1930s Pink Easter Dress and Vintage Underpinnings

I love a holiday, a great excuse to wear something frothy, frilly, and vintage.

I’ve been rather lazy the past several holidays, though, not wanting to shimmy into the underpinnings required to wear a well-fitted vintage dress, and then eat my own body-weight.

Since acquiring a handful of fabulous original vintage pieces, though, I’ve felt guilty not wearing them enough (some of them not at all, yet!), so Easter lunch was the perfect time to wear this new-to-me 1930s bias cut gown:

1930s crepe gown with 1920s/30s spectator t-straps shoes

It’s the most delicious peachy color, made from crepe, and oh so fluttery. It has a wonderfully deco rhinestone buckle on the belt, butterfly sleeves, and thanks to its bias cut, slips on over the head and hugs every curve in a very flattering way.

No thanks to the bias cut, though, and the material, this dress needs some very specific underpinnings that I don’t have. I wore my Rago all-in-one with a vintage slip over the top and I still had visible lines and texture from the Rago shaper coming through in very unflattering ways.  I’ve had this problem with other vintage dresses too, most notably a 1920s chiffon number that seemed impossible to wear.

So naturally I came home and began researching 1930s underpinnings, looking at both what they wore back then, and what was available now.


As I mentioned before, I have a Rago all-in-one shaper, the kind with the crotch, but it’s honestly quite uncomfortable. I like the compression, but the bra cups are itchy, and the crotchy bits chafe something awful. The powermesh lace stuff is pretty, but it shows through thin materials, even with a slip over the top. I may try the open-bottom version at some point, but I really hope there’s something a little better out there:


Perhaps it’s one of the What Katie Did corselettes, and I’d love to try one, but they’re a bit out of my price range at the moment, though I may find that, like corsets, you get what you pay for.

What Katie Did

I did end up purchasing a Flexees Wear-Your-Own Bra Full Slip, which claims to provide tummy, waist, and back shaping, and appears to be long enough to get the smooth hip line needed for 1930s. It was on sale and I like the option to wear your own bra, so we’ll see how this looks under those finicky vintage dresses!


  • Rowenna

    April 6, 2015 at 10:14 PM

    Check What Katie Did's ebay outlet for a corselette–I snapped up the one you've got pictured from them at half off. It's "imperfect" wares (not knock offs or a third party seller)–I couldn't find the imperfections. Super comfortable as that sort of thing goes–I danced for hours in it 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 7, 2015 at 1:17 AM

      Modcloth is where I got my first Rago shaper, which is also the brand of the one in the link. I like Rago, but it's not quite smooth enough in the material for the ultra thing 1930s material 🙁

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 7, 2015 at 1:17 AM

      I do love me some old lady catalogs. I get the National catalog in the mail regularly, and thank goodness. The shop I bought the shaping slip thing from is one of those old lady stores.

  • Bianca Esposito

    April 6, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    What a beautiful dress! (and lovely shoes of course!) I have only just started investing in some What Katie Did myself, I started with their back-seam pantyhose and I have been really impressed with the quality. I too dream of buying one of their corselettes one day!

  • J.A. Gough

    April 7, 2015 at 12:10 AM

    I tried a What Katie Did torsolette but found I was too tall (at 5'8") for it to lay smoothly – the 1/4" spiral steel bones lay strangely if the fit isn't perfect. I switched it out for separates and that works better for me.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 7, 2015 at 1:18 AM

      Hrm, good tip. I think the shapewear thing must be highly personal. For instance, separates are working for you, but are hellish to wear for me, or maybe I just haven't found the right thing yet…onward!

  • Lauriana

    April 8, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    That dress looks lovely! I have yet to find a way to wear 1930's looks successfully, so it helps to see it on other people.
    About the shapewear… I have tried some of the What Katie Did corselettes on in their London store (they didn't work for me because my waist-to-hip ratio is a bit too much) and I always thought of those as a 1950's style. The surfaces aren't absolutely smooth so you may still have issues with a bias cut dress and I think WKD makes a much better 1930's breast shape in its 1930's/40's bras.
    Of course, finding the right shapewear for a dress like this is made more difficult by the fact that there is no trend for 1930's underpinnings at the moment, so you are unlikely to find something that's a dead ringer for the real thing. All things considered, I guess a modern item of seamless compression shape wear which allows you to wear your own bra might be the best option.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 8, 2015 at 8:35 PM

      Good to know. I completely agree with you. '30s underpinnings are out at the moment (will they ever come back? probably not…), so I'll either have to make do with something kinda-sorta, or make my own, which is where I am afraid this might end up!

  • AuntieNan

    April 8, 2015 at 11:34 PM

    I have a "shaper" with a side zipper and garters, but it only goes to the waist, and it is waaaay too tight for my size 10 self, let alone my size 12self… If you look at those old May West and Carole Lombard movies, they were wearing something, and it wasn't seamless, tho I occasionally suspect Carole was naked under hers!!

  • Anonymous

    April 9, 2015 at 4:28 PM

    I have a similar wear-your-own-bra one and it is my most-used foundation garment. It does the job, is a great place to clip garter clips (from Sock Dreams), and I can change the shape easily by wearing a different bra or slip. I got mine on clearance years ago and it has really held up.

  • PinhousePlaymate

    April 9, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    This was a very informative line of comments 🙂
    Lauren; your dress is gorgeous! And thanks for bringing up this issue with underpinnings. I, too, have the body shaper (w/crotch) from Rago. I like the support around the midsection, but it does funny(not in a good way) things to my derrière, is very uncomfortable "down below" and itches in the cup-department. I am now armed with some additional info that hopefully will help me find something more suitable. This is really a trial and error kind of thing, and like you said, very individual.

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