1950s Undergarments in Fashion History
In the 1950s, glamour was what women wanted most. They had been deprived in the war and they had seen the Hollywood stars that had
curves, nipped waists and breast uplift that almost reached their necks.
A variety of girdles existed to help achieve those
contours and they are shown here in advert form. Most women and girls still wore girdles or opted for one of the newer lighter garments called a roll-on or some chose the opposite, a sturdy all in
one corset. Twilfit were one of the household names for
roll-ons and bras in the 1950s.
In 1950s underwear, other support existed in the form of the all in one corselette
such as this example by Roussel of Regent street selling at 8 guineas for this
made to measure item. This was an expensive corselette at the time and was
featured in The Queen magazine of the Coronation in 1953. The upper bra
has a cleavage gap for low cut décolletage.
Another corselette of the time also featured in 1953 The
Queen magazine was the Marquise which also
took into account the need for low cleavage unhampered by visible centre fronts
of a bra.
It has a beautifully structured upper bra with the perfect
cleavage gap for low cut décolletage. It would be wonderful to find such an
interesting, well constructed corselette or bra top today. The company
advertises swimwear here too and it is interesting to note that swimming corsets
of the era looked much like this corselette.
Illa Knina Corselette - The
Strapless Marquise With Deep Plunge
My favourite advert of the Coronation Edition of Queen
magazine was this one right which
shows a magnificent corselette from Berlei, priced at just under £7. The
name for it is wonderful and it's called the Coronation Controlette.
Other underwear by companies like Kayser Bondor advertised all
their underwear in one large advert like the one below.
This shows what the average woman of the 1953 era may have chosen to wear for underclothes dependant on the top garment. The items would have
been available in the new nylon and also in pure cotton.
I particularly recall my mother wearing Broderie
Anglaise petticoats such as the full slip at the very top of the image.
This thumbnail makes a nice enlargement.
Brand names like Maidenform, Berlei, Triumph and the British
Marks & Spencer bras under the St.
Michael label, all sold excellent bras that gave the correct pointed, circular
stitched, conical shape of the era.
The conical bra was the 1950s bra that gave the support silhouette
for girls who longed to emulate the curves of film star sweater girls like Lana
Turner and Jane Russell famous for the cantilever bra. Bras began to be revolutionized by the use of
nylon, making them lighter, prettier and easier to wash. The pointed pre
formed conically stitched bra was actually a fashion accessory, as without one,
the sweater girl look was certainly not complete.
Read the latest on 2010 lingerie fashion trends with underwear as
The two bra adverts below from 1953 put some emphasis on the use
of new materials such as nylon and contouring the body in a lighter less stiff
way. Bras in cheaper ranges include those by K. This K bra
advertisement of 1953 clicks through to see construction details in close up.
Below - K Line Bra Advertisement and English Rose Bra & Suspender Belt
Women also made their own bras from paper patterns or magazine
guidelines for making bra and French knicker sets. The fabric they used
was sometimes parachute silk, parachute nylon or old satin wedding dresses.
After the War, once textile technology advanced, we saw new developments in all 1950s underwear items and many started to purchase what began to be called lingerie.
The advert below emphasise that the suspender belt and 1950s bra are in the
new easy care nylon fabric, but just as pretty in a broderie anglaise
Soon Elastomerics transformed
foundation garments with power net fabric. The old elastic bra
backs and straps were replaced by the newer elastomeric family of modern
stretch yarns Courtauld's Spanzelle or Lycra fittings.
Overstretched rotted rubber bits that made bras and girdles lose their
grip were gone forever.
The suspender belt also disappeared from the average
wardrobe by 1970 as tights (pantyhose) were the easier simpler
alternative. Stay up stockings with a self adhesive grip also made
Ironically as power dressing returned in the 1980s there
was a boon in more sensational lingerie of this type fuelled by
programmes like Dynasty where characters lounged in all in one teddies
Pretty form following underwear had been lost for 20
years when practicality was the only priority. Suddenly lingerie
sales took off and soon women were wearing what was once underwear as
outerwear and intended to be seen.
Now women can browse sites like Figleaves. There you can
lingerie item from a corset to self adhesive silicone cups or a
structured bra to a balcony bra known as a 5 minute bra as it is
mostly put on deliberately to be removed 10 minutes later. Maybe
those women of the 1950s were more knowing than we give them credit.
Page Added 10 June 2005
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