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ljandherknight
Community Member
Posts: 1,781
Registered: ‎12-15-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

Ok, I mentioned this in another thread but let's see if we can get a new resource thread going here that can eventually be pinned to the top of this board.

I would like to know all the different ways you can research vintage clothing including books, stores to go to, links on line, how to really use google (cuz I don't have a clue, well I kinda' do but don't think I'm using it to it's best advantage) and anything else you can think of that will help us newby's do our own work.

Let's see if we can present a thread here that will improve the quality of questions asked on the board from "What do I have?" to "I have researched this and found that I have this, this and this and I think because of this info I have this but what is this piece?"

So many of you are so vintage savvy compared to the rest of us and I know that answering questions on this board take up so much of your valuable listing time that this might help all involved to be better sellers on this venue called eBay!!!

Thanks in advance to everyone who contributes to this learning thread. Janey
Janey/LJ



Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. Anatole France
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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-14-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Well, Joel said something in a recent thread about Fairchild's Dictionary of Fashion. I intend to purchase a copy. Thank you for that information, Joel.

I know that one of my weaknesses is identifying fabrics. I am starting to realize more and more how this is hurting my business. I think spending some time in a fabric store will help with that.

I google everything, in every possible combination. Also, the information you want is not always on the first page. Sometimes it's hiding on the 7th page, the 12th page...sometimes even further in.

I was trying to find information on a REAL vintage Abercrombie shirt a while back. I googled the second label that was on the shirt. About the 4th or 5th page, there was a blurb about an author that had written a book about the hometown of the company. I googled his name. That lead me to a museum page where he had given a lecture about his book. I called the museum and spoke to a woman who remembered the lecture and was able to give me some information about the company. From all of that, in addition to some great help from this board, I was able to approximate the date of the shirt. So, in a nutshell, dig deep and follow the breadcrumbs.

Also, get a binder. Use dividers for fabric and laundering tips and designers and styles. Everytime you learn something new, put it in your book. ( I've been meaning to do this forever and now I'm really going to have to do it.)

Pass on your knowledge. I think that this is so important. Even though I can't do it as much here as I'd like to, I am able to in my other business. It strengthens the industry as a whole and in my own experience, has always come around to help me or teach me something that I didn't know.

-Jessica
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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎04-20-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Everytime something interesting or unique comes up here, and information that can be used later is posted, I save it to a word file. Laundry tips, dating info, websites, any of that, I copy and save. Someday, in my spare time...LOL, I will consolidate and print it out for my use. I haven't done it enough lately, but I plan to keep it up better.

I am another one that has a hard time googling. I know I am not being very effective with it.

Cim

"Seller of Fine Vintage and Even Finer Junk!"
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liveshopdie
Community Member
Posts: 1,767
Registered: ‎02-02-2007

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Fairchild's also had a Dictionary of Textiles.
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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-14-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Almost forgot! As far as "googling" things...Google isn't the only search engine. I google first, but I also use the others. If it's a designer name you're looking for, try putting it in quotations when you search. Also, sometimes it helps to put "designer" or "clothing" or "clothing company" in with the designer name when you're searching. Or just the designer name and the item, i.e. "Mary Smith Sweater."
-Jessica
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Community Member
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎03-10-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
I do the notebook thing in a really rough way. I normally measure my items and write them up in the 3 or 5 subject notebooks. So that notebook is always beside whatever computer I'm using. So I have all these weird notes about Levi's and when they changed the E to e. When Sears dropped the Roebuck. There's rather cryptic stuff about metal adjusters + rubber = date. Not organized but it's there so I don't have to ask the question again.

One of the biggest things that helped me in dating was to look through the categories. Someone on here might tell me that the dress was late 70s but browsing the categories it seemed to fit in more with the items in the earlier category. So the next time around instead of asking, I went browsing and answered my own question. The item wasn't such that I needed to 'date it', I just needed to know which category to drop it into and give it an era, 60's, 70's, etc for my title. I learned pretty quick that I was capable of doing that just by using my eyes and browsing. Now granted every item in the 60's category isn't truly 60's but you can get a majority consensus.

Mostly this stuff takes confidence. I've been sewing since well many many years ago in 4-H and I still have trouble with fabrics. I have to admit that some of the fabric stores aren't helping. The bolts of fabric aren't labled as chiffon, organza, etc in some cases. It's slinky, sheer, etc. I was highly irritated when I decided to take a browsing tour through a JoAnn's to double check a fabric.
Someone mentioned a fabric swatch book or something of the sort, care to share the name? I would love to check into it.
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Community Member
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎05-18-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
I google everything. I have a huge folder full of websites that I've found useful in every topic imaginable relating to vintage clothing and textiles.

The other day I spent some time in the fabric store comparing fabrics. I didn't know the difference between shantung and dupioni. I had to go in and see and feel the difference. I realized I had a suit listed incorrectly. It was in fact shantung and not dupioni.

I do searches for vintage clothing patterns to study styles.

I rely very heavily on the internet because my budget doesn't allow me to purchase books on the subject but I have spent time in the library doing research. I happen to enjoy doing research and wish I could spend more time doing it.

I also rely on my memory. I was born in the 50's so I do remember alot of the fashions from the 50's to the present.

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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-14-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Kind of off topic but I never really knew...what is the deal with Big E Levis? I mean, how do you know? Just a curiosity question, really. I don't get into denim very much.

Also, I always check completed listings. I think that they're enormously helpful. A lot of times that's what determines whether or not I'll even list something. - Jessica
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Community Member
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎10-11-2009

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Raincity Publishing has three books All About Silk / Cotton / Wool complete with swatches, almost all you ever wanted to know about fabric...


unless it's fatal it's no big deal...


