Black Silk & Embroidered Tulle Bra & Tap Pants by Owl Make

Black Silk & Embroidered Tulle Bra & Tap Pants by Owl Make, c. 1920s, USA. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 1920s

Origin: United States

Fabric: Silk and tulle

Brand: Owl Make

 

A bandeau-style bra and tap pant set, most likely from the mid to early 1920s. The bra’s simple shape was designed to flatten the bust into the fashionable ‘boyish’ silhouette. The tap pants are an early version of the style, constructed as a half slip with a single piece of ribbon stitched between the legs. This style of tap pant represented one of the first commonly worn style of underwear that incorporated a closed gusset for women, as previously only ‘open’ drawers had been viewed as acceptable.

Both garments are constructed out of a crisp taffeta style silk and embroidered tulle. Both garments fasten with hooks and eyes, at the centre back for the bra and the side seam for the tap pants. Silk ribbonwork rosettes and bows decorate the set.

They are machine sewn, using both a lockstitch and  delicate zigzag stitch. Both pieces were originally sewn with neat and accurate stitching, but a later home alteration is visible on the bra’s hook and eye fastening through its contrast thread and relatively inaccurate stitching. The scalloped hem of the tap pants is achieved with a very narrow zigzag along the fabric’s edge, giving a clean and delicate finish. The binding on the bra is finished with a ‘stitch in the ditch’ technique, for an invisible stitch finish on the garment exterior. Such techniques suggest that these were high end garments as they would have required a skilled machinist to execute.

 

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska