Lingerie has come a long way since the 1930’s. The evolution of lingerie influenced by cultural trends that range from traditional to outright scandalous. Though the trendsetters of each decade are always different, the general look and feel of lingerie remained similar for a long time: The silhouette was usually either a bustier, corset or chemise (basically a tube top), and the fabrics were mostly cotton.
In the 1930’s, however, underwear makers began to expand their materials in order to accommodate the new technology of nylon. Nylon invented in the 1920’s lingerie, but it wasn’t until production became more affordable and widespread. The new material allowed for a variety of styles to emerge, from classic to playful—the evolution of lingerie had begun!
The Great Depression Impact on Lingerie
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression had a significant influence on women’s fashion during the 1930s. The stock market crash and ensuing unemployment rate significantly decreased consumer spending, which in turn caused a decline in the sales of luxury items such as silk stockings and expensive lingerie.
The Great Depression also impacted lingerie trends by restricting the production and sale of certain types of underwear. At the beginning of the decade, popular undergarments included silk-lined camisoles (made from slippery silk), lace-trimmed corsets with steel busks (a rigid structure that gave shape to the corset), and girdles made from rubber or whalebone (a type of rigid plastic). By 1931, however, almost all manufacturers had stopped producing these types.
1930’s Lingerie Styles
In the 1930s, a more feminine figure became popular. Bust lines increased in roundness and pointed waists were prize again after having disappeared during the 1920s when women wore straight skirts that emphasized their boyish figures. The shoulder pads that had appeared in the 1920s continued in 1930’s. Colors became brighter and fabrics like taffeta, nylon and rayon used.
In addition to the undergarments made from these new synthetic materials, many woman began wearing nylon stockings which were more affordable than silk stockings. By this time, high heels had become very fashionable again and it was common for a woman’s garter belt to have suspenders attached to it so that she could easily attach her stockings. However, many women still preferred plain garter belts and garters over those with suspenders because they felt that suspenders were too masculine.
The most important change in lingerie during the 1930s was the emergence of bras as an essential garment instead of just an accessory. Women began buying bra tops instead of corsets, which removed the pressure on the rib cage created by tight lacing. This allowed for better breathing and greater mobility.
Bra and Brassiere
In the 1930’s, the bust became the focal point of women’s fashions, which created a huge demand for bras that provided support and shape under all those frilly dresses. As a result, many new lingerie inventions introduced. That includes push-up bras with cones and pockets inside a well-supported bra that lifted and shaped women’s breasts. These bras were also a dramatic contrast to shapeless boxy styles of earlier times. There was also a shift in the way how lingerie marketed. Instead of being sold as an undergarment, it promoted to women as an empowering garment that would help them achieve their ideal body shape.
The simple tube style transformed into lingerie that lifted and shaped women’s breasts— some included double linings for extra support. Also by this time period, women began wearing bras made specifically for different types of physical activities like horse riding or tennis—these sports bras still exist today!
The evolution of lingerie is a beautiful thing. Whereas today there are hundreds if not thousands of lingerie options on the market. In the 1930s women limited to just three styles of panties.
Lace-trimmed and embroidered, with large bows.
High-waist cotton panties.
Cotton drawers that were suspender-like in fit.
Popular hues were light rose pink, peach, and white.
This was also the era that brought us the waist cincher (or girdle as it sometimes called), which created for women to wear under their garments to achieve a smooth silhouette. The typical girdle was from cotton or silk and had rubber or cloth reinforcement around the buttocks and hips to smooth out any lumps or bumps. Lace and satin garter belts were also worn over stockings, usually attached with either ribbons or buttons. Corsets, which had been out of style for decades prior to this time. They made a comeback with rounder cups that helped create an hourglass figure for those who wore them.
1930’s Lingerie Overall
The 1930s were a time of economic prosperity and growth, which reflected in the lingerie trends from this decade. Like the rest of fashion, lingerie influenced by the popular Art Deco style, which incorporated geometric shapes and clean lines. The typical silhouette for dresses was narrow at the top, with a wide skirt that flared out at the bottom. This shape is echoed in many of the lingerie styles from this time period.
The lingerie silhouetted from this time period tend to have a strappy or lacy look. Though they are often trimmed with ruffles or other soft embellishments. This is also reflected on bras and panties, which might be trimmed with lace or satin bows. The color palette was generally very feminine, with plenty of pale pinks and whites. Nude colors were also popular during this decade.
A common feature of 1930’s lingerie was using sheer fabrics in designs. Lingerie during this time was often made out of silk chiffon because of its ability to flow nicely without being too stiff or heavy. It is also very lightweight, allowing it to hang loosely off the body (a feature most fashionable women wanted).
As you can see there were a lot of changes throughout the decades. The fashion changed and so did the trend. The 1930’s affected the lingerie industry a lot. However, it considered to be an era of freedom for a woman and also for men. People were doing things differently, and this gave them more confidence in doing as they wished without worrying about what people would say or do because society was changing in many ways.