Maidenform Dream Ads – Iconic and Ironic


Vintage MaidenForm Bra Ad I dreamed I was a fireman picture of woman in bra

Maidenform’s vintage iconic ads have become a lot more ironic as the prevalence of sexual harassment and mistreatment in the workplace have become part of our national dialogue.

Women Learn to Dream On

Once upon a time the Mad Men of Madison Avenue encouraged women to boldly step into positions of power, independence  and adventure.

Am I dreaming?

Venturing out into the cold war career world dominated by mad men was a tricky landscape to navigate for the mid century Miss. When it came to career advancement,  mid-century women could basically dream on.

Vintage Maidenform Dream Ad Election

But Maidenform Bras encouraged the ladies to be brazen, be bold; there was no adventure, situation or job she couldn’t dream of tackling. When it came to aspirations, Maidenform said dream big.

A bullfighter, a construction worker,  a safari hunter,  even a politician. That is, if m’lady knew how to dress for success. Stand out  from the crowd gals in your conical Maidenform bra. Nothing spoke  “serious career girl” more than wearing a boss-pleasing bra to work, especially when worn without a blouse.

Vintage Maidenform Bra Ad

Stenography skills shaky?  No problem. You’re sure to stand out in the secretarial pool in your Maidenform bra. Nothing could advance a career more and catch the eye of the V.P. Do I see executive secretary in your future?

The whole world would be at your footsteps with just the right padding .

Maidenform Sales Gets an Uplift

Vintage Ad Maidenform Bra Flying a kite

“I’ve Got the World on a String! Vintage Maidenform Bra Ad

Maidenform’s “I Dreamed” campaign was conceived by a woman copywriter at a N.Y. ad agency during the post war years when women were unceremoniously sent back to hearth and home from their brief stink of independence in the work force during WWII. It was clear bored housewives needed a bit of  escape as the wildly successful ad campaign kept women dreaming for nearly two decades.

Vintage Maidenform Bra Advertisment I Dreamed Chariot

The dreams themselves changed but the ads were formulaic, always  featuring  a scantily clad woman confessing she daringly dreamed of doing a more “manly job” all while  wearing her brassiere. The scenes were all imaginary and often absurd.  Whether fighting in a bullring or hunting in a safari, they were no more absurd in fact than working on a construction site or fighting a fire, jobs not even open to the mid century Miss.

Vintage Maidenform I Dreamed Ad 1960s

What the ads all made clear was that the path to success in the mainly male dominated world was paved with seduction. The conical constructed bra made every bosom ready for lift off giving every career a boost.

Now I Learn My ABC’s

Vintage Ad Maidenform Bra I Dreamed School 1950s

No matter the level of education, a smart cookie learned her ABC’s early – that is her cup size was essential to success.

In fact one ambitious Miss went back to school in nothing but her brassier  though her degree might mean little in comparison to the uplift achieved by her bra with the special bias cut for superb separation and contours.

Be The Chief and Siren Too


I dreamed I was a fireman in Maidenform Bra 1953 “I’m the chief and the Siren too- the most incendiary figure in the 5 alarm dream”

Women could step brazenly into dreams of power and influence,  attributes that remained an unimaginable dream for too long. The copy describing the incendiary figure the bra created:  “dangerous yes…but beautifully under control,” could just as likely be said about a woman’s ambition.

And when she dared more than just dream, as we now know, many women often had to suffer through some nightmares to achieve that.

I Dreamed  I Was…..

Vintage Maidenform Ads I Dreamed

Donald Trump inspired construction jobs? Fighting Fires or doing construction was as unimaginable and fantastical for a mid-century woman than was riding a chariot or fighting a Tiger on Safari.

Private Eye


Vintage ad Maidenform I Dreamed Private Eye

Vintage Ad 1953

I read past the headlines- searching for clues about the most wanted figure! Arresting to look at- the thriller with a secret no one would suspect. Private eyes- concealed bust pads foam rubber build up you’d never detect.

Big Game Hunter

Vintage ad Maidenform I Dreamed Hunter

I’m the daring young lady from Niger.

Who smiles as she goes hunting tiger.

My figure is svelte.

The best on the veldt.

Or anywhere else says the Tiger.”


Vintage Maidenform Ad I Dreamed Artist 1950s

Vintage Ad 1953

“I’m dabbling in dreams…with the whole world at my footsteps! The critics come to look at my work, and they stay to look at me! They say Ive a genius for line an absolute mastery of form. Could it be they mean my Maidenform Figure?

Jury Pool

Vintage Maidenform Bra Dream Ad 1960s


Vintage ad Maidenform I Dreamed Politics

Seem through the lens of our current Me Too movement as the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace become part of our national dialogue, these iconic ads are lot more ironic. Its hard in fact to look at them without a bit of shock and awe.

 I’m a sure winner because I’m on the right track. My platform: a vote for me is a vote for Maidenform. No wonder I’m the peoples choice for the figure of the year.

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Oscar Dreaming in Your Maidenform Bra


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2018.








One comment

  1. thetactfultypist

    Yuck! The male gaze of the camera in the 50s and 60s can be revolting!
    Add to this the cognitive confusion created by empowering the male gaze and causing women to think, ah, so this is how men/the world expects us to look.. How ironic that such a state of undress in ads occurs at the same time that women are judged by their state of undress when sexually assaulted…
    Of course, the current social evil among our world is less the sexualization of the female image than the sexualization of children… and just what brought that about?!? And who controls the gaze of the camera today?

    Liked by 1 person

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