Foundation Garments: daily wear

I am VERY pro-foundation garment. And I will say this unequivocally, you WILL need to wear one (some) if your goal is to achieve the vintage ascetic.

My personal gripe is seeing someone wear an adorable vintage 40s dress and have it be so skin tight that the person is afraid to move in it. Know that a garment measurement is totally different from YOUR measurement.

But personal gripe aside, also take ease into consideration when you make a dress based on foundation garments.

When I made my duct tape dress form (hi, Onda), I was wearing my everyday dress foundation garments. Why? Because I always slip those on when I check a dress in progress for it. All the pictures that I take of me in my clothes, Im waring them. My measurements with and without them are a bit different. Not so much in how big I am, but in how things drape.

I know women who get angry at me when I mention my emphatic approval of foundation garments. "Why do you want to look different?" "Why do you want to change your body?"

Everyone wants to change their body.

I look at it this way. I dont see foundation garments as a way of changing my body from something I dont like, but more of making my body look its best. I dont see them as alteration tools, but enhancers. Their goal is to smooth my lines. Whether they make you smaller is beside the point, a smooth silhouette is far more appealing to the drape of your clothing than a lumpy one, no matter your size.

I dont change my foundation garments based on era. I cant do 20s boobs, too saggy for me. Ive determined a fairly standard shape for myself (Onda) and I make my clothing to compliment that. Ive had to alter some styles to accommodate, but I rather do that than have it be the other way around.

I also have some fairly strict criteria when it comes to foundation garments:



-Ease of bathroom use

-My thighs cant touch

All of these criteria have to be met every single time, especially the last one. The LAST thing I want is chafing for a week because I was too vain and thought I could go without, which Ive done, and I regretted. Tis the challenge with being 'stout'.

I dont own a girdle. Not that I dont want one, I do! I just have an odd shape and the ones Ive had never fit in the waist, or hips, or bust. Well geeze, whats the point then?!

But I have some criteria anyway, and although these look awesome, and I secretly hold out for the warehouse to be found where they were made so the patterns can be reissued (far easier to find a corset pattern than a girdle one), I try and make due. Here are some of my ways.

Here are some examples of some of the foundation garments I wear for my everyday dresses. I figure Ill go over why then as time goes on, list my more major stuff.

A good bra. A classic bra. A granny bra.
I wear this Glamorise daily.

It is one of the most classic shaped bras around. Your breasts are not to round, or too pointy, or too saggy, or show too much cleavage. You didnt see much of the girls in vintage wear. I LOVE this bra, and I got my correct size. GET FITTED!!!! I can not stress this enough. I am a 38I in this bra. Would I have know that on my own, of course not! Go out of your way to do it if you have too. Pay to have it done if need be. It is the only sure fire way to improve your posture, silhouette, even your feeling about yourself. Try tons of bra types on by different makers (sizes will vary) and get the one you like that fits the best.

Once you have done that, Id say next is to invest in some t shirts.

Thats right. You know how most vintage dresses can have nasty pit stains, well some lady didnt wear her shields. I dont bother with that because I dont like my bare skin touching a garment I worked 12 hours on. I cut all my clothing with a bit more ease so I can wear a cotton t shirt beneath.

I have a closet full of them. Three different types, all mens basic cotton t-s.

One for winter, long sleeve crew neck.

One for general everyday, a basic v neck.

And more fitted (size medium) with an altered neckline to remain hidden beneath all of my dresses.

No matter how formal I am, I am always wearing one of these. I would rather pay $8 and wear these out in a year than have ruined a really pricy fabric dress with my BO and stuff.

Cotton t shirts are my everyday wear. Im in one now! To clean them, I do soak all my cotton whites in an oxygen soak for 24-48 hours before laundering them. They always come out clean and white as can be!

They are light, breathable, and classic. This is me with no foundation garments on (sans my bra).

So I got the bra, I got the t shirt, I wear cotton undies, mostly Hanes (high cut), but now is the time to tell you about my secret weapon. Its a modern cheat, but all's fair in love and foundation garments.

