1920s Corset and Bra Combination

I don’t write a lot about lingerie because I rarely ever buy  it.  Not that I don’t have quite a bit of lingerie in my collection, I do.  It’s just that after years of collecting I have a fair amount of undies, and now I only buy to upgrade items or to fill a gap in my holdings.  Sometimes I’ll pick up something odd that I’ve never seen before.

That was the case with this bra/corset.  Corsets with bras are pretty common from the late 1940s and into the early 60s.  They usually have a very structured bra and elastic garters.  But this one is considerably older.

The bra section is covered with a type of lace that I see quite often in items from the 1910s and 1920s.   The shaping is very soft, much like the bras in the 1920s.

Both the front and the back are laced with cotton laces.  The eyelets are a silvery metal.  You can see that the side backs are boned.

The corset closes on the side with a row of hook and eyes.

The straps are a thick satin.  The ribbon trim at the top of the bra is typical of that found on 1920s lingerie.

I’ve looked through all my 1920s and early 30s sources and I could find nothing like it.  The modern brassiere was patented in 1914 by Mary Phelps Jacob, so I’m pretty sure this falls between 1915 and 1932.  Any thoughts?

 

18 Comments

Filed under Curiosities, Proper Clothing, Vintage Clothing

18 responses to “1920s Corset and Bra Combination

  1. S GEIGER

    Sorry I’m no help with this one. But I smiled when I saw it as my grandmother’s and great aunt’s corset were open garments that were closed with hooks and eyes and looked like they were ready for battle. Go ahead, laugh out loud. This is such a dainty garment. I’d wear ir and it’s lovely.

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  2. Alice McGary

    I can remember my mother always wore one of those stiff boned garments whenever she got dressed up. She called it her harness–which it seems to me to be a very fitting description. She wanted me to wear one when I was a teenager but was not successful. Then the Playtex company made a stretchy all-rubber undergarment and she bought one for me and tried to get it on me–what a painful nightmare that was. My skin was all red and bruised from pulling and yanking. That was the last corset ever for me.

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    • I cannot imagine wearing one of those rubber girdles. I see them advertised in vintage magazines and wonder about what they were thinking.

      For a while they were bringing big money on ebay. I don’t know if they are still an object of desire with some people or not.

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  3. Wow! This is nifty! And from a rather unexpected era!

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  4. Perhaps it is a custom or home made garment, for a specific request? Someone wanting a little more coverage and support, but not the whole Megilla like Janey and S Geiger’s descriptions? Possibly post-Edwardian but not quite the Flapper type? My grandmother wore the full bra/corset Brunhilda thing on Sundays, but rolled her stockings instead and didn’t clip them to the garters. She had been a Flapper and never got out of the habit! Her corset lived on a form during the week, used to just awe me when I was a little girl, then I grew up and had to wear something to keep my stockings up. I finally understood then why she didn’t wear hers all the time!

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  5. Beth Pfaff

    It must have been murder trying to deal with the hooks and eyes on the side. You either had to have been a contortionist or have someone help you do it!

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  6. Christina

    This is a short corselette. It is probably from the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. The lack of elasticated or rubber material may also suggest the WW2 period. What are the bones made of?

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    • I’m really so not a lingerie person, that I can’t argue effectively that I think it is older! So I’ll be expanding my catalog search to the later 30s. To be WWII, there is an awful lot of metal.

      I’m not sure about the boning. I’ll check it later as the corselette (love that word) is at my studio.

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      • Christina

        The bra shaping is shown in your photo Lizzie and it conforms to the change in the fashion silhouette in the 1930’s. If you look at a corselette from the 1920’s, 1928 to be precise you can see that the flattened, “boyish” shaping is still part of the construction;
        http://tinyurl.com/k4avzop

        Hope this helps.

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  7. Peter Pane

    I’m thinking the 30s on this one. Unless it is really unusual or has ‘homemade charm’, a label helps alot in dating an item – manufacturer, where made, patent # (really useful), fabric content, and if cup size isn’t noted. A bra doesn’t have to be old to be rare/valuable/collectable.

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  8. Peter Pane

    Another thought… designer labels like Quant, Trigere, Gernreich, Gaultier, Pucci and Esterel also adds a fun collector dimension. I also strongly recommend the book: UPLIFT: The Bra in America. THE best historical, social reference book on brassieres ever!! Thanks, as always, for posting!!

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  9. Peter Pane

    The famous Gernreich ‘monokini’ topless bathsuit of 1964 sold for $7500 a couple of years ago. I have 4 (3 different styles) of the bras he designed for Formfit Rogers… 2 still in original packaging. His patent #3338242 was awarded in 1967.

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  10. wow! what a rare fined, I love how everything was made with so much care back then. Even the straps are high quality, dion’t think today’s bra straps are made of satin!

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