Behind the Seams of the Starlet Teddy

Nothing is truly new in fashion. Time and time again, designers pull from the deep recesses of fashion history (and sometimes closer to the shallows of it) to cobble together their collections, and I'm not sure any designer is immune from this practice. I certainly don’t hide that each of my collections is inspired by vintage lingerie; it's the very cornerstone of my brand.

More recently, my inspiration has come from specific pieces of extant vintage lingerie, but often the design comes from certain elements of vintage style. For example, the Short Gown drew inspiration from a very particular yoke style in 1930's evening gowns. The rest of the Gown is a simple, contemporary silhouette. The Janus Bralette is based on the Kestos bra of the 1930's as well, yet fabricated in a fully contemporary figural lace style. The Modern Knickers are based on the super low rise bikini bottoms of the 1970's that came back into fashion in a big way in the late 1990s. There’s a vintage story behind almost every piece I make, whether it’s in the embellishment, styling, or silhouette.

The Starlet collection is no exception; in fact, two of the six pieces are re-imagined versions of extant pieces of 1950's lingerie in my collection. I found the piece that would inform the Starlet Waspie in New York a few years ago. After I had my daughter, I came across a frou-frou pastel green confection on Instagram that would become the basis for the Starlet Teddy, and the two pieces worked together like magic. They both focused on sheer fabrics and ruffles: the ideal combination for a truly 50s-inspired collection! When I think of mid-century lounging lingerie, sheer, ruffly nylon immediately comes to mind, like in these old lingerie ads.

As you can see, the vintage teddy I acquired is 50's style crystallized. The voluminous ruffles at the bust and seat help emphasise the nipped-in waist that was a major silhouette trend at the time.

The original piece is made of a sheer striped nylon: very frothy, floaty, and with that synthetic hand that feels very era-distinctive. At first, I thought it was home-made, but I did find the remnants of a snipped-away tag in the side seam. Sadly I doubt I'll ever find out what company created it. The structure itself is deceptively simple: just a front and back panel with a boatload of ruffles. The finishing most likely was the most time intensive part of the construction of this original piece (and that's true for the Starlet Teddy as well).

The original piece was larger than most of my older pieces of lingerie, so I had to grade the pattern down to make my shoot sample. The crotch on both the original and the new version has snaps to ensure easy exit and entry, something that was a big issue with my Deco Romper a few years ago. The lack of a button crotch on the Deco Romper made it a harder piece to sell, so I'm happy I kept this element from the original teddy for the new version.

There are a few changes to the original piece I made when drafting the Starlet Teddy. First off, I made a button keyhole at the back so the crotch entry wouldn't be the only way to get in and out. Second, I added finer finishing details like thicker elastic and silk bias binding. The ruffles are not nylon, but luxe and soft cotton bobbinet. The original piece has dark green satin bows at each hip and for the Starlet version, I added yellow bows with peach ribbon flowers at the center bust and at each hip for an additional sweet, flirtatious touch. The straps are also elastic, and adjustable, a considerable difference from the static nylon straps on the original piece.

I'm very proud of the final product, and so happy this silhouette can get new life in the 2020s, about 70 years after its inception. It's a fun, flirtatious piece, easy to wear, and comfortable: a pinup lover's dream! Shop it here!