What to Wear Under your Vintage Dress

As vintage fashion becomes more popular it can be hard to see how the modern woman can actually fit into the shapes of vintage dresses. I used to have a job have involved finding the perfect lingerie to go under particular outfits so I know how tricky it can be! Women’s shapes have changed, but so has our underwear. In the early to mid twentieth century women wore a lot more under their clothes and this helped to create a far curvier silhouette. 1950s dresses for instance are often shaped to have a small waist but with a big bust and hips. Control lin!erie is one of the best ways to create this shape and it much easier to understand the shapes of vintage dresses by looking at what was worn underneath.

As the waif look dies out and women aspire for the curves of our foremothers, so control underwear has crept back into the shops. This Models One curvy model shot which seems to be everywhere at the moment goes to show the changing attitude towards the female body, but note that most of the models are wearing some form of control lingerie to bring out the best of their curves.

So you’ve bought the perfect vintage dress but now for the tricky part… finding the perfect foundation garment to wear underneath. There are 5 items that I think every woman needs tucked away in her drawer which will solve all possible dress disasters they are…

1. High waisted waist cincher knickers – perfect for circle and full-skirted dresses with nipped in waists.

2. A fitted light control full slip – perfect for wiggle dresses and pencil skirts

3. A light half slip – perfect for wearing dresses and skirts with tights and stockings to stop them sticking

4. A strapless longline bra or basque – will stay in place better than a strapless bra and give a better shape, a basque will cinch the waist in and give a smoother line, and some come with a low back for those tricky dresses that you can’t find the perfect bra for.

5. A girdle – This is a very old-fashioned foundation garment which holds everything in, they mostly come with suspenders and are worn over your normal knickers. The advantage of a girdle is that many old dresses were made when everyone wore these so they really do the trick. They are also perfect for hooking stockings to for a more authentic vintage feel.

Here are some of my favourite foundation garments from a selection of retailers…

For control wear Marks and Spencer have a great range with a solution for every problem area.

1.Light Control Rose Lace Waist Cincher2.Light Control Rose Lace Full Slip3.Glamour Waist Sculpt™ Wear Your Own Bra Slip

4.Firm Control Pencil Skirt Slip5.Glamour Waist Sculpt™ Girdle6.Glamour Waist Sculpt™ Pencil Waist Slip

1. Light Control Rose Lace Cincer £22.50 2. Light Control Rose Lace Full Slip £37.50 3. Glamour Waist Sculpt Wear Your Own Bra Slip £32.50 4. Firm Control Pencil Skirt Slip £29.50 5. Glamour Waist Sculpt Girdle £22.50 6. Glamour Waist Sculpt Pencil Waist Slip £19.50

This Marks and Spencer video talks you through 3 shapewear solutions

If your looking for a little luxury the Empreinte Dreamcurves range from Rigby and Peller has some gorgeous lingerie solutions, I love the old fashioned look of these.

Empeinte Dreamcurves High Waist Brief £74.95 Rigby and Peller

For a bit of glam on a budget New Look have a very pretty range of shapewear that you wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in…



1. Monochrome Floral Print High Waist Shapewear Briefs £7.99 2. White Lace Waist Nipper £16.99 3. Black High Waisted Lace Shorts £9.99 4. Black and Cream Lace Shapewear Waist Briefs £9.99 All Available here

If your going for an authentically vintage look then the best place to look is What Katie Did, who sell reproduction vintage lingerie…

This Torsolette costs £75 and is available here

I hope this post has helped answer a few lingerie questions. I’m going to try and do a post showing which lingerie is best for different styles of dress but we’ll save that for another day. If you have any questions regarding lingerie please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer!


  1. Jessica Cangiano February 12, 2013 / 7:44 pm

    Stellar post! I swear by vintage and vintage appropriate undergarments like these to no end. I’ve been wearing them for many years and honestly find most work better on my (short, curvy) frame than their modern equivalents.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Lou December 28, 2016 / 3:24 am

    Hello… I always have a problem finding foundation garments that nip my waist enough without creating bulges in other places…mainly around the mid and upper back. Do you have any recommendations?

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