Bra Sizes – A Thing of the Past

Vintage illustration woman in bullet bra looking in mirror 1950s

For decades women have been in pursuit of that holy grail- the perfect bra.

Not only one that fit properly, coaxing uncooperative curves into line, but showcasing m’ladys charms as well.

For just as long, foundation manufacturers have dangled the promise not only of a comfortable fit and youthful beauty,  but  the guarantee that their scientifically designed brassieres  would magically transform a ho-hum figure into one of allure.

It was as EZ as A-B-C!

Uplifting News

Now it seems as if bra sizes may become as dated and quaint as these vintage lingerie advertising illustrations.

At least if Jockey has a say in it.

The company has spent 8 years developing a new measurement system that would replace the standard old fashioned number and letter system .  Their new patented Volumetric Fit measures the volume of a woman’s breasts devising 55 new sizes.

Is this truly uplifting news for women or are our hopes going to be deflated once again?

Promises of a perfect bra is nothing new.

vintage illustration woman bullet bra  formfit 1940s

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Bras 1948

 

Not Satisfied With Your Figure

What mid-century miss didn’t covet glamorous curves to fill out those cashmere sweater sets? Luckily there was no shortage of bra and girdle companies to help her.

Along with Bestform, Permalift and Lovable, Formfit, a Chicago based women’s foundation company whose popular “Life ” ad campaign ran for over a decade promising to help m’lady transform her figure instantly into a sweetheart of a figure.

Accompanied by gorgeous illustrations worthy of a pin-up artist, the advertising copy aimed straight at a woman’s insecurities.

For a Sweetheart of a Figure

vintage illustration woman bra lingerie formfit 1940s

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1949

“Have you despaired of ever seeing your figure as beautiful as hers?” one Formfit ad asked the envious reader in 1949.

“Don’t give up yet,” it encouraged. “Her figure may be no more perfect than yours. But she has discovered what millions of other lovely women already know- that the look of figure perfection is now possible. Life Bra and Life Girdle by Formfit working together correct your entire figure faultlessly…no matter what your figure faults!”

“The secret is ours!”

vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle lingerie ad Formfit 1950

Vintage ad Permalift Life Bra 1950

Like other Bra Manufacturers, Formfit promised an exact fit  because only their designers worked from live models of every figure type to ensure that exact fit. One imagines the design studios must have been pretty crowded with each and every  figure type.

One ad from 1950 promised luscious curves could be “yours for sure with Formfit. It happens instantly with Life Bra and Girdle,” they promised. “The ordinary figure is transformed into a sweetheart of a figure, achieving those 3 essential features for a successful bra-” keeping your bust high, young and separated”

Breasts For Success

Vintage bras illustration woman 1940

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1940

This long running advertising campaign began in 1940 when they presented to the world their first “Life” Brassiere for your Lifeline.

But ladies, this was no ordinary brassiere.

With the simple purchase of their bra, they promised that “the joy of being attractive, the secret of charm, the thrill of being admired would all be within your reach.”

“What makes a woman fascinating,” the ad began innocently enough. “A pretty face? No, for many beautiful faces have as  little power to attract as chiseled stone. Study the heroines of yesterday and the sought after women of today. You will be immediately conscious of an animation…a vitality that seems to emanate from the body-its postures and movements.”

So what is the key to womanly magnetism?

Vintage illustration woman in bra formfit 1940

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1948

Figure It  Out

“Thus the lifeline of womanly magnetism is the figure line which finds its apex in a bustline that is firm, proud and pronounced.”

“And just such beauty of animation is within the easy reach of practically every woman of every age. Formfit designers have long studied the delicate subtleties of the attractive bustline and in presenting their master creation for molding the perfect bust have appropriately named it Life!”

“So in presenting Life we do not offer you just another brassiere. We put within your reach the joy of being attractive, the secret of charm, the thrill of being admired and the poise that comes with comfort.”

And if your favorite corset department didn’t carry Life yet, you were urged to write to Formfit directly so they could send you to the nearest outlet to get this true “miracle bra.”

Thus the promises of that perfect bra began being dangled.

First Line of Defense

photo woman in bra 1943 ad

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1943

During WWII nearly every item Americans ate, wore, used or lived in, was rationed or otherwise regulated.

Even if foundations were considered part of a woman’s “first line of defense,” foundation manufacturers converted to war-time production and women were advised to take good care of the bras and girdles they already owned for the duration.

Post War Pride

Lingerie Bras celebrity 53 SWScan02945 - Copy

Once the war was over and undergarment manufacturers returned to peace time production, it was every gals patriotic duty to keep her figure looking beautiful.

