Estate Vintage Fashion Tips – Identify & Sell Vintage Clothing Labels

By Pascale Saliba

Have you heard? Vintage fashion is in! There’s a nostalgia about vintage clothing with people throughout the country and for various reasons.

Vintage clothing from estate sales and accessories are gaining in popularity, creating a sense of style that recycles past styles to create today’s new aesthetics.

Vintage Fashion Styles

If you’ve been, you know the nineties gave us grunge, while the eighties gave us prominent shoulder-pads. Glam rock and punk came in the seventies with lots of flares, and who can ever forget the sixties, the era of free love and miniskirts. The classic feminine fifties and the red lipstick of the forties.

As we move forward, these styles lose their meaning but become a way for us to romanticize about time and get away from today’s elements.
No matter what the obsession is with vintage fashion and accessories, if you’re an estate sales professional, this guide will help you identify, price, market and sell vintage clothing labels by using tips to help you as you organize an estate sale.

How to Identify Vintage Clothing Tags?

Don’t automatically look on the back of a neck for a label. Some vintage clothing pieces will have the tags sewn in on the inside along the bottom or side seam.

Not all vintage fashion pieces have a label or tag. Many true vintage fashion pieces were handmade and will not have a tag at all. You will need to use your experience and online guides to help you date the item and price it according to your local area.

Many estate sale companies find it more efficient to place clothing in categories and bulk price.

If you choose to do this with everyday clothing items, you may be fine, but if there’s a large number of vintage clothing pieces, you may be affecting your bottom line and not getting the best value for your estate sale client.

Spending the time to identify and properly price items is an expected part of hiring a professional estate sale company.

Here are some definite things to look for on vintage clothing tags.

Copyright on Vintage Clothing Tag

The copyright year is not the year the item was manufactured, but when the brand was copyrighted. You can assume the garment was made approximately that year or a few years after. Any garment made prior to 1992 is considered a vintage garment. You can then do a quick search for the brand to see if it’s a desired high-end brand or use your experience and the style of the piece to price it accordingly.

Estate Vintage Clothes Made in the USA on Tag

If you see an American flag or the words “Made in USA” on the front of the tag, it’s more than likely the clothing piece was made prior to the 80’s.

We all know that in today’s market a very small percentage of garments are actually made in the USA. Today’s items do not have the country of origin prominently shown on the front of the tag, but rather on the backside.

Address on Clothes Tags

Vintage tags on clothing often have the brand along with the address. If you only see a street address and a city, you’re looking at an estate vintage clothing piece from the 60’s.

Zip codes were not used until 1963. Clothing manufacturers in New York and other cities at the time, only used their street address and city, because they had no zip codes when they made this piece.

Vintage Wool Coats and Clothing Tags

If you’re holding a wool coat and it doesn’t have a label identifying it as wool, it’s made prior to 1939. In 1964 manufacturers began placing a wool label on their garments. It was used as a marketing technique to get consumers excited about buying wool instead of polyester.
The wool label logo did change over the years and here’s an example of all three.

estate vintage fashion with woolmark
The first Wool Mark trademark was used in 1964 and is 100% wool. The second logo identifies a wool blend of 60% and the third a wool blend of 50%. Both the second and third logo date between 1971 and 1999.


Where It’s Made?

There are labels on vintage clothing that name countries which no longer exist. Yugoslavia, for example, was divided in the ’90s. So any items identified as made in Yugoslavia were obviously made prior to the ’90s.

When setting up an estate sale that has a variety of items, you couldn’t possibly spend a lot of time one very piece of estate sale vintage clothing, however, many estate sales are specifically filled with vintage clothing and designer accessories.

Vintage Designer Fashion Sale

We spoke to Martin Codina with Fine Estate Sales serving the Bay Area to ask him about a sale he recently held that’s filled with evening garments, vintage designer shoes, designer purses, and high-end intimate apparel.

We asked Codina “Most Estate Sales have a variety of items, but this particular sale mostly had vintage clothing and designer fashion items. How labor-intensive was it compared to other sales you’ve held?”

Codina said “Our most recent sale had a very large collection of either gently used and in some cases new in box designer fashions. Sales like this, because they are so category-specific and niche, require a significant amount of research and valuation. Is it really a Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel shoes? A company’s research and competent valuation lead to greater buyer security that they are not making a purchasing mistake.”

Codina continued, “Any sale that contains a large collection is labor-intensive, but when accomplished well, lead to a greater market share. Engaged buyers become more frequent and loyal shoppers. The question we get most often while we are doing a fashion-focused sale is, when is the next one? Vintage and Designer fashions draw enthusiastic crowds to sales.”

Does Estate Sale Location Matter?

We asked Martin Codina, “Being you’re in the Bay Area, the center of the most culturally diverse area, where individuality, style, and fashion are quite prominent, have you noticed more interest in this sale than other sales you’ve held?

