Vintage clothing dating zipper
1940s: The zipper is accepted in women’s clothing, horray!Zippers (always metal) are most often found along the side seam.
You know a button is bakelite plastic versus a more modern synthetic plastic because it’s almost always colored.1950s: Metal zippers are more accepted than ever in lady’s garments, and their predominant placement shifts from side seam to back and center middle seam (some dresses still zip along the side seam, however).1960s: The zipper is now almost always a center back placement.LEFT: 1940s Bakelite Plastic Button / RIGHT: 1960s Plastic Button DATING TIP: Identify whether the buttons are bakelite plastic, lucite plastic or modern plastic.1930s-1940s: Bakelite buttons are plastic buttons found on 1930s and 1940s garments.TOP LEFT: Frenched Seam (1900-1940s)/ TOP RIGHT: 1950s Pinked Seam / BOTTOM: Post ’50s Serged Seam DATING TIP: Identify whether the garment has frenched, pinked or serged seams.
PRE-1940s: French seams were used on turn of the century clothing through the 1940s.
1960s: Buttons begin to take on a more “cheap” look, and aren’t the same quality of plastic as bakelite or lucite. That’s why they’re also called “hard plastic.” LEFT: 1940s Dress with Side Seam Zipper / RIGHT: 1950s Dress with Centered Back Zipper DATING TIP: Identify whether the garment has a zipper and if so, where the zipper is placed and if it’s metal or plastic.
1920s: Zippers were invented in the late 1800s but weren’t used in clothing until the 1920s, and only in men’s trousers and children’s clothing because they were considered for women to wear!
1970s & EARLIER: Armholes of the ’70s and earlier were small openings, unlike the oversize “muscle man” armholes you might notice in a lot of ’80s garments.
1970s ONWARD: Once the ’70s hit, styles shifted to embracing the space between a woman’s skin and her sleeve.
Reason being that a zipper made it too easy to take one’s clothes off, thus only “easy” women would ever want to wear a garment with one!