Lately, I’ve been mad about the lingerie of the late Nineteen-teens and twenties. It signified such a departure from the under things of previous decades. Sturdy corsets and layers of cotton or linen were replaced by silk teddies (“combinations”), airy silk chemises, and dainty bandeau bras that flattered the slender and athletic body type that was de rigueur at the time. (On April 16, 1923, The New York Times advised women to conform to the “perfect 34,” which consisted of 34” bust, 22” waist and 34” hips!)
This silk slip from the graduate study collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology is a perfect example of luxurious lingerie of the mid 1920s. The silhouette is essentially a straight tube with a slightly flared skirt. A tiny ribbon drawstring inside the neckline gives it minimal shape. It is embellished with precious hand-embroidered rosebuds on the fagoted neckline and picot-finished scalloped hem.
These lace bandeau bras also date from the mid 1920s. They are constructed from straight pieces of machine-made lace trim that has been shaped by cutting and piecing them together to fit. They both flatten the bust-line to achieve the fashionable tubular silhouette of the time. Since spandex didn’t exist back then, these garments had to fit perfectly in order hold the breasts in place. In fact, one of the bras photographed above shows evidence of having been taken in to fit its original wearer.
For a 1920s-inspired look, try Hanky Panky’s collection of bandeaus, available in soft stretch laces that conform to your curves.