Somewhere in the late 70s, slips, along with giant American cars and bouffants, went out of style. Changes in politics and fashion meant women no longer felt the need for multiple forms of undergarments or layers of modesty. Recently however, this foolishly minimalist trend has reversed and a new generation of women is realizing the benefits of wearing slips.
Not only does a slip provide an additional layer of cloth under a sheer dress, it also helps create smoother lines and a clean drape. Best of all, it adds sensuality and glamour to your wardrobe. A glimpse of sheer lace or saucy pleating peeking out from underneath the hem of a dress is a sexy hint of what's underneath!
Vintage 60s Van Raalte slip.
Slips are relatively simple to fit. Vintage styles were sized on a pretty standard set of measurements, corresponding to the bust, waist and hip, with the bust usually being the most telling. A woman with a 34 inch bust is considered a small, a 36 would be a medium, 38 large and so on.
Slips are typically cut to measure 2 inches more than the body they were designed to fit. This is to account for the garment's wearing ease. Wearing ease refers to the amount of extra room cut into a garment to allow for proper fit and wear. What does this all mean? Well, a slip measuring 38 inches at the bust is technically a M/36, and is made to fit a woman with a 36 inch bust with one to two inches of extra room for comfort.
Vintage slips are graded for size according to a general set of measurements, so that as the bust size increases so do the waist and hip proportionally. A size S/34 is made to fit a woman whose measurements are 34-26-36, while the next size up M/36 is for a body that is 36-28-38 and a L/38 fits a 38-30-40. As you go up in size the measurements increase by 2 inches. While exact measurements vary from person to person we use this generic standard as our sizing rule.
These measurements are general and it is possible that you'll find yourself in between sizes. Perhaps your bust falls in the medium range while your hips are in the large, or vice-versa. As long as your measurements aren't greater than 2 inches from these numbers use your bust to determine size.
If you do find yourself outside this range you may still be able to find a slip that will look good and feel great!
If your booty is your best asset and is proportionally larger than your bust we recommend selecting a size slightly larger than your bust measurement. A slip that is too small around the hips will ride up and bunch above the hips, totally defeating the smoothing purpose of the garment.
For example, lets say your bust is 35, waist 30 and hips 42, a M/36 slip made from nylon tricot or bias silk may fit very well. The item will be tailored along the bust and the natural stretch of the material will provide a snug but flattering fit through the waist and hip.
Perhaps you have the opposite shape, with an ample bosom and smaller hips. In this case, a slip in the next size down from your bust measurement will work. Since you have 2 inches of wearing ease you won't be squished on top and the smaller size will eliminate extra bulk in the waist or hips.
Let's say your bust is 40, waist 28 and hips 38. In this case we would recommend a L/38. Your bust will fill the bodice without spilling over because of the garment's wearing ease while your waist and hips won't be drowning in excess fabric.
Some slips have a larger bust to waist or hip ratio so if your top and bottom don't match up exactly with the general sizing spread you may still find a garment that will work for you. Check out the details in the garment's listing to find a fitted piece that's just right for you.
Vintage 50s Van Raalte slip with lovely pleating.
To achieve a perfect fit it is crucial to think about the garment you're interested in as a whole. Consider its shape, material, design, how you want it to fit, what you plan on wearing it with and the type of silhouette you desire. Are you looking for a garment with a fitted waist and a voluminous skirt, or do you need something to wear under a tight knit dress that's fitted through the hips? Do you prefer a slip that is more tailored with a snug fit or one that has more room for ease? Does the fabric have stretch or is it designed with a zipper and tailored for a very specific size? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your search and provide you with the necessary clues to find the perfect garment.
A preview of some of our favorite vintage slips.