The Power of a Vintage Slip

Elizabeth-Taylor-Cat-on-a-Hot-Tin-Roof-slipvan_raaltesaramaeFrankly, this post should probably begin and end with that photo of Elizabeth Taylor.  That alone should be enough to send you straight to google to find one for yourself.

But just in case you are still skeptical, let me tell you about my love of vintage slips.  I bought my first lace-trimmed fitted full-slip when I was 16.  I needed it to go under a dress I’d bought which was too sheer. Now, even back in 1987, these were getting scarce.  You could only find them at larger department stores, and most of them were pretty basic – i.e. ugly.  The only one I liked was a classic black one by Wondermaid.  At the time I was irritated because the smallest size – “small” wasn’t at all fitted on me.  Of course now I’m delighted because – get this – TWENTY-SIX YEARS later I’m still wearing that slip.  On a regular basis.  And it still looks great.  Only now I’m 3 sizes larger with the body of a mature woman, so it looks much more like La Liz.

And here’s the thing:  not only has that slip suffered nearly 30 years of constant use with grace and elegance, it still makes me feel sexy.  My clothes fit better over it.  I don’t have to worry about sunlight or random breezes exposing anything other than a flash of 6-inch lace trim.  And the kicker is that MY HUSBAND thinks it’s really sexy.  There is a big difference between taking off your dress to expose bra, knickers, and pantyhose, and slipping of your dress to expose a sexy slip.  Furthermore, it’s not just men who have this reaction.  Every time I’ve shown my slip to a woman, she’s gasped and said how lovely it is.

barbizonkaymarOnce upon a time, every woman would have had several of these.  Usually she’d have one to match every dress.  Some were strapless, some were short, some were long.  They would be dyed to match the color of the dress, so they might be red or orange or green or purple.  Some had crinolines attached to make a full skirt poof out, others were fitted and lean.  I don’t know why, but for some reason they fell out of use around the same time as garter belts and girdles.  Garter belts were rendered unnecessary by the invention of pantyhose.  Girdles were replaced with gym memberships and clothing with lycra.  I have NO idea why slips suffered the same fate as their compadres, as they were replaced with … nothing.

In fact, now that most clothing manufacturers are operating on such slim profit margins, they don’t bother with any of the old details like linings.  Which, in my opinion, makes slips more necessary than ever!

Benefits of wearing a pretty slip:luxite

  1. They ensure that you won’t suffer from overexposure in the face of sunlight or a flashbulb (see the horror for yourself), or the indignity of a swift breeze up your skirt.
  2. They provide a smooth line over your bra/knickers/hosiery, so your dress will lay better and won’t show as many lumps and bumps.
  3. Ones made out of nylon (as they were in the 1950s and 60s) will protect against static cling (more modern polyester ones actually make this problem worse).
  4. They provide a barrier between your skin and your clothes, so your clothes won’t have to be washed or dry-cleaned as often.
  5. They make it easier to quickly try on clothes at a shop.  Many times I’ve just pulled off my old dress and put on the new one, without bothering to go to the dressing room – because I know my slip has me covered!
  6. They look really sexy and make you feel confident and empowered.

movie_star_slipWhat’s the downside?  None, really.  I wash mine in the machine with my other clothes, making sure any bra hooks are done up so they don’t snag on the lace, but I NEVER, EVER PUT THEM IN THE DRYER.  The heat from your dryer is kryptonite to your clothing, particularly anything with lace or stretch.  Just hang it up and it will be dry in an hour.  Just doing that has kept my favorite slip going for 26+ years, so I’d say it’s worth it.

About 10 years ago I decided to start collecting more slips like my beloved black one, and I was shocked by how easy they were to find, what great condition many are still in (you can still find them unworn, in their original packaging), the fabulous construction and details, and how inexpensive they are.  At the time, I got most of them for about $15.  Now, you might have to go up to $50 or $60 for a really spectacular example in perfect condition, but most are still under $25.

