Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Vintage Sleuth: How to Figure Out How Old It Is

Did you read Nancy Drew books when you were kid? Just like the intrepid girl detective, I enjoy a good mystery and a little sleuth work now and then.

Since I want to know the age and background of every piece in the shop, a little detective work is in order. I thought you might want to hop into my metaphorical convertible roadster and go along for the ride.

Let’s solve the mystery this dress I recently acquired. So pretty, right?

It’s a shirtwaist style lace day dress with impeccable detail.  What fancy mechanical buttons!

vintage 1930's lace dress

How old is this vintage lace dress?

Let’s look at the overall style and cut. It has a waistline at the waist, a metal side zipper, a gently flaring hem and a light shoulder pad.

These features lead me to think it’s from the late 30’s to early 40’s. Why?

Well, I know that zippers started to be used in clothing in 1935, so it was made after that. Zippers moved to the back in the late 50s and were made of nylon after 1965, placing our garment well before that.

If  it were a WW2 era dress, roughly 1942-1947,  the shoulder pads would be broader and bolder, so it’s probably not from those years.

A late 40’s or 1950’s dress would have an exaggerated fit-and-flare silhouette with a dramatically wide hem, placing it earlier than that.

Now lets search Google for a “1930’s 1940s lace day dress”.  Here are a few, all listed as being 1930s:

vintage 1930's lace dress

Pretty similar to our dress

Now let’s look up the label, which reads Frillon Lace.

Woo Hoo! Jackpot! It’s the same dress in a different colorway.

But wait! Is that an advertisement for our dress from 1938?

vintage 1930's lace dress

The photos shoe someone online posting a similar dress with an ad for it from 1938

Mystery solved, case closed. Let’s have some Tollhouse cookies straight from the oven with a glass of cold milk to celebrate.

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

Comments are closed.