Archive for : November, 2013

Men’s Underwear in the 1970s – a Time Best Forgotten?

The 1970s is, quite justifiably, referred to by many as “the decade style forgot”. Psychadelic colours, bell bottoms, safari suits, brown in every shade, lime green, velour, crochet, and all in one looks are all fashions of the time many of us hope to never see again.

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Questionable style in the 1970s was not, however, limited to men’s outerwear. Men’s underwear during this decade was also, put simply, at times frightful – by today’s standards, in any case. And what was deemed sexy at the time might never be suitably explained to those of us who didn’t live through it…

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After what was known as the “Peacock Revolution” of the 1960s, men’s underwear styles displayed a concern for fashion and colour like never before – and in a way that had previously been reserved for outer garments. Polyester and cotton blend fabrics were popular, and not only were undies produced in ever so stylish (for the time) colours and patterns, but undershirts were co-ordinated with said undies. Nice.

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There was even an all-in-one undies/vest suit available…

And even more extreme – an all in one undies and shirt ensemble…

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Undergarment fashions were bold, colourful, and “anything goes” seems to have been the motto of the time.

Fancy some floral print under fashion? How about mesh nylon underwear? Or denim low rise briefs?

100% nylon fabric was commonly used for men’s undies to achieve a sleek and natural fit, which complemented the figure hugging clothing styles of the 1970s. Due to the fashion for tight trousers, tiny shorts, and synthetic fabrics, boxers were decidedly out of style and briefs were in.

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Advertising of men’s undies took on a whole new character in the 1970s as well; models were often nearly naked, and perceived sex appeal in advertising was not limited to women’s lingerie. Maximising a man’s “assets” became popular like never before. The hairier the chest, the more flesh on show, and the more “loud” the undergarment – the better. If he also sported a moustache – advertising gold!

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Here we are forty years on. While men’s undies are still advertised cleverly and being fashionable is important to many, one must wonder what we will think when we look back on today’s styles in decades to come. In the meantime, a nostalgic pondering on the 1970s can be funny, baffling, and everything in between…

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The Humble Bra – Part 3

In the 1950s, in a post-war society, women wanted glamour – and lots of it. After years of deprivation due to World War II, fashionable women emulated Hollywood stars who wore uplifting bras that seemed to achieve the impossible. Berlei, Triumph and Maidenform were big players in the manufacture and sale of quality bras that were not only functional but beautiful as well. The style of the time was for a pointed, circular, conical shape.  “Sweater Girls” like Lana Turner and Jayne Mansfield, and clever advertising, inspired everyday women to pay close attention to the appearance of their breasts under clothing.

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In the 1960s, bras were well designed to look good under knitted dresses. Rubber parts were eliminated and Lycra fittings became the norm.  Then when Yves Saint Laurent showcased a sheer blouse worn with no bra, feminists responded with ire and demanded women burn their bras. In reality, bras were not actually burned (except as publicity stunts) and most women did not abandon their bras, though attitudes to their wear did relax somewhat. Bras became less structured and from 1965, transparent sheer fabrics were sometimes used for their construction. Women who had worn bras to bed now slept braless for the first time in many years.

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The pointed shape of the 1950s made way for a more natural look. Then in 1968 the first Wonderbra was produced by Gossard, to lift and enhance cleavage like never before.

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Bra slips were also popular in the 1960s: an all-in-one underwired cleavage bra and short mini slip, worn with panties and tights under a mini dress. This was the least women had ever worn!

The 1970s saw bras made seamlessly and in fabrics with colour, prints, and nude tones. The braless, natural look was in vogue. The eighth season of TV show Bewitched, for example, saw Elizabeth Montgomery create a stir as Samantha when she was obviously braless in certain scenes and outfits.

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Women in the 1980s became very body conscious and erotic lingerie a la Dynasty and Dallas inspired camisoles, bodysuits and teddies.

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Cleavage and shape were again popular in the 1990s and the Wonderbra made a comeback. Bras were at times worn as outerwear by celebrities such as Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker.

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Today there are bras for every circumstance, look, and occasion: sports, maternity, training, strapless, T-shirt, sexy, convertible, plunge, push-up, everyday, novelty, bridal… who knows what the future will bring in bra styling?