My friend, lingerie blogger A Slip of a Girl, and her vintage slip and lingerie collection is featured at Collectors Weekly in Sexier Than Silk: The Irresistible Allure of the Nylon Slip.
Starring Jean Simmons and Burt Lancaster (who won an Oscar for his role as Elmer Gantry), this is a powerful film about faith and fanaticism, foibles and fairness — but above all, it’s character-driven story about human character. It’s the best combination of issues to chew on and characters to consider, long after the film is over.
I love those sorts of stories.
In terms of fashion, the spotlight is on Shirley Jones (who also won an Oscar for her role of Lulu Bains) in classic lingerie, most notably visible in the scene in which Lulu attempts to seduce and shame Elmer. (Click the link to watch!)
What may have begun as the vengeful opportunistic act of a lover scorned (deflowered and left to prostitution) is quickly shown to be more complicated, exposing more than unfinished business but unrequited feelings between the two.
It’s brilliant stuff, really. Not what many may expect from the Shirley Jones they remember from The Partridge Family or know from musicals (although I cry every time I see Carousel).
But if you watch Elmer Gantry, this is precisely the sort of thing you learn to refrain from. For Jones’ performance as Lulu (as layered as anyone else’s in the movie), should teach you to look beneath the surface, what you think you know. The perceptions of “who and what Shirley Jones is” that the viewer brings to this classic film is, in this case, a layer of experience that only adds to this film.
If these nine black vintage lingerie pieces don’t convince you that you really do need that quintessential little black cocktail dress, what on earth will?
1) A vintage black lace pinup bra — complete with centered red rosette.
2) Vintage vixens will love this black Lily Of France bustier with illusion lace and an incredibly deep plunging neckline.
3) This vintage French corset, from Star de Paris, is fully boned, has four adjustable garters, an elasticized back with hidden hook & eye closures, and is made of cashmere and nylon.
But don’t overlook the silk satin accents and the Chantilly lace. (I’m in love with the frilly hip lace!)
4) This sultry vintage nylon Movie Star full slip with a lush lace bodice and wide lace hem surely seduces — before you even put it on!
5) Slink around in this vintage black nylon Charmode full slip with a crystal pleated bust, lace details — and an very generous 4 1/2 inch crystal pleated hem.
6) This sheer 1950’s black panty girdle with garters has a lace covered control panel — but I think it may drive your partner out of control!
7) For sex kittens, a very sexy pair of sheer black vintage Movie Star panties with garters, accented with lace.
8) These beautiful vintage tap pants of black lace, likely from the 1980’s tap pant resurrection, feature a silky false fly front.
9) Last, but not least, another pair of sheer black vintage panties — this one stuns with rhinestones as well as lace trim.
If you love & want to wear vintage circle skirts, like this 1950’s black & red velvet circle skirt, but you don’t want to be asked where the local sock-hop is, here are a few notes on making vintage circle skirts relevant today & not a costume on parade:
* The only bad thing about retro poodle skirts & vintage circle skirts is the very thing that makes them so fabulous — all that fabric. With so much fabric, you’ll be tempted to wear a crinoline to give circle skirts their due; otherwise, the patterns, appliques & details will be lost in the (however luminously sequined & beaded) folds. Yet wear a full crinoline most any place these days, and you’ll find yourself facing questions about sock hops and costume parties *sigh*
But remember, what truly separates the poodle skirt from a circle skirt is the volume of the crinolines &/or petticoats. You can wear vintage circle skirts with more subdued (traditionally slimmer, but proper lengthed) slips, for a softer look (and do lots of twirling, curtsying, and anything else to create interest in that beautiful skirt). You can do this — just look at Audrey Hepburn!
* If you love a circle skirt, but it’s the shorter, more square dance variety or otherwise requires a fluffy feminine crinoline, then save it for more formal occasions — or mix it in with more modern & casual pieces (tee-shirts, bolero jackets, really big & wide belts) for an 80’s re-do (we did this in the actual 1980’s too!)
* Look for longer length skirts, especially if you are tall &/or fuller-figured. Short full skirts, plumped with a crinoline or hanging in folds, will make you look plumper around the hips by bringing the eye “out” rather than in a line down. Plumper from skirts equals frumpier and out-dated, so avoid it.
* Do tuck your blouse or top into the waistband of the skirt. This emphasizes your waist, drawing the eye in and down, helping to create a generous hourglass figure.
* If your blouse is just a hair too short to remain tucked in, or it’s so bulky looking when tucked in that it’s a distracting mess, you can smooth it over the waist of the skirt and use a wider belt to “join” the ensemble as well as accent your waist. As a general rule, however, do not do this with tunics or other very long tops as the tunic or top will press the circle skirt down, causing a second “ripple” in the skirt, ruining the full skirt’s lines.
* Circle skirts are not yesteryear’s “broomstick skirts” or other long skirts designed to be layered with tunics, as mentioned above. So also avoid long or oversized jackets or blazers.
* Sweaters, both the traditional feminine cardigan & tight-fitting sweater girl varieties, can be worn with circle skirts. If the former, avoid bulky, over-sized, &/or long sweaters which will hide your waistline; if the latter, remember the rules for tops & blouses: tucked in or belted, please.
