Let's talk lingerie, shall we? It's common knowledge that foundation garments of eras past (particularly the 40s, 50s, and early 60s) were much more involved than today's. They were meant to shape the body into a particular silhouette, and this often included wearing 1) a girdle with garters to cinch the waist and slim the hips and 2) a longline bra, which had the effect of lengthening the torso and shaping the breasts into a high, often decidedly pointy form.
People who write about wearing vintage fashion today often insist that adopting these foundations garments is absolutely essential to achieving a proper retro silhouette. My question for you is: do you agree?
In my point of view, this is a strictly personal preference and it doesn't mean that you're doing vintage wrong if you decide to forgo these undergarments. I went through a phase where I was curious about trying retro foundation garments, so I bought a Rago girdle and a longline bra. My personal opinion on the girdle was a big thumbs-down. Aside from being intensely uncomfortable, I found it to actually create more lumps and bumps with all the hook-and-eye plus zipper action. The longline bra is definitely something I can get behind, though. For special occasions. With my satin sheath dress, it definitely smoothed out my torso and eliminated any bra bulges. But believe me, it's definitely not something I would choose to wear on a daily basis.
Personally, adopting retro foundation garments also becomes a bit problematic body image-wise. I've definitely fallen prey to the belief that if I just find the right girdle or waist cincher, I'll look just like an illustration on a 50s pattern envelope. I find it better to just focus on finding clothes that are flattering to my body type rather than trying to squeeze myself into a fictional ideal. Anyway, the great thing about sewing vintage is being able to adapt retro designs to a modern silhouette. And this means no girdles for me - hurrah! (I am, however, a big fan of high-waisted Spanx (especially the tights), and I wear them with my pencil skirts for a smoothing effect.)
For a differing perspective from mine, check out Couture Allure's posts on foundation garments and how to shop for them. She's a bit of a purist when it comes to these matters . . .but then, she's also writing about fitting purchased vintage garments, not garments sewn from vintage patterns.
What do you all think? Retro foundation garments: are they a yea or a nay for you?
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