I purchased this lovely blouse on eBay last week - it was listed as 1940s. I adored it in the photos and had to have it; lucky for me it was a "Buy It Now" listing so I didn't have to compete for it.
However - I don't agree with their date of "1940s".
There are no tags to go by, but vintage (and non vintage) garments have certain clues in them that can help you date an item without tags.
- The material is extremely sturdy. I would expect a cotton blouse from the 40s to be a little more delicate. The fabric has a nice "aged" look to it; no longer white, but more creamy ivory with some age spots. So at first glance, one's brain might say "vintage". But you have to look closer.
- There no tags for a maker or distributor, but there is, sewn into the side seam almost to the hem, a tiny cotton tag with a "12". I am not certain, but I believe they did not start putting size tags in most clothing until off the rack clothes became more commonplace post WW2. Plus, this blouse has the measurements of a modern size 12. A vintage 12 would be much much smaller - closer to a modern 4/6.
- While I was noting this size tag in the seam, I took a closer look at the seams. Seams in vintage clothing can be a tell-tale sign of the decade in which the item was made. The seams on this blouse are machine serged. The machine serger was invented sometime in the 20s, but didn't really show up much in North American clothing manufacture until the 60s. Until then, most seams were pinked. In my blouse, the edges of the seams are very finely serged.
- The buttons on this blouse are plastic. And while I know there were plastic buttons in the 40s, most often you find shell buttons on clothing from the 40s; or older plastic buttons. The buttons on my blouse have a distinct modern design and are in a modern-looking almost translucent, "cheap" plastic.
- The lace on the hem of the blouse indicate that it is meant to be worn on the outside of whatever pants or skirt you're wearing it with. There was not much wearing of blouses un tucked in the 40s at all. That came more in the 50s for sportswear and casual looks.
My guess is that this blouse is an 80s nod to the 40s.
I still love the blouse; and I didn't harass the seller or leave them nasty feedback. They're a large volume seller and probably just didn't take the time to closely inspect the blouse before listing it as vintage 1940s. I would have bought it even if they had properly dated it in a more modern era.
I just thought I would take the opportunity to shed a little light into dating vintage/antique clothing and clues to look for when you're shopping.
There is so much more info from fashion history on dating garments, but I only mentioned the clues in this particular piece.