I LOVE these. Love them. They are breathable, comfortable, I can go to the ladies in them rather easily, and they keep my thighs from touching. PLUS, they offer great support for daily wear and keep me shaped up rather nice. Perfect. I cut them off right above the knee (the extra from the legs cut into pieces make great pony tail holders) and trim the legs with lace so they dont ride up. I tend to wear two: the one touching my skin is a size under the top one. I know, it seems like a lot of work, but its a breeze. I can wear them 12-15 hours without feeling crazy. Id call that a win.

JMS doesn't have them on their site. I know, right!? I have only been able to find them at CVS drugstores. They run from $6-$8 a pair.

Last would be the slip.

Ive made some half slips from cheap fabric and gave them an elastic waistband. They are great. Yes, you NEED a slip.

Thats about it for my daily wear. On my next installment, Ill cover formal/evening wear.


  1. Wow you're devoted! I really like the T shirt tip to protect nice dresses from pit stains - in AZ where it's hot 3/4ths of the year, thats a very useful idea. Thank you!

  2. Seeing I own 3 of your dresses, I now know how to look after them alot better (gotta buy more t-shirts)! I also wish I could get those "smoothers" in Australia.

  3. To me wearing foundation garments isn't about trying to squeeze a size 20 body into a size 10 dress it's just about smoothing out the lumps, bumps and rolls so that they dont ruin the line of a dress. I wore them even when I was a size 10/12. Modern shapewear is so easy to wear too.
    The tee shirt idea is a good one I will definitely try. I did start sewing homemade shields into all my tops but life is too short! I bought a lovely vintage blouse from Ebay once and discovered it was very badly stained on the inside. Fortunately it was washable so I rubbed baking soda into the stain before hand washing - had to do it twice as it was obviously a very old stain - it came up a treat. I would only try this on white washable fabrics though!
    I just want to take the opportunity to add that I have been following your blog from the start - so interesting and helpfull - and real (if you know what I mean!).

  4. What a great post .I didn't know that JMS had smoothers in Capri's ! I'm making a dressform as well,and this was just so timely and very helpful such a clever, idea. Thanks so much!


  5. WOW!!!! That's a lot of effort. I thought I put in loads of attention to detailing but you have me beat hands down!

    One of my pet peaves is bras shopping. I to am a 38I. But store want to sell you what they have and not what you need. They try to sell you on going up on the band size so you cn reduce the cup. That doesn't work. When you lift your arms the girls fall out. And I hate the mushy uni-boob that sales people try to sell you. Either they don't know or they don't care. SMH....

    I lobe goddess bras for the same reasons you have stated. Great support and your boobs do look like freaks.

    Very Nice Post!!! I hope people are paying attention.


  6. Wow interesting. I thought I was the only person who wore shapers AND a slip everyday. I cannot live without my slips.

  7. Thanks everyone. I thought this post was all over the place.
    I dont consider it a lot of work, just the summation of a lot of trial and error.

  8. But don't you get really warm in the summer? If I wore that much underneath my dresses I would just sweat right through the white t-shirt and stain the dress anyway. And I'm in Sweden, we don't really have hot weather or high humidity. Also, where do your garter belt and hose go, or do you only wear them for special occasions?

  9. Id rather soak the white t than my dress. Its a first line of defense thing. I dont do a shaper on super hot days, I wear breeches like these

    and LOTS of dresses in hot weather. As for garter stuff, Im gonna do that in a later post.

  10. Oh, those look so comfy!

  11. Thanks for talking about this. I got properly fitted for my bras after having my children and discovered what a huge difference a properly fitted, comfortable bra made in my day. It looks so much better under my clothes too.

    The t-shirt idea is a great one. I'm a totally novice sewer so I haven't actually made a vintage dress yet (have some patterns though)and one of my concerns was how to protect something I spent that much time on from getting damaged right away.

    When I wear dresses or slacks (as opposed to my daily mom uniform of jeans and a t-shirt. Trying to change that by learning to sew!) I wear a knee length shaper. What a difference it makes in how smooth my lines look.

    You may have addressed this at some point but do you have any advice for a newbie on how to learn to adjust and fit patterns so that they are actually flattering? I'm a 18 in the bust but between a 20 and 22 in the waist and hips and I'm never sure how best to adjust a pattern so that it fits.