HOW DO I FIND THESE FABULOUS THINGS? I hear you shouting at your computer.  Honestly, it’s as easy as typing “vintage slip” into google.  I had planned to give specific sources, but there are more people out there selling them now, and who you buy from will be dependent on where you live, so I’m just going to advise.

  • eBay is an excellent place to look.  Type in “vintage slip” or go to vintage women’s clothing and search for “slip.”  The largest stock is, of course, in the USA, but because they are small and light, overseas shipping charges from America aren’t too bad – they shouldn’t ever be over $10 for just a slip.  I just checked and there are loads there to choose from!sliperfection
  • I’ve found a specialist seller on Etsy called DreamDate who seems to have a good selection and reasonable prices.  She’s based in the UK, and has an informative blog as well (from which I snatched most of these fabulous vintage ads, heh heh!) (BONUS: she’s offering 10% off to anyone using the code DANAFORLANO at checkout!)
  • Vintage fairs and markets.  The last time I was at Portobello, there was a seller under the tent at the end with hundreds of them.  I’ve also seen them at Camden.

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

  • Vintage slips are sized by bra size, i.e. 32, 34, 36, 38.  Basically, 32 is XS, 34 is S, 36 is M, 38 is L, 40 is XL.  I’m a size US8/10, UK 12/14, and I have slips from size 34 to 38.  The 34′s are snug and sexy (like the photo of Liz Taylor), the 38′s are a bit loose.
  • The prettiest and best-quality brands I’ve encountered are Kayser and Van Raalte, so keep an eye out for those, but Barbizon and Vanity Fair are also excellent brands with a good quality reputation.
  • Look for a nylon slip from the 50′s or 60′s, and avoid the silky polyester ones from the 70′s and 80′s.  The former were designed to be practical and functional.  The latter were purely for fun.  They won’t have the same fit, won’t be the same quality, and will probably generate enough static electricity to run your TV for a week.
  • vanity_fairTake your time to find the right one.  You’re probably better off starting with one in black, cream, or white.  Don’t spend a lot of money unless you’re really sure about it.  If you wear dresses as often as I do, you’ll end up buying more than one, and you’ll learn what brands you like, what size fits you best, and what styles you like.  I have one exactly like the “Movie Star” ad above which I wear under dresses with fuller skirts, and a bit of the lace sometimes shows past the hem.  One of my most practical (not to mention beautiful) ones is actually pale aqua with beige lace appliqued on the bust and hem.
  • Watch out for repairs or alterations.  Any reputable seller will mention this, and should show close-ups.  I have some which have been expertly altered, but I’ve also received some which looked like the seams were stitched up by a 5-year-old with mismatched thread.
  • Don’t forget to look at half-slips too!  If you wear more skirts than dresses, those may end up being more practical for you.  Personally, I wear my full slips under skirts as well, as they act as camisole AND slip, without any cutting elastic around the waist.  But you have to decide what’s best for you.
  • Don’t be frightened off if you never wear dresses.  These make pretty good nightgowns, too.  And you never know, I might convince you to put on a dress eventually.
  • Remember to never ever put them in the dryer, and they’ll probably outlive you.

 

Well, that’s it.  I hope I’ve convinced you.  I hope you have fun finding your perfect slip, and that you love it as much as I love mine.  However, I also hope you don’t all become crazed connoisseurs who buy up all the remaining good ones and drive up the prices for me!  I’ll leave you with this:

27 Comments

on “The Power of a Vintage Slip
27 Comments on “The Power of a Vintage Slip
  1. Pingback: » Boy, is there egg on my… face. - Dana Forlano

  2. I have a question! Given that summer is trying its hardest to happen, how do nylon slips fare in hot weather? If it’s pushing 30degrees, am I better off just staying cool in a cotton dress without a slip?

