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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Lingerie And The History Of Underwear

( Orginally published November 1933 )



Chapter 1 - Undies Remake The World
Chapter 2 - Flaming Youth Becomes Dignity Conscious

[Lingerie - Part 1]  [Lingerie - Part 2]  [Lingerie - Part 3]  [Lingerie - Part 4]  [Lingerie - Part 5] 

Part 5 - Flaming Youth Becomes Dignity Conscious

In no way, however, has Marjarie become more "dignityconscious" than in the matter of her nightgown.

As Dickens somewhere recounts with infinite zest, we have all had the mortifying experience in a dream of making a public appearance clad with woeful inadequacy in our nightdress. This is a situation interesting to consider in relation to the period in which the dreamer is caught out in her nightdress. For instance, in The Lady's Pictorial of August 30, 1922, appears an illustration of a garment described as "a nightie carried out in the finest linen lawn trimmed with rrnbroidery and lace." Entirely sleeveless, with a rather ample "V" neck, enfolding the body with an effect decidedly negligee, this nightie of only little over ten years ago is not calculated to make love appear ridiculous. At the same time, it is apparent enough that the wearer would feel like a zany, or worse, to find herself thus attired at noon on her way, say, through the Grand Central Station.

Marjorie's nightgowns were long during the era when her skirts were short. Around 1926 nightgowns reached from shoulder to ankle. By then it had become the thing to use Only silken threads as fine as gossamer for the upper part. The scantier the garment was over the shoulders the more beautiful it was considered. Even white muslin nightgowns, mill shipped in small lots to those sections of the country where steam heat had not yet penetrated, had parted from ilrcir onetime elaborate collars.

But nightgowns, the student learns, were not a "fashion point," were not discussed in "fashion circles," when skirts were short. Skirts, as we know, did not come down all round at once. First phase, became a little longer at the back. When tlre back of dresses dipped, then nightgowns became a "fashion item."

Nightgowns, as we see, are now manufactured to resemble dresscs-evcning dresses; to copy the "flattering" aspects of clrcsscs. They are fashioned to make the figure appear at its best. Since they have beccome formally decorative they are longer than before-reach the floor. Cut on bias lines, moulded to the body. Almost could be worn as evening gowns, the better ones. But the other grades copy the more costly ones.

Note contemporary Marjorie in a batiste nightgown printed with salmon pink roses and green leaves on a white ground, bound with salmon color and having a belt with a bow at the back. No hem. Sleeveless, with something like butterfly wings at the shoulders. Or, again, in a gown of peach-colored chiffon trimmed with white lace, with tiny puffed sleeves, and a sash that ties in the back. Save for some slight consciousness of the thinness of the material, a lady need not be disturbed by dreaming that she appeared in either of these exceedingly graceful, sweeping costumes in the dining room of the Hotel Marguery.