The romanticism of vintage lingerie lingers long past the dates they were sewn. Perhaps not the everyday wear, which was patched and darned for practical reasons – but rather the lounging past, where one would be temporarily bedridden. She would remain close to her hairbrushes and powder room, and require some delicate habiliment as well.
Vintage bed jackets were frequently worn because while in bed, the lower part of the body was covered with blankets. In order to receive guests or sit up for a cup of tea, the bed jacket was donned for warmth as well as to create a more appealing image. Pretty things tend to cheer up a person who is sickly and shut in for periods of time.
Vintage full slips were often decorated with lace, plisse accents, fancy trim, and embroidery. It is not uncommon to find vintage slips with side or back zippers, making them more like a skimpy modern day dress than a slip. Some slips are elaborately made with lace insets and ruffled bottoms. In the thirties and forties, many of them were made with a bias cut similar to the dressmaking of the era. Other than fabrics and labels, a tip to help identify authentic full slips, is to look at the adjustable shoulder straps. The modern day reproductions have plastic hardware to adjust the straps, whereas vintage slips have metal ones.
Antique and vintage petticoats will often have a lace ruffle on the bottom, or layers of ruffles. The labels on vintage lingerie tend to be very small, often on an inside seam. Peignoir sets were common additions to the bride’s trousseau or honeymoon attire. These sets consisted of both a nightgown and a matching robe to wear over top. Both were adorned with matching ribbons and lace. Many of the peignoir sets were voluminous and flowing in style. They could be quite dangerous if worn near an open fire. One such account describes the death of the second wife of lyric poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Apparently the spark from a wood stove caught her long and flowing bed clothing on fire.
In the twenties and again in the sixties, there was a surge of popularity around the Asian aesthetic. Kimonos and kaftans were high fashion for the evening soiree. There has been a recurrent fascination for ethnic and exotic textiles from faraway lands. The high fashion trends often followed along the same lines and styles of home decor, to include elaborately hand painted teapots and vases from the Orient.