Codina said “In our humble opinion, the success of a Vintage or Designer fashion sale is not dependent on the cultural diversity of the area a sale is taking place in. Everyone wants to look good and find clothing to suit their sense of style and individuality.  However, what can be charged for an item has geographical implications; the closer these sales are to major metropolitan areas, the higher the price these items will sell at.”

He added, “Vintage and Designer Fashion Sales, always do well, when the items are clean, well-priced and attractively staged.”

Any marketing tips you can share with another estate sale professional that may run into a sale that has a large amount of vintage clothing and accessories?

“A well-composed picture taken with proper lighting is worth a thousand words. For our last Vintage and Designer Fashion Sale, we took over 700 photos. We categorically posted those photos on our website as well as posting them to Estate Sales.Org. Also, learning how to effectively use Facebook advertising is key to a successful marketing strategy.”

Marketing Resources

Marketing Estate Vintage Fashion Items

We’ve written many articles about marketing and advertising your estate sale. Adjust your marketing strategy to fit the type of estate sale you’re holding.

Start Marketing Early

What may make a sale filled with vintage clothing, shoes and accessories a bit difficult is the size of the items. If they all came from the same estate, more than likely the clothes and shoes are all one size. To find interested buyers, you have to start advertising as early as possible.

Run Paid Targeted Ads

An estate sale that has a large amount of vintage clothing and accessories will require you to change your targeting criteria.

Focus your target market on specifics as much as you can. Facebook will allow you to drill down with a lot of detailed targeting options such as people interested in high-heeled footwear, vintage clothing, etc..

List Your Estate Sale Online

By listing your sale on it’s automatically shared across multiple websites at no additional cost to you.  The key is to list as early as possible, with a lot of photos in order to gain traction with your audience

Reach Vintage Fashion Influencers

There are many fashion bloggers that specifically focus on vintage clothing and designer fashion. It would behoove you to spend the time and contact them to possibly write about your upcoming sale and share it with their audience.

Writers are always looking for new and exciting topics, just getting in contact with a few will boost the hype around your fashion heavy upcoming sale.

Where to Find Vintage Fashion Bloggers?

A quick search online will lead you to a slew of online fashion bloggers, you can drill down by area to focus your efforts locally.

Here are a few top fashion bloggers you can easily contact:

Pricing Estate Vintage Fashion Items

Pricing is a bit trickier with clothing. Almost everyone can use a vase, but not everyone can fit into a size 7 designer vintage pair of heels or size 2 vintage dress.

Interested buyers will either be someone that perfectly fits the items and wants them for themselves or a reseller that wants to get them at a great deal to resell.

Market your sales as early as possible to capture a wider audience in your local area.

A good rule to follow is the older the item is the more expensive it should be because it becomes harder and harder to come by.

Also remember that just because you love the piece you’re looking at, it doesn’t mean everyone else will.

Determining an accurate price for selling vintage fashion items should be based on an objective evaluation involving the original purchase, trend and style, quality, current market availability, designer brand name, and season of the sale. A fur coat will fetch you a better price during winter for example.

Consider all the options while you’re pricing estate vintage clothing items.  High-end designer brands also do well in an online auction.

Vintage Christian Dior Dress
Christian Dior “Eugénie” dress ca. 1948 via
The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Desirable Estate Vintage Fashion Brands

For vintage clothing collectors, it’s not always about the brand, it may be a unique style, they’re after. But many will covet specific brands to add to their vintage closet. Here are the top most desirable vintage clothing brands to keep an eye for when pricing.

Yves Saint Laurent Vintage Fashion

YSL is like magic, it continues to have an appeal over time. Almost anything made by this brand is iconic and collectible.

Vintage Christian Dior Clothes

In 1946 Dior sent waves through the fashion world, and still today! Timeless fashion pieces still inspire the most avid fashionista.

Balmain Vintage Clothing

Elegance is what Pierre Balmain provided the Hollywood Elite when founded in 1945. His vintage clothing varies from designer day suits to the most stunning evening gowns. It’s the obsession with those Hollywood scarlets that makes Balmain infinitely collectible.

Pierre Balmain dressed Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and a few other Hollywood Elites.

Oscar de la Renta

When Oscar de la Renta launched his fashion house in 1965, his name created modern fashion that commanded attention. His fashion pieces became even more popular after his passing.

It is not rare to come across a vintage Oscar de la Renta item at an estate sale. He produced many accessories and clothing over a 49-year career.

There are many more designer brands that collectors look for, we just mentioned a few.

There’s no particular age group that favors vintage clothing.  The public finds buying second-hand clothing is one of the most eco-friendly ways to shop. is your central hub for all things estate sales. Join our private group dedicated to the estate sale and auction professionals in the industry.

Do you love estate vintage clothing? Shop our online estate sale auction for the most amazing finds from various estate sale companies nationwide.

Whether you’re new to the estate sale industry, just starting an estate sale business or simply love estate sales, we love hearing from you.
Leave us a comment below and share your own story relating to estate sale fashion.