It’s time to be daring and let the imagination wander a little. What would be your dream lingerie or swimwear? It might be something with incredible support or something that looks fabulous yet holds you in. Or it could be so luxurious that it’s encrusted with crystals (and even feathers, perhaps?) Well, consider the 1930s: it was a time when Hollywood gave the world its escapism from the war. The films of this time showed starlets like Marlene Dietrich in glamorous silk, crepe and satin luxury lingerie. Here’s a little bit of inspiration from a bygone era.

The Costume Designers Behind the Show-Girls

Two of the greatest costume designers of the 30s were Orry-Kelly and William Travilla. Born in Australia, Kelly travelled to America for a career in acting (he even shared a house with Cary Grant) but quickly found that his talent lay in costume designing. He designed for all the major actresses of the time including showgirl costumes in ‘Some like it Hot’. Travilla dressed Marilyn Monroe eight times and was the costume designer behind, ‘How to Marry A Millionaire’ and ‘that’ white halter neck Monroe dress. Have a look at some of their designs, and marvel at the way they celebrated the female body.

1930s Challenge For Designers

The 1920s was a bad decade for the decolletage: first of all, there was the Hays code, a piece of legislation which prohibited any show of cleavage. But it was also a decade when the bust was extremely out of fashion, generally. Come the 30s, however, seductive clothing and lingerie came roaring back into fashion, and as the decade advanced became increasingly designed to suggest but not show. This led to designers being very clever indeed, using fluid, body-contouring fabrics like silk and biased cut dresses that purveyed a very sultry image and which has profoundly influenced lingerie ever since.


Swimsuits from a bygone era need to be re-invented for today’s style-savvy holidaymakers. Picture those plunging v-necks and the wide shoulder straps going down to a V at the back, too. Then think about the detailing – the jewels under the bust, waist or hips. (Well, if you’re going to go glam, you might as well do it properly…) However, to finish this dream swimwear off there would be a matching half skirt that attaches at the front and flows out behind you as you walk. Divine.

Jean Harlow

bikinis that hide back fat

Harlow was the original blonde sex symbol in the 1930s. An American actress (who died sadly at only 26), she starred in several movies and spent most of her time in seductive silk biased cut gowns, lingerie or evening wear. She was a strong performer and was electrifying to watch on screen. The lingerie she was filmed and pictured in was the stuff of dreams: they often had ostrich feathers outlining a slit or cuffing, billowing sleeves and even fur accents, too. Pure Hollywood glamour.