How to Get that 1950s Hourglass Shape

First of all,  you won’t get it by working out in the gym a gazillion hours a week or by starving yourself or having liposuction. All of that is too much effort or expense.  The secret is in foundation garments.  I’m not talking Spanx type shapewear, either. That’s pretty wimpy stuff compared to what  women wore in the 50s to wrestle their body into that curvy, wasp waisted shape.

Nowadays most women would never dream of cramming themselves into a real girdle in order to sculpt their figure and  make their clothes fit better. But I assure you, if you want to wear a curve hugging pencil skirt,  a girdle will tuck everything neatly into place, smooth out every bulge and minimize the waist nicely. And they’re actually quite comfortable once you get used to them and as long as you’ve found one that fits properly.

Here’s a vintage girdle ad with the promise of looking younger and up to 3″ smaller!

Vintage girdle ad

Vintage girdle ad

Another nifty item to whittle your middle is the waist cincher, which does just what it’s name implies.  You can easily carve off a couple of inches or three with one of these handy dandy items.  Great for getting into vintage dresses you thought wouldn’t fit you.

Waist cincher

Waist cincher

Notice how the ad promises to “hide bulges” and “streamline the waist”. That’s exactly what a waist cincher will do.  Not sure about the spelling of the word “mold”  instead of “mould” in  the name “Figure Mold-Hide a Waist” though.  Makes me think of some kind of nasty fungus, as in, “Gee, honey,  after wearing that waist cincher all day in the hot weather,  sure looks like you got yourself a real bad case of “figure mold!”

Another necessary evil needed to complete that 50’s hourglass silhouette is a cone shaped, pointy bra.  Of course, no self respecting sweater girl would be caught dead without her trusty bullet bra.  Though they are guaranteed to lift and separate, there is always the risk of putting somebody’s eye out!


bullet bra 1952

Bullet bra 1952


Other lingerie items that played a supporting role in shaping the 50’s figure are corsets, corsellettes, merry widows, garter belts, seamed stockings and bustiers.  The websites listed below are some great places to help get yourself into some authentic vintage or vintage style foundation garments, if you’re up for the challenge. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And unlike wearing modern style shapewear, you’ll feel and look sexy and glamorous as hell wearing it!

Vintage Slips For authentic vintage lingerie, including girdles and bras.

For beautiful new vintage style lingerie and foundation garments,  Secrets in Lace  and What Katy Did are two of my favorites.


By | 2014-12-26T18:53:07-04:00 November 10th, 2008|Fashion|4 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Avatar
    Alison December 15, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Maybe I should consider these, beats the hell out of dieting anyway!!

  2. Avatar
    Donell November 13, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I had to giggle at your “Figure Mold” comment!

  3. Avatar
    sarah November 11, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  4. Avatar
    Ruth November 11, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Whoa there, Sweetie! I don’t know what you’ve been smokin’, but I remember those girdles! They were anything but comfortable if you were less than pencil thin already. And don’t even get me started on sitting on the hooks for stockings in warm weather without air conditioning, of course, in the 60’s. I wore them in junior high back then when I was relatively thinner, and they were miserable! I also remember when panty hose first appeared in stores back then, what a relief to not have to wear those girdles anymore. I saw my grandmother’s “iron maiden” a few times too, Talk about scary!!

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