If you're a longtime fan of What Katie Did you'll know that our Retro Lingerie range is based on real vintage designs carefully collected over the years by Katie herself. With the help of the lovely Missy Malone, we thought we'd style some true vintage pieces with our beautiful retro lingerie to see if you could spot the difference!
This beautiful blue bra (above and below) is a vintage piece Katie found in Déjà Vu Antiques, Cornwall, that shows off perfectly how the spiral stitching of soft cup bras gave them the support required in an age before underwires. Known as "Whirlpool" bras, and popularized by Hollywood Maxwell, these soft bullet bras gave a pretty shape under the fashionable tops and jumpers of the time.
As you can see this bra it is mostly made from non-stretch cotton, which just a little elastic as the back for comfort. It has a little bit of padding to keep its shape, but is designed to "lift and separate" the bust instead of creating a modern-style cleavage. In the Fifties, bras usually only came in cup sizes A-D, and frequently bustier women would have to squeeze themselves into a sister size with a bigger band.
A word on accessories: vintage shopping is one of Katie's favourite past-times, and as well as these beautiful bra and knickers, the jewellery, hair ribbon, parasol and shoes are all from vintage stores (scroll to the bottom for credits).
And now for the bottoms! Here, Missy's wearing a pair of original vintage CC41 French Knickers with our Padded Bullet Bra. If you're ever vintage shopping and you find pieces labelled CC41, snap them up! The CC41 mark identifies austerity clothing made during the post-war years, ensuring everyone could be dressed properly on their ration coupons.
CC41 clothing is made with the barest minimum of fabric and excess seams. As you can see, the vintage pair of French Knickers (or Tap Panties if you're in the US!) here are made from cotton, fastened with just three buttons. When we established our own range of austerity-style lingerie in 2009, we christened it CC09 in homage, although in the photos below you'll notice that it's made from gorgeous soft satin instead of cotton - not very period accurate but very luxurious!
Missy wears our Padded Bullet Bra here and our CC09 French Knickers! True to the era, the bra is made with a little padding, circle stitching and a non-stretch band.
From behind you can really see how different the shape of the straps are from a modern bra. Set closer together at the front and lower and wider at the back, the straps of this bra are designed to accommodate the high necked, low backed look introduced to Fifties fashion by Dior.