I grew up in the 1950’s when most of you were not even a glimmer in your grandmother’s eye! Probably you have no idea of what an unmentionable even is-right? This morning I was talking to a lady who was about my age and her physical therapist. You see, I volunteer at one of our local hospitals in out-patient PT. And somehow we became sidetracked to this topic. After much laughter together, I thought this would be an informative topic for tonight!
In the 50’s, life was simpler in many ways. And what was not out front in the public was simply not shown nor discussed in mixed company. Hence the name “unmentionable” was coined. It covered a variety of clothing that was never seen by the public. You know-brassieres, step-ins, girdles, crinolines, garters, stockings. I clearly remember going to the local Sears and Roebuck store in my town to purchase brassieres . You had to know what you planned to purchase because they were not on display. They were in drawers and those drawers were closed! A saleslady would have to pull them out for you to see and to select. And please believe me when I say that there was not a choice of colors. They were white. Just white. No patterns. No colors. No prints. No push-up. And they were cotton. Just cotton. As a teenager, I was so excited when bras began to be made in beige!
Step-ins were another name for panties. Once again they were cotton and white. They came to your waist. No thongs, hip huggers, bikinis, no lace, no flowers……….just white cotton. Step-ins for older ladies were bloomer-like and you could go to the bathroom by simply pulling the open leg aside. My Nannie told me it was a convenience to wear them if all you had was an outhouse!
Slips were another unmentionable. First of all, you would NOT leave the house without a slip. Every dress or skirt and blouse covered a slip. There was no option. It was required. Ladies and young ladies wore slips. Not half slips-full slips. White slips. Period. End of discussion.
The slips that I hated the most were required wearing for little girls. They were called crinolines and were created by the devil himself. They were made of scratchy netting and made your skirt stay away from your body and look fluffy. They were starched (ouch!) and ironed and worn with all your dresses. You see, little girls wore dresses with a waistband and skirts were fluffy. And you couldn’t run or jump rope very well with these itchy inventions. And try sitting in a desk in a hot classroom. You could not wiggle. You were a girl and that was unladylike!
Next, we have to mention the biggest and most carefully guarded secret to a trim waist-the girdle. If you think that Spanx is powerful, then you have never worn a girdle. They kept you slim, got rid of any bulges, created a waist if you wore a longline girdle, and made your “sitter” go to sleep. And we wore them all day. Under a dress. To school. Some girdles went from your bra area all the way down to your mid-thigh. And we wore them all summer. Just image how hot they were!
Last, we must give some time to the garter belt and hosiery. Listen everyone-THERE WAS NO PANTYHOSE! None. Girls wore socks until they were in high school and they didn’t shave their legs. When they reached the age when it was permissible by their mother, they might began to wear a garter belt (unless they were already wearing a girdle). It is quite popular now-if you believe the companies that make undies. But then, it was uncomfortable and ugly. If you didn’t pull up your hosiery high enough, you had wrinkles. If you pulled them too high, they tore. Sometimes the garter became unhooked and your hose fell down! Awkward!!! When you became really older, you wore your hosiery rolled up at your knee with a garter. Thank goodness by then you wore your dresses long to cover this gorgeous part of your clothing!
So the next time you purchase underwear, be thankful that yours comes in colors and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s to every lump and bump on your body!