How to tell if your clothes are vintage

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For the millionth time, I cannot express enough my love for vintage clothes and how I am obsessed with collecting them. Most of my finds are from the many vintage shops, dotted all around Sheffield, especially at Devonshire Green. Particularly, Forum Sheffield.

I am a 21 year old writing a post about vintage clothes that are a lot older than me and ranges back from the 40s, so what do I know you ask?

Well if you are an avid vintage clothes collector, your knowledge expands as you collect. I am not going to pretend and “marvel” as to how much I love antiques, because I don’t and probably never will.

My love for fashion itself prompted me to be curious to its history. That’s all it is to why I even starting collecting vintage clothes.

So I ramble about my amazing vintage finds and the rock bottom prices I get them for, but how do I even know they really are vintage.

At first, I used to ask my boyfriend’s mother and grandmother, both fashionistas from back in their days, the 1940s and the 1970s, respectively, and they still have their clothes from back then because they can never part with their clothes which made them the fashionable girls they were in school in Rotherham. My boyfriend’s mom gave me her Fred Perry Pleated P.E. School Skirt from the 70s! Here it is, how cute.

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Now, after each piece I collect, I know for a fact if an item is vintage or not. Here is a little guide for you to be able to tell what is vintage and what is probably a reproduction.

1) Not sure? Give it a sniff.

No seriously, I mean it, give it a good strong sniff. The smell really is what will give away if a piece of clothing is vintage or not. I don’t mean if it smells stale or if it smells of body odour  because that would only mean it was worn recently. I mean the musty old smell you get when you leave something in your loft for a really long time. If it smells like that, it is probably vintage.

2) It’s all in the labels.

Just like the Fred Perry skirt, the label looks obviously old, however, some owners take pride in their clothes because back then clothes were too expensive so people took extra care of their clothes which shows why a lot of the vintage clothes you find today are in almost perfect condition.

The older the labels look and the more it looks like it has been stitched, the more likely it is vintage. For example, here is my 1980s Topshop Floral Vest

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I am pretty sure you would have never come across this label in recent Topshop collections. That’s because this really is vintage. It doesn’t show it in the photos, but the whiteness is rather yellowing. It also smelt musky when I picked it up.

I also have this 80s Miss Selfridge crop top.


One of the most common vintage clothes you’ll find in the vintage shops in Sheffield are by St Michael’s, which most of you would know, is the previous Marks & Spencer’s. The labels before the late 80s would usually just bear the “St Michael’s” name. From the late 80s onwards, “St Michael’s by Marks and Spencer’s” was more commonly used. Here is the label of a 1970s netted St Michael’s top I have. It reeked so much, I popped it straight into the washer.


Sometimes, you can tell how old it is just by looking at it, like this one.

3) Check the zips.

Before the 80s, the zips of dresses were sown in an obvious manner. The zips of such dresses should be jutting out. Hidden zips are a 21st century invention, so if you see one in a vintage shop, avoid it because it is not vintage at all. Here is an 80s dress of mine

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Another factor of this dress being from the 80s is that you really have to breathe in for it to zip up and this is not an excuse for the few pounds I gained over the last few days of eating junk food.

Anyway, the zip on the dress is protruding out slightly. The following photo is a comparison of the zip of this dress and a dress I bought from Topshop last week, which I have yet to try out. Typical me.

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The left is of my Topshop dress and the right is the comparison photo of my 80s vintage dress and my Topshop dress. The zip of the Topshop dress is more hidden in the seam, while the vintage zip is protruding outwards. Recently, a lot of high street shops have been recreating vintage features in their clothes, including the zip details, however, these remade zips are usually in a gold or silver colour.

4) Made in England? It’s probably vintage.

