I never read an obituary, I just know one day, they were no longer among us. They weren’t laying in wait in my bureau of drawers. They had been close to me for a great many years, a part of a daily routine. I grew dependent on them. I enjoyed them in several colors and took them with me on vacation as well. What am I talking about? The petticoat or half slip worn by many young women under their outer skirts and over their underwear. De rigueur when I was growing up in the 1940’s and ’50’s. The petticoat provided another layer of seeming protection in the daily ritual of dressing. As hemlines rose and fell, so it was with half slips. That’s why a woman needed several of them. they were frivolous, fun and flirty. I enjoyed them!
Searching for a half slip or petticoat in a lingerie department, is now a frustrating affair. You may or may not find them. If you do, the selection is guaranteed to be poor. Your skirt is see-through? too bad. The fun of layering a full skirt with a crinoline petticoat has vanished. Full skirts, I mean really full skirts have largely vanished too, unless you go the ethnic route. I was a leading exponent of the full skirt trend. Sadly, I had no followers.
I began to sense their upcoming demise as the pant suit rose in popularity during the 1970’s. Skirts took a back seat in that decade.
Fast forward to 2021. Fashion continues to evolve. I’d be a sad image if I still continued to dress as i did in the 50’s and 60’s too, petticoats et al. There’s nothing sadder than witnessing a woman who clings stylistically to a look she championed in her youth. You gotta know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em.It’s that simple!
Vanessa Friedman, NYTimes fashion analyst has an interesting “take”” on it all: read here:
Have half-slips disappeared? I don’t understand how a woman can wear a skirt or dress that does not cling to her legs from wintry static electricity without one. And in the summer, half-slips save you from showing more than you want through sheer summer dresses and skirts. But I never see them any more. What happened? — Lisa, Bloomington, Ind.
Half-slips, those underskirt slithers of fabric often associated with the middle of the last century, have gotten a bad rap recently. They’re seen as remnants of an old-fashioned way of dressing, crushed under the spandex fist of shapewear. But think of the great moments in culture that would have been lost without them. Anne Bancroft, seducing Dustin Hoffman in leopard print in “The Graduate.” Janet Leigh, in bra and lace-trimmed half-slip on the poster for “Psycho.” Patty Duke in “Valley of the Dolls.”
Part of this has to do with the general evolution of dress, and the twin tides of athleisure and comfort dressing, which have veered increasingly toward fewer and fewer layers. This has been exacerbated, of course, by our current at-home reality, which has pretty much put an end to the need for fancy lingerie in favor of all-pajamas-all-the-time (though there is an argument to be made about the psychological benefits of nice underpinnings as a form of self-care).
It also has to do with association and the sense that slips belong to the rules of a different generation, which we have left behind along with other outdated notions, like women belong in the kitchen not the C-suite, and white should not be worn after Labor Day
As Cora Harrington, the author of “In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie” and The Lingerie Addict blog, pointed out when I emailed her for an expert opinion, “It certainly doesn’t help that the slip’s most passionate fans tend to use language like ‘old-fashioned modesty’ when describing reasons to wear one.
Still, she said, despite the fact that slip sales have been decreasing, “nothing really ‘disappears’ in intimate apparel. In fact, a number of brands have brought slips back into their regular product lines.” Case in point: offerings from Natori, Jockey and Vanity Fair. Not to mention Skims. Yes, even Kim Kardashian West, avatar of the undergarment, sees the half-slip point.
Indeed, given the fact that the fashion world obeys many of the same Newtonian laws as the natural world — namely, what goes up must come down — it’s a pretty safe bet that what is out will be in again. And Ms. Harrington points out that half-slips are probably moving into the “vintage-style shapewear” category of girdles and corselettes, where they cease being merely passé and become prized by connoisseurs of elaborately worked, historic fancy dress.
In fact, she said, “When you do see slips, they’re far more likely to be worn as outerwear than underwear these days.”