How Do I Choose the Best Vintage Baby Clothes?

Lori Kilchermann

The first step in choosing the best vintage baby clothes is determining how and where you plan to use the clothes. Vintage baby clothes are perfect attire for dolls and can even be used to outfit today's babies. They also can be displayed in groups or solo as decorating accents for a room, so you may want to choose clothing based on a color or theme. Before making a purchase, it is important to inspect the vintage baby clothes for signs of wear, odor and deterioration.

Wool was a commonly-used material for making clothing in the past.
Wool was a commonly-used material for making clothing in the past.

One of the biggest drawbacks to vintage baby clothes is that they are often found in less-than-stellar condition. Carefully examine the clothing, looking for stains, rips or other damage. Some vintage clothing materials and threads can simply begin to disintegrate from being improperly stored for many years. As wool was often used for clothing years ago, it is important to check for moth holes, as well as other damage, such as mold.

Be aware of lead or lead paint used on vintage baby clothes metal buttons.
Be aware of lead or lead paint used on vintage baby clothes metal buttons.

If your vintage baby clothes are going to be worn by a baby, it is important to inspect the garment to ensure that all accoutrements are up to today's safety standards. Check that buttons and buckles are secure, as they could be a choking hazard for a young child. Also be aware of lead or lead paint used on metal buttons or accents. Also, vintage baby sleepwear does not meet today's fire-retardant safety standards.

Choose unique vintage baby clothes, including ones with accessories such as hats, umbrellas and leggings, to use for outfitting dolls. Many dolls are made the same size as real babies, so the clothing is often a perfect fit. If you are not sure of your doll's size, it is best to bring it along when selecting clothes so you can be sure they will fit. To get a better deal on the vintage baby clothes, consider purchasing slightly damaged clothes that can be creatively patched or covered with a vintage pin or accessory. Some damage can even also be concealed by posing the doll at the best vantage.

Before making a purchase, be sure to smell the clothes. Some odors are easier to remove than others, and the odor of mold often means other damage is present, too. When selecting vintage baby clothes as room decorations, consider purchasing clothing in themes such as kittens, boats or bears. Another option is to create a display using clothing of all one color, complementary colors or contrasting colors. You can select more fragile and even damaged clothing if you can frame it in order to display it.

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Discussion Comments


My friend's daughter always seems to have cool baby clothes. She had a Star Wars onesie and another one for the Ramones and another one that was for the Lollapalooza Festival. My friend just keeps her eye out and whenever she sees cool baby clothes she snaps them up.

There is a vintage baby store in my city. They only sell vintage baby clothes. Frankly, I think it sounds like the stupidest idea in the whole world. Why would you pay top dollar for second hand clothes for a little baby who has no way to appreciate them?

I have had three children and for me baby clothes are a completely utilitarian proposition. Keep them covered and keep them warm. Nothing else much matters beyond that.

It drives me crazy when I see parents dress there kids up like little adults. Look, it's baby rap star or baby hipster or baby biker. Why would you want a child that young to already be obsessed with style?


Baby clothes tend to get pretty worn out by the time a baby has outgrown them. Often they will get passed down to a friend or relative or sibling. So some vintage baby clothes have had 3,4 even 5 different babies grow up in them. For that reason, a lot of them are really worn out.

Before buying any vintage or retro baby clothes examine the garment carefully for quality. Check the stitching, the wear on the fabric in the seat and the amount of fade. You don't want to pay good money for a vintage baby outfit only to have it melt in the washing machine.

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