No, not vintage lingerie – that would be disgusting (although I hear a man sells original Victorian bloomers in Spitalfields market..) but lingerie inspired by retro silhouettes and fabrics. This sort of underwear provides the happy medium between control and sex appeal. Those tiny frilly knickers may look wonderful on a 22 year-old supermodel, but for those of us who need a bit more scaffolding yet aren’t quite ready for an all-in-one surgical stocking, retro shapes work perfectly. Contemporary lingerie designers have taken this into account and even mainstream lines such as Elle Macpherson have launched vintage-inspired ranges.
There are plenty of smaller boutiques, however, that specialize in creating beautifully-crafted lingerie from the finest silk and lace. At the top end you have Carine Gilson: a satin robe will set you back the best part of a thousand pounds, but the garments are so glamorous that you’ll be inclined to mutter lines from Sunset Boulevard even when unstacking the dishwasher. Then again, if you’re dropping a grand on a dressing gown then household chores may not feature highly in your daily routine.
Katie Halford is head designer at What Katie Did, an online boutique selling faux-vintage lingerie and steel-boned corsets. Her quest for the perfect bullet bra, the most authentic stockings and the firmest foundation garments, led to the development of her own collection over ten years ago. Since then, What Katie Did has been at the forefront of the vintage revival that’s only recently come into the public eye. Another online boutique, Pandora’s Choice, boasts a vast selection of lingerie including waist-cinchers and pin-up girl styles. Similarly, Vintaga offers burlesque-inspired lingerie (including girdles and controlwear) in a fabulous range of patterned fabrics. Made by Niki makes a beautiful ’secretary skirt’ that works as a great slip under figure-hugging dresses.
One major advantage of these garments is that they give you a beautifully streamlined silhouette under clingy fabrics. A body-con dress or tailored suit can be ruined by VPL and greying bra straps – replace your underachieving pants with vintage-inspired shapewear and it will transform your wardrobe.