A small collection of underwear and nightwear included on this website represents a fraction of the items in the John Bright Collection that date from the 1920s and 1930s. (See Related Items) These years saw a significant change in the weight and amount of undergarments worn by fashionable women, dictated by lighter, looser, shorter overgarments, as they became able to enjoy an increasingly active life style.
The bra and knickers set is made from rayon chiffon in a dazzling shade of hot pink which may date it to the latter year of the 1930s. In 1937 Schiaparelli launched this colour as ‘shocking pink’, her perfume ‘Shocking’ coming out the same year, immediately creating a market for the intense shade. On the whole, underwear and nightwear favoured a paler, more sedate palette of pinks, peach, ecru, blues and greens along with traditional white and cream, and black as a sophisticated alternative. A skimpy matching two piece set, potentially leaving a fair amount of skin uncovered above and below the bra, would have been seen as very modern at the time. The flimsy bra is lined in beige net with pale green ribbon straps and a simple elasticated hook and eye back fastening. Bras evolved from the bust bodices and improvers of the 1890s and the early 20th Century, and the soft shapeless bandeaus of the flat-chested 1920s, to the increasing definition of breasts in the 1930s. Like many of the period, this bra clearly would have provided limited support to the bust. The lower section looks like a very short waist petticoat, but, like the yellow camiknickers (See Related Item), has an internal band of fabric linking the front and back to bifurcate it. In common with the camiknickers, the set is machine stitched in an unskillful manner. Underwear was frequently made at home, as it had always been, now with the benefit of easily available and reasonably priced fabrics, trimmings and paper patterns.