August 6, 2011

Vintage Lingerie..The Roaring 20's!

Most of the vintage lingerie of the 1920s was made to get that flat boyish shape. Slips, nightgowns, negligees and chemises adopted this boxy-shaped silhouette.

Many other lingerie items of 1920s are often in lace-trimmed chiffon fabrics that hung loosely in the frame, often cut in the same way as the dresses of the era.

The 20's sleeping cap is one more important and charming detail you may find useful for your vintage style night dressing. They were often made are made from lace and silk with ribbons, bows and flower details. The 20's also introduced the boudoir caps, which are used by women to keep their hair in place.
One more of the roaring 1920's lingerie is "step-in" chemise, where the lingerie are lavishly decorated with big lace and clustered silk ribbons shaped into flowers. The vintage step-in chemise may be paired with stylish step-in pantaloons

Shapely feminine curves were concealed and hidden with undefined box-shape
fashions... and the flatter the chested the better!

Women fashion of the 1920's showed an unprecedented transformation from the heavily corseted silhouette of the Victorian era into an almost boyish frame. Gowns and dresses were shapeless and loose-fitting, with skirt lengths rotating from ankle length to knee length and back again. Womanly, feminine curves were hidden with truly boring box-shape fashions, and there you have it, the flat chested woman was in.

The "younger women" took to flattening their breasts with bandages to achieve the desired manly outline or wore undergarments just as the Symington Side Lacer that flattened the bust when tightened. Underpinnings reflected the absence of a silhouette the same as dress fashions by mimicking the box shape in slips, chemises and negligees.

As the corset became shorter during the later 1910s, it provided less support to the bust. By 1920 the corset started at the waist, and bust containment yielded entirely to the bra. A low, sloping bustline became more fashionable. Brassieres from the late 1910s and early 1920s were merely slightly shaped bandeau (bandeaux), holding the bust in and down by means of a clip attached to the corset.

This culminated in the "boyish" silhouette of the Flapper era of the 1920s, with little bust definition. The term (which in the mid-1910s referred to preteen and early-teenage girls) was adopted by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in the 1920s for their younger adult customers. The androgynous ("boyish") or prepubescent figure then in style downplayed woman's natural curves through the use of a bandeau brassiere. It was relatively easy for small-busted women to conform to the flat-chested look of the Flapper era. Women with larger breasts tried products like the popular Symington Side Lacer, which when laced at both sides pulled and helped to flatten a woman's chests. Yet some 'bras' of the early 1920s were little more than camisoles.

In 1922, Russian immigrant Ida Rosenthal was a seamstress at the small New York City dress shop Enid Frocks. She and her husband William Rosenthal, along with shop owner Enid Bissett, changed the look of women's fashion. They noticed that a bra that fit one woman did not fit another woman with the same bra size, and they thus developed the concept of cup size. With $4500 invested in their new business, they also developed bras for all ages. Their innovation was designed to make their dresses look better on the wearer. It increased the shaping of the bandeau bra to enhance and support breasts, hence the name "Maidenform", a play on the name of an earlier company, "Boyishform". The company they founded became the Maidenform manufacturing company. Maidenform routed Boyishform by 1924, accenting and uplifting rather than flattening the bust. Thus the modern 'supportive' uplifting bra was born. The major changes in design were the appearance of distinct cups, backless bras, and underwiring, and newer fabrics such as rayon, tricot, or milanese.

These fashion changes coincided with health professionals beginning to link breast care and comfort to motherhood and lactation, and campaigned against breast flattening ("race-suicide"), and the emphasis shifted from minimizing the breasts to uplifting and accenting them. Women, especially the younger set, welcomed the bra as a modern garment.

While manufacturing was beginning to become more organized, homemade bras and bandeaux were still quite popular, usually made of white cotton, but they were little more than bust bodices with some separation.

The "step-in" slip-chemise was a popular undergarment for the young flapper of the mid-1920s. The step-in below is lavishly ornamented with wide lace inserts and a pretty "boutonniere" of silk ribbon flowers.

The Step-in Chemise like the one below is of silk crêpe de Chine.

Women had several options in undergarments to help them achieve that "boyish" figure of a flat-chest and a straight silhouette.

In the unconstrained 1920s, teens and young women generally abhorred the heavy corsets on which their mothers depended for figure control. Fashionable young women often rolled their stockings and limited underwear to a wispy bandeau and step-in panties. By the mid-1920s, as a contoured silhouette began gradually to return to women’s fashions, flappers and other fashionables accepted garter belts and light girdles. The advertising agency J. Walter Thompson reported the views of a Manhattan department store buyer thus: “widely talked of abandon [sic] of corsets was a myth. Even flappers wear something, if it’s only a garter belt or corselette.” Girdles of the 1920s usually extended from natural waistline to hipline, came in white or peach-tone knit elastic, and were worn over step-ins. More conservative girdles included woven brocade panels over the tummy and derriere. Generally priced from $1 to $6 dollars, girdles appealed to the budgets of young women.

Flowing lace trimmed chiffon negligees were loose-fitting and cut similarly to the fashionable dresses of the day. A lovely cream silk crepe negligee might have widelace inserts and silk ribbon trim.

This "Hostess Gown" was offered in a 1925 Franklin & Simon catalog, an elegant New York Fifth Avenue establishment. It was made of filmy chiffon with a tunic of Margot pattern lace and available in tea rose, turquoise or orchid over pink or peach color silk crepe.

By the 1920s, the traditional cotton and lace cap of the 19th century had been transformed into a confection of colorful silk and lace-- ornamented with silk ribbons, bows, and flowers. These boudoir caps were worn in the lady's bedroom to protect her coiffure while dressing.

This elegant matching boudoir set would be purchased for a young lady's trousseau. Included were pink satin slippers, garters and a boudoir cap—each decorated with lace and tiny silk ribbon roses.

The Miracle Reducing Rubber Brassiere
This bra gave the "desirable flat lines" sought after by young women in the 20s. It was paired with the Miracle Reducing Rubber Reducer, which molded the lines of the figure while reducing it. The garment was "scientifically designed without bones or lacings."

Jeanne Walter patented the rubber bandage in 1904. The following year she invented a two-piece rubber suit of undergarments designed to retain perspiration and heat for therapeutic purposes. By 1909 this had developed into a severe-looking full-body garment that was supposed to compress all your extra flesh down into a svelte figure. Walter’s 1909 patent presented the garments simply as foundation wear for holding in the flesh, but later advertising also capitalized on the sweatiness of the rubber and claimed that this would actively result in weight loss. One Canadian stockist used the slogan "Perspire and grow thin". Ha!

The Bramley Corsele was a combination brassiere and corset of self striped flesh colored satin batiste, invisible under a "flapper" dress.

Symington Side Lacer
After 1918 fashion bras were simply lace fabric bands with straps. The boyish figures needed for styles by designers like Chanel didn't need upholstered corsets.

The best bra to get the right effect was called the Symington Side Lacer, a reinforced bust bodice. Side lacing meant that it flattened the bust when laced tightly. Soon the word brassière was abandoned for bra and ever since in fashion history we have referred to the bra.

Latex to Dunlop's Lastex to Elastic. Although rubber had been around some time it needed to be transformed into a textile fabric for use in clothing. By the thirties bra history was to change forever when Dunlop chemists were able to transform latex into reliable elastic thread in all sorts of dimensions. The yarn was knitted or woven and eventually made into washable Lastex fabric.

Although I cannot take credit for all this information, I will take credit for putting it together. Thank you to the following websites for there wonderful history lesson in 1920's vintage lingerie.

SweetCherry Vintage Lingerie eBay Store

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