When I look at my undergarments, I pause and sigh. At 56, the sexy bras and panties I wore in my 20s, has been replaced with a more boring offspring. I now look like my mother did years ago. As I look at myself in the mirror, I wonder how undergarments have evolved over the years. My mom once told me that she once came back from a formal evening out with my dad where she was dressed in a tight-fitting evening gown. When she came home, she kicked off her stiletto heels, removed her fake hair piece, took off the false eyelashes, peeled off her girdle and stockings. She said she looked at the pile of stuff on the ground and thought, “Wow, there really isn’t much left after that all comes off.” My mother was more right than wrong. For centuries, woman have been after the perfect looks and the perfect figure. Madonna’s infamous cone shaped bra, Spanx shapewear, corsets – it has all been done before, ladies! Let’s face it, lady’s undergarments have always been a bit of a mystery, especially to the opposite sex. Clasps, straps, snaps, cups – who can keep up? The things we women have gone through to achieve the perfect feminine figure throughout history is simply dizzying. So, what did your mother have under that beautiful classic a line and midi dress? How did she get that captivating hourglass figure that made heads turn when she walked down the street? You must admit, ladies in the 1950s had figures to die for. Curves in all the right places. Bodies that looked perfectly shaped without ever lifting a weight or running a mile. So how did they do it? The answer is complicated and would not be welcomed by today’s generation of women. The 1950s silhouette took a lot of patience, endurance, and creativity. Items such as the retro 50s bullet bra or classic shaped cone bra coupled with a pair of high waisted, high rise 50s panties, coupled with a tight-fitting girdle and a corset waist cincher that leaves you breathless, then you complete the look with a garter belt, and silk stockings. Wow! There’s a lot going on under mom’s feminine little dress, isn’t there?
Back in the 1950s, Hollywood starlets set the stage by showing off their perfect silhouettes in the latest fashions. Stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and so on were the ideal women. They dressed in perfect swing dresses that boasted tiny waistlines, well-endowed bust lines, and just the right amount of curves in the hips and seat. But even these ladies had to use a bit of lingerie magic to make the fantasy become reality. Let’s take the pieces of lingerie one at a time.
Bras – In the 1960s women burned their bras in protest (I can totally understand why!). Probably because the generation before them was bound up in tight fitting braziers with sturdy straps, a double set of hooks to secure the bra in the back, and some padding to enhance the figure of those who weren’t blessed with the perfect breasts. Some ladies even donned the cone bra that actually made their breasts seem like they came to a point (which begs the question, “why?”). Bras gave women a great deal of support while making them look like they had the perfect bust line. Tight knit sweaters and tight fitting a line dresses added the perfect touch and spurred on the fantasy of the perfect figure.
Panties – In 1950, there was no such thing as bikinis, thongs, or crotchless panties. On the contrary, woman wore full coverage briefs that were high waisted. Granny panties, if you will. These modest undergarments were not sexy. Made of mostly cotton, but sometimes silk, these panties provided women with a smooth look under those body contouring dresses. Despite having a lot of material on them, the panties of the 1950s were actually charming and alluring in their own way. Coupled with a bra and garter belt, a lady could look quite attractive to her husband when getting dressed.
Garter Belt – Garter belts are garments were created more for men’s desires than women’s comfort. Back in the day, garter belts were worn as a way to fasten stockings. The garter belt secured around the waist and was either made from lace or satin. Four straps with fasteners were attached that allowed silk stockings to be attached. For any of us who have braved garter belts for their wedding or a night of passion, you know that these crazy little garments are not easy to wear, are not comfortable, and are inconvenient when paying a visit to the ladies’ room. Despite their drawbacks, garter belts are undoubtedly sexy and are part of every man’s fantasy. And why not? These little contraptions are featured in burlesque, striptease, lingerie magazines, and in the most provocative movies. But the fact is that back in 1950, a gal’s stockings were not going to stay put unless they had a garter belt on.
Stockings – Now I’m not talking pantyhose here. Stockings go back a long way. They were made of mostly silk and a lady had to put one leg on at a time, making sure to secure them at the top with a garter belt. As a fan of fashion, I actually still wear stockings. Of course now there are stockings that have self adhesive strips at the top so garter belts are unnecessary. Stockings are also more practical than pantyhose. Why? Because if you get a runner in one of the legs, you can simply toss it and replace it with another. If a pair of pantyhose runs, you have to toss the entire thing and call it a day. Stockings were also the ultimate in sexy attire. Shows like “Cabaret” and “Chicago” feature dancers in stockings. There is nothing more alluring that making your legs look more shapely, sexy, and tan by wearing a pair of these old-fashioned hose.
Corsets – Corsets are not for the weak of heart. On the contrary, corsets are a tight-fitting garment that works to slim the waistline while lifting the bustline. If you can manage to breath while wearing one, the effects of a corset can be quite amazing. Many women have broken the occasional rib while wearing these lingerie straight jackets. Although mostly reserved for the stage now, corsets are a garment that offers viewing pleasure for the onlooker, but excruciating pain and discomfort for the wearer.
Let’s face it, ladies, men would never be caught dead in any of these garments. Men like their unmentionables to be comfortable, practical, and inexpensive. None of which describes bras, garter belts or corsets. So, the next time you look at a picture of Marilyn or Audrey, just imagine what they have underneath those designer dresses that makes their figures pop. Women today may have a more casual style, but you must admit, the gals in the 1950s had waistlines and silhouettes that are envied even today. Imagine having to work all day at the office in a garter belt, stockings, and a bullet bra. The girls of yesteryear may not be considered modern woman, but you must give it to them, they endured a lot more than we do to achieve the perfect feminine figure that made heads turn every time they entered a room. 💋