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 🙂


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.

Style doesn’t always have to break the bank

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As students on a budget (a really tight budget), it can be really hard on our wallets when it comes to keeping up with the trends and updating our wardrobes with new clothes.

The big magazines tend to feature the most costly clothes that could wipe out the money you set aside for that week. It is only but a dream to us to have a wardrobe full of clothes that we can pick and choose from to wear to our lectures and never to wear the same piece of clothing again.

Here in Sheffield, there are plenty of charity shops that sell clothes of high street brands to top labels at extremely affordable prices which will make any student happy.

Most students are not fans of second hand clothes and thrift shopping, but it most definitely the smarter way of shopping for fashion lovers. Not only that, the cash saved and the abundance of clothes you end up with during your trips to the charity shops will leave you feeling like a million dollars.

You may have had an earful of misconceptions of second-hand clothes but there is absolutely nothing wrong with charity shops, you will be surprised with what you can actually find in these shops. They may not look like the trendiest of shops to get caught it, but dig deep and you will find the best items waiting to be found.

I ventured to Ecclesall road – which is lined with second-hand clothing shops – knowing that I will find a great deal of trendy apparel because I soon learnt that the stuff you find in charity shops are usually similar to the type of people that live in that area, so true enough, these shops are full of clothes donated by students that have a similar fashion sense. The shops were loaded with trendy clothes as well as fabulous vintage one-off pieces.

The one that really stood out was “The Big Green Bag”, a charity shop which is actually dedicated to fashion and recycling fashion. Anyone would have mistook this shop for a boutique.

jewelry from their fb Rails from their fb shopfront photo from their fb

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Here are some of the gorgeous things I have picked out with the help of their friendly manager, Denisa.

Henley’s Lime Green Vintage Jumper, £3



Boden Fluffy Blue Fleece Jacket, £3



H&M Ballerina Shift Dress, £2



River Island Denim Biker Dress, £6



Jack Wills Cream Vest Top, £1(they have a rail full of clothes being sold at £1!)



Denisa also showed me some of the quirky things the volunteers have made to sell.

These gorgeous retro style rings are only £1.99 each!


£1.99 each.

The volunteers also recycled old vinyl records into these stylish clocks with a price tag of only £7.99

Vinyl Clocks

£7.99 each.

These are just a few of the many things you can find in The Big Green Bag as well as all the other charity shops in Sheffield and they are perfect destination for style conscious students who are on a budget.

As you can tell, style always doesn’t have to break the bank.

The Big Green Bag is at 474 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield.
Join their Facebook group, “The Big Green Bag”

Shop Front

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?


Thrift shopping is not just for girls

I thought I’ll start off by featuring men’s thrift shopping before I move on to women’s.

My boyfriend- also a student- tags along with me whenever I go on my fashion treasure hunt – I do not force him to by the way.

For a male, he is stylish and loves clothes shopping but he dislikes second-hand shops. While he waits for me, he browses through the men’s rails to pass his time and usually cannot believe the clothes that he finds, the first thing he picked out was a Christian Dior Blazer with a price tag of only £6!

Here are a few other examples of what he found:

Vivienne Westwood Shirt ( New with Tags ), £10, from Age UK. Retails at £200 in Harvey Nichols.

Vivienne Westwood 3 Collar Shirt, . From Cancer Research UK, City Centre.

Vivienne Westwood 3 Collar Shirt, .
From Age UK, City Centre.

Hugo Boss Orange Label Shirt, £1, from Cancer Research UK, Retails at around £100.

Hugo Boss Red Label Shirt, £1. From Cancer Research UK,

Hugo Boss Red Label Shirt, £1.
From Cancer Research UK,

Jack Wills Shirt, £1, from Age UK, Retails at £50

Jack Wills Shirt, £1. From Age UK, City Centre.

Jack Wills Shirt, £1.
From Age UK, City Centre.

DKNY Shirt, £5, from Cancer Research UK, Retails at £60.

DKNY Shirt, £1. From Cancer Research UK, City Centre.

DKNY Shirt, £1.
From Cancer Research UK, City Centre.

Barbour Fleece Waistcoat, £6, from Marie Curie Charity Shop, Eccessall Road, Retails at £80.


Another Hugo Boss Shirt, from the Orange Label, £1, from Age UK.

Hugo Boss Orange Label Shirt, £1.
From Age UK, City Centre.

Men’s designer clothes at jaw dropping prices. I could not believe it at all when my boyfriend showed me what he found. He probably has a better eye at spotting bargains than me.

I’m assuming that the men’s section of charity shops bears more designer clothes because when men grow out of their clothes, they donate them to get rid of them to create more space in their wardrobes.

Whereas, women rather hoard their clothes, especially designer clothes, even if they cannot fit into them. I, for one, am a great example, I have too many clothes that still have tags on for my own good. I am sure many of you are the same.

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, quite literally in thrift shopping.

Fashion in the Steel City

Whenever I mention Sheffield to my friends, the standard words that come out of their mouths are, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Rock music, Steel… I suppose that’s the impression that most people have of this city.

I love the music scene in Sheffield, but to me, Sheffield has more to offer than just music and epic clubbing night outs.

The fashion, culture and lifestyle here is amazing and I am not in any way being biased about it just because I live in South Yorkshire.

First of all, Sheffield is a student-filled city filled with both British and International students.

The style that every student brings to city actually influences the people around them.

There is a wide array of boutiques, vintage stores and quaint shops dotted around in many places and I am constantly landing in a different shop almost every week. There are many indie art exhibits all over and quirky independent cafes to relax in.

I love vintage clothes and I am a collector myself, so I do get rather giddy when I find a new vintage shop, especially when the clothes are sold at below a tenner.

I used to think that Leeds was the city for the vintage shopper but I was wrong, Sheffield definitely boasts more vintage shops than any other city I have been to.

Here you will find photos of my beautiful finds and where I ventured to in Sheffield for them. For example, I recently found an authentic Christian Dior Blazer for £6, which will appear in a later post on men’s fashion.

Being a student that commutes from Doncaster to university, I run out of things to do whenever I have two hour long gaps in between my lectures, so I sit in Starbucks with a large cup of coffee near the Winter Gardens and stare aimlessly out the window, this is when I end up people-watching.

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The lovely winter gardens at Sheffield. Perfect to chill out with friends for lunch!


I automatically look at what people are wearing and how they have styled their outfit of the day. It is something of an obsession.

I also spend my time wandering into the many trendy shops in Sheffield.

But for students on a budget, shopping for high end and high street clothes regularly is out of reach….

What I will show you is how great it really is to grab a bargain at a charity shop and will also feature the best vintage shops in Sheffield as well as high street shops and boutiques worth going into.

This will not be the kind of fashion blog where an ugly piece of clothing which makes out to be what seems like an old piece of carpet design, gets featured at a ridiculous price.

There are probably hundreds and hundreds of fashion blogs out there, many of which feature the most ridiculous clothes that costs a bomb.

Sometimes, I even wonder if these so-called high end fashion bloggers even purchase these clothes, or do they get hidden perks to feature them?

Well, this blog will have none of that. Here’s to raw and real fashion, from the steel city.