Embroidered Rayon WWII Souvenir Lingerie Set

Embroidered Rayon WWII Souvenir Lingerie Set, c. 1940s, East or Southeast Asia. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 1940s

Origin: East or Southeast Asia

Fabric: Rayon satin

Brand: Unknown

 

This embroidered satin bra and brief set was part of the ‘Souvenir’ lingerie trend from the end of the Second World War. Following the surrender of Japan, many US servicemen were stationed at bases across East and Southeast Asia. Demand for souvenirs quickly grew, with many soliders purchasing gifts for their sweethearts, either to be posted or gifted upon their return. Rayon satin and silk lingerie sets were often embroidered with tongue-in-cheek messages, floral or dragon motifs, and occasionally the army base location and year.

This example is created in a pale blue rayon satin. The bra is embroidered with the message ‘Sweet/Sour/Don’t Touch’ with a heart motif. The knickers are embroidered with the message ‘Keep Your Pants On Until I Come Home/Off Limits’ with a floral motif. The inclusion of a zipper in the knicker crotch further re-enforces this embroidered message.

It is worth noting that these sets were likely intended as a lighthearted joke rather than for actual wear. Indeed, the cut and construction of this particular set makes it near impossible for a human body to actually wear the garments; the bra has no opening with only a small strip of elastic at the centre back, and the knickers have such a short yet wide cut through the gusset and no stretch that they’d be near impossible to get onto a human body.

 

From the collection of The Underpinnings Museum

Museum number: UM-2017-038

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