Lingerie History

April 2014 Update. Hi! This is Shelley, owner of this blog. I am sole "owner", writer, and well, chief, cook and maid. You get the point, ha!
I am bluntly asking, could you be so kind to think about donating a few bucks my way? Why? You ask? Simply because I do this blog on my own time, and donate my time away from our vintage lingerie shop. 
If you can, I would so greatly appreciate this. Thank you soooooooooooo much!

steel boned corsets by What Katie Did
  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. There are many other ways to "guestimate" the era of your vintage piece, such as garment labeling (Union labels, RN numbers, and garment care instructions). 
  • 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.
Pillowtab on a real vintage panty (Vintage Vanity Fair Panty)
  • 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. Vintage half waist slips and panties, might have a "pillowtab" in the waist and the brand labels are mostly sewn in place 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.

    Use Caution! 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. Also, you will see a slew of "vintage nightgowns" that are not real vintage. When in doubt ask your seller if they are authentic true vintage or not and not reproduction panties or nightgowns.

    Garment Labels:

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

    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. Also, there is a wonderful guide on eBay with the RN numbers of lingerie brands.

    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.

    Union Labels (ACWA and ILGWU): 

      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 labels 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.
      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. 

        Lingerie (Brands) labels currently still in production and approximate dates of start up:

        Barbizon -1920's
        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
        Lily of France-late 1800's
        Lucie Ann II-1980's
        Miss Elaine-1920's
        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.
        Rago: unknown
        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'

        The following brands of lingerie are all OUT of production and great finds:

        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
        GMc (Ginsburg Mfg. Co)
        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
        Virginia Wallace
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