GENERICO.ruCultureSelf-sewn, foreign, darned: how and from what bras were created in the USSR

Self-sewn, foreign, darned: how and from what bras were created in the USSR

MOSCOW, September 3 —, Julia Zachetova. On this day in 1914, the American Mary Phelps Jacob decided to abandon the rigid corset and use the design of two scarves and a ribbon – a bra. How this part of the women's wardrobe looked like and what it was made of in the USSR and Russia, the fashion historian Alexander Vasilyev told.A synonym for underwear in the Soviet Union was scarcity. The country lacked fabrics and equipment for the production of garments. There was also no desire to create relevant and attractive models.

"A vivid example of Soviet underwear is women's knitwear pantaloons. They came into fashion in 1916 and continued to be produced until the late 1980s. Made of brushed fabric, very comfortable for winter. But fashion has gone ahead and, of course, required other solutions. And in Russia it is not always cold. It’s pretty much the same story with bras,” says the expert. -ratio=”0.74095513748191″ data-crop-width=”600″ data-crop-height=”445″ data-source-sid=”rian_photo” class=”lazyload” width=”1920″ height=”1423″ decoding= “async” />

In addition, the Soviet industry did not take into account that the bust can be of different sizes and special underwear is needed for outfits. Therefore, in the pre-war years, almost all bras were self-sewn.

“Women with a large bust had to do everything themselves: there were no such sizes in the Soviet sale. They bought two boys' panamas and sewed them together with rubber bands, “continues the fashion historian.

There was no question of the completeness of the top and bottom of linen, which is familiar today. They wore bras for many years, they were often washed out, darned.

To the opera in combination

Soviet women saw lingerie stores by the 40s – after joining the USSR Western Ukraine and the Baltics. But it was not available to everyone. Imported bras were purchased by the wives of officers, artists who went on tour to Lviv and Riga.

Mass import of foreign linen, including combinations, began in 1945 from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Romania and Poland. And here it was not without curiosities.

"The country is not used to the fact that underwear can be trimmed with lace, appliqué, be attractive. Ladies, for example, came to the Bolshoi Theater in nightgowns, and this is not a joke, Vasilyev notes. “They thought it was an evening dress because it was made of dark jersey and lace.”

Half-pay bikinis

production of lingerie. But fashionistas were chasing imports from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the GDR – domestic designs were not distinguished by elegance.

"No one dreamed of a French bra, American or, say, from Germany. This is only for the wives of diplomats who lived abroad. They brought, resold,” the expert adds.

The fashion historian's collection contains items from the wardrobe of Olga Voronets, People's Artist of the RSFSR.

"Made somewhere in the GDR or Hungary, decorated with flowers, there is a metal shackle. But it was a people's artist who had the means and the opportunity to buy this. The rest were content with a little,” he says.

The same went for the bikini. The one-piece swimsuits that came into fashion in the 1930s were crocheted or sewn on chintz elastic – stretchy fabrics had not yet been introduced.


"After the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957, imported items came into fashion, and the first fartsov appeared. Then all the artists of the Bolshoi Theater, the Moiseev Ensemble, the circus, the Beryozka Ensemble began to bring swimwear for sale. A good swimsuit in the USSR was very expensive: from 60 to 80 rubles with a salary of 120,” Vasiliev reminded.

Wide access to such goods was opened only in the 1990s, when foreign brands of underwear came to the Russian market.


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