labels that I come across while thrifting. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), made up of mostly female members, was formed in the 1900s. Found in the hem or seam, it is a great way to determine the era when a garment was made.

  • Pay attention to Hand-sewn Labels:
    Hand-sewn labels are excellent indicators of the authenticity of a vintage garment. It is the final touch highlighting the designer; therefore, much care was put into it. However, you may encounter some garments with fraudulent label switching, so do your research. One of my favorite sites is Couture Allure Vintage Fashion. It is a great resource for learning more about vintage clothing and fashion.

  • Labels identifying both Designer & Fashion House: Many world renowned designers, like Oscar De La Renta, worked for a company or a recognized fashion house before designing for their own label.  Seeing a label like the one pictured below is a clear indicator that the garment is vintage. 

Image courtesy of

  • Label Re-Designed: Just like fashion changes over the years, garment labels are also re-designed from time to time. You can identify the era a garment was created by being knowledgeable about the design of the label. Using a great online resource like the Vintage Fashion Guild,  you can find a list of designers and their label designs through the years. Below are a few images of a re-designed Chanel label. (Images below courtesy of Vintage Fashion Guild) 

from a late 1920s - early 1930s beaded dress - Courtesy of vintage*belle

from a late 1960s couture suit Courtesy of

from a 1970s rtw dress Courtesy of Claire Shaeffer

from a 2000s rtw pants suit Courtesy of Claire Shaeffer

  • Sizing: With so many of today's designers and clothing manufacturers practicing vanity sizing, your size in vintage clothing may be different based on today's sizing standards. 
Shopping for vintage clothing can definitely be described as a treasure hunt. It is such a great feeling to become the new owner of a fabulous, one-of-a-kind, well made garment. It becomes a conversation piece and a style statement!

Whould you like to comment?

  1. @Inez of Style Chic....360
    Thanks Inez, hopefully it's a help to others.

  2. Most useful and interesting post.
    Thank you a lot.

  3. Love your blog!!!


  4. @sacramento
    I learned these pointers along the way and wanted to pass them along.

  5. Once again, great tips! I didn't know about the Union labels, so thank you! Also, thank you so much for your recent encouraging Tweet. The blogging community is usually so uplifting and positive, and I thank you ladies for your support!

  6. @Ashley
    Thanks again Ashley. Stay encouraged!

  7. This is a great post, I always see the union label, that's how I determine that an item is vintage.

  8. @Juanette
    Juanette, yeah the union label is the first hint to grab if you love it.

  9. Wow, these are some great thrifting tips! Love it thanks for sharing...

  10. Very informative post although I never have a specific designer in mind when I'm out thrifting.