May 31, 2021
Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Dominique de MerteuilHome » Retro Lingerie »
Learn how to shop for a vintage slip from the lingerie expert, Emma Benitez of Nylon Nostalgia.
I’m thrilled and honoured to collaborate on this article with a lady who I’ve been admiring from far for years. Emma Benitez, BA (Hons) in Fashion & Dress History, is an expert in vintage lingerie and the most knowledgeable person I know on the topic of vintage stockings and slips.
Her nylon stocking size guide is the definitive resource for all vintage fashion aficionados. Emma is the owner and founder of Nylon Nostalgia, a vintage lingerie shop filled with beauteous slips predominantly from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The blog section of the shop is the cradle of knowledge on vintage lingerie brands and fabrics.
I asked Emma to help me find the perfect slip and half-slip for one of my favourite 1940s dresses that happen to be a little bit see-through, which I only found out about hours after wearing the dress outdoors. Thankfully, I don’t embarrass that easily, and my penchant for beautiful lingerie paid off. Christian Dior once said,
Real elegance is everywhere, especially in the things that don’t show.
Real elegance is everywhere, especially in the things that don’t show.
Let this be a lesson to you! Always wear a vintage slip under your vintage garment, or at least make sure you are attired in beautiful lingerie worth displaying.
I often wear original knickers from the 1940s. I bought my favourite pair, the off-white CC41 beauties you see in the picture, from Emma.
One of my favourite 1940s dresses in desperate need of a vintage slip. That’s when Emma comes to the rescue!
Tips On How to Shop for a Vintage Slip! Expert Advice.
Life is too short to wear mediocre underwear
Dominique de Merteuil; Emma, you started selling vintage and supplying vintage lingerie to film and tv production companies in 2008. What initiated your passion for vintage lingerie?
Emma Benitez; Well, I remember even as a young girl watching those old Hollywood-style movies on daytime television and wishing I could glide around in a fabulously glamorous gown or whatever, just like the movie stars seemed to.
If you look back to those days of glamour the pin-up models and stars of the 1940s and 50s were quite often in lingerie and just about every famous woman I can think of had at some time been photographed in a slip.
I just wanted to be as glamorous as they were, but I was born far too late for that to be a reality. Later, the university gave me the chance and the impetus to study mid-century lingerie trends and fashions and at that time I started collecting lovely pieces of lingerie just for the love of it all.
How to Select the Perfect Vintage Lingerie
DDM; Is there a process you go through when selecting lingerie pieces for your shop Nylon Nostalgia?
EB; Oh, what a question! The process you ask me about has changed totally and completely over time. In the beginning – over a decade ago now – I went to auctions, charity shops or bought off the internet. If I bought 5 items at a time, that would seem like a lot in those days. Quite frankly, although I was having fun, I was actually just playing at it.
Yes, I was being uber-selective with what I was buying but numbers were low and progress was slow.
Then something happened by chance that would change everything for me. I work with fabrics in my ‘daytime’ job and I was over in Germany on business when I had a meeting with a gentleman who, to cut a long story short, had a warehouse full of vintage slips and petticoats from the 1940s, 50s and 60s and he invited me to buy as many of them as I wanted.
My first order to him was for 2000 slips – an eye-watering amount for somebody who previously winced at orders of 5 or 6 items! Now, I order 4000 slips at a time. They are unseen, unsorted and unwashed and at the beginning that was a huge leap of faith.
On sorting, somewhere between 10% and 15% get thrown in the skip right at the outset because they are damaged beyond repair. I just accept that. The rest are okay for sale. A lot are unworn with tags attached too, which is nice.
What to Look for in a Vintage Slip
DDM; What is your favourite fashion/lingerie era?
My favourite era? The 1950s, for certain. And definitely the early to mid-1960s.
DDM; You wrote an in-depth guide to vintage slip and stocking size, and we know how important it is to correctly measure vintage garments before adding them to the shopping basket.
What other advice, apart from correct sizing, do you have for ladies who have never bought a vintage slip before?
EB; Dominique, I would certainly advise any ladies buying their first vintage slip to aim high when it comes to quality. Far better to buy one or two incredibly beautiful vintage slips with exquisite fine detail on them than buy an armful of cheapies for the same money.
Don’t buy vintage slips that you will simply wear, buy vintage slips that you ‘feel’ and experience by wearing and make you feel special.
