From Bed Caps to Dolls - The 1920s Boudoir


The Roaring Twenties

For a long time I didn't realise how risque and risky the 1920s were. When you consider that a decade before women were encased in corsets and still very much wholly homemakers, some of the things to come out of the '20s have really surprised me. They were definitely the Roaring '20s. World War 1 had tipped the world on its head and of necessity had drawn women out of their houses and their strait laced lifestyles and put them into the factories and the world of work. After the war ended at the end of 1918, a generation of young men had been decimated. The younger generation developed an attitude of let's have as much fun as we can, while we can. Men wanted to blot out the horrors of war.  Although Australian women were granted the right to vote in 1902, American women had to wait until 1920. Women flaunted their newly acquired independence and freedom.

The Lady's Boudoir

Boudoir is just a sexy French word for bedroom. In the '20s many women did experience sexual freedom. Censorship was introduced and restricted what could be shown in the hugely popular movies, but this was not enforced until mid 1934. Many movies of the 1920s and early 1930s are quite risque, and I have written about this in an earlier post - Vintage Knickers and Panties

Our Auntie Ev

I have also mentioned the story of Auntie Ev, my partner's great aunt, in an earlier post. He remembers her as a stern old woman who left her property to the Catholic Church. We were amazed to find this photo of her posed in her underwear.

Auntie Ev in deshabille

She never married despite a number of male friends appearing in her photo album, and she may have even worked as an artist's model. See Ev's story, along with some other naughty 1920s women, here: From Bohemian to Pepper Fiend - Auntie Ev

1920s Step-ins, Camiknickers

I wish I had a better view of Ev's underwear. I can make out long legged knickers, a loose fitting top and lace. My bet would be that she is wearing some camiknickers or step-ins, an all in one garment that one literally stepped into at the top. I do not know how they managed to go to the toilet. Perhaps these were only worn in the boudoir!

1920s vintage silk camiknickers stepins combinations teddy lingerie

Details here: 1920s Silk Step-ins at Louisa Amelia Jane

1920s vintage silk stepins camiknickers combinations pink

Details here: More 1920s Silk Step-ins in the store

I suspect this pair are just a few years older - Details here: Edwardian Step-ins

The Feminine Boudoir

The Boudoir Cap

Early in the 1920s, women were still wearing the camisoles and nightgowns of the previous two decades, often with crocheted yokes worked by the woman herself as part of her "glory box" - the trousseau and household linens she prepared for her married life. The boudoir cap was a glamorous version of the traditional night cap and worn throughout the early '20s.

This set has a tatted lace yoke and trim

Don't forget the pearls!

These photos are from a crochet pattern book from 1920

I was delighted to find this boudoir cap recently. Judging from its condition, I doubt that it was ever worn.

 Check it out here: 1920s Silk and Lace Boudoir Cap at Louisa Amelia Jane

Here's a slip from Louisa Amelia Jane with a crocheted yoke from a little later in the '20s, judging by its shorter length.

1920s vintage cotton slip petticoat with crochet yoke

See details here: 1920s Petticoat With Crochet Yoke

Boudoir Dolls

In the lady's boudoir in the 1920s boudoir dolls could often be seen. They often had a  lot of attitude - smoking or looking like a "bad" woman, sort of like the Flapper Barbie for young women.  Boudoir dolls were hugely popular and they are highly sought after these days by collectors.

Try a google image search for boudoir dolls. The result is mind-boggling, although many are reproduction dolls in the style of the 1920s, as I suspect are these:

The may have lain on a bed or sat on a chair up against an ornate little pillow like this one:

1930s boudoir pillow, in my Etsy store -

 

The 1920s saw the birth of sexual freedom for many women. It was still largely underground, where it had to stay for many years, but it had awakened. Blame it on the movies - the Establishment did.

 

References:

Brown, Lillian Frances; Dexter Crochet Yokes, Book No.8; 1920; Boston


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