In this time and age, how many high street clothes do you buy that actually has a label which says “made in England”. I would say, none at all. They’re usually made in China or Turkey. Before the 80s, clothes were usually made in England. So if you find clothes which says “Made in UK”, “Made in Great Britain” and “Made in England” and if they are not top notch designer clothes, they are probably vintage. If you have a piece of clothing which was made in a country which does not exist anymore, then obviously it is vintage. I have a pair of Levi’s jeans which has a “made in Yugoslavia” label which really shows how old it is.

5) Contact the brand, they usually help.

If you have high street clothes like Dorothy Perkins and Topshop with old labels or even labels that don’t match the current ones, all you have to do is contact the brands as they usually have archives of their heritage so they will know how old the label is. Designer labels, especially, keep archives of their collections. I contacted the Christian Dior head office and found out the age of this 80s floral top:

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6) Are your Levi’s different to the current collections?

Levi’s jeans are a hot area for vintage lovers. There are so many people who collect Levi’s or buy them to reconstruct them. As for me, I simply collect them. Here are some photos of some unique features I found in my vintage Levi’s jeans.

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Each photo is of a different pair of Levi’s jeans. I recently learnt that if the “e” in the “Levi’s” on the tab of the jeans is in a capital “E” instead, then it is from before the 1970s, otherwise, they are from after the 1970s. So far I know that the jeans I own are all from the 1970s, however, I have never had a pair like the one from the last photo. I have been itching to know the history of that pair of jeans and I found a contact to help me out with it so right now I am just waiting for a response.

If you have a pair of Levi’s jeans which you feel is possibly vintage, visit

It has the contact information of a Levi’s historian which you can contact to determine the age and history of your special pair of Levi’s jeans. I am excited to find out about mine.

Not sure if your purchases are vintage? drop me a message, I will be more than happy to help. I’ve got all summer 🙂


Victoria’s Secret opening in Sheffield

Whipped out my phone in seconds to take an Instagram photo of my new favourite shop in Meadowhall!

Whipped out my phone in seconds to take an Instagram photo of my new favourite shop in Meadowhall!

I could not believe my eyes when I walked past this massive board in Meadowhall, I know I sound ever so dramatic but a Victoria’s Secret in Sheffield? Coincidentally, I got my Iphone 5 that day and instantly took a  photo of the front and uploaded it onto my Instagram.

I know this blog is all about applauding the fashion culture in Sheffield but it was just unbelievable for me when I thought about how this would be the second Victoria’s Secret in England after the recent opening in Oxford Street in London!


As you can already tell, I am a great fan of Victoria’s Secret and the only way I can even get anything from one of America’s greatest shops ever is through their online store. Even then, it is illegal for me to buy their divine smelling scents and toiletries as it is banned by UK customs with them having liquid content.

So of course I was jumping for joy after digesting the fact that Victoria’s Secret really is going to open in Autumn this year in Meadowhall. I remember my friends and I used to actually say things like “I wish we had a Victoria’s Secret round here.” back in Sixth Form, so it will be a wish come true in a few months! I am full of South Yorkshire pride right now.

Now I don’t have to bulk buy when I go on holiday to America because I will have a Victoria’s Secret right at my door step. I went to Orlando, Florida last year and they have a massive Victoria’s Secret outlet- I’ll leave out how long I spent in there.

I bought whatever I could, especially their body sprays, as I knew that the next time I would be able to get them was the next holiday to America so I really went over with the bulk buying. I bought two or three bottles of each body spray. This was last March so it has been more than a year now, I have used up six bottles of body spray already, as you know, I am a hoarder so it took a lot of will power to even throw the empty bottles. I still have eight bottles left!

Here is my current collection of my splurge on the lovely Victoria’s Secret clothes and sprays

Hoodie, tops, sprays, tote bag and paper bags which people actually collect

Hoodie, tops, sprays, tote bag and paper bags which people actually collect

The remainder of my body sprays, with three bottles at their final few sprays

The remainder of my body sprays, with three bottles at their final few sprays

I have not been to the newly opened London flagship store yet, but I am hoping they would cost the same, or at least nearly the same as the American prices. My body sprays were only $20 for five bottles. They will leave you smelling fresh and divine, you would think twice about spending on your next Chanel No.5

Anyway, one of the main reasons why I wanted to mention the opening of Victoria’s Secret in Meadowhall was not only because I adore the brand, I wanted to show that there is more to University Outfitters clothing than Jack Wills.


