The Great American Slip Up

Vintage Illustration suprised girl

Vintage Illustration 1951

Americans seem to love the opportunity to embarrass themselves…almost as much as we love to watch ‘em.

And if there is money involved so much the better.

Between the internet and reality TV the possibilities for voluntary public humiliation are endless, satisfying an insatiable audience salivating for some slip up.

But long before the existence of these platforms for disgrace, the mid-century masochist longing for public mortification had ample opportunity to air their shortcomings to the world.

Thanks to the mad men of Madison Avenue there were no shortages of cringe-worthy, shame based ads.

Social Slip Up

One need look no further than a series of true confessional ads run by Mary Barron Slips in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s entitled “When a slip becomes a social error.”

You could make a fool of yourself and win 50 bucks to boot just by submitting your most embarrassing “slip” moment to the lingerie company.

The lucky winner would have her cringe-worthy story printed in one of its ads so that everyone could chuckle at her major gaffe.


vintage illustration girl walking dog

Vintage Illustration Coby Whitmore Ivory Snow ad 1946

Once upon a time nothing mortified a lady more than hearing those 4 dreaded words: “Your slip is showing.” Like a slap in the face, it was enough to make you want to hide your head in shame.

The Mary Barron ads were cautionary tales from regular gals from all across the country and there was no shortage of woeful stories recounting embarrassing moments.

vintage illustration man and woman dancing 1951

Ominous headlines such as “Don’t Risk Slip Skid,” told the tale of a tragic young lady whose social faux pas made her the laughing-stock of a party. The humiliated miss from Harrisburg Pa. learned the hard way that an exposed slip “could take you from belle to burlesque in one uneasy moment.” That is until she wised up and bought a Mary Barron slip which would keep her safe from undergarment  twists and slips.

Danger Lurks

Apparently without the proper fitting slip the world was a dangerous place full of potential cringe-worthy slip ups. Innocently exiting a bus, seated at a lunch counter, even posing for a snapshot were fraught with potential awkwardness for the unsuspecting gal.

There was the  goof  shared by a girl from Gary having her photo taken when “W-w-h-h-h-sh –came the breeze…c-l-i-c-k went the shutter- up went eyebrows ( and our pretty model’s color) for a too revealing photograph. Now she knows about and wears a Mary Barron biastraigt slip guaranteed to stay in place.”


Lingerie ad slips Mary Barron 48

Vintage Ad Mary Barron Slips 1948


This ad from 1948 was based on the embarrassing episode submitted by one pitiful Miss Jean Williams. The perky coed from Lambert Mississippi shares her tale of woe- how the glory of being crowned Home coming Queen could be totally ruined when she experienced the slip up of a lifetime.

The cautionary tale of her social error goes like this:

The jeering section saw the slip up. So did the captain and the student body. Not even the Queens crown could offset poor jeans embarrassment. As she knelt, her slip climbed above her knees.

Impossible we learn, if she were only wearing a Mary Barron slip!


photo vintage woman holding money

Image from Vintage ad Old Dutch Cleanser

Hopefully with her $50 prize money red-faced Miss Williams will dash out immediately to her local dress shop and purchase a new Mary Barron slip

Made from that new combination miracle fabric Nylon Rayon Radium…it was the perfect material for any Atomic Age Miss.

It seems sharing a humiliating story for money is timeless…I guess there’s no shame in that!


© 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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  1. Pingback: Bra Sizes – A Thing of the Past | Envisioning The American Dream

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