What Is Vintage Underwear?

Lauren Romano

Vintage underwear refers to a style of underwear that is directly from the past and is made during a specific time frame. Reproductions are popular and are typically described as vintage style. When purchasing vintage underwear, it's important to know the details about the item. The style is usually worn by women as opposed to men and may also be worn by re-enactors.

A woman trying on a vintage bra.
A woman trying on a vintage bra.

In order to classify something as vintage, it typically has to be at least 50 years old but no more than 99 years old. Anything 100 years or older is usually classified as antique. Every new year signifies that the year exactly 50 years ago is newly described as vintage, while the year exactly 100 years ago went from being described as vintage to being labeled as antique.

Vintage underwear made from delicate fabrics may require hand washing only.
Vintage underwear made from delicate fabrics may require hand washing only.

When purchasing an item, it's important to first know the actual year it was made. Some items, especially clothing, are labeled as vintage, but a closer look at the item itself or at the description may reveal that it is a reproduction of a vintage style and not actually something that was made 50 or more years ago. Reproductions of vintage clothing are extremely popular because it can be difficult to find an original particular style from that many years ago.

Underwear consists of anything usually worn under clothing, including bras, panties and stockings. Considering sanitary issues, most vintage underwear for sale is either completely unused or is a reproduction. While most businesses won't sell used vintage undergarments, some may wash them and put them for sale without disclosing that the item was previously worn. Make sure to ask and confirm that it's unworn before purchasing.

Women more than men are typically fond of vintage clothing, especially pertaining to vintage underwear. Re-enactors may also be fond of particular original pieces in order to wear completely authentic garb during re-enactments. Considering reproductions may be difficult to make and original pieces are hard to find, vintage items are typically more expensive than modern underwear.

Due to the progression of fabrics, comfort and styles, vintage underwear will usually be much different than modern styles. Some types that were popular 50 years ago may not be popular today. In the ever-changing realm of fashion, however, they could be popular 50 years from now.

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Discussion Comments


@literally45-- Yes, flowers and lots of colors are definitely vintage. Although some people confuse 70s and 80s with vintage. Technically those are not vintage yet, but they will be later on.

People definitely had a different taste in innerwear fifty years ago. Longer, more tight fitting underwear with designs were trendy. Many had a high waist or the top and the underwear were actually one single piece. They don't seem very comfortable, but they definitely give a nice shape to the waist and tummy. Some are actually like a corset and many vintage underwear had suspenders too.


@ddljohn-- Vintage just doesn't refer to that though. Some vintage underwear has the same cut as today's underwear. It's called vintage because of the colors and designs that many people consider vintage. Especially flower designs and polka dots are considered vintage.


When it comes to innerwear like underwear, I certainly do not want something that is actually vintage. I just want something that has the same vintage design and look. I adore high waist vintage underwear and swimsuits from the 1950s. They are so neat. They emphasize a thin waist and I think they're much more attractive than what we use today. This is usually called the "pin-up" style. I read that "pin-up" comes from the fact that American soldiers in WWII would pin up pictures and posters of models. So later they were called pin-up girls or pin-up posters.

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