Retro & Vintage Clothing & Accessories
Retro & Vintage Clothing & Accessories
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Taboo Zippers and the Secrets They Hide

Posted Julie Ann Davis Fashion

Today I am going to write about ZIPPERS! Yes those finicky things that keep you in your clothes, that are too often taken for granted, that are even taboo because no one ever seems to tell you how to use one, it's just assumed everyone knows. Well surprise! Zippers are not that easy and I have a few tips to help you make zipping and unzipping a snap... (but not real snaps because we are talking zippers. 'Cmon keep up with me here!)


In theory, if you can pull both sides of the zipper together when the garment is on you, and still breathe, it should zip up. If you can take the item off and zip it without being on you, the zipper works great! If you put the item on and CAN'T hold both sides together and CAN'T zip it, problem is not the zipper, the garment is too small. Don't force it, you will either break the zipper or get your skin caught. No one wants that, ouch!

Problems tend to arise when you put a dress on and can zip part of the zipper and the sides of the zipper come together but you just can't seem to zip it all the way...even after you pull down on the zipper bottom and try to hold it in place to zip. Why does this happen? To make us feel fat? No! The zipper is just trying to do it's job the best it can. Here are some things that will help you make friends with those pesky zippers....

1. Often the problem with zippers is over the waist seams or if there is piping. With something like that, the best thing you can do is just to suck in as much as possible or wear a waist cincher or shaper to smooth that area out making a straight line for the zipper to move. (Don't worry you only have to suck in for a second to get it zipped. Phew, yeah I don't want to suck in all day either!)

Here's an example of what I mean by piping at the waistband with a center back zipper:

back zipper with piping


2. I have found that zipping and unzipping the dress when it's off of you will help loosen the zipper and will usually make it easier to zip. Like a great pair of shoes the zipper needs to be used a few times to get broken in.

3. If it's a side zipper, those are the hardest to zip on your own because they are usually on the left side and most people are right handed and try to reach around, but you should always zip with the hand the zipper is on.

Many of the dresses at Cats Like Us have zippers, they are usually centered down the back or on the left side of the dress. Left side zippers seem/seam (pun intended) to be more popular in vintage clothing. Often they would put zippers along the side as to not interfere with the pattern or cut of the dress, but as modern times fell upon us, and we don't have people to help us in and out of zippered garments, the back zipper is easier to pull tighter because of spandex in the fabric to zip up yourself. Gosh don't you just love modern fabrics?!

Here's and example of a center zipper and side zipper that's used so it doesn't break up the pattern:

center zipper back of dress  side zipper back of dress


4. Maybe the zipper is sewn too close to the fabric in that case it might be a defect and that's a manufacturing problem.

5. Ok now that it's zipped, it just won't stay zipped! Well make sure the zipper tab is down. Sometimes when you leave the zipper pull up and it's a loose zipper, one false move and your clothes fall off you, so press that zipper pull down! If that still doesn't work see if the item has a hook and eye built into the top of the zipper. It will make it easier for zipping up and even keep your zipper up. If it doesn't have a hook and eye they are pretty easy to stitch in yourself. Really all you need is a hook on one side and a loop of reinforced thread or if you have an eye you can use that on the other. Super easy fix.

Here's what a black and silver hook and eye set looks like:
hook and eye closures

Here's a website on how to sew a hook and eye:

Also ladies, please PLEASE take note: just because it zips doesn't mean it fits! Make sure you can breathe, move around, sit, stand and nothing is pulling or tugging. Do you want to wear the smallest size you can fit into and look bad, OR do you want to wear a bigger size that looks fabulous? Everyone should look fabulous!

I hope this makes zippers a little easier for you! If you're still having trouble, a little trick my mom used was to run a bar of soap or a candle over the zipper to make it run smoother. Yes it's sounds old world, but it always worked!

OR there are plenty of zipper-less options out there along with button closures too!

Examples of zipper-less and button up options:

stretch retro wiggle dress Mode Merr  button up shirt dress Heart of Haute


Your zippy gal,

~Julie Ann


PS Every so often I receive an inquiry at Cats Like Us that I have never had before, and if one person is asking it, I'm sure there are others out there who want to know too, but might not be sure how to ask. Do you have any tips on zippers? Please share them so we can break the taboo!

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