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Vintage Description and Condition Chart

 Vintage Clothes 7
 Making a Quick Check Table
Description and Condition Chart

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


Making a Chart for your Vintage Clothing


Vintage Clothes Charts

When measuring and assessing vintage goods, it helps with the description to have some form of guideline chart to follow.  A charted guideline format is often used when examining a student's fashion design practical work and I've found this a good similar technique when checking any type of clothing for condition or description or masterful expertise of a technique.

You need not follow my idea precisely, but it may guide you to think about factors relevant on any dress or suit you examine and assess or for other vintage items you sell.  You may also find it helpful to look at the pages on eclectic textiles which show the variety of available vintage that come under the heading of textiles.

You could make a table which follows this method. You may not like this chart and may prefer to make your own according to the type of goods you sell, but it will prompt you to consider making your own chart.  I suggest you use an Office product like Microsoft Word to map out a table and insert headings and allow spacing as you prefer or use the copy here.  This is only a guideline and is not set in stone.  Some boxes would be ticked, others would have information added.  Then you would use the information to add it to your sales page more easily.

 Quick Check Table 1  ITEM No.

Condition of Garment Statement

Item/Stock No/Name


Estimated Date/Era


Photo Views Required


Garment Piece Type


Garment Occasion


Fabric Type 1


Fabric Type 2


Fabric Type 3




Print or Surface


Fastening Method










Other Decoration


Overall Appeal


Garment Maker Label






Nr. Mint


Very Good




Repairs Required




Known Information


Auction House Sale


Estimated Price


The measurements you need to take on a garment will vary according to the type of garment.  Use this as a guide and choose your own system adjusting the spacing for more or less detail as you see fit.

 Quick Check Table 2  ITEM No.

Sizing Report Statement

Item Number/Name


Brief Description


Part Measured






Hipline (23cm/8inches below the waist)


Cuff/sleeve opening


Neck opening


Ties, sashes or belts


Nape to back waist


Back shoulder to shoulder


Sleeve length


Waist to hemline


Shoulder to hemline


Sweep of skirt hemline


Sweep of jacket hemline


Sweep of coat hemline


Trains, sashes




Shoe size/length/width


Hat size


Cloak size. Circular/Sectioned


Size Marked on Garment


Modern Size Equivalent


Garment Maker Label/Brand


Less Fitted Vintage Garments

As a purchaser, rather than as a seller, the guidelines above may make you question the reality of your purchase more and can also be used as a chart to show your personal measurements.  You can then have a ready made guide at hand when seriously checking an internet item. 

If you have difficulty buying clothes because of a poorly proportioned body you can still collect vintage for occasional wear.  Choose looser flowing garments such as capes, cloaks and 1920's dresses.  You will also find accessories can make interesting collections and include freer fitting shawls, scarves, belts and hats.  Items like reticules and parasols need no fitting! 

Fortuny Stencilled Velvet Cape c.1920

This beautiful Fortuny stencilled velvet cape, c.1920 and shown right is a masterpiece from the grandmaster of colour design, illustrating subtle transitions of silver to teal blue to bronze-gold. 

Every aspect of fabric design and construction of Fortuny garments was produced at the Fortuny studio.

Image courtesy of

If you decide to sell such items as capelets, mantelets and cloaks, you may need to rethink your charts for measuring and on occasion photograph such garments flat especially when they are circular to show the buyer the full extent of the cut or print.

Image in the header of an Irish Crochet Edwardian Lace Gown is courtesy of


(Page Date 18 Feb 2005)

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