Thanks to the DuPont Company, a chemical company founded in 1802, retro
lingerie choices were no longer confined to scratchy woolen stockings
that hung loosely around your ankles, linen underwear adorned with a
mere ribbon of lace, or plain white cotton nightgowns that tangled and
twisted until wrapped as tightly as a muslin encased mummy.
In the early 1900s, the development and use of rubber products is
responsible for changing women's undergarments from the heavily boned
and laced corsets to the modern girdle styles. The earlier girdles and brassieres were quite utilitarian.
Vintage lingerie choices might not be as sought after or as attractive today if
not for the introduction of nylon, polyester, and other synthetic
fabrics during the 1930s. Structured undergarments lost favor during the World War II era only to
emerge in the 1950s as a fashion necessity with Dior's wasp waist "New
Any discussion of retro lingerie begins with the patent for what is
considered the first modern "brassiere". Nineteen year old socialite
Caresse Crosby fashioned a backless bra out of two silk handkerchiefs
held together with pink ribbon and cord as a protest against the
restrictive whaleboned corsets that flattened her large breasts
The sweater girl popularity of the bullet bra continued into the fifties with brassieres fashioned of tightly stitched circles projecting the breasts forward into a conical shape.
The open bottom girdles popular during the 1950s allowed the newly
popular nylon stockings to fasten to garters for a smooth and
non-sagging look. If the women chose not to wear a girdle, they attached their nylon stockings to a garter belt worn around their waist and under a full slip. They had to make frequent adjustments to their stocking seams to assure they were centered down the back of their legs.
Highly revered by post World War II consumers, nylons replaced silk
stockings as new technologies provided them a sheer look
yet maintained a tensile strength for a figure hugging fifties look for all
shapes and sizes.
A respectable fifties lady always wore a slip under her dress or skirt.
Nylon and other synthetic fabrics provided a smooth outline for the slim fitting pencil skirts. Crinolines and cancan slips were a popular addition to a teenage girl's circle skirt.
With the addition of rayon and acetate textiles, 1950s women's sleepwear promised to glide with you, without bunching,
twisting, or binding. They were presented in pretty pastels with rows of matching lace trims.
The few glimpses of lingerie worn by the beautiful fifties film
stars hint of a sensual glamour not found in today's overtly sexual
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