Pale Blue Satin Cathedral Bra By St. Michael

Pale Blue Satin Cathedral Bra By St. Michael, c. 1950s, Great Britain. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

Date: c. 1950s

Origin: United Kingdom

Fabric: Nylon

Brand: St. Michael


This Cathedral style bra (so named for the bone structures resembling the arches within cathedrals) uses a base fabric of pale blue nylon satin with a ‘window’ of nylon lace at the top of the bust. The cut of the bra and delicate steel boning help the bustline to form a lifted and separated shape, with a gentle point (in line with the idealised fashionable silhouette of the 195os).

The bra has very little stretch, relying on a small strip of elastic at the centre back for a small amount of fit flexibility. This elastic strip has been hand altered in, suggesting that it may have stretched out excessively with prolonged wear. The bone channels and top and bottom edges are taped with a cotton bias tape, with an additional decorative picot edge trip at the neckline.

The bra is sized by overbust measurement (34″) with a ‘medium’ cup size referring to the body proportions. It could be argued that this bra is equivalent to approximately a modern 34B bra, though the lack of underwire structure makes the fit a little more flexible.

‘St Michael’ was the brand name used by Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, between the years of 1927 and 2000. The name was viewed as a guarantee of quality, and applied to a range of products from clothing to food. Marks & Spencer was founded in 1884, as a market stall in Leeds, UK, opened by a Polish refugee called Michael Marks. Marks & Spencer is renowned for revolutionising many areas of British fashion, and was one of the first retailers to open its own research laboratory for fabrics in 1934.

A pattern for this garment can be purchased here. 


From the collection of Karolina Laskowska

Museum number: KL-2017-119


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