    • That’s an excellent question. I grew up in Kansas, where it regularly got up to 40 centigrade in the summer, and we actually had cotton slips. While they were cooler, my experience was that they tended to stick to the clothes and weren’t very practical. Personally, now living in England, I find it never gets hot enough for me to venture out without a slip. They actually keep your clothes from sticking to you, and while I might get a bit damp under the slip, it’s really no damper than I’d be without the slip, but the slip keeps the sweat away from my clothes so I don’t look damp. I’ve even worn them in Egypt and Morocco. I really love maxi dresses and full skirts in the summer, as they provide their own breeze and ventilation… but I still always wear a slip with them!

      Have you ever heard of “disco butt”? It was a phenomenon in America in the 1970′s. People would wear skin-tight polyester all night in hot sweaty nightclubs, and they’d get terrible rashes and acne on their bottoms. Really! However, in all the decades of women wearing nylon slips, in all MY decades of multi-continent slip-wearing, I’ve never heard of an issue, and I’ve never had an issue myself.

      I’d put it down to a personal choice. I would never pick on you for venturing outside without a slip (“Oh, she’s not a laaaaaaay-deeee!” I hear myself say, like David Walliams), I just want for you to make those decisions consciously.

      • Disco butt? Ew! I now have car crash curiosity and want to Google it. Though maybe not on my work computer. …! I’ll update you when I get my slip then, thanks for the super comprehensive answer xxx

  3. Snatching my vintage slip ads?! Oh well – seeing as they were not exactly mine in the first place, just give it three Hail Mary’s and you’re forgiven lol! It was great to read your article on ‘The Power of a Vintage Slip’ and, like you, I can only wonder as to why such beautiful and useful things have been neglected for so long. Fortunately the tide seems to be turning – oh so slowly – but the recent rise in interest for slips is definitely linked to the rediscovery of glamour.

    As a girl who has well over 5000 vintage slips to her name, can I quickly add to your list of brands to look out for? How about Lady Lynne (USA), Lora (France), Lejaby (France), St.Michael (bearing the blue label, UK), Munsinwear (USA), Lora (USA), Wyl (France), Charmor (Germany) – to name but a few. These manufacturers didn’t just ‘make’ – they created.

    Oh – just before I go – can I sing the praises of Perlon as an alternative to Nylon? Look out for Perlon fabric slips. Don’t get me wrong, nylon slips are great in every sense but Perlon is thinner, softer, silkier, more resistant to snagging, better UV screening, and holds pastel shades far better than nylon. Just Google ‘perlon slips’……

    Readers of the Dana Forlano blog get 10% discount in my DreamDate store too – just use the coupon code DANAFORLANO at checkout :-)

    Byeeeee………..Emma

    • Thanks so much for commenting! I’ve noticed that you are an absolute fountain of knowledge on the topic, so thank you thank you thank you! My hope was that I’d generate enough business for you that you’d forgive me for snatching the photos. Definitely passing on the coupon… and likely to use it myself!

  4. Pingback: Dana Forlano | What I Wore 2 October 2013: Fruit Salad

  5. Nothing a female puts on her body can compare in sensuality and sexual impact more than the right slip. Slips are not only functional but very sexual and females ought to realize it.

  6. Dana, WOW!! I love your blog. There’s a lot I could say but let me comment on your black wonder maid. I have 5 black wms; 2 of poly satin. The other 3 of the most sensuously, silky nylon that wm was known for in the 80s, as you know. Can you describe your slip? You called it “classic.” Classic wms had the most beautiful lace trims what they called D’antelle a la Francaise. Let me know.

      • I have more than a few Wondermaids, all full in colours such as peach, caremel cream, claret, pink, red, navy, etc. WM was the last bastion of beautiful slips in the spirit of what was available in the 50s & 60s. And they were very affordable.

        BTW, I wanted to put out there my 2 cents about your question about why slips fell out of favour. The women’s lib movement of the late 60s had a lot to do it; women wanted to be more like men and didn’t want to be sex objects. What does a pretty slip do? It makes you feel MORE feminine and look and feel MORE sexy. By the early 90s when the last WMs were gone from the stores, all those hardcore feministas could have celebratedbeing one step closer to their utopia.

