Thursday, February 23, 2012

Determining the Age of Vintage Treasures (Part 2)

I'm glad you all enjoyed my recent post about determining the age of a vintage garment!
So last week, I explained that the easiest way to estimate the age of a garment is to look at its label. That truth extends here. But now we're looking at a very specific sort of label. It is the mark of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), which was formed in 1900.

Their emblem has changed over their years of operation, so it's possible to look at the labels and correlate them to their years. This first photo is of the label inside a petticoat of mine that was made in the 1950s. Unfortunately that is the earliest label I have, but you can find more photos here.

This is a dainty little blouse of mine that was made in the 1970s. Note that this label also includes the RN. (Click here to catch up on what an RN is.) Handy, isn't it?

And this label belongs to a wool skirt made in the 1980s.

Though you won't find this sort of label in all vintage clothing, at least now you can recognize it when you come across it.

Also, I would like to clarify that the things I have been discussing really only relate to US garments. I'm not very familiar with vintage from other countries. If you know anything about those, I'd be thrilled if you would do a guest post! Send me an email:

To see more photos and read more about the history of the ILGWU click here.
If you didn't catch last week's post, click here.
And be sure to come back next week for the final(?) installment.


  1. So interesting! Thanks for teaching me something I didn't know anything about!

  2. Woa! International Ladies Garment Workers Union?? That's feminism, politics, art, industrialism, and multi-culturalism all rolled into one! Thanks for sharing, mama!


  3. these are really interesting, useful posts! i never know much about the vintage pieces i buy (or rather used to buy, i haven't found anything in awhile) and a lot of them don't have tags. my favorite was a blue velour blazer that i can't remember what happened to anymore. :(

    <3 katherine

  4. your knowledge of vintage never ceases to amaze me :)

  5. So cool! I think its really neat that you really investigate these. I'm a paintings conservator, but have a lot of friends in textile conservation and they are really into old clothing labels - I think its so neat seeing these and that they are preserved enough that we can trace them back now. So glad the people that owned them before didn't remove the tags! :)

    Happy weekend girlie :)

  6. Another awesome post about identifying vintage finds! I always look for the union label!

  7. These are so wonderful. I determined a dress I bought was from the early sixties from using this system. Thank you! Totally interesting.


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