"Why Don’t They Make Them Like That Anymore?"

It’s a lament I’ve made quite often here. A question asked a lot of me; most recently by Greg.

His question was specifically regarding why bras are no longer built into full slips, but my answer addresses more than that. My answer addresses why bras are no longer built-in to all-in-one girdles and other lingerie pieces — why a lot of contemporary lingerie just plain doesn’t quite fit right.

The simple answer is because lingerie manufacturers are cheap.  It’s easier to make less-constructed garments. Not making a true B cup or a 36 band, but making a “hammock” to sorta-kinda sling a breast in is cheaper than going for the fit of a band and a cup.

(This is also why we lost many of the quality touches we adore in vintage lingerie pieces, such as pillow-tabs; properly finished gusset seams — seams of any kind, really; lace inserts and fine appliques rather than the slapped on lace of today — just to name a few! This is also why we have so many chemises instead of slips and nighties with waistlines. Oh, I really could go on-and-on-and-on!)

Making a garment that (supposedly) fits more than one size also makes it easier for retailers to stock, inventory, merchandise and sell it. In other words, because lingerie retailers are cheap.

Remember, for the most part, we no longer have the true department stores, or even boutiques, with fitting experts. It’s not merely a cost-cutting savings in employees (you need less of them and clerks only need to be trained on the registers, not the merchandise), but fitting rooms are a waste of retail floor space.

It’s cheaper to have the customer guess if they are a “M” or “XL” etc., and have it cover them as opposed to fit them, than it is to have them use store service to find an item with a proper fit. (And you wonder why women don’t know what their true bra size is!)

Even keeping track of and neatly presenting Small, Medium, Large, etc. is enough work; they don’t want to bother with organizing all of the racks by band and cup size.

I know that many retailers, lingerie designers, etc., are going to argue that we no longer need true foundation garments; today’s fashion no longer requires or even desires such tailored, fitted looks. But isn’t it interesting to think how the popularity of New Look fashions were fueled by the ability to mass market fashions, and how now fashion has become so diluted, and frankly sloppy, by focusing on mass marketing at the expense of fit?

The 1960’s ushered in this era. Not only the swinging bra-less hippies and the modern woman who found her panties built-in to her pantyhose, but the forced consumption of cheap crap designed to be temporary. “Plastics” may have been the magical word of the future, but that was because corporations knew they could manipulate Americans into buying something only intended to last today; tomorrow consumers could go buy another one. Flip through the pages of any vintage magazines and catalogs in the 60s and watch how words like “quality” and “superior value” disappear (along with “made in America”). And by the 70s, it was becoming a price-point war; a war nobody wins. Least of all quality constructed garments to fit specific sizes.

I ranted about some of this (in more general terms) at the end of the last part of the recent lingerie blogger series, and I may have to get into some of this in more detail about it again — because designers, manufacturers, and retailers just aren’t getting it.

It’s a shame, because there are many of us who would pay for properly sized foundation garments and quality lingerie. We’d love to be able to buy our full-slips, all-in-ones, basques, bustiers, with real bra support. Just like my grandma did. We’d also like to buy nightgowns that fit because they had waistlines, panties with properly seamed leg openings, etc. etc. etc. So keep writing your favorite lingerie designers, your favorite intimate apparel brands and retailers! We might just win yet!

Image Credits: Unknown model wearing Agent Provocateur’s Love Basque. Yes, it has actual bra sizes!

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