February 27, 2012

Shopping For Vintage Lingerie

Shopping For Vintage Lingerie. A Buyer and Collector's Guide.

Let's be honest. This blog was first created to drive vintage lingerie collector's, buyers, and gawkers, to my eBay vintage lingerie store. This blog has grown with lots of hard work and enthusiasm. It's what I love, it's what I do.

Anyhow, I have never really dove into the realm of "how to shop for vintage lingerie"..truly real, authentic "vintage lingerie", and not retro or inspired, or vintage inspired lingerie. So, with that, I hope this will help my readers to really know how to "shop for vintage lingerie", and know they are getting true vintage and what to look for.

If you are in the market for a true piece of history, the following are examples of STYLE from these eras. I will focus on mostly nightgowns, negligee's, nightdresses:

Victorian Era (pre 1901)
Victorian Era Nightgowns

Edwardian Era (1901 through 1919)
1914 Nightgown

Great Depression Era (1920 through 1938)
1920's Era Teddy, Nightgown & Slip

1930's Nightgown
Late 1930's/Early 40's Nightgown
1945 Nightgowns
New Look Era, Late 1940's through Early 1960's (1947 through 1964)

Late 1940's Nightgown

1950's Nightgown
1950's Nightgown
1950's Nightgown

Mod, Hippie, Disco Era (1965 through 1976)

1960's Nightgowns

1960's Nightgown

1960's Nightgowns

1960's Nightgowns

Punk, New Wave, 80's fashion (1977 through 1989)

1970's Nightgown

1970's Nightgown
Buying vintage lingerie on eBay can be quite fun and a learning experience. Vintage lingerie is something that is desired by many people believe it or not! The newer lingerie of today does not compare to the soft and subtle materials of the eras gone by. Sadly enough, soft nylon satins, rayon and such are not created in today's lingerie.

When shopping for your vintage piece, make sure it is genuinely vintage by following some of my tips here.

Trying to Date your Garment?

Dating vintage lingerie can be a little tough to pinpoint down to the exact date when it was produced. If you familiarize yourself when labels and fabrics were used, styles and cuts, you can estimate when it was made. Vintage magazine adverts and vintage clothing catalogs will tell you the approximate year of production. 

Prior to 1941, most lingerie was created in glorious fabrics of rayon satins and silks. Shortly after 1941, you will see a lot more lingerie was being created in various nylon and nylon blends, although rayon was still used too. Nightgowns and peignoir sets created in fluffy chiffon nylons were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s, and moving forward to the 1970s/80s you will see more all nylon sets without chiffon.  

Vintage lingerie can be dated other ways. If there are "care instructions" on the label, your garment is AFTER 1971. Most vintage slips had metal hardware/sliders etc, prior to the late 1960s. Half waist slips, might have a "pillowtab" in the waist. Labels mostly are placed in side seams, and hems. Panties that have all nylon gussets are most likely made before 1970, and might have a "pillowtab" in the waist. Caution of warning! There are panties being recreated and produced now with all nylon gussets/crotch areas that are and being called "vintage style or retro style and even vintage". These panties are even being created in what the seller calls "vintage nylon" and getting away with calling them vintage. When in doubt ask your seller if they are authentic vintage or not and not reproduction panties.
There are many other ways to "guestimate" your era of your vintage piece, such as garment labeling (Union labels, RN numbers, and garment care instructions).

 Garment Labels:

1. Wool Product Labels (WPL): Used from 1941 to 1959.

2. Registered Numbers (RN): Starting in 1959 and still currently in use. If your garment has no RN number, it most likely is made before 1959. 

3. Care of Garment Labels: The FTC required in 1971 that textile manufacturers list the garment care instructions on labels (Care Labeling Rule). The labels must have washing, drying, bleaching, ironing, and/or dry cleaning instructions. Rule of thumb, if your garment has care instructions it is most likely created AFTER 1971.

4. Union Labels (ACWA & ILGWU)
A. ACWA: In 1933/34 the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) started adding labels to garments. The label had a picture of a sewing machine symbol and scissors in the center of a diamond with red numbering across the center of this tag. On the left side of the label says "Union Made" and on the second line it will say either 'Suite', 'Work Clothes' or 'Garment'. On the left lower corner reads "Workers of" will read copyright 1934 by ACW of A. Tags identical to the 1933/34 tag have been found with copyright date of 1936 and was used from 1936 to 1939.
1939 new lables were issued. The 1939 label is exact to the 1934 label, except they added new copyright date of 1939 followed by ACW of A and on the right side has the union bug mark with the number 80 after it.
1949 labels were redesigned and used from 1949 to 1962. This time it features a sewing machine in the center, without the scissors. The text "Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America" is laid out differently. The left side has red numbers and "copyright 1949" is on the right with a code of 3 letters, and on the left lower corner they omitted the circled R trademark symbol.
1962 The circled R symbol was added to the lower left corner of the label, and still has the copyright date of 1949 on the right side. Later on, the red colored numbers were changed to black color.
B. ILGWU: International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Formed in 1900, briefly joining the CIO in 1937, rejoined the AFL in 1940. AFL-CIO merged together in 1955. In 1995 the ILGWU reformed as UNITE. Union labels will show these name and date changes.

Popular/Current Lingerie Lines And Start Up Years
 Out Of Production Lingerie Lines:
Artemis (later Gossard merged with Artemis)
Bien Jolie
Cattani of California
Charmode (Vintage Sears exclusive brand)
Christian Dior
Eye Full-Flaum's
Fischer Heavenly Lingerie
Gaymode (Vintage JCPenney exclusive brand)
Glydons or Glydons of Hollywood
Henson Kickernick (later Kickernick merged with Henson)
Intime' of California
Jenelle of California

Lady Duff
Lady Leonora
Lady Lynne
Lucie Ann~Claire Sandra
Mary Barron
Movie Star
Odette Barsa
Rovel / Ro-Vel of California
Van Raalte


Current Popular Lingerie Labels:
Agent Provocateur
Barbizon -1920's

Farr West - 1968
Frederick's of Hollywood-1930's or 40's
Gilead -1950's
Hollywood Vassarette (Munsingwear)-1940's to still in production just under the name Vassarette

La Perla -1954
Lily of France-late 1800's
Lucie Ann II-1980's

Miss Elaine-1920's

Natori-Unknown start up year
Olga-1948 still in production (although her nightgowns went out of production in the late 80's to early 90's). Rule of thumb, gowns with the 5 digit style numbers are 80's gowns. 4 Digit style numbers are earlier, and Olga NEVER created nightgowns before the mid/late 1960's. All her items were foundations/panty-slips prior to that.

Unknown start up year
Val Mode-Late 1930's
Vanity Fair-1899
Victoria's Secret -started as a mail order catalog in the 1970's
Warner-1930's (interesting side note, Warner's invented the A,B,C,D Bra Cup sizing)
Wondermaid-1930's or 40'

SweetCherry Vintage Lingerie eBay Store
Please be sure to leave a comment! I would love to hear from you! Thank you!!

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