        • Interesting theory. Wouldn’t it be great if we could pinpoint the cultural moment when that shift happened? Like Clark Gable removing his shirt to show a bare chest underneath in “It Happened One Night” pretty much ended the men’s undershirt business overnight. Just for fun, I’m going to blame Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct.”

          In all seriousness, though, I think spandex is the real villain here. I don’t think women turned their backs on slips to be less feminine, I think they abandoned them for skin-tight bandage dresses.

          Just talking about them makes me itch for more. I’m off to eBay. Show me the crystal pleats!

          • Dana, how exciting!! Please let me know what you come up with. Are you looking for a basic black or white or a pretty pastel or perhaps a racy red?

            Speaking of spandex, did you know that the woman who invented Spanx has made billions?

            And Liz, I’ve always wondered what fabric her famous slips are made from. It looks like it could be taffeta (yuk). I like to think it’s a deliciously slinky & silky nylon tricot (yum).

  7. I have more than a few Wondermaids, all full in colours such as peach, caremel cream, claret, pink, red, navy, etc. WM was the last bastion of beautiful slips in the spirit of what was available in the 50s & 60s. And they were very affordable.

    BTW, I wanted to put out there my 2 cents about your question about why slips fell out of favour. The women’s lib movement of the late 60s had a lot to do it; women wanted to be more like men and didn’t want to be sex objects. What does a pretty slip do? It makes you feel MORE feminine and look and feel MORE sexy. By the early 90s when the last WMs were gone from the stores, all those hardcore feministas could have celebrated being one step closer to their utopia.

  8. Pingback: Functional and Stylish Ladies Slips | Plus Size Coctail Dresses Site

  9. hi.i really love these articles… as my name suggests i do jerk off on slips a lot. question is that how to i prevent cotton slips from being stained?

  10. I’m a woman of forty-two who is a former state beauty queen from mississippi. I’ve been blessed with three very beautiful daughters, all of whom are real “lookers” and like me, have a strong preference for wearing silky, lacy slips under their garments. They all seem to prefer wearing full length (3 or4inches above the knee) white silky form fitting garments with a high sheen and always with very delicate and intricate lacework on both the hem and bodice of their slips. Like me, each likes to expose a little bit of slip,including lacework from the back slit of their skirts so as to show it against the back of their legs as they walk around. This, together when they sit and give everyone a glimpse of their very sensual and sexual undergarments. You would be shocked and very much surprised at what a positive response this getsfrom both men and women. Several girls have taken to wearing slips and of course what guy doesn’t get excited? For those who who think slips are old fashion and out of date, my only relply is that no other garment can evoke such a excitement as the right slip on any woman, regardless of age. The slip is really a timeless undergarment with nothing to compare!

    • Donna, I live in California and suffice it to say that women here do not wear slips, at least in the traditional way. Is it a remnant of the Southern Belle mentality that makes it more likely to find young, attractive women still wearing these most delightful and exquisitely ultra-feminine under garments under their dresses in Mississippi? If you read this and care to respond, I’d be interested in knowing whether you and your daughters are wearing vintage slips. And if you are wearing some of the more lavish vintage slip styles, are you able to wear them under currently fashionable dress styles? Not that there’s anything wrong with vintage dresses – they are beautiful and were perfectly made to compliment the luscious lingerie styles of yesteryear. Since you are from the South, I’d also be interested in knowing whether you are familiar with ‘Southn Dreams.’ Southn Dreams was a couple of women who sold lingerie on Ebay and perhaps elsewhere. They were very comfortable modeling their slips and didn’t see the need to leaving their faces out of the shot. I don’t think they do anymore, haven’t seen them in a while, but they were beautiful ladies who clearly understood the feminie allure of the silky, lace lavished full slip. Happy Slipping!!

    • What an incredibly sexy story and image. I used to love to sit at the end seat at church so I could catch a glimpse of sexy lace as women walked past. Oh I miss those days and am so glad there are still women out there who understand how sexy a slip can be.

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