In England, we go to Jack Wills for our expensive university suited casual clothing. In America, the high school and uni female students go to PINK, the University Outfitters range by Victoria’s Secret.

You would have noticed from my pictures that my clothes had the name “PINK” on most of them. At least now, the students in Sheffield will know that I am not just wearing some random hoodie to my lectures.

PINK board advertisement in Meadowhall

PINK board advertisement in Meadowhall

We don’t have a Jack Wills in South Yorkshire, but we do have a PINK by Victoria’s Secret, well in Autumn anyway. I have already seen a lot of girls wearing this brand around our Hallam city campus, which I am assuming that they have raided the London store before I have.

The clothes at PINK are generally cheaper than the clothes of its mother brand, Victoria’s Secret. Mainly because it is for students after all, but mind you, the prices will still be as dear as Jack Wills but so much more worth it in my opinion.

One of my best friends who goes to London South Bank University said that we should shop at the store in London when I visit because they do offers like “buy 5 knickers for £25”. We worked out that  I could have three and she could have two which would make it so much cheaper.

The PINK range offers everything a girly student needs from bed covers to notepads to hoodies and cute t-shirts. The colours are pink as ever, mind the pun. Here are examples of what to expect!


Cute and quirky hoodies and tracksuit bottoms. Perfect for lounging around in or grocery shopping. I dare say, great for stumbling into lectures. Nothing like feeling comfy, especially with a hangover.


Wow. This tracksuit number is something I was trying my hardest to look for in Florida but to no avail. I hope the Sheffield one will have it. Please comment if you have found one!


A collection of these bottles will do me. How cute are they? The colours are brilliant as is the slogans like “Non stop party” and “bring it on” on them, typical girly student style.


This is just one example of their many bed sheets and covers made for students. The slogans on them will be truthful to any student.

Victoria's Secret Pink® - Canvas tote

Their tote bags are usually cheap. Mine cost me $20 which is not that bad for a tote bag by Victoria’s Secret.

I cannot wait for the store to be opened and I especially cannot wait for more people to be wearing the PINK brand with pride.

Let me know your thoughts on Victoria’s Secret opening its second store in England in none other than Meadowhall, Sheffield!

Check out Freshmans Vintage Clothing in Sheffield

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During one of my random wanders around Sheffield during a two hour break between lectures, I decided to do a bit of window shopping and found the above sign which brought me to yet another vintage shop in Sheffield called Freshmans Vintage Clothing at The Forum.

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Cringy as it sounds, this shop is a student vintage clothes collector’s heaven. The pricetags of the apparel in this shop stays true to its name – it really is for freshmen and their appalling bank balance. I have to say that most of the vintage shops in Sheffield are catered to students so they are a lot cheaper than vintage boutiques.

It had a wide array of early 40s clothes to the recent 90s. The remade vintage Levi’s shorts in the above picture were only £20 each or less. Think about the fact that to buy a pair of Levi’s today is triple the price and how most vintage boutiques charge a lot more for their clothes.

The quirky vintage necklaces they sell were all of brass-like material which is the trend these days and reminded me of the modern day versions in Topshop, but these are the real deal at only a fiver each which is fraction of the high street price.

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The clothes here are a far cry from the mass produced high street labels (not that there is anything wrong with that). As you can see, every piece on the rail are different to each other. Not one shirt on it is the same as the one next to it, which is great for students who don’t want to be walking to their lectures and finding five other girls wearing the same top.Very cringy and awkward. I should know, its happened to me.  Freshmans vintage clothing offers alternatives to your average high street label.