Every day, everyone was watching

“The line of your figure is your lifeline, target of all eyes,” one 1946 Formfit ad  warned. “A wrong line above waist or below can spoil the precious first impression you make….impairs the way you feel and work.”

Two For one

illustration lingerie bras girdles formfit 1940s ads

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Bras and girdles (L) 1946 (R) 1947

But now it wasn’t enough to merely have a high, young, separated bustline; a whittled wasp waist was part of the Lifeline to glamour.The Cold War culture of containment was being applied to the waist as well.

The twin magic of the Life Bra and Girdle all-in-one piece promised to “lift, mold, correct, and hold, giving your hip line that alluring sculptured look.”

The one piece guaranteed to instantly transform even a so so figure into a sweetheart of a figure, inviting the reader “to discover what a thrilling difference it can make.”

Figure Faults- Go Figure

vintage illustration lingerie woman in bullet bra and pearls formfit ad

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Bras 1949

Not satisfied with your figure- transform it instantly -no fuss no muss! One need not be born perfect to have that perfect figure. Why with Formfit’s  bra the ordinary housewife could rival Lana Turner.

Vintage illustration woman in bra formfit 1948 ad

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1949

“And before you read another word dear lady,” this 1949 ad assured the figure challenged female, ” please remember this- you need not have a perfect figure to have this look of figure perfection. Even the figure you envy may be no more perfect than yours!”

“No matter your figure faults, formfit corrects them effortlessly.”

Vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle Lingerie Formfit 1940s

Vintage Ad Formfit Bra 1948

Now Life could be glamorous “…discover not only a flair for fashion but a new high in healthful freedom with glamorous Life.”

vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle lingerie formfit ad 194os

Vintage Ad Formfit Bra 1948

“That new glamor look gives your bustline that firmly rounded look so necessary for heightened glamor and allure.”

vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle lingerie formfit ad 1940s

Vintage Ad Formfit Bra 1949

“Find that new glamour look…with Life Acquire all the lure of that exciting new look,the healthful comfortable way. It happens instantly with Life Bra and Life Girdle. The ordinary figure is transformed into a sweetheart of a figure.”

The 1950s Figure

vintage illustration woman in bra lingerie formfit 1950 ad

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1950

As the 1950s began, the demands for a perfect bustline became more exacting.

vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle lingerie formfit 1950s

Vintage Ad Permalift Bra 1951

vintage illustration woman in bra  formfit ad 1950s

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Life Bras 1951

vintage illustration woman in bra ad Formfir 1950s

Vintage Ad Formfit Bra 1953

vintage illustration woman in bra and girdle 1950s ad

Vintage Ad Formfit Bra 1953

Vintage illustration woman in bra Formfit ad 1950s

Vintage Lingerie Ad Formfit Bras 1953

The exacting new outer look as Formfit explained in this 1953 ad was ” a slim fluid line with rounded bust blending into a controlled middle and ending in longer, smoother hips.” The story of this new outer Look begins as always with the bustline, high, rounded and… frankly feminine.”

To give you the correct “Under Look” for this new line…and your freedom and comfort, naturally you could count on Formfits Bra and Girdle. Sheer bliss when you feel so sure.

Working together they coaxed those Cold War  curves into line and heavenly freedom, in the great American Way.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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9 comments

  1. “You could put an eye out!” The Madonna look wasn’t too far from the reality of bras of this era.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting how these bra styles remind me of the auto designs of the late 50’s and 60’s. No wonder I love cars so much.
    Bart

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vanessa Zumwalt

    A co-worker shared a newspaper article about how “they” (bra manufacturers) wanted to change women’s bra sizes to more accurately fit women. This meant adding a plethora of new bra sizes. Come on, most of these innovators are men. How the Sam Hill do men get off thinking that they know what women want and need? I, for one, HATE shopping for, and buying, a new bra. I have to try on each and every style before buying a new bra. Actually, once I find a new bra (that fits, without cutting off my breathing), I will buy at least two or three in the same style and size but in different colors. Then I get the unenviable task of “breaking in” these new bras. I have yet to find a bra that is comfortable from shelf to body. I’m 60 and I have never found a bra that was comfortable without a “breaking-in” period.

    Men have NO IDEA of women and bras. Leave us alone. We women have gotten along just fine, all these live/long years, without man’s intrusion into our lingerie. If you want to dabble in sizes–start with men’s tighty-whities. Maybe they need more accurate sizing; stick to what you actually know.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Girl and Her Girdle | Envisioning The American Dream

  5. Pingback: Revealing the Korean Body Politic, Part 5: Keeping abreast of Korean bodylines | The Grand Narrative

  6. Pingback: Fashion #TBT Invasion of the Bullet Bras! | High Fashion Average Woman

  7. These all look so cool and comfy!

    Liked by 1 person

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