1 Many styles in fashion have been re-imagined in different decades, for example, the 1980s had a 1950s revival, so to identify the era, consider the type of fabric used. Pre-1960s garments were regularly constructed from rayon, silk, and taffeta whereas 1980s revival items were made from materials such as polyester and lycra. The rule of thumb is that an item is vintage if it’s over 20 years old, so you’ll still achieve a vintage look even with items originally from the 80s or 90s.
2 The rules of vintage generally dictate that the older the item, the more expensive it is, but that’s not always the case. Desirability and price tends to relate to beauty and wearability, so if you’re lucky enough to find a beautiful 1920s/30s silk dress in good condition, it could end up costing more than 20 Victorian night dresses, but it will be more useful.
3 Handmade items are common and still popular, especially if they are made pre-1960s. Look out for metal zips as opposed to plastic ones and dresses that have interesting prints or shapes.
4 The condition of the item is always important - vintage fabrics, unless well cared for, rarely stand the test of time. Look out for moth holes, tears, zip malfunctions
5 Know your collectable brands. There are a few collectable designers from each era of clothing. They include Ossie Clark, genuine vintage BIBA, Nina Ricci and Chanel.
6 Visit bhf.org.uk/ebay to search for unique vintage items which have been donated to BHF shops. The profits raised from sales on the BHF eBay store go towards essential research into heart disease, so you know that anything you buy could help save someone’s life.
Look out for more handy tips in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.