  12. Great post! I can't wait to hear about your evening wear strategies!

    About the girdle issue: I am a non-plus-size pear-shaped person and I can't find any girdles that work for me either. My preferred silhouette is 50's/60's full skirted dresses, so I just wear a waist cincher and a bra instead of a one-piece girdle. I think of it as a modular girdle. Bonus: no hassle in the ladies room!

  13. I love foundation garments. Every woman should have them. Every woman should wear them.

  14. Someday real girdles will come back into style and I ain't talking Spanks either!
    For bras, I go to BiggerBetterBras dot com or Figleaves. I'm a 40I, (and went up to a 42J when nursing)and they were the only places I could find regular, underwire bras big enough.

  15. I just found your blog through a Threads magazine compilation of independent pattern companies. I love your earnestness and acceptance regarding your body size. And your illlustrations are wonderful. Thats a lot of creativity packed into one person. Glad I found your site.

  16. Okay, I'm won over. Between your posts and all the stuff I have read about regency underpinnings I GIVE. I tell ya, I am really going to have to get a job to change my wardrobe over like my plans entail.

    Your breeches are too cute, NVL. I have a pattern from open crotch, back-in-the-day bum covers. Actually made a pair, put them in my closet and that's where they have stayed. Your words; however, reminded me how I actually do HATE my thighs sweating, rubbing, chafing and alla that. Those drawers actually fit the bill. Think I'll make more with a shorter leg and less frilly stuff; i.e., for daily practical wear.

    Your blog is the business. Keep up the good work.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


