Colourful underwear

Whether you’re looking for a fluorescent orange bra, a turquoise suspender belt, or green stockings, you are more than likely to be able to locate a piece of underwear in your desired colour. All these colourful pieces of underwear made me wonder how extensive the colours were when it comes to underwear from the 1930s through to the 1970s. I also wanted to find out if certain colours were worn by certain people for particular events.

Looking through vintage undergarment listings on the internet, or digging through vintage shops, you are most likely to find girdles and bras in a peach/ salmon/ tea rose colour. This was a pretty standard colour for women to own and wear in the 30s, 40s and 50s. It was considered to be feminine, utilitarian and unassuming and would have been worn daily by the average lady.

This is my absolute favourite colour when it comes to foundations.


During the times of door-to-door underwear saleswomen, the corsetieres would need to wear the finest foundations to showcase their products. Once inside their potential customer’s home, the corsetiere would often remove her well-tailored skirt suit and show the wonderful effects of her girdle, longline bra, corselette etc. In order to keep her underpinnings looking pristine and in an attempt to hide stains or marks, she would choose black pieces rather than lighter colours.

As far as I can tell, black wasn’t a standard colour for women to wear under their clothes (although some women obviously would have). I have read that it was often priced higher than most other colours as it was considered to be both luxurious and racey. Black underwear was featured heavily in fetish photos from the 19th century, through the 20th century.


I am in possession of a stunning black girdle, but the colour is broken up by peach coloured flowers, which I suspect was to tone the raunch factor down a little! You can see the little flowers in the photo below.

A colour that always makes me dribble is navy blue, I don’t own any blue foundations but I really hope to one day. I found that this colour was very popular in France, right up until the 80s. Even more dribble-worthy is the fact these French foundations were often made of satin too. Navy. Satin. Satin. Navy. Satin. Yes, I like that idea a lot. I can’t find anything explaining why the French were so enamoured with this coloured, but I’m not complaining.


Unfortunately the 1970s happened and some brands (read Marks and Spencer) tried to funk things up with flowery patterns. Expensive embroidered fabric was out, and cheap printed fabric was in, and it looked something like this:


Basically in the 1970s, your knickers were quite likely to match the walls of at least one room in your house…


The problem with these foundations was that they weren’t particularly discreet, and could easily be seen through clothing. Apparently, some young women were banned from wearing bras with such visible print during exams as it was considered to be distracting! They would probably opted for something a little more… subdued, such as these gems:


Look at the three ladies on the left, dancing around in their undies!

The one colour that appears to have been present from the very start, until the current day is white. It was and still is worn by women of all ages, from all backgrounds, for daily underwear and for fetishwear. It’s a colour that doesn’t (in my opinion) age.



3 thoughts on “Colourful underwear

  1. My father married a lady who was in her early forties in 1952. Back then, women almost always wore nylon stockings when they left the house to shop or go someplace. Not all enjoyed having to slip into a girdle or garter (suspender to you) belt to hold their stocking up.

    Her solution was a product called “Suspants” by Blue Swan. It was a nylon brief with for detachable garters about four inches long. They were trolley garters so you could lengthen or shorten as the case may be. You could also add two garter tabs on the side giving you a total of six. The better to hold their stockings up and make sure the seams stayed straight.

    These briefs came in several various colours. White, of course, as well as pink, aqua blue, light green, yellow, and black.

    My stepmother had a pair of black ones with her others and wore them frequently.

    She also had several open bottom girdles which she really didn’t need as the had a great figure.

    I really enjoy your tales Elinor. as you might be able to ascertain, I love feminine lingerie and hosiery and enjoy seeing women wearing it.

  2. Dear Elinor, I would like to say thank you many times over! I’ll admit i am not into retro underwear, but i have found several of your tips extremely useful! like you made a point that a proper belt should sit on your natural waist and extend well down. Well my very first one was a “skimpy lace number”, which, of course, slid down my hips immediately! i lined it with some non stretchy fabric and am actually quite happy with it. but i bought a wider belt a couple days ago (in fact, i am wearing it for the first time today) and oh my god, what a difference! It sits slightly below the waist (which is how i want it), but the pressure from the stockings pulling down is nicely distributed across the hips and i can’t feel it at all!! Whoa. An altogether different experience!!
    something else you have mentioned though i did figure it out on my own: i keep buying tights since stockings, even modern ones, i find a bit on the expensive side, and simply cut off the shorts! I’ve always hates the tights’ shorts, too hot, too uncomfortable, too ugly (i have to cut the front seam a bit every time because i can’t stand my waist cinched). i thought they’d unravel immediately but they’re holding up nicely! amazing.
    last but not least, when someone asked you, BUT HOW DO YOU PEE IN THAT?? you gave an eye opening reply: if you wear knickers, you can wear them OVER the belt and never worry! well since then i’ve discovered that “tap pants” are a thing, i can sew pretty well so my stash of (very colorful!!!) silk satin is finally transforming into something delightful, and i have never been so happy to see the spring approaching, and with it, the skirt season! (oh and as far as tap pants are concerned, sarah chrisman said magic words in her “victorian secrets” book: SPLIT DRAWERS, and i’m absolutely thrilled to research them in detail – patterns etc, make them and absolutely wear them).
    i know that i would hate having to wear proper weight stockings every day – i remember my mom taking off all these “contraptions” and my little girl’s dismay at no escape from them when i grow older. these days, though, when i have a choice between my trusted cotton briefs and silk shorts/belt, it’s simply a fun thing to do. thank you again, you have been totally instrumental in arousing my interest in lingerie, i’m very happy to have found your blog and remain your very devoted follower.

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