While browsing through the many rails and scarf buckets in Freshmans, I found this new label that they stock called Alice Takes A Trip. This Sheffield brand boasts original designs of unique vintage-esque clothing. Great for those who love Rockabilly style clothes. I liked it so much, as soon as I got home, I went straight to look if they had an online store. I will write a post about it soon. I think its great that the fashion shops in Sheffield help each other out by stocking each others’ labels.

Freshmans’ Vintage Clothing is worth a visit for students who love vintage clothing and it sure is not hard on your pockets.

Freshman’s is located at:

Unite 2, The Forum Shopping Centre, Devonshire Street, Sheffield, S3 7SB

If you don’t live in Sheffield, click here to visit their online store.

A Fashion Treasure Hunt

I used to avoid going into charity shops because of the fact that they were second-hand, but the moment I discovered vintage fashion, I changed my mind completely.

I still wear high street clothes and love my boutique wear but collecting vintage clothes is more of a hobby.

It does feel like a treasure hunt whenever you enter charity shops, but all that hunting will be worth it when you find that gorgeous dress that retails at about £200 but you only got it for a fiver.

Or if you find that rare vintage 1960s Tootal scarf that costs more than £50 to buy online (I found one for a pound)

Here’s what I found in some of the charity shops in Sheffield City Centre to add to my collection.

Joseph Ribkoff is a Canadian designer who mainly makes Cruisewear. His designs are made for the glamorous. Now you probably cannot wear this on a night out round Sheffield, in fact, as a student there’s no where I can actually wear this to. I got this dress anyway because I just thought it was beautiful and it might come in handy one day.


Beautiful cruise dress by Jospeh Ribkoff, £5.
From Cancer Research UK, City Centre

This next dress is a Vintage 1970s satin dress I found, it is in such a great condition, the owner must have really looked after it.


Vintage 1970s Dress, £1
From Cancer Research UK, City Centre

I don’t tend to shop in vintage shops that charges drastic prices on something that I could have found on my own. I remember going into a vintage shop in York ( I rather not name it) and every item there was priced over £20 per piece. This included St Michael’s (Previous name for Marks & Spencer)  clothes. It is not hard at all to find a piece of vintage clothing so you could save some pennies if you went to look for a dress yourself instead of going into a specialist vintage boutique. There are cheap ones around like Cow in Sheffield.

It isn’t common to find a top notch designer dress in a charity shop, why would anyone want to give it away after splurging a few hundreds? so imagine my shock when I found an  Alexander Mcqueen dress in the Marie Curie charity shop in Eccessall road! I have an Alexander Mcqueen dress but I felt more excited buying this second-hand one because it felt lovely that I landed with such a bargain. This dress used to retail at £500 at Harvey Nicholls, so my eyes lit up the moment I spotted the label. Charitable or not, I will never understand why anyone would want to buy such an expensive dress and then donate it.

Alexander Mcqueen dress, £10. From the Marie Curie Charity shop, Eccessall Road.

Alexander Mcqueen dress, £10.
From the Marie Curie Charity shop, Eccessall Road.

I love quirky knitted jumpers with old knitwork, however, I only collect them as I know I would get quite a few raised eyebrows if I wore any of the jumpers in my collection. Here’s an example

Vintage 1970s Teddy Bear Knitted Jumper, £5. From Age UK, City  Centre.

Vintage 1970s Teddy Bear Knitted Jumper, £5.
From Age UK, City Centre.

Here’s yet another designer piece, a Paul Smith Waistcoat from the Black Label collection.  This retailed at £100, to find it in a charity shop is just pure luck.

Paul Smith Black Label Waistcoat, £5. From Age UK, City Centre.

Paul Smith Black Label Waistcoat, £5.
From Age UK, City Centre.

I could go on and on about the amount of clothes I end up with after a visit to a charity shop, but you would find yourself in the same situation if you did the same.

Have you found anything great at a charity shop recently?