1920s · 20th century · Undergarments

1920s Bra-Making Resources Part 1: Research

In this series of posts, I will be covering my research into choosing a pattern for bust coverage/support for my 1920s wardrobe.

Part 1: Research
Part 2: Available Tutorials and Patterns
Part 3: Other Resources – Pattern Reviews, Books and Films
Part 4: Which Pattern I Chose

Part 5: Supplies (Coming Soon!)

General Research

As much as I’ve tried to pin down any sort of timeline of brassiere/bandeau/corsetry styles in the 1920s, according to primary sources, these items were available simultaneously, so it seems more based on the specific needs of your figure, your taste, and what was available to you that determined what you would wear.

The fashionable silhouette evolved from what is depicted on the left fashion plate (dated ca. 1920-22) to the one on the right (dated to 1927). The major change was that the low, slouched bust becomes flat over time, as do the hips. It shifts from a silhouette which is fairly reflective of the natural body (left image), to a rectangle with softly, barely defined mounds at the bust, to a completely straight rectangle (right image), and finally to an extreme masculine “carrot” silhouette, where the hips appear smaller than the chest and the shoulders appear widest of all.

Of course, it is unlikely that the majority of women were able to achieve a completely streamlined look – we are three dimensional beings after all. As an essay on The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History says, “The ideal underpinning of the 1920s dress was no underpinning at all, but the continued existence of women’s breasts necessitated the development of the brassiere.”

I’ve dug up as many resources as I can find for patterns, tutorials and other resources on creating brassieres/bandeaus/corsets of the 1920s. I will alter this post as new information or patterns become available.


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