* Do not wear with socks & saddle shoes or tennis shoes; this makes the outfit look like the old bobby soxer costume. Instead, opt for flats (with or without hosiery), kitten heels (with stockings or pantyhose), or, for that retro 80’s style, with granny boots (as shown below on Pony from Pony & Pink) or lace-up ankle boots and brightly colored socks.
Even high heeled stilettos can, depending upon the material of the skirt, the occasion, and the shoe itself, can be an incredible combination for the fashionista who is willing to draw attention to herself.
Just remember that unless your fashion trademark is wearing saddle shoes, avoid the saddle shoe re-do.
* Mix in pieces & accessories from all time periods. A bold Bakelite brooch from the 40’s pinned to a classic white tee & 80’s booties; a 50’s pin up sweater, 80’s Madonna bangles, vintage patent leather peep-toe Mary Janes from the 60’s, and a cloche hat from the 30’s; whatever you’ve got in your closet, dear *wink* (Just like Doe Deer!)
I know whenever anyone sees such dreamy, creamy, vintage satin slips & gowns as this, you’re supposed to remember Jean Harlow…
No offense to Harlow, but I also like to think of Joan Crawford — in the 1930s, before the dreaded code, she was peddled in the mags as quite the vamp too.
No wonder vintage slips are still very much alive! So seductive it reminds me of another set of quotes from the film:
Brick Pollitt: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Margaret “Maggie” Pollitt: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.
I guess that’s the victory of such a pretty vintage slip too, to just stay on, as long as it can. *wink*
PS Don’t forget to enter my The Get Fab-U-Lush Eyelashes Contest!
Deanna, of Kitsch-Slapped (and about a million other blogs), just posted about how she and her sister could see color even though they only had a black & white TV, which reminded me of a few things…
One being how I perplexed my dad by comparing women on television to past glamour icons. I too had compared some woman or other to Rita Hayworth and he asked me how the heck I knew who she was (and when I knew who Fatty Arbuckle was, he just about fell over). Mom countered with a, “Just about the only things your daughter reads or watches were made before 1960,” in that don’t-you-even-know-who-your-daughter-is? tone that made him both flush & squirm.
That weekend he came home with an armload of classic films he’d rented — just for the two of us to watch — and when we watched them, he chased mom out of the room or shushed her so “we film buffs” could be left alone to enjoy our movies in peace. *wink*
The second thing Deanna’s post reminded me of was how I sometimes see or imagine the color in black & white films — especially the fashions. But mostly I just wish I could see them in all their glory. *sigh*
Unless it’s lingerie and the film is from the 1920’s or 1930’s.
Whenever I see lingerie in films from that period, like Joan Crawford & gals in Our Blushing Brides, then I happily “know” that what they are wearing is either peach, pink or ivory — with ecru laces.
I know that there may occasionally be other colors (black, for instance, was popular — and easy to ‘see’ on screen, and other pastel shades in blue and green), but when shopping for vintage lingerie or loungewear, the evidence in old catalogs and on vintage clothing store racks supports my visions of ivory, peach, blush & pastel pink lingerie.
There are several likely reason for this.
It has been noted that soft & dreamy pastels were favored by high society at this time (along with an influx of Oriental colors & design influences; mainly seen in dresses, not so much with lingerie); pastel fashions require light colored lingerie. The popularity of pastels at this time is seemingly a combination of a response to the somber dreary wardrobes of WWI and the fact that wearing such light colors was surely impractical to the lower classes who had to work — hard toil would soil soft shades easily, leaving distinct marks of classes.
I also suspect that home sewing had its affects on color too. Because construction of flapper’s dresses & the lingerie worn beneath them (and the fashions which followed) were based on a straight shift, they were less complicated to make than earlier fashions. This meant it was much easier for women to produce the latest fashions at home using a simple — but fashionable — dress pattern. (Modifying a single pattern slightly, or embellishing it, to create more individual looking dresses.) Those sewing at home would likely copy the fabrics & colors of the days fashions as well, with the middle classes especially emulating high society’s love of pastels. However, fabric would still be costly — especially silks — and likely one made the most of the bolt of fabric they had. A household’s fashions would literally be cut from the same cloth, leaving all the women to have their lingerie in the same shade.
Another reason for the popularity of lingerie in pastel shades during the 1920s and 30s is a practical one. Many lingerie pieces, panties, shifts, slips, camis, & chemises, did dual duty as nightwear and foundation garments, worn under clothing and off-white & peachy-pink shades would match or blend with most flesh tones — if you were “white”, anyway. (And fashion was — and still is — primarily made for white women.) Such neutral fleshy shades would be very practical, diminishing color lines beneath the sheer and lightweight dresses of the time.
Such fleshy shades were also in and of themselves sexy — in an age of “dare to bare” flapper fashions, clothing was not only cut to expose arms and legs, but the colors suggested nudity. This would be especially enticing on the more natural-than-forced curves than the past fashion silhouettes where the even looser fitting garments would evoke a peek-a-boo feeling, if not actual body parts.
These are my theories, based on what I know of the times. But what clearly remains of lingerie from this time period are these pastel pieces in peach, pink, blush and ivory shades; and most with lace, crochet and/or tatting accents in ivory and ecru.
If and when you spot authentic vintage lingerie from the 1920s & 1930s in other shades, you should expect to pay more. I suggest you do it — happily. You don’t know if or when you’ll find anything else like it to hug to your chest (or to drape over it later!) *wink*