Wearing a high-quality multi-gore vintage slip will transform the way you feel about yourself in seconds. You will suddenly be more aware of your hips as you walk.
It will affect how you act with the people around you. In short, you’ll be far more aware of your femininity. “Believe in your lingerie and you’ll believe in yourself”, as I often say.
Look closely at the lace decoration on the slip. Have they taken the time and trouble to match the pattern of the lace at the bust, where they join both sections?
Even if they have bothered to properly match the lace, is the lace appliquéd or just quickly stitched on?
Pushing the quality and comfort angle even further, is the slip cut on the bias? Next, have a look inside. Are the seams pinked? It will be far more comfortable if this is so. Slips were not created equal!
Is the Colour of a Vintage Slip Important?
DDM; Does the colour of a slip matter?
EB; In theory, it shouldn’t do, but I refer you back to what I said earlier about vintage lingerie making you feel special. Assuming you have the choice, wearing a colour that doesn’t clash with everything else is important – to me at least.
DDM; Would you say that it is essential to match the colour of a vintage slip to the garment?
My 1940s dress is in black rayon, but I love vintage slips in pink and off-white. What colour would you choose for me?
EB; Out of the two? Off-white, and save the pink for another more suitable dress. But that’s just me being me!
How to Choose the Right Lenght for a Vintage Slip
DDM; Should the slip be the same length as the skirt or dress?
My dress is 76cm long from the waist to the hem. Should the slip be the same length, which might be impossible to find, or slightly shorter?
EB; Our grandmothers would have been able to answer this question in a flash because, back then, every woman knew that a slip should always be 2 or 3 inches higher than the skirt or dress they were wearing.
That way you could bend or twist and your slip would provide that desired fluidity between your body and your dress without being visible and having someone tap you on the shoulder and say “madam, it’s snowing down south!”
What’s the Best Fabric for a Vintage Slip
DDM; What fabric do you recommend for someone looking for a vintage slip for those hot summer days?
EB; Perlon! If you don’t know what Perlon is, Google “Perlon fabric slips” and read away. Nylon gets a cruel bad press, to be honest, but Perlon is softer, thinner and lighter than standard nylon and therefore performs better in the warmer months.
I love Perlon slips, but I don’t think Perlon gets anything like the recognition it deserves. Other than that, Rilsan – which feels like nylon but is plant-based – or cotton. But come on, why would you choose cotton outside of prison?
*Perlon Fabric for Summer
Emma is very modest and didn’t mention her extremely informative article about Perlon fabric which I urge you to read. She is also known as the Queen of Perlon because of her large collection of Perlon slips which you can find in both of her shops; Nylon Nostalgia and Dreamdate!
DDM; And last but not least. Do you wear vintage slips?
EB; In other words Dominique, do I practice what I preach? Yes, I do – every time I wear a vintage dress I can’t imagine not wearing a slip. I’d feel undressed without one, to be honest. I don’t dress vintage all the time but when I do I like to do things properly!
And here is the perfect half slip I found in the Nylon Nostalgia shop!
DISCLOSURE: As of October 2021, I’m part of an affiliate program, and I get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post as well as the Shop My Post section below. That’s how I keep my website alive, for which I’m very grateful to you. All opinions expressed here are mine!
Shop For Vintage Slips!
While shopping for the perfect vintage slip to go with my 1940s dress, I found this gorgeous early 1960s Contessa half slip in black and a 1940s slip with matching knickers!
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel Lingerie
It should come as no surprise that Emma supplied some of the fabulous late 1950s lingerie to the set of ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’ series.
If you’re looking to channel your inner Midge Maisel, a stunning peignoir is a great place to start. It’s worth noting that Miriam’s nighttime attire was just as remarkable as her daytime and evening ensembles.
A proper foundation garment is crucial to making true-vintage or retro dresses look right.
There is a popular brand specialising in retro lingerie that accurately replicates vintage undergarments. However, I have yet to try them myself and cannot recommend them to you.
I believe, that you can never go wrong or have too many 1950s hostess gowns and robes for the glamorous indoor look. There are always some spectacular pieces on Etsy, but remember that vintage waits for no one!
SHOP MY FAVOURITES
Do you wear vintage slips?
And once you find that perfect vintage slip, don’t forget to take good care of it! I wash all my vintage lingerie in Eucalan Wrapture which I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Shop My Favourite Products!