Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A treasure trove of warm vintage underwear

Two weeks ago when the temperatures were on the chilly side, I head on over to my favorite thrift shop in town to see if I could find any stylish clothing to keep me warm. Figuring I was going to end up finding a nice winter coat or a warm sweater, I was surprised to stumble upon a bounty of warm vintage undergarments.

One of the owners of the store, a nice woman probably in her early 50s, set me up at a table next to the cash register. Despite my slight discomfort at poring over a stack of ladies' underthings with all the other customers walking by (okay, it was quite awkward!), I got to work sorting through the items for ones that would fit me.

Unfortunately the three girdles dating from the 60s, two in white, one in a pinkish/skin color, were much too large, but I did not go home empty-handed. Here is what I picked up for a grand total of nine Euros:

Schießer high waisted woolen knickers

Either the size listed on the box is incorrect, or garments used to be sized differently, because there is no way that this is a modern size 48! Or perhaps someone mistakenly put them in the wrong box...

Pompadour "Schlanke Figur" high waisted cotton knickers

The manufacturer Pompadour apparently marketed these cotton underpants as some sort of low-key foundation garment that will help you achieve a "slender figure" ("Schlanke Figur"). Unfortunately the two-year warranty has expired, but they still look to be in excellent condition.

A close-up showing details of the texture

The backside of the paper insert in the packaging has a blurb in German, English, French, and Italian describing in detail the company's two-year guarantee policy.

I cannot speak to the quality of the translation into the last two languages, but the English version leaves much to be desired:

POMPADOUR-Lingerie with the absolute fashionable character is stylished in constant close connection to the important centres of fashion throughout the world.

POMPADOUR-Lingerie thus is representing the latest novelty as far as shape, material, and technical execution are concerned.

POMPADOUR is guaranteeing perfect material, unchanged shape and most careful work for 2 years from the date of purchase. In case of real cause of complaint kindly hand over the washed piece to the stroe [sic] from which it has been purchased. Please add this Guaranty being valid only, if the date of sale is filled in.

POMPADOUR will either repair the piece free of charge or will replace it, provided that it has been utilized to a normal extend [sic] and that washing has been done as usual for such a piece. Special attention is drawn to the fact that each colour has to be washed separately.

Various pink wool-blend pieces

These pinkish things may look lightweight, but they actually trap the air next to your body quite well, keeping you surprisingly warm without adding bulk. When I first saw the piece above, I asked the shop owner if this was not just a normal pink sweater that had found its way in among the undergarments. She recounted how her grandmother and women of a similar age used to swear by these flesh-colored wool-blend underthings during the cold winter months. And were they ever right! My landlord (bless his heart) happens to be a rather frugal fellow, thus our lovely apartment tends to be kept uncomfortably cool in the winter to save on heating costs. I tried these pieces out for a week and was toasty warm the whole time.

Never been worn

A detail of the texture

The elastic band on the right piece is supposed to sit below the bra

All wrapped up, never been opened.

The bag in the above picture is covered in cute drawings encouraging the customer to be creative in reusing the plastic packaging. I am planning to post some close-ups at a later date, so stay tuned!

A detail of the gathering at the center front

Some of the tags fastened to the garments were similarly old-fashioned. The golden one below describes in detail how one should care for her new purchase.

"for the best quality and good fit"

For those of you curious what the back of the golden tag says, here is a translation:
Washing instructions for white garments: Let the clothing piece soak in cold, at the most lukewarm water in Henko-Solution. While stirring frequently, cook in a Persil lye no longer than 15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse with hot-lukewarm-cold water.  Sil in the first hot water rinse results in a bright color and fresh odor. Do not hang stockinette clothing from its border/corners, rather lay it lengthwise over the clothesline, pulling it into its original form while still wet.

In case you were wondering:
Henko = a brand of washing soda
Persil = a brand of laundry detergents/solutions
Sil = a bleaching agent that first appeared with scent in 1958

Schießer black undershirt

Black clothing is notoriously difficult to photograph, so I hope you can make out some of the details on this next piece.

The form of neckline is simple but attractive

More Schießer products and packaging

Your entire lower torso will stay toasty in these beauties

A detail of the leg cuff

Some packaging inserts happened to be stuck in with another pair of high waisted woolen knickers that I picked up.

-con-ta- blue cotton slip

Even though this ribbed cotton slip was much too large for me, I decided to pick it up to wear as a nightgown in the summer. Don't you just love that baby blue color?

Now nothing stands in the way of me being stylish and warm!


  1. Liebe "Hausfrau", ich habe deinen neuen Blog durch Zufall gefunden, da wir beide wohl den selben Blogs folgen. Ich habe selbst die letzten fast 6 Jahre zwischen London und Deutschland
    gependelt und wir leben erst seit unserer Hochzeit im September diesen Jahres ganz in Deutschland. Ich freue mich auf deinen schönen Blog mit deutschen Wurzeln!
    All the best for you!

  2. Liebe Golden Magpie, es freut mich sehr, dass meine bescheidene Leistung Dir etwas Freude bringt, und vielleicht entdeckst Du auch etwas Neues (oder gerade Altes) über Deine Heimat. Pendeln und Heimweh kenne ich leider auch sehr gut! Ich habe mir es vorgenommen, dieses Journal zu schreiben unter anderem weil ich dadurch Leute mit ähnlichen Interessen kennenlernen kann.

  3. Deshalb habe ich mich auch so gefreut, als ich gesehen habe, dass du in Deutschland lebst, weil du den ersten deutschen blog machst, den ich gefunden habe. Hier wo ich wohne kenne ich niemand mit meiner Leidenschaft - was ich sehr schade finde.


The Hausfrau eagerly awaits your thoughts.