Vintage Formal Attire: Knowing the Era


Upcoming holidays often present a reason to buy beautiful formal and semi-formal attire. To choose vintage formal ware you must be able to determine age through style trends and a ruling out process. This white dress appearing an almost Edwardian style wedding dress is certainly not that old. An obvious sign is the zipper. In the Edwardian era a zipper would not have been used. Though the zipper was invented in 1913 it was not frequently used until the late 30’s as Katy Jones, author of the Blind Hem points out in her article “How to: Date Vintage Clothing.”


From my personal collection (tear drop necklace available in my etsy shop)

The fact that the zipper is made of plastic and located in the back are clear signs that this dress is post 1960s. As is it is stated on the Vintage Fashion Guild website, metal zippers were used frequently up until the late 60s and the zippers were always located in the back from 70s on. Jones also addresses this in her article and stresses the usefulness of the Vintage Fashion Guild website, specifically their A-Z label resource.

A very important movement in 70s fashion was known as “prairie revival” and companies like Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock made early 20th century Victorian-like dresses. The material marked as polyester is also a significant sign of 70s attire. So we can conclude, as with all these factors, that this dress is in fact from this era. Below are more example of vintage formal attire. The black one is a 50s gown and the red is a Union made 80s prom gown.


From my personal collection, paired with my grandmothers aurora borealis necklace


50s evening gown from my personal collection

More dresses available in my Etsy store at

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