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Bakelite was invented in 1909 as the first ever synthetic plastic.

You know a button is bakelite plastic versus a more modern synthetic plastic because it’s almost always colored.

Test a button’s bakelite authenticity by spraying a Q-tip with 409 cleaner and rubbing it against the button. 1950s: If the button is clear, you’re most likely looking at lucite, a transparent type of plastic invented in 1931.

Lucite buttons were most popular on garments of the ’50s.

1970s & EARLIER: Armholes of the ’70s and earlier were small openings, unlike the oversize “muscle man” armholes you might notice in a lot of ’80s garments.

1970s ONWARD: Once the ’70s hit, styles shifted to embracing the space between a woman’s skin and her sleeve.

I wrote about eight easy ways to identify your garment as vintage, which helped you to recognize whether that great maxi dress you thrifted was actually from the ’70s or was just a 2012 lookalike.