Vintage Palm Springs Blog

The Essential Guide to Identifying Vintage


The Essential Guide to Identifying Vintage

By Katie Skinner.

Are you curious about Vintage?

Dope, you’re in the right spot!  This blog is here to enlighten you on vintage and inspire your next shopping spree.  First, it’s important to know what it is, because a lot of people these days just call anything they believe to be old, vintage - but that is not actually the definition.  Well, sorta. Yes - it’s old, but it actually has a life span. Technically, items that are considered to be vintage fall between 20 and 100 years old. Crazy, huh? Anything older is considered an antique.  This means that anything from roughly 1919 to 1999 could be considered vintage. We learn something new every day! You also should figure out some signs of vintage, as well as where to shop (though you probably have a bit of an idea. Also, shameless plug: go check out our store, it’s all vintage!

Now that there is a foundation to work off of, next is simply to research just what you want to be a focal point.  If you have a specific time period to work with, it’ll be easy to narrow down what sort of aesthetic that you want from there.  If you aren’t sure, browsing is always good, if you know what some of the signs of vintage are. Usually these pieces are worn in a little bit, sometimes a lot bit, but you should focus on gently used items.  It could be easy to restore if it isn’t ragged, yet it could also indicate that it is old enough to be vintage. Sometimes there are pieces that are partially refurbished, like the cloth on some furniture. This is also good to avoid, because it takes from the novelty of having vintage.

Image by IPTC Photo Metadata via Google Images.

Sometimes the best vintage items come from, you guessed it, the thrift store!  This is always a great place to glance around and find hidden treasures. I love to go to thrift shops and always find some clothes and decor pieces  that are unique. This always sparks a conversation on where I got these awesome pieces. Once I tell them where and how cheap it was, I usually love the groans, because they instantly know can’t find the item again or for that price!  Other places that are great to look into are antique or vintage shops, online shops, auctions, estate sales, swap meets, or even antique centers or fairs. It’s always good to check the condition thoroughly and in the process try to develop a relationship with antique and vintage sellers directly. That’s how you get the first news on the goods stuff!

The centers and fairs are a great way to meet even more sellers. If you can build relationships with people, they can also help seek out the more specific and hard to find styles that you want. Auction allows you to have the opportunity to try and get a steal of a deal. Sometimes you can find incredible deals on items that cost more. Online shops are also a great way to get pieces that are a bit more inaccessible and rare.  So many options, as long as you double check and make sure that the items that you are getting are actually vintage. There are some great websites that specialize in vintage items, like this one! 😊

So, when you finally decide to hit up a place that sells vintage, you should try and keep one or two items in mind, like an accessory, if you’re getting clothes.  This will keep you from trying to mesh too many styles together. If you want more than that though, go for it. You can wear anything you like!

Probably the most common and hardest to identify category in Vintage is T-shirts.  With so many era’s, designs and fabrics - it can be hard to determine what even is vintage and how to value it.

There are two things to look at with vintage t-shirts. The patterns or types of shirts and sizes. These things are important to consider because the patterns help identify the shirts and the sizes are interesting, to say the least.

50/50 or Fifty-fifty

This refers to a 50% blend of cotton and 50% blend of polyester. These aren’t very hard to find but are good to know about.


This is a shirt that hasn’t been worn. These are fairly common to find. Usually they are found in bulk.

Iron-on Heat Transfer

These are just what they sound like. These images peel and crack when worn often or washed. They depict very pretty graphics that are hard to put on shirts otherwise.

Mounted Collar

This is where the collar is sewn on the outside rather than the inside. This can make the collar stiffer, which I think would be a little uncomfortable, but it makes it more durable.

Paper Thin

This refers to shirts that are so worn that they are soft to the touch and are so thin that if you hold them up to the light, you can see it trickle through. These would be so soft.


The collars and cuffs on these shirts are ribbed and a different color than the rest of the shirt.

Screen Printed

The shirts have an ink pressed through the screen to create a design. This can be laborious, so they usually only have one or two colors in the design.

“Selvage Pocket”

This refers to the shirts that have reinforcement tape used in the pockets. The fabric isn’t selvage, but it’s what many sellers call these shirts. If you look closely in the pocket, you can see the fabric that causes the pocket’s look.

Single Stitch

A lot of vintage has a single stitch, but not all vintage has a single stitch. Also, not all single stitch is vintage. The single stitch occurs on the shoulder, cuffs and hem. A lot of modern shirts have a double stitch.


This term seems to speak for itself. It is a heavy worn and ragged piece. It will usually be thin with holes and there might be some stains and discoloration. Frequent washing and wear causes this look. Its super broken down and it looks super cool.


These shirts are harder to find. They are a blend of cotton, rayon and polyester. They are soft and pretty durable. The heathered yarn makes for a unique look.

Tubular Knit (or Circular Knit)

These are shirts that are knit into tubular fashion. These don’t have hemlines, so they are completely smooth.


Sizes are something that shouldn’t be taken super seriously when getting vintage shirts and some other clothes too.  Because they tend to vary, it can be hard to say that you are always a size medium.  Sometimes the mediums run a little big or small.  You should look at the shirt and try to eye the size. It’s just a little bit of a gamble when you try and match sizes. If you can try it on beforehand, I suggest doing so.


There are lot of places that claim to have luxury vintage bags, but they are fakes. So be aware of who you are buying from, so that you don’t get ripped off.  These fakes look super realistic but have some minor details that will help you figure out that it is not the real thing. If you look at the zipper or the stitching, you can see that it isn’t quite right.  The logo on the zipper will look different or the stitching might not be straight. Some of them might not feel right or feel heavy enough. Sometimes it’s best to trust your gut and if it feels fake, put it back. But you can also check if there is a serial number or marker of authenticity. Some brands will put these on the bag, like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes. If you really want to be sure, you can compare a fake and a real bag side by side and look at the differences in material, the shape, and how it sits. This will also give you an idea on what fakes try to copy in their products.

There's so many more category types of clothes, accessories and furniture that is vintage to look out for and this is just a starting point.  There are so many treasures that you could find.  You shouldn’t just stop with one or two vintage things.  Keep looking and find a whole new world! Keep checking back for new guides as we dive into what is unique, authentic and special about these treasures from the past. 

Now get out there and step into your own shopping time machine and be transported away, you vintage babes! 




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