Dating vintage denim

APPROXIMATE AGE: Without a size listed, earlier than 1958.

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When Jackie Kennedy wore a Lilly in in the early ’60s, demand grew exponentially and she was forced to close her juice stand and work on the clothing brand full time.

Still a popular preppy and funky floral line today, Lilly’s tags are tell-tale signs of the era a piece was approximately produced.

Beginning in the ’70s middle back zippers were always used on a garment. By 1974, numbers dipped to 44 million women sewing at home.

[Back to the top.] LOOK FOR: Handmade garments without labels or tags. VINTAGE HISTORY: The American sewing industry boomed beginning in the ’50s, despite ready-made clothing available from mail order catalogs and department stores. But by the 1980s, women were purchasing mass produced fashion that was less expensive than ever thanks to outsourcing of production to Asian countries.

[Back to the top.] LOOK FOR: The garment care tag stitched onto the interior of the garment. VINTAGE HISTORY: In 1971 the Federal Trade Commission released the “Care Labeling Rule” which required all manufacturers (including importers) of apparel to include garment care instructions on an interior tag.

The care label tag is required to include one method of care to keep the garment in quality condition, such as “machine wash cold” or “dry clean only.” If the garment was made by a brand but is missing care instructions, you can confidently conclude the piece was produced before 1971.

Pulitzer herself began designing colorful floral dresses that wouldn’t show stands from her work at a Florida juice stand!

The dresses were so popular amongst the stand’s customers that she began producing a professional line.

The vintage tag shown above is from a size 12 dress purchased in 1963. This dress fits me perfectly, because a size 12 vintage is a modern size 6!

The rule of thumb is that you are “six numbers bigger” than your modern size, which is why a size 6 like me is a size 12 in vintage sizing.

Emilio Pucci began designing in the late ’40s when commissioned him to design ski outfits for their winter 1947 issue, so a Pucci label can be from a 1940s piece or later.