1940 (653) catalog Sunday (436) 1930 (402) dress (400) progress (216) suit (172) coat (158) repro (153) cotton (146) pattern (116) hat (111) blouse (110) shoes (107) 1950 (104) 1920 (99) etsy (94) jacket (88) Chicago Mail Order (87) personal (87) day dress (86) WWII (81) Lane Bryant (77) separates (75) Wards (72) illustration (72) gown (71) butterick (69) skirt (67) day project (66) fabric (66) simplicity (65) vintageville (65) nvl (63) McCall (62) foundation garments (62) linen (62) pants (59) homemaking (58) event (54) music (54) sweater (54) rayon (53) cocktail dress (52) dubarry (50) flower (48) accessories (47) house coat (46) cmo (45) Sears (43) playsuit (43) wool (42) stockings (40) slip (39) Spiegel (37) make and mend (36) 1960 (35) purse (35) advertisement (33) hollywood (33) holiday (32) pajamas (32) robe (32) apron (31) showcase (31) buttons (30) catalog (30) gloves (29) National Bellas Hess. (28) dance (27) denim (27) dust bowl (27) furniture (27) dyeing (26) Man Month (25) drawing (25) In Memoriam (24) costume (24) overalls (24) NRA (23) navy (23) underpants (23) 1930s (22) MnM11 (22) men (22) sew-along (22) bra (20) cloche (20) children (19) giveaway (19) patterns (19) royalchrome (18) sewing (18) craft (17) hair (17) hats (17) jewelry (17) mnm12 (17) nightgown (17) silk (17) stout (17) velvet (17) CVTotI (16) PPP (16) 1910 (15) 1940s (15) jacket in a week (15) lace (15) Air Raid (14) bathing suit (14) beret (14) cape (14) quilt (14) swimsuit (14) MnM13 (13) collar (13) lingerie (13) loungewear (13) mail order (13) pictorial (13) repair (13) advance (12) alteration (12) dress form (12) rick rack (12) scarf (12) seersucker (12) socks (12) sweaters (12) MnM14 (11) food (11) girdle (11) men's (11) plaid (11) wardrobe (11) New York (10) border print (10) cicada (10) depression (10) piping (10) redingote (10) the gardenia dress (10) tiki (10) uniform (10) 1970 (9) anne addams (9) cocktail (9) jimjams (9) red (9) smock (9) bag (8) corduroy (8) evening gown (8) excella (8) family (8) marian martin (8) panties (8) sale (8) shirt (8) sleeve (8) tweed (8) underdress (8) National Coat and Suit Company (7) bolero (7) crepe (7) design (7) embroidery (7) flapper (7) garter (7) halloween (7) just because (7) knitting (7) movie (7) novelty print (7) pleats (7) shopping (7) slippers (7) toys (7) vogue (7) Phantom of the Opera (6) bargain (6) brooch (6) calico (6) classic (6) coats (6) color (6) costuming (6) expo (6) glass (6) handkerchief (6) notions (6) restoration (6) shirtwaist (6) sick (6) sleepwear (6) theater (6) zipper (6) applique (5) architecture (5) blackface (5) body (5) book (5) boots (5) cat (5) chambray (5) cosmetics (5) fashion (5) house dress (5) jacket in a week 2 (5) jumper (5) little things (5) maternity (5) mock-up (5) museum (5) necktie (5) party (5) photos (5) pimp (5) sweater dress (5) vest (5) 1945 (4) 1980 (4) Montgomery Wards (4) belt (4) comments (4) dog (4) elastic (4) furnishings (4) housewares (4) monogram (4) monster making (4) pattern making (4) pets (4) revolution (4) scallop (4) ski suit (4) swing dress (4) tappants (4) vintage (4) watches (4) wedding (4) 1800s (3) 1900 (3) VPP (3) WWI (3) beauty (3) cookies (3) corset (3) cuff (3) darning (3) deco (3) dicky (3) doggie (3) ebay (3) groceries (3) lindy (3) shirring (3) shorts (3) sporty (3) styling (3) summer (3) teaching (3) turban (3) upholstery (3) viva (3) winter (3) 1990 (2) PDF (2) SAT (2) UK (2) adventure (2) beach pajamas (2) beer (2) bloomers (2) blue (2) books (2) cardigan (2) chair (2) commission (2) cooking (2) couch (2) detail (2) diner (2) doll (2) feedsack (2) fur (2) gowns (2) handmade (2) hiking (2) interview (2) kickstarter (2) learning (2) lucite (2) makeup (2) natural (2) nurse (2) nylon (2) outsize (2) pin-tucking (2) pique (2) playclothes friday (2) plus size (2) raglan (2) retro (2) rings (2) ruffles (2) satin (2) sequin (2) singer (2) slacks (2) snoods (2) stripes (2) sundries (2) superior (2) thrift (2) two-tone (2) wearing history (2) woman (2) women (2) workwear (2) year (2) yellow (2) yoke (2) ADSLA (1) Brian (1) Casts of Color (1) Facebook (1) Hart Schaffner n Marx (1) Lady Day (1) Promotion (1) Rowman's (1) San Francisco (1) Steampunk (1) apple (1) articles (1) atomic (1) awards (1) baby (1) bakelite (1) baking (1) bar (1) baseball (1) batman (1) bead (1) bed (1) bedspread (1) berthas (1) bike (1) birthday (1) black people (1) blogs (1) bracelets (1) braces (1) burda (1) candy (1) canned goods (1) caplet (1) christmas (1) cleaning (1) clock (1) closet (1) comic (1) cosplay (1) custom (1) decorating (1) disaster sewing (1) dressing gown (1) drinking (1) drop waist (1) fagoting (1) fat people (1) felt (1) flocking (1) flooring (1) fonts (1) footware (1) fruit (1) gadgets (1) godet (1) grading (1) guest comments (1) gusset (1) halter (1) history (1) hood (1) hosiery (1) hygiene (1) instructions (1) kitchen (1) lamp (1) landmark (1) lawn (1) masks (1) mensturation (1) mid-century modern (1) mirror (1) misses (1) muppet (1) needle (1) notches (1) pandemic (1) patternbook (1) pearls (1) pictures (1) plants (1) plus fours (1) pocket (1) portraits (1) puppet (1) radio (1) raincoat (1) recreation (1) refashion (1) ric rac (1) rugs (1) sailor (1) savings (1) sci-fi (1) serger (1) shades (1) sharkskin (1) shawl (1) skit (1) standard (1) store (1) suspenders (1) swing (1) table (1) textles (1) thread (1) tips (1) tote (1) tour (1) travel (1) tv (1) twill (1) type (1) umbrella (1) veil (1) video (1) vintage outing (1) white (1) wrap dress (1) writing (1) yay (1)