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Underwear in 1912

Discussion in 'Edwardian Fashion' started by Leigh Anthony Ross, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. I'm curious to know what men, women and children wore as underwear in 1912????
  2. Kyrila Scully

    Kyrila Scully Member

    A quick perusal of the National Cloak & Suit Catalog of the early 1900's shows advertisements for "drawers, chemises, corsets, petticoats, princess slips, camisoles, cotton vests and union suits."

  3. Men wore flannel or linen boxers, undershirts of flannel or cotton, and in winter those awful woolly things - union suits I think they were called, which had a panel for - shall we say - "necessity."

    Some very elegant men of course wore silk underthings - boxers, night shirts, robes. The Broadway producer Flo Ziegfeld had a partiality for silky underclothes, according to his wife Billie Burke. She said he was very fastidious about his underwear and night clothes - one would imagine he would have been since he spent so much time bed-hopping with his "Follies" stars! Poor Billie.

    As for the ladies: They wore corsets made of cord or silk in white or colors; corset covers or chemises in light, gauzy fabrics and usually trimmed in lace and ribbon; underdrawers or "knickers" (which reached to the knees) or else what was called a "combination" which was just what the word implies - a chemise and knickers in one.

    By the 1910s, women were wearing brassieres. These actually went OVER the corset and reached all the way to the waist! Because of the fashion for very narrow skirts, petticoats (in the old sense of ruffled, fluffy things) were quite "out" in 1912, having been replaced by the new-fangled straight slip. But many women wore no slip at all. In fact, in a "hobble skirt" - the most extreme version of the scant skirt fashion - it was impossible to wear anything under it but underdrawers (and even these had to be quite tight or else one would get unsightly bulges!)

    Women also wore cotton, lisle or silk stockings, held by garters. Sometimes these attached to the bottom of the corset which extended down over the hips.
  4. Tracy Smith

    Tracy Smith Member

    I'm thinking women would have had an awkward time of it using the bathroom while wearing the "combinations" you mention.
  5. Merry Xmas Tracy,

    Yes, the combinations could be a problem there unless they had an "access" panel!

    Warm regards,
  6. what about burlap underwear?
    Wasnt that the rage back then?


  7. Burlap??? Sounds...itchy! I doubt the fad lasted for long if it existed at all.
  8. Tracy Smith

    Tracy Smith Member

    I think Tarn was pulling our collective legs with the burlap reference. proud.gif
  9. I think you are right, Tracy. My fashion suggestion to Tarn is to try on a pair of burlap knickers. They're just the thing he needs to ... bring him up to scratch.
  10. >>They're just the thing he needs to ... bring him up to scratch.<<

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wink.gif
  11. I just can't imagine Lady Duff strutting in a pair of Victoria Secret pink lace bikini panties...


    Michael A. Cundiff
  12. Michael Cundiff wrote: "I just can't imagine Lady Duff strutting in a pair of Victoria Secret pink lace bikini panties..."

    Ah, come on Michael, admit it. You've been fantasizing about that for years.
  13. You betcha Randy...for what it's worth my ex, oh how I hate that word :-( one wife that was...

    ...bears similar resembleance to a younger Miss Gordon. And pink is her...uh my favorite ;-)

    BTW Randy, my ex's don't live in TEXAS...

    Michael A. Cundiff
  14. Hey, dont knock burlap underwear, its great, especially on hot days.....
    Its beats barbed wire thongs, thats for sure...


    Tarn Stephanos
  15. Tracy Smith

    Tracy Smith Member

    I'm almost in pain contemplating the idea of a barbed wire wedgie.
  16. Michael wrote: "BTW Randy, my ex's don't live in TEXAS..."

    I guess I'm better off knowing that but ain't real sure, hoss. Anyhow, 'wish I could say the same about my ex's!

    And Tarn, your S&M underwear fetish is getting kind of scary.
  17. This 1912 lass is proud of her natural beauty. Indeed, why worry about underwear when one has such a lovely hat!

  18. Monica Hall

    Monica Hall Member

    Children wore liberty bodices, both boys and girls. It was a thick short-sleeved vest, sort of padded, with rubber buttons. They were still around in the late 1950s and, as a small child, I was forced into one to keep me warm. Life was much colder then I admit, but I hated it - little fingers trying to do up the rubber buttons in a bathroom with ice on the inside of the windows .... brrr. This link from a museum in Leicester shows nearly every kind of underwear you can think of.
  19. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    A bit like this poster girl in a Philip Steer painting, 'The Black Hat', from "The Edwardians: Secrets and Desires" exhibition touring Oz:


    One really should be mindful of one's accessories, such as shoes, gloves and HATS. All else is apparently a bit secondary...!
  20. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch Member

    Haha, when discussing burlap undergarments and barbed-wire thongs, do not forget the all-time famous historical fashion: Scottish highlanders wearing scratchy wool kilts without anything on underneath them in a climate which was cool and breezy. Now that's brave!

    All joking aside, this is actually a very interesting thread. The everyday lives and routine things that people would do in different times throughout history are often overlooked. While underwear through time isn't usually the focus of my thoughts, I have often wondered about the details of everyday life that my relatives and ancestors lived with.