Proper Foundation Garments, Part 2: The Low Down by Gail Carriger
As much as the great agony of my life is the perpetual hunt for a pretty well-fitting vintage-style wire-free bra, there are other things than just bras to consider when dressing vintage from the bottom up. As I am certain you are well aware, Fashionable Reader. So, slips . . .
Since I dress vintage so often yet many of my dresses are on the cheaper end (read: not lined) this means I need to wear a slip underneath.
I prefer a vintage slip to shaper-wear under these circumstances because the two are designed to go together. Shaper-wear can bunch in odd places where a nice silky vintage slip drapes just so. Also it looks lovely if you happen to be caught mid-makeup application by the nice young busboy they sent up with your milk (for morning tea).
|Chemise 1908 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Like vintage dresses, I have very little difficulties finding vintage slips that fit me, they seem to be cut for a large rack, small ribs, and bit of hip. Almost any vintage shop worth its mothballs will have a slip section as well as a dress section, usually back in one corner. But vintages slips still also turn up in thrift stores, I've never paid more than $15 for one.
There are other options, like teddies and tap pants and the like. I'll use them for under full skirt dresses, but since I tend to opt for pencil dresses, anything that adds bulk down bellow looks . . . odd. This is also why, although I really prefer thigh-highs, I actually tend to opt for full coverage stockings most of the time. (Thigh-highs in a pencil skirt means you can see the garter clips, especially when sitting down, a big no no.)
|Drawers 1900s The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston|
And if there is one thing your foundation garments should NEVER do, it is show in ANY way!
Unless, of course, that is the whole purpose of the outfit.
1950s The Victoria & Albert Museum
My favorite garter. All of mine are from Held Over on Haight Street $8 ~ $12.
The obligatory matched undies.
So, a brief note about undies.
If you, like me, favor a pencil skirt, please find yourself some micro invisaline undies and wear with control-top stockings so you have no VPL (visible pantie line) or learn to love a thong or go comando. You have no other choices, I am afraid. There is no greater sin in the universe than VPL. Trust me, Fashionable Reader, there just isn't.
Which brings us to stockings!
|Stockings 1890s 2 The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|Stockings 1900s The Metropolitan Museum of Art|
Something has happened to stockings over the past 20 years. They've started to suck. I mean, suck construction-wise. We have far more options so far as retro styles are concerned (just do a search for backseam nylons on Amazon and see how many hits you get! I remember the days when you were lucky to find one pair!) but they will only last for a few wearings. I have stockings from the 80s (not even the 50s) that I can still wash a wear today.
So you want my number one stocking tip?
Avoid Leg Avenue.
I'm a size 4 - 6 on the bottom and stand 5"6' tall, not a difficult fit really (nothing like my upper half). Yet LA stockings NEVER fit me. They are invariably too long, cheaply made, and too tight around the thigh. They appear to be made for barbie dolls. If I need a quick pair I always go for Music Legs instead. I find their fit is far better. However, in general I haunt thrift stores for nylons from the 80s which occasionally turn up unopened and in nice pale creamy colors.
My number two stocking tip? Put a tiny dollop of clear nail polish on the back-seam on your Achilles tendon, stay still while it dries. It'll keep your seams from moving. I will say, for the record, this is the only tattoo I have seriously considered, because keeping the seam straight is still an effort.