August 22, 2013
Vintage Lingerie Circa 1936
These ladies are dressed to the nines, yet they're not fit to be seen on any street in 1936. In the 1930s, lingerie was as multi-faceted as a lady's outer wardrobe. There were separate bras and underwear (called tap panties) as seen above, nightgowns and pajama style lounging outfits, girdles that covered the lower half, garter belts, and corset style foundations that included a built-in bra. In the 1939 film "The Women", a lingerie model explains just such a foundation as one that "zips up the back and no bones".
"No bones" was still a recent idea in 1936, as women continued to bind and mold their figures like the Victorians until the mid-1910s. After that, the flapper era heralded new ideas in lingerie, but "no bones" couldn't really come into the market until durable stretch fabrics were created that could offer the necessary shaping to substitute for boning. And zipping up the back was non-existent in the mass market until 1935. Those features were new and exciting at the time.
The ladies pictured are also wearing dressing gowns, a glamorous yet practical component of a woman's boudoir wardrobe. The dressing gown allowed a lady to prepare at the mirror before she donned her street or evening attire. Yet a vintage dressing gown is often just as finely made as a formal dress, albeit without severe structure. Many vintage gowns we've had from the 1930s are exquisitely finished and some are hand-sewn - every seam, every hem, every edge.
The quality of the lingerie in this photo is of that sort, meticulously made for indoor glamour. Fabulous!