1950s Petticoats, Stockings & Stocking Adverts
C20th Fashion History 1950s
The Second World War saw the use and
development of new materials like nylon. This fact combined with
utility restrictions on usage of materials and improved methods of mass
produced factory clothing techniques was instrumental in revolution.
Along with freer, more liberal attitudes choice in undergarments changed
radically so that women began to wear much less under their top layer of
One real development throughout those war years was the rise
of the light and very fine sheer nylon stocking. This superbly
informative advertisement, shows some of the stocking varieties available in
1953 and explains about gauge and denier, terms fairly new to the
Right - Informative Nylons Advert -1953
Nylon was being used in all sorts of new ways
from toothbrushes to bowls to lace although most people in the early days
thought of it only in terms of hosiery. Early adverts were
informational and used to inform people of the latest use of the nylon
This advert below shows an explanation and
comparison of seamed and seamless stocking which were slow to take off
in the 1950s. The lack of seam line on a leg was associated with bare
legs. Bare legs in the 40s and 50s were considered undignified and
common. Gradually women adopted the seamfree stockings.
1953 Petticoat Slip by Gossip
By 1953 petticoats were often made
from this new wonder fabric nylon which had been around for years, but was
production and distribution restricted during world War II.
Many petticoats still continued to
be made from good quality cotton poplin or broderie Anglaise cotton.
Cotton could be boiled to help it stay white, whereas early nylon had a
tendency to yellow quickly and that was reinforced by most individuals
drying their laundry in sunlight rather than using an indoor drier or drying
indoors on a hanger.
Sunlight attacked the molecular structure of nylon and caused it to yellow.
Nylon also created a static build up,
something quite new to users previously unaware that natural fibres holding
so much moisture helped body static leak away easily. Even so the use
of nylon revolutionised underwear, making it easy care for the masses.
The advert right for Gossip underwear offers styles in pure silk, nylon and
The petticoat has slowly lost ground. So much ground
in fact that they form only a very small section in any lingerie department
compared to exotic bras, panties, strings and camisoles, bustiers and
bodysuits/teddies. Usually now they are available in limited. very
basic ranges of black, white and natural flesh tone Tactel bias bound slips.
Their demise is interesting. In 2003 I was contacted by
a Radio station to speak on the disappearance of the petticoat slip from the
UK retail price index. It seems the average UK consumer does not buy
petticoat slips anymore on a regular basis. When I thought about this
I realised I had not bought a new one myself for several years. In my
wardrobe though languished half a dozen slips or so in different dress
lengths in black, white, cream, blue and natural beige. All were more
or less redundant as I realised I hardly ever wore them, but kept them in
case that certain new item needed a solid under slip. The reasons for their demise are accounted for in several ways.
Women generally wear trousers a great deal today so need
only the top camisole for a little extra modesty. Many wear a t-shirt
vest top instead of that and many just wear a bra. Many clothes are fully lined now, even the cheapest
items, so why wear a petticoat if the dress foundation is good enough.
Also slips became less decorative about 10 years ago and they began to
resemble a very plain undecorated sheath lining of
Tactel without lace trim.
Slips in shops today look nothing like the sexy lace well cut petticoat
Elizabeth Taylor wore in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'. Whether or not they
will ever return is debatable, but in 2005 I found myself buying a white
half slip to go under an unlined linen skirt. As the noughties decade
progressed I also noticed a lot more skirts in my wardrobe than in 2004.
1950s Petticoats and Stockings Conclusion
One fact is certain, women will always seek lingerie for
both practical functional reasons and for erotic reasons as well.
Indeed many of us already have a variety of undergarments spilling from
drawers because some of it is as desirable as French confectionary and just
like the Edwardians we cannot resist it because wearing special pretty lace
items makes us feel good about ourselves.
Page Added 10 June 2005
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