Ruth Spencer delves into the his­tory of un­der­gar­ments

Delv­ing into the his­tory of un­der­gar­ments

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

In spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of man­ag­ing his many chil­dren around the lin­gerie depart­ment. While a dad of this cal­i­bre wouldn’t find much to shock him here, the neb­u­lous world of Ladies’ Un­derthings was a mys­tery to most men for gen­er­a­tions. By 1971 it was out of the shad­ows and on to the shop floor here in Lynn Mall, the first of the Amer­i­canstyle malls to open in New Zealand. Far from a se­cret boudoir of frills and lace, the goods run the gamut from sen­si­ble to util­i­tar­ian. On dis­play are dis­counted slips, quilted bed­jack­ets, and the star­tling gus­set of a gi­ant pair of legs, pre­sum­ably demon­strat­ing the proper area on which to wear panty­hose.

These gi­ant legs were mak­ing great strides. 1971 was the turn­ing point, where panty­hose sales over­took stock­ings for the first time. Miniskirts had en­tered the main­stream, as seen on Mum in this pho­to­graph. No longer would women pur­chase the “three-piece set” of bra, knick­ers and garter belt as stan­dard equip­ment. Gir­dles were on the out too, as lin­gerie be­came more fluid and sheer and young, pre­sum­ably perky women aban­doned bras — at least tem­po­rar­ily. For those who wanted the bra­less look but didn’t want to forego the sup­port, there was a bra with a pros­thetic “cold weather” ef­fect — this was some­thing of a niche market and prob­a­bly not on of­fer at Lynn Mall. De­spite spring bloom­ing among the bloomers, the sales smock of the staff mem­ber is firmly re­sist­ing any in­flu­ence of fash­ion, ei­ther in length or sheer­ness. Any­thing at all could be un­der it and it would re­main a mys­tery.

Lynn Mall, New Lynn, Auck­land, 1971.

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