[This is another post in a series offering links to posts some followers may have missed, while I take time to visit the library and collect more photos.]
Some of the most exciting discoveries I made when I started reading old magazines from the 1920’s had to do with underwear. In addition to fashion advice about what to wear to achieve that “boyish” figure, I found dozens of advertisements — a veritable window into the past. In one article I read,
“To be smart this season one must be more than slim. The figure must defy nature and be as flat as the proverbial flounder, as straight as a lead pencil, and boneless and spineless as a string-bean. One must be straight like a boy and narrow like a lady in a Japanese print.” – Delineator magazine, February 1924.
I happened to read a 1925 article by Evelyn Dodge about the new, boneless corselets: “Not all women need corsets. Women with young, slender figures find that the corselet, which is a combination brassière and hip-confiner, is sufficient. It is unboned and is therefore as soft and flexible as the natural figure.” I was delighted to find this one illustrated in an ad:
You can read more about it in “Underpinning the Twenties: Corsets and Corselets.” Click here.
These corselets reshape a woman to look like a tube (or maybe a sausage?)
Another thing that struck me while reading so many 1920’s ads was that the boyish silhouette meant that women aspired to be flat in back and flat in front. This was actually a feature of the “tubular Twenties,” not the late nineteen twenties.If you didn’t want to wear a corselet, you could opt for a separate girdle, worn with or without a bandeau to flatten your breasts. Corsets and girdles of the 1920s were designed to flatten your posterior: “Underpinning Twenties Fashions: Girdles and Corsets.” Click here to read.
If you are curious about “bust flatteners” or “bound breasts” in the nineteen twenties, click here for “Underpinning the Twenties: Brassieres, Bandeaux, and Bust Flatteners.” It has lots of illustrations.
If you are curious about what 20th century women wore before the modern brassiere, these two posts give a quick review of brassieres, and their transition from the 1910’s to the 1920’s.
To read Part 1, “Uplift Changes Brassieres: 1917 to 1929, Part 1” click here.
For Part 2, “Uplift Changes Brassieres: Late 1920s Brassieres,” click here.
The monobosom of the early 1900s slowly gave way to the more natural look — with support — of the 1930s:
The Book, “Uplift: The Bra in America,” by Jane Farrell-Beck and Colleen Gau covers other decades in addition to the Twenties. Learn more about this fascinating book here.
Of course, not all women were “bound” to be boyish. Click here to read “Not All Flappers Wanted to Be Flat in the 1920s.”
Between the dress and the flattening girdle, corset, bandeau, or corselet, — or between one’s skin and the dress — were sometimes very delectable silk or rayon undergarments.
There were also some very awkward looking combination garments. See: Envelope Chemises, Step-ins and Other Lingerie. That post elicited wonderful comments about vocabulary and links for further research.
Women also wore some not very sexy drawers or knickers….
See “Theda Bara’s Bloomers” for a distinctly un-sexy pair — on Cleopatra!