Vintage Foundation Wear for your type
Find the correct vintage lingerie and foundation wear for your figure type and shop for vintage style lingerie, corsets, girdles and brassieres.
Standard Underwear in the 1940s
Before you go shopping for that all important foundation garment. Read some excerpts from a 1948 lingerie and foundation wear guide.
This sterling advice comes courtesy of the Corset and Brassiere Association of America from 1948. A short helpful illustration of standard underwear in the late 1940’s and of prevailing opinions on women’s control underwear in that era; namely that control garments were beneficial to a woman’s health and figure.
First let’s highlight three highly recommended makers of vintage lingerie and shapewear.
Pip and PantaLaimon
The UK brand Pip and Pantalaimon sell vintage and retro inspired lingerie and shapewear for pin up artists and rockabilly fans all over the world
Their vintage lingerie Etsy store regularly receives 5 star reviews for their girdles, bras and suspender / garter belts. Created by Pippa Smith, they focus on fun, with their materials inspired from the past but using modern sustainable materials. They offer a broad range in sizes too with bra cups up to a G-cup.
Rago Vintage Lingerie and Shapewear
Rago Shapewear is one of the most recognized purveyors of vintage style lingerie and shapewear for women. Their open bottom girdles, bras and waist cinchers, are the perfect undergarment to your vintage style dress. Below, you can learn from period articles how to choose the correct foundation wear, girdles and long line brassieres for your figure type.
What Katie Did Vintage Inspired Lingerie
Fans of What Katie Did testify to the sheer luxury of their garments. Knowing you are wearing quality shapewear and lingerie beneath your vintage clothing makes you feel more authentic as well as distinctly feminine.
Mad Men’s Christina Hendrick’s aka Joan, was a big fan of What Katie Did lingerie. The secret to her figure is now revealed !
So their garments have many fans in the movie world including Helena Bonham Carter .
Coffee and Corsets
Grab a coffee and learn the philosophy as read by women in the 1940’s. Then go shopping !
According to the Corset and Brassiere Association of America. Health and beauty suffer, when the shoulders are slumped or the back is not held straight.
How Corsets Create a Feminine Posture
Remember these eight essential points to correct posture.
- Keep your head erect.
- Chin in.
- Chest high
- Straighten your shoulders
- Abdomen flat.
- Lower back flat.
- Legs straight.
- Feet parallel.
Once the abdomen is flattened and the small of the back is straightened via good corsetry, the pattern for good posture is set.
Functional requirements of the young woman who wants a ‘refining garment’ will differ sharply from those of a mature woman who wants a ‘confining garment’.The primary consideration for all four figure types, will be: “Does it improve my appearance?” The secondary will be: “Does it feel comfortable?”
Corsets for the Young Woman
For the young woman, “something light but not confining around the hips to smooth out curves and hide dimples.Her accompanying bra should make bust look normal and natural.”
Whether the young woman will elect to wear a girdle and brassiere or an all-in-one corselette is a matter of personal preference.
For the mature woman, her objective is to look as well as she did 20 years ago! “She will be wise,” says the Association, “to select a heavier garment as her breasts and abdomen need more support, preferably via light boning – a feature which helps flatten the hips and the abdomen.”
The 4 Figure Types
Generally speaking, there are four basic figure types:
- Junior: Small breasts, waist small hips narrow.
- Misses: Larger but not full breasts, wider hips, narrow waist.
- Average:Breasts, hips and waist are mature and well proportioned.The easiest to fit out
- Full Figure: Large breasts, hips full and broad, thick around the waist.
The Correct Foundation for your figure type
Here are foundation garments most suitable to the four basic figure types:
- Misses: bra with supporting band; closer-knit girdle with waist-hugging band; elastic inset sides and back.
- Junior: lightweight bandeau; pantie girdle with satin front panel. elasticized sides and back.
- Plus Size Figure: strong, heavy fabric all-in-one garment controls your curves. Boning lends extra support, built-up brassiere molds chest and back flesh.
- Average: brassiere with good cup separation high-waisted elastic and fabric girdle for maximum control.
The Four Figure Shapes
Junior figures: appreciate the freedom of the pantie girdle. It’s easy to put on, it is refining rather than confining.
Also recommended are standard girdles of the one-way or -two-way stretch variety, both in the category of the pull-on girdle.
Misses Figure Shape
Misses: The need for this figure is proper distribution of weight and firm molding. The bust, usually in “B” dimensions, requires a brassiere with a supporting band to anchor the bra around the diaphragm. Her waistline needs definition. Her abdomen must be kept flat. The hip-line must be kept trim; the buttocks need strict control. Hip spread is the bane of her existence!
Shop Vintage Inspired Girdles at What Katie Did
Average Figure Shape
The Average figure is mature, with bust and hips fully developed. Moderate restraint and control are required. Foundation garments as follows: Brassieres should incorporate uplift features. Flesh beneath the bosom should be confined and a long-line bra can provide this constraint in a comfortable fashion.
Since the body is well defined, an all-in-one garment is ideal. Such a foundation. A corselette or a combination brassiere and girdle) provides smooth fit, maximum control and freedom of action. In lieu of a corselette, she can combine a long-line bra and high-waist girdle.
Plus Size Figure
For the Plus Size figure: the advice of an experienced corsetiere is invaluable.
She will take into consideration age and figure in addition to her wardrobe needs. Pull-on girdles are not really suited to women with large midriffs; they tend to push any excess weight up around the waist. Girdles which fasten with hooks, lacing or zipper are ideal.
Always sit down when trying on the girdle or corset to make sure it doesn’t cut at waist or thighs. Hook the garters to stockings to see whether they need adjusting. Be sure the girdle is long enough to control hips and thighs.
The Correct Brassiere for your figure type
Women are advised by the association to exercise as much care in fitting the brassiere as in fitting the girdle or all-in-one corselette. From a health standpoint, a properly-fitted brassiere is extremely important.
Center: For the average bust, separated cups, with sturdy supporting band is best. Upper left: Inner uplift is a good feature of a bra for the medium-large bust. Lower left: The large bust requires the good support this long-line bra affords.
Upper right: Built-up shoulder straps and a strong fabric are the important features of this bra for the pendulous type of bust. Lower right: For the small high bust, select the bandeau type of bra, or one with narrow band.
How to don a brassiere correctly
To put on a bra: One, bend forward from the waist to will bra cups properly. Two, fasten, give band at back a downward tug. Three, adjust straps !
Bullet Bras from What Katie Did
The Post War Silhouette of the 1940’s
Finally, consideration of one’s foundation garment will enhance today’s post war silhouette.
Curves are back. While women will no doubt embrace a return to femininity, they must not sacrifice comfort. Regardless of what Paris couturiers decree.
Corsets, corselettes and girdles serve the functional purpose of supporting tissue and bones. It is the kind of support women have come to depend upon.
The following checkpoints should be observed before selection of undergarments: Waist should fit snugly; boning the right length, hips molded properly, length of entire garment well below the buttocks, garters adjusted.
Shop for more Vintage Girdles and Lingerie
That’s all !
Sources: Haithi Trust – Foundations for Fashion 1948