Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Vintage Underwear for a Vintage Fit

So maybe you're like me and you love vintage clothing but you're not petite. You find it hard to find to find vintage clothes that fit you and when you buy vintage sewing patterns, you toile them, only to find that they just don't fit you. You try reproduction vintage clothes on, and even though they're gorgeous, you just don't look.... right. 
Edwardian Lingerie

A very simple part of the problem is that vintage patterns are just not designed to go over contemporary figures, let alone contemporary underwear. It's no secret that as a society our figures are changing, we're growing much taller than our grandparents were. We're getting more nutrients, better medicines, exercising differently, so we are a completely different shape to what we were 20, 40, 60 years ago. And underwear has undergone enormous changes over the past century: steel boned corsets, girdles, cinches, no bras, bullet bras, suspenders, gstrings, control pants. The female figure has been pushed, prodded and pumped beyond recognition.

If you don't believe me look at dress forms from one hundred years ago. For someone to fit this shape they would have had to wear a corset from early puberty, trainging their waist.


When did we stop having a mono-boob?


This is why the photos on the frong of the envelope of commercial company's 'reissue' patterns look so decidedly average next to the beautiful period drawn designs. They've made up vintage designs and slapped them on modern girls with no thought to bra, cinch, girdle or petticoat shapes. I love shops like What Katie Did that have redesigned and manufactured vintage lingerie for the modern girl. If you're serious about wearing vintage clothes I suggest you check them out.
  
20s lingerie - I'm fairly sure the one in the middle is not a man in drag

My Mother was shocked when I told her I'd bought a girdle. Previous generations had fought against the 'oppression' of such lingerie, and here was I choosing to wear one. But to modern eyes girdles are something sexy and romantic. Personally I'd rather wear a girdle than deal with the oppression of size 0 airbrushed models making me believe that my figure should naturally be smooth and skinny and flawless. I hate the saggy tights crotch thing so I'd much prefer to wear stockings and suspenders (as long as it's not too cold outside). As an early developer I've never understand why the feminists of the 70s wanted to burn their bras. It seemed to be cutting off your nose to spite your face. It may be different for other women but for me wearing a bra is just so much more comfortably than not.

These days instead of controlling our figure with underwear, we're dieting and spending hours at the gym, making the contemporary shape much more athletic and boyish. At the extremes we're even cutting into our bodies to acheive perfection. Excuse me if I'd rather wear some sexy old fashioned lingerie.


30s lingerie ad

1948 lingerie ad - notice the difference in bust shape from the one above

So what's the solution? Fitting and altering. Never fit anything unless you're wearing the right underwear. Start as you mean to go on. If you want your vintage clothes to look right, research what goes underneath.

50s lingerie
TIP: For a more comfortable 1940s girdle look, try magic pants of control top tights. They squish your bum and thighs in to give a sleek line, giving a very similar look to the 1940s shape.


60s lingerie
Contemporary figure and lingerie

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