The Twenties slimline silhouette is certainly back in fashion right now, but how do you recreate an authentic Twenties shape with modern underwear?

Last week M&S got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to pick some of their underwear to showcase how it can be used to create a vintage shape. Having been thinking a lot about wearing more Twenties as I’ve just bought a fab Twenties-inspired winter coat, I decided to go for it.

I think there are two current misconceptions about the Twenties shape. Firstly, although the ideal Twenties body was a far cry from the voluptuous early Edwardian Gibson girls, women in the Twenties were not stick thin either. Just as women today, women back then had different natural body shapes, and although slim, the average Twenties woman still had curves. The matronly look of the Edwardian era was certainly passe but the Twenties look wasn’t so much about thin than it was about a shape that would allow you to move, dance, play sports.



Which brings me to misconception number two, which is that although the Twenties woman no longer wore her Edwardian corsets, she would still use shapewear such as early forms of bras, girdles and corselettes to create the desired boyish silhouette. Boobs were minimised, hips smoothed over and bums clinched in to create the slimline look essential for drop-waisted dresses.

You shouldn’t therefore feel ‘inauthentic’ or like you’re cheating if you use shapewear to create a Twenties silhouette, women in the Twenties would have done so too.

Luckily for us today we have a ton of modern, repro and vintage shapewear we can access to recreate the same look. If like me, you are curvacious with boobs and a bum, wearing a bra and full knickers is a good start for your Twenties look, which is why I chose a non-badded silk bra and matching midi knickers from the Rosie for Autographe range. The set streamlines my curves and gives enough support without feeling really rigid, plus the set has a lovely vintage feel about it. If you feel you need some extra support for your tummy and hips, you could easily wear a corselette on top. Typically, this lightweight type of half-corset shapes your stomach, bum and hips.


If you have a naturally slim figure and don’t need much support, then I’d suggest this silk teddy from the same range, which could also double up as a slip under more see-through Twenties pieces and really has the lightweight feel of authentic Twenties underwear.

teddy 20s

My own idea of a Twenties look is inspired by Twenties daywear and simple, pleated dresses as well as the Sixties take on Twenties fashion. I have a modern version of  Sixties-does-Twenties pleated dress in blue with white collar, which is completely see-through so will require a slip underneath. I’ll pare it up with my new repro Twenties coat. 

Now all I need is a cloche hat, currently number one on my shopping list.

sister jane 20s dress

20s coat


7 Responses

  1. Lady Koo

    Love this article! Being a woman of ‘1920s’ fashions myself and of an certain age, I find it really helpful to be able to pick beautiful lingerie to give me a gentle support underneath of my dresses. Tip for cloche hats: Anna Chocolat (in Brighton) does a wonderful range of twenties style hats and sells also on her website x Lady Koo

    • Lena

      Oh thanks so much for the tip, I’m actually going to Brighton soon so I’ll make sure I go to her shop!

  2. Kristin

    I love this! I keep thinking about vintage underwear and I really love it and want it to smooth out my curves and make my clothes glide easily over my body (rather than having lines everywhere ugh) but so many people tell me it’s uncomfortable or not realistic. Boo, I think what you linked to looks amazingly comfortable and very practical. Thank you!

    • Lena

      Thanks! I think as a starting point M&S is really good. If you want something more repro I can recommend What Katie Did. Great modern materials but an authentic vintage look.

  3. rhondda

    I shoot vintage and what I find creates the perfect silhouette is using the vintage undergarments. I wish they made them like that now, and I know the ones that you showcased are perfect also, but I think if underwear makers and designers went back and really looked at the styling of the vintage pieces they would see that there is a market for it. My clients always hate giving me back the underwear after the shoot as they are so comfortable and still sexy.

  4. kSto

    Collette wrote a very funny story, “My Corset Maker” c. 1920 that vintage lovers should read. I have been waiting for a long time for fashion to revisit the ’20s. In addition to being graceful, feminine and fluid, the styles represented the biggest breakthrough in fashion, probably in history.