August 26, 2013

Timeline Tips: Dating 1940s Lingerie


According to Life magazine, elastic and zippers "went to war" in the 1940s.  During World War II, there were a number of shortages on the home front, including fabric and certain metals.  Shortages meant rationing, and for fashion design, that translated into carefully gauged patterns that used fabric according to government-imposed limits.

In lingerie, the fabric rationing was less of an issue, as the required yardage was fairly predictable regardless of the style.  But even lingerie was affected by the war.  In vintage clothing we sometimes see 1940s girdles with no zippers, only a laced closure.  And this photo illustrates just why; specific metals and performance trims like elastic were needed elsewhere.  Ladies were taught to adapt.  Many kept using their old clothing, patching it or otherwise altering it in the spirit of "make do and mend".

It's much rarer to see 1940s bras that lace, though, like the one pictured.  Most likely the ladies who had to wear them were delighted to cast them off post-war, as they looked forward to the relative luxury of elastic, hooks & eyes. 

If you find one, show us!  A lace-front bra would be a very collectible find for the lingerie aficionado.

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