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So you toss the dress into your cart for purchase without ever knowing its true vintage identity.

Since so many thrifters aren’t vintage clothing experts but repeatedly experience the scenario above in their thrifting travels, I wanted to share three easy ways to spot vintage clothing in a thrift store so that no matter your experience level, you can have more confidence knowing that a foreign looking label is that of a vintage clothing garment.

In the ’70s and earlier, anything not made by the union was most likely handmade by a specialty dressmaker or sewn together using a pattern by the wearer of the garment herself.

VINTAGE FASHION TIPS: If the piece has a “union” tag sewn on its inside, you can confidently assume that it’s vintage.You’re thrift store shopping at your favorite store — like the Salvation Army I love in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania — when a unique looking garment catches your eye from between the racks.You pull the garment toward you, revealing a gorgeous silk dress with lucite buttons in an aquamarine blue color that resembles a shirtwaist style popular in the 1950s.Note the similarities in font and how the words are placed at a diagonal from bottom left to an upper right.Using this information, it’s safe to assume that based on the tag’s design, that this Saks Fifth Avenue label is from the late ’60s – early ’70s.

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You show the tag to your thrift shopping partner to see if she’s ever seen anything like it before.

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