Date: c. 1960s
Origin: United States
Fabric: Printed nylon & nylon lycra
Brand: Saks Fifth Avenue
This bright, floral bra set is a beautiful example of the 1960s trend for bold and colourful printed underwear. Constructed in a mix of soft, rigid nylon and nylon-lycra blend mesh (at the time an exciting and new fibre).
The bra is constructed with simple 2-part cups in rigid nylon, joined at the centre front with nylon strips for a graphic cut out effect. The silhouette offers a soft pointed bustline with subtle lift. The bra is relatively unstructured, using no wires or boning. The wings of the garment are made of stretch nylon-lycra, which has been print matched to the main nylon fabric. All of the cup hems have been taped over with nylon bias tape, whilst the stretch wing panel hems have simply been folded and zigzagged over. The bra fastens at the centre back with a satin ribbon loop leading to a hook and eye tape. The shoulder straps are mostly made of a nylon tube, with a small panel of elastic at the back of the garment. They are adjustable from the cup apex with enamelled metal rings and sliders.
The matching knickers are a bikini brief shape, offering a much skimpier cut to the standard high-waist knicker of the 1950s. They are made of matching printed rigid nylon throughout, with a gusset lining of the same fabric. They are elasticated at the waist and legs with picot-edged elastic, stitched on with a combination of lockstitch and zigzag stitch. A wider elastic is used at the waistline. The gusset of these knickers is much wider than in many modern knicker styles, offering more coverage.
The bra label features extensive information about the garment, almost in line with modern lingerie: ‘Fibre content on reverse side / Saks Fifth Avenue/ Corset Salon / Style 654 / Size 36B // Bust cups 100% nylon / Elastic 83% nylon 17% lycra spandex / RN 175RI’. The label also features the logo of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, once one of the largest USA labour unions. This union logo can also be found on one of the knicker labels, the others of which also show the Saks Fifth Avenue brand and the size ‘S’. The knickers additionally have their original shop and swing tags, which provide information on the size and return policy of the store.
From the collection of The Underpinnings Museum.