Thinking on proper foundations is somewhat of a new territory for me in terms of vintage wear. Unlike historical costuming, where the foundations are essential for creating the period silhouette, it seems that foundations for vintage wear seem to be optional for most enthusiasts. Since I’ve been thinking more in terms of foundations I thought you also might be interested in seeing visuals of change in under-structure from the 1920s until the 1950s.
Of a particular note, I would like to point out that the bra was relatively new, with many women accepting it for wear during the first twenty years of the century. Because of this, I think the evolution in terms of construction and silhouette are particularly interesting. It appears to me, though I am by no means a historian in terms of undergarments, that major changes came to pass during the decade of the 1930s, so I have supplemented two images from that decade. The one on top is from 1930 and the one underneath is from 1936.
Also of note is that silhouettes underwent changes during each of the decades pictured, so the images are just a round-about view, though if you want to go more in depth you can research changes within each individual decade. I found that changes happen, in general, during the first, middle, and last part of each decade, and you will find that fashion also follows suit with those being the major times of changes.
And as an extra here’s a few images I found interesting from both the 1940s (the bra at the top has the “whirlpool” stitching we often equate to 1950s bullet bras), and an advertisement for padded bras of the 1950s. Padding in bras seems to be an alternative, with separate padding most common from the mid 1930s until the 1950s, although bras with padding included in the structure were around by the 1950s. The 1920s, of course, was an era which suppressed the breast, and during the 1950s it reached quite the opposite silhouette. I personally think the 1930s is the closest to the modern day bra silhouette.
Next up we have girdles or corselettes. In most vintage catalogs and magazines I tend to see these and the all in ones still termed as “corsetry”, a term which carried over from the 1800s. In 1920s the emphasis was on the “boyish” or “youthful” frame, so the hips and chest were both flattened. The 1930s influenced the “classical line”, so again we see hips flattened, but towards the middle of the decade we see the bust start to be more emphasized than previously. The 1940s seems to be the middle ground between the 1920s and 1950s shape, and in the 1950s we see the nipped in waists combined with accentuated bustline. When the sheath or “wiggle” dresses were very popular we also see somewhat of a nipped waist combined with smoothed hips and accentuated bust.
And lastly, and this perhaps shows the ideal silhouette the best, are the all-in-ones, also called “corsetry”.
So, a question for my readers… which of the decades do you find the most challenging for creating a period silhouette? I’m sure every answer will be different depending on your individual figure, but I’m curious to know!