Archive for : August, 2014

Knickers Snippets…

  • Acquired from the estate of the late Baron Joseph de Bicske Dobronyi, and auctioned on eBay in 2012, a pair of underwear reputed to have belonged to Queen Elizabeth II sold for US $18,000. Described as a “museum quality collectible”, the panties were mistakenly left onboard a chartered plane in 1968, which was used that year during the queen’s first trip to Chile. Kept in a marked, manila envelope ever since, the knickers are vintage silk, with a scripted monogram “E” on them, and have an exquisitely crocheted lace hem. Buckingham Palace refused to confirm nor deny whether these undergarments did in fact once belong to the queen.



  • A pair of bloomers worn by Marilyn Monroe during the making of 1954’s River of No Return sold at auction in 2012 for US $44,000.  The item had been kept by her long-time makeup man, Alan Whitey Snyder, and was auctioned along with many other of her belongings which were kept by his estate.


  •  Crooner Frank Sinatra was very slight in both stature and body size – for much of his life he could even have been considered to be unhealthily thin and of no manly shape. He was, however, very generously endowed in the manhood department. Contrary to expectation, Sinatra was not proud of this fact – quite the opposite, he was very self-conscious. He even had his underwear custom-made to ensure that everything was properly contained.


  • A pair of periwinkle coloured silk underpants custom made for Elizabeth Taylor to wear in 1963’s Cleopatra we auctioned in 2014 for US $1875. They have small snap closures, hand sewing, and a costume label inscribed with her name.


  •  A pair of soiled underpants belonging to Elvis Presley failed to sell at auction in 2012. Worn in 1977 under a jumpsuit, during what would have been one of his final performances, the style was chosen by the King as they did not give visible lines under the tight fitting jumpsuit. A reserve price of US $10,000 was set but failed to be reached – perhaps because they were visibly dirty?


Underwear Museum

Have you ever visited an underwear museum?

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has a travelling exhibition called “Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion”. Currently on exhibit at the Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria, Australia, it highlights pieces from the V&A’s extensive underwear collection, which dates back to the seventeenth century.


The history of underwear is tracked in this interesting exhibition, with pieces ranging from crotchless bloomers that once belonged to (and were worn by) Queen Victoria, right through to contemporary white briefs from Calvin Klein.

Throughout centuries, not worn simply for cleanliness and warmth, underwear has been a useful garment to shape the body into the ideal look of each moment in time: from tight-laced Victorian waspish waistlines, to Edwardian S-bent spines and heaving mono-bosoms, to flattened, boyish shapes so popular in the Flapper era; right though to the New Look of the 1950s with lifted, separated and defined breasts, nipped in waists, and girdled hips. After the liberated underwear of the 1960s and 1970s, the 1990s introduced the Wonderbra and in the new millennium, shape-wear has again become a woman’s fashion staple.


The V&A exhibition currently on show at the Bendigo Art Gallery features a vast array of more than eighty pieces from the V&A collection, including bustles, corsets, girdles, bras and undies dating from well over a century ago.  For example:

  • Iron corsetry from the 1600s


  • A 1900s maternity corset, with differential side lacing (other corsets of the time laced at the back)


  • Health corsets for young girls which were worn in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


  • Queen Victoria’s bloomers: dating from the 1860s, they are generously proportioned, made of white linen, and embroidered on the waistband in blue: “VR” (Victoria Regina). They are also split at the crotch – very important for toileting while wearing voluminous skirts.


  • Avant-garde pieces from Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier


The Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition is on show at the Bendigo Art Gallery currently, until October 26th, 2014. It will then open at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane on November 12th, 2014 and run until February 1st, 2015.