In Miss Mary’s wardrobe – underwear from the happy 80s
The 80s fashion probably didn’t pass anyone by with its enormous shoulder pads, ski pants, neon colours and permed poodle hairstyles. But what did the underwear look like? Was it just as characteristic as the rest of the fashion? We’ve browsed old catalogues and discovered everything from terry briefs to garments called Minus Bust. Join us for a picture tour of the past.
It’s now time to browse through the 80s garments in Miss Mary’s wardrobe. At that time, we produced ordinary clothes as well as the underwear for which we’re now best known.
What can you say about the beloved 80s? The fashions of certain decades stand out more than others for their characteristic style, and the 80s is one of them. Think disco, headbands, ski pants, wide shoulder pads, neon and pastels. Tube socks in pumps and trouser legs tucked into tube socks. Oversized shirts with wide belts. Harem pants, balloon skirts, frills and puff sleeves. Bodies worn under trousers or skirts. College jumpers and jogging bottoms with matching prints. Big tracksuits, preferably in mint green, yellow or pink. The spread below has been cut out from our 1988 summer catalogue.
While time sometimes seemed to stand still, a lot was happening with underwear in the 80s. Corsets remained popular in our collection and were still fairly similar to those from the 70s. A typical way in which we would present our corsets in the mid-80s might have looked like this. It is immediately clear from the model’s hairstyle and makeup that these photographs were taken in the 80s, while the garments are more timeless.
Our popular functional collection for those with allergies and anyone who demanded high quality contained garments that were less body shaping and had a more modern look. This was a ‘World novelty’. All the garments were tested by the Government Testing Institute! Nowadays, it goes without saying that all the materials we use are allergy and skin friendly. The allergy series consisted of all-white garments with simple designs, many of which would work just as well today. There are bras, including moulded T-shirt bras, camisoles, bodies, nighties, loungewear and teddies. A teddy was a loose-fitting body with elastic in the waist and was a popular piece throughout the 80s and 90s.
Panties in the 80s were commonly in bright colours and prints. The materials were often different qualities of terry, something that’s not that common in today’s panties. A popular trend in the 80s was the so-called ‘weekly panties’ in a 7 pack, each pair printed with one of the days of the week. We also produced a set of weekly panties but with a twist. They said ‘Monday Perhaps’, ‘Tuesday Tomorrow’, ‘Wednesday If’, ‘Thursday No’, ‘Saturday Try Again’ and ‘Sunday Not Today’. That way, you could wear them whenever you liked.
If you look at the patterns and colours on other underwear, they weren’t as ‘garish’ as on the panties. Examples of popular patterns on bodies are this fresh paisley print in grey tones and the summer-inspired pattern in blue and apricot.
Bras for ‘THE MINUS BUST’ and sports activities
In the 80s, we used the somewhat mysterious epithet ‘MINUS BUST’. If you’re wondering what it referred to, it’s what we would know today as a minimizer. MINUS BUST was offered as both a non-wired corset and a non-wired bra and was available in C-D cups.
A few years later we launched a minimiser with an underwire. It had a very neat and elegant appearance with lace, narrow shoulder strap and a raised bottom edge. It’s quite similar to many underwired-bras today.
In the latter half of the 80s we began giving our garments proper names such as MARY LÄTT, MARY NÄTT, MARY COOL, MARY SUN, MARY LUCK, MARY FREE, MARY PERFECT, MARY CLASS and MARY GRACE.
Our first pure sports bra was launched in 1984 and was named MARY SPORT. It’s interesting to see that it is similar to a traditional bra in appearance. The typical functional warming and moisture-wicking materials that today’s sports bras are made from didn’t exist at the time.
We also made a jogging set consisting of a bra and panties that we named MARY RUN and MARY JOGGING.
There was great focus on the different functions of the garments, one example of which we called ‘Nadia Vigne’, which was patented and became a global success. Nadia Vigne was a reinforcement under the cup that helped to lift the bust.
The most unusual bra novelty in the 80s was probably the ‘Natural Bra’. This bra had cups with inbuilt nipples that were prominently visible through a shirt or blouse. This way it looked like you weren’t wearing a bra, giving you a ‘naturally beautiful profile’. This is quite different from today’s ideal when we don’t want nipples to be visible through the shirt. The Natural Bra was a big success and was available in A-B cups.
Figure-shaping garments in all varieties
During the 80s we expanded our collection with more cotton garments. We pushed hard for different qualities of cotton-Lycra within our corset series.
It is especially exciting to see the cotton-Lycra material that we now call DIAMOND and that is still used, which was introduced back in the 80s. Even if the fashion and garments have changed, this quality material continues to be popular. For a long time we had the sole rights to this fantastic material.
This is what the Diamond garments looks like today. It’s no longer available just in white but also in black and beige.
Throughout the 80s, only cup sizes A-D (and in some cases DD) were available in our collection of bras and corsets. Our best-known series of corsets for several decades was GARANTI, which was launched back in the 60s. In the 70s it became available in black, but in the 80s this colour had to give way to beige, which sold better.
In 1982 we launched a body corselet with an outer girdle that could be fastened in 4 different positions to provide perfect support for the stomach and back.
The following year saw a bra-less body corselet that could be combined with any choice of bra. The corset had shoulder straps and did not roll down. From the back it looked like a camisole. Several years of product development lay behind this product.
Another smart solution was a body corselet with a zip centred on the stomach to allow you to ‘relieve the corset’s pressure, for example if you were sitting down or had maybe had a little too much to eat.
However, not everything was so fully covering and body shaping. ROMANTIC COLLECTION was a series of black lace underwear that was decidedly more chic.
Relaxing moments on the sofa and the ski slope
In addition to panties, bras and corsets, we sold full and half slips, and panties that could be worn instead of a half slip. They were often made from anti-static material to allow the clothes to drape nicely.
Nighties and dressing gowns were also available in different styles, with terry, velour and silk-like material with lace being in most demand.
Warming thermal garments continued to be popular and were a guaranteed inclusion in our winter catalogue. Thermal garments were something we had introduced to the collection already in the 70s. Now there was a new series made with the textile fibre Rhovylon, which was hypoallergenic, flame retardant and moisture wicking – perfect for a day on the ski slopes or in the cold season.
Miss Mary has always been at the forefront of product development and tests the latest technology in functional materials, whether it’s warming thermal garments or pure underwear.
Isn’t it interesting to see how fashion has changed over the years? Some things are the same, others you miss and some you’re glad belong to the past. Trends come and go, but style and comfort last forever.