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Community Member
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎02-04-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Heylola just about wrote the book on Googling. The secret really is in

1)selecting the right keywords,
2)using the quotation marks creatively
3)learning what is useful in types of google entries
4)following the clues
5)being patient and going through ALL the pages.

Things that are useful in google entries:

Items for sale by others with that label. If all it says is this label "labelname", it is not worth looking at unless it is your exact item. Other people's guesstimates as to dates of their items are not necessarily to be trusted.

Always try to find the company info. "company name" will do for starters. Find out where it is. If it is a vintage company no longer in business, go to the area's history site and see what it has to say about the company. Look at obits of people who used to work there, sometimes it has date info that will be useful in knowing how old the company is. Look at resumes too, same thing. I recently found a resume that pinned down the info that the company was a manufacturer, not a store.

Google images is also very useful. If you want a quick look at a designer's work to compare it with your item, Google Images for that designer and you will get some pix to look at right away. Be careful, as not everything that comes up will be pertinent to your designer.

Google all the names you have. Designer label, maker label, store label.

Remember, Google is a great repository of information, but it is NOT the definitive source. If you don't find it there, chances are it is too old. Most items on Google are less than five years old. Last year, I found a lot of info about a Pennsylvania company. This year, when I wanted info about the same company, it was nowhere to be found. Too bad I did not save it. I have taken to saving files, just like Cim does.
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Community Member
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎05-12-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
I too copy and paste helpful bits of information into specific Word docs (Cleaning/Prepping, Dating Garments, Labels/Designers, Clothing Terminology, etc.), but I have no intention of printing them out or organizing the information within each. When I want to look something up I just open the document and do a search for whatever I'm looking for ("odor," "rayon," a label name;"coat" for various style names, and so on). Infinitely helpful and gets more so each week. We are so very fortunate to have so many knowledgeable folks freely sharing their expertise with us so that the entire community of vintage sellers will improve. As I've said to many friends, following this board is like sitting in on an online class. The education helps the selling and buying communities immeasurably.

And in terms of fabric identification, I learned here -- from gosh, who was it? I think Amy (yourtrophygirl) -- about the marvelous 3-volume Fabric Reference Series by Julie Parker from Rain City Publishing in Seattle: "All About Wool," "All About Silk" and "All About Cotton." Each volume comes with 40 swatches that you afix in place to the proper page. The volume on cotton, for example, includes pique, sateen, organdy, oxford cloth, batiste, drill, and so on, with a page of text describing the texture and uses and variations. It's not cheap -- a cool hundred for the set -- but I'm so glad I invested in it.

Vintage is an ongoing education, that's for sure!

Mary Catherine

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Community Member
Posts: 5,692
Registered: ‎04-15-2004

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
I'm a big Googler as well. I love research. I also periodically browse some of the more well known vintage online sites to check out how items are described, what eras things seem to be from, etc.
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Community Member
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎05-12-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Oops, cross-posted w/ Lucietta about the Rain City books. They're fantastic.

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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎04-22-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Of course reading, googling and other references are fabulous! I am a tactile person and like to learn by touch as well. If you have a vintage store, have fun going shopping and learning at the same time. Feel the fabrics, look at construction, etc.
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Community Member
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎02-04-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Here are my favorite fabric ID links. They are not the be-all and end-all but are good places to start:

http://www.ditzyprints.com/dpburnchart.html

http://courses.che.umn.edu/00dha2213-1f/texana2213/woven.html

http://www.fabrics.net/

This last one has fabric history, fabric identification, cleaning and care, it is just a great site. The search button is confusing, as it is a little tab along the top, and then you get to a page with two search options. Choose option 2. to stay on the site.
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Community Member
Posts: 96
Registered: ‎05-14-2008

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Try to obtain old catalogs Sears, Montgomery Wards, & such. Not only do you get pics of what was in fashion for that year, but some good ideas of how to describe the items and words for different neckline, collars, etc. Of course it's not that years Haute Couture - but how much of that do we find anyway?


modfashion2
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Community Member
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎02-04-2003

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Ooh, I almost forgot! Google definitions is great for written fabric descriptions. Go to Google, type in 'Define:jacquard' and you get several different definitions that will give you a quick study on jacquard. Then you can google images for jacquard and get some pix.
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Community Member
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎04-26-2004

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
I'm a recovering librarian ?:smileyindifferent: and really love the research end of things too. I have a page on another web site that goes into some detail on how to be a better searcher, and what the differences are in various search engines like google. I think I can't post the link, but if anyone wants to email me, I'd be glad to send it.

I think the best way to learn about vintage is by having it yourself...try it on, wear it, feel the fabrics, love it. There's nothing like getting stuck in a 50s dress to remember where the zipper was located, or having had to wear 60s doubleknit to remember how it feels!
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Community Member
Posts: 5,692
Registered: ‎04-15-2004

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Oh...forgot to mention old magazines. I have a bunch of old Vogues and Harper's from the 60's and 70's that I peruse to get an idea of names and styles. I wish I had some of the older magazines but dang..they go for a lot of money on ebay!
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ljandherknight
Community Member
Posts: 1,781
Registered: ‎12-15-2005

How to research vintage clothing - Please everyone read!!

in reply to ljandherknight
Wow, nothing like getting a 30 year education in 10 short minutes of reading!!! This is what I have been looking for ever since I started lurking and posting here. Now maybe I can start asking more intelligent questions of all you wonderful people.

I have 3 huge notebooks of things I have printed out and the stuff to fill one more that I need to get organized of links, threads, and so forth that I have printed out to refer to. I have probably 100 or better items saved to my favorites to refer to and I still seem to ask some pretty dumb questions looking back now.

Thank you all for this wonderful information. Now is there a way we can get this pinned to the top or added to the resource thread??? Thanks again, Janey
Janey/LJ



Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened. Anatole France
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