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Buying vintage slips should always be a pleasure – but you can avoid disappointment of a badly fitting slip if you take note of some simple slip buying advice before you go any further.
Its easy once you get the idea...
In this easy buying guide you'll find some good advice to consider when buying vintage nylon slips:
Just because a vintage slip or petticoat has a size label, that doesn’t mean it is actually that stated size! Vintage size labels are notoriously inaccurate, so in the end it is definitely best to ignore them and measure instead. It is not the least bit unusual to find slips in my stock with size labels showing 3 or even 4 sizes out from what they really should be! You are buying a virtually unique piece, just for you, so you should make absolutely sure that it fits like it was made especially for you.
Vintage nylon slips are usually sold by bust size, so in this article we will show you the easiest way to find what your bust size is. Once you know your bust size, buying the right size of vintage underwear becomes easy and reliable.
Q – How do you measure the bust of your vintage slips and how can I find my bust size using an existing garment?
A – I lay the slip on a flat surface, upside down. Using a tape measure, I go from underarm seam to underarm seam. I then take the measurement I get and double it. So, for instance, a 36″ bust slip actually measures 18″ underarm to underarm. This is called the ‘Underbust’ measurement and is the method we use for all our listed slips, being the easiest way buyers can be pretty sure they are buying something that will fit them well. There is a slightly more accurate way of measuring the bust, called the ‘True Bust’ measurement where a tape measure is used from a side seam and traces the full contour of each bust cup before reaching the starting point again (you obviously don’t double the measurement this time). Taking a ‘true bust’ measurement can be tricky for some, so we use the ‘underbust’ method instead – accurate enough to ensure you shouldn’t get it wrong. If you don't have a slip that fits you well that you can use to find your own bust measurement then you can use any other garment that you know fits you well, such as a blouse or a shirt.
Essential things to remember when buying a vintage slip:
Modern standard clothing sizes (8, 10, 12, 16, etc) will never accurately describe the size of a vintage slip – or any other vintage garment for that matter. They can’t. Only one guide really counts and that is the actual measured size – bust, waist, hips and length in inches or centimetres. Nothing else counts, believe me. Once armed with the actual measurements of a vintage slip you are thinking of buying, you can measure one you already have that you know fits you perfectly. That way you will always know what you will be getting.
Any responsible vintage seller should be able to provide you with these proper measurements. If they can’t, or won’t, be cautious! There is no reason why modern sizes can’t be mentioned in a listing too, but only as a loose guide.
As you look around the internet you will see lots of ‘size comparison charts’ and – scarily – hardly any two are alike and they all differ wildly from one and another. How can this be? Well, to be honest, there has never been true consistency with garment sizing, vintage or not. You can tell this by the different interpretations of modern sizes you encounter when you go from store to store – some are way bigger/smaller than others.
I can't emphasise this enough -
Just to go back to what I said at the beginning of this page – if you want to be really sure if a vintage slip will fit or not, please take a little extra time and effort to work with the true measurements given – they are the one and only way to get the right size!
At the beginning of this article I described how to measure your own bust size by using an existing garment that fits you well. Once you know what your bust size is then buying a well-fitting vintage slip becomes simple. Here are some other questions and answers that you will find useful when buying vintage slips:
Q – Where on a slip do I properly measure the hips?
A – Find where the natural waist is, then measure 8 inches below that. Don’t forget to double the figure though.
Q – When measuring the length, do you go from the top of the strap on the shoulder, or from the top of the seam?
A – Always from the top of the strap – and with good reason. A lot of European full slip straps are non-adjustable and can vary a lot in generosity, making the slip hang lower or higher. Measuring the length to hem from the top of the slip’s side seam would not take this into account.
Q - Is my bra size the same as my bust size when buying vintage nylon slips?
A - No, it isn't. Bra sizes factor in other measurements so just stick to bust size to avoid confusion.
[Converting and comparing actual vintage sizes to modern sizes is far from exact science and therefore no responsibility can be accepted for errors or inaccuracies. Always use true measurements to be sure].
Article written by Emma Benitez. BA (Hons) in Fashion and Dress History, incurable vintage aficionado and owner of Nylon Nostalgia.
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