Last Tuesday, Karolina and I arrived at Coffee, Cake and Kisses to see who would manage to battle crazy work schedules, inexplicable hailstones, and broken trainlines to meet up with us and talk tea and knickers. We were totally going to get some work done but instead this happened:
Catherine's vintage basque on Karolina
People puttered in out of the rain after a bit and it turns out there's basically no end of stuff we can say about undies!
Here's just a random selection of stuff we covered:
1) Definitely we all want a chocolate brownie
2) There's a lingerie shop in Islington called Design Also that looks like it's closed from the outside, but inside, there's a lady who is probably well past retirement age and has both decades of fitting experience and a huge pile of stock. If you hate looking through stuff, go see her. She'll disappear into a pile of boxes you can barely move between and come back with something interesting, most likely. She also sells tiaras. No, I don't know why. Honestly it really reminds me of the Mr Benn cartoon from the 1980's. I wouldn't be surprised if you can enter another world from there.
3) We're all looking forward to seeing the Undressed exhibit at the V and A, but also, it apparently has some limitations. Join us if you want to see more vintage pants and ask questions about cultural issues!
4) Karolina and Lori can talk about the history of pants forever. I'm just going to try and video them next time to get the benefit for everyone.
5) Vintage bras have almost nothing in common with modern bras.
Would you know these were both bras?
6) In the 1920's, US people spent, on average, about 15% of their gross income (before tax, bills etc) on clothing, including underwear. Do you spend that much on clothes and undies now?
7) Historically as with clothing, most people would sew or alter their own underwear. The finishes on underwear were almost entirely done actually by hand, no sewing machines, or using techniques we don't do any more now because of the cost of labour.
8) Really old lingerie can be damaged by touch, so it stays in bags and you use cotton gloves to handle it.
9) Yes, 50's bras really were a pointy cone, done by a spiral of stitching. This was achieved using a special machine, which no-one seems to have any more - modern replicas seem to be concentric circles instead.
10) Original 1950's Playboy Bunny corsetted bodysuits costs thousands and thousands of pounds now, and corset bodysuits are no longer terribly popular because, well, basically, don't even talk to us about going to the loo in them. But if you want one, I believe Sian Hoffman still does corset bodysuits.
Say hi if you were there and let us know what you remember, or let us know if you didn't make it and would like us to do another!