For the longest time, I’ve found one of the big factors involved in an outfit looking authentically vintage versus looking like a modern interpretation to be the underpinnings involved. Items like garter belts and bullet bras primarily remain in pop culture as symbols of sex and boudoir. I see them as a necessity for the creation of a truly vintage look. Something as simple as a bullet bra and a petticoat change the entire feel of an outfit, help true vintage items fit correctly, and show you’re willing to go the extra distance – which many are not willing to do or are not interested in doing.
Until recently, my collection of foundation wear was composed of a thrifted Maidenform cone bra (which is sadly coming apart and I can’t seem to find again), two of Malco Modes’ Cosette petticoats (which I gushed about awhile ago here), a bullet bra, a few modern high-waisted panties that fit poorly, the odd pair of fully fashioned stockings that don’t quite fit, and a garter belt that rarely gets worn given my lack of stockings. This hodgepodge collection of undergarments were luckily recently filled out by two cohesive sets and a rainbow of stockings from THE leading lingerie and hosiery reproduction company out there: What Katie Did. Although I’ve been showing off my stockings on Instagram over the past few weeks, I wanted to bring you all a fully flushed review and hopefully shed some light on how much of a difference having items like these in your wardrobe can make while highlighting item comparisons with discussions of comfort.
To get the discussion started, My measurements are currently 36″-24/25″-39/40″ with thighs clocking in at about 24″ around each, a general bra size of 32DD, and I clock in at 5’5 when it comes to height. Since my waist to hip and leg proportions are so extreme, I tend to avoid high-waisted panties, girdles, stockings, and other similar items that cut off at the thighs for fear of discomfort and bulging. With this batch of What Katie Did items (the breakdown of which I will provide below), I was able to mix and match to find what combinations decreased leg discomfort as well as finding wonderful alternatives to certain items! To show off the items and their fit, I worked with the wonderful photographer Fenix.Fox, and I felt it important that he didn’t edit or smooth out my body in any way. I wanted to show exactly how these items fit with zero pretenses.
I’ll begin by discussing the peach set I can now call my own. Here’s a breakdown of the items I received (excluding the color ways of stockings I’ve already been showing off on my Instagram):
I chose the CC09 bra and set because I knew I needed something to help show off the 1940s vintage I’ve been donning for work. The bra caught my eye for having gorgeous detailing and providing a bust shape that’s a bit harder to find these days. As with What Katie Did’s bullet bras and true vintage bras from the earlier decades of the 20th century, this one features no underwire, making it much more comfortable. Its smooth, soft, satiny feel is incredibly luxurious and supportive despite how thin the bra is.
You can easily see the beautiful detailing on the bra, and I appreciate the wider band along the bottom. Proportionally, this bra fits my shape a bit less naturally. My breasts are decently round and while I fill the cups fully in this size, I found that the point tended to droop down and could only be fixed by tightening the straps to an uncomfortable point.
It should also be noted that I didn’t have the space for bullet bra pads with this style, something I often rely on to fill out the tips of vintage bras since my breasts are too round. You can tell in these images that this bra is plenty stuffed and fits me snugly. It’s nice on one level, not having to worry about crushed bra tips under clothes, but I’m hoping that, as the bra eases with use, I can tighten the straps to help pull up that point so it feels a bit less saggy.
(PS If you’re looking for bullet bra pads, an add-on I would highly recommend, I suggest Lucy B‘s which run around $15. What Katie Did also makes them, but I use bullet bra pads to accentuate the point versus just making my breasts larger, so I prefer Lucy B’s as they’re solid and firm instead of soft, relatively round, and malleable.)
Luckily, when actually worn under clothing, that droopiness isn’t quite so noticeable, so I consider this bra a win!
When it comes to the bottom half of the look, the combination of panties, tap panties, and garter belt was completely new to me. The tap panties were suggested as a solution for concealing panty lines while feeling luxurious. They certainly did the job and the fact that their waist size is about 26″ and so too large on me was not a negative. I was actually glad to have a bit of extra space since they have no stretch and I’ve been popping a lot of buttons lately!
The high waisted panties fit shockingly well. My legs are squeezed a bit, but not in the uncomfortable way they usually are with other modern high-waisted underwear, and the waist actually fits! Hallelujah! I feel like I’ve been waiting for panties like these for too long and I definitely want my underwear supply to fully change over to What Katie Did’s high-waisted styles instead of the selection of modern-day styles it’s currently composed of.
The garter belt fit well and features 6 metal straps, which is the minimum requirement if you want actual functionality with your foundation-wear. I did find, when comparing this item to the girdle in the other set I’ll discuss, that the garter belt actually ends up making my stockings squeeze my legs more. I find myself having to tug my stockings up throughout the day on the insides resulting in some rubbing in the thighs that I don’t experience with the girdle. Although the belt fits beautifully, it starts getting more uncomfortable throughout the day. It might be that my larger thighs simply need extra straps to try to keep the stockings up comfortably, but you can see the problem in the image below (and this was with constant tugging for the sake of photos).
Overall, I would say I probably prefer the black set if only because of the bra. I opted for this longline bra because I’ve been on the lookout for as long as I can remember for a bra that would eliminate back lines and the discomfort caused by the skin pinching between shorter bras and the belts I wear with my outfits. I have looked around at brands like Maidenform which offer similar styles, but the waist never ran small enough to fit me. I also wanted something that could provide a little cinching power for those pieces of vintage my waist is too big for. What Katie Did’s longline bra is everything I could ask for – and more.
The boning combined with mesh panels makes it flexible yet firm, while the fact that it closes in the front is unbelievably convenient. Fit-wise, it cinches my waist in gloriously without being uncomfortable, the length falls almost exactly at my natural waist and never threatens to roll, and the cup-shape is soft and wearable. The cups run large, I would say, as my breasts are the perfect shape for filling out cone bras normally, but this one had a bit of extra space as you can see in this image:
I don’t see this as a problem as it leaves room to use my bullet bra pads if I desire. My one problem with the bra is that I found the sides tended to rub against the skin of my armpits, but they’ve already softened up from wear enough that it’s substantially less noticeable. Either way, I LOVE this bra!! Definitely my favorite item from the lot, and look how teeny my waist looks in this 40s gown!
When it comes to the bottoms of this set, the high-waisted panties fit just as beautifully. The main difference was that these feature a subtle point in the front that the peach version do not – a design choice I adore that makes them even more flattering in person. I wouldn’t say that either of these provide much tummy control – although my body shape doesn’t carry much weight in the tummy so it’s hard to say. They’re also very breathable and don’t feel constricting like my modern high-waisted underwear. You can see in the image I linked above for the bra that my legs are barely squeezed and fit quite comfortably.
I also mentioned above that I preferred the girdle method of keeping stockings up to the suspender belt method. This was something that greatly surprised me as I’d always been too afraid to try girdles since they cut off at the leg. This was my first time trying one, and I was pleasantly surprised. While a piece of shape wear, I wouldn’t say that this is a particularly extreme example – which I personally prefer. It smooths out the bump of hip created by the longline bra (which I appreciate), and as there’s less space between the stockings and the undergarment, it leaves less room for the stockings to slide around and down, so I prefer wearing this to the suspender belt. I tend to lean toward the suspender belt on hotter days, or when I need light colored lingerie, and the girdle when I have a full day of moving around and want to wear my longline. I know it sounds backward, but it’s what’s worked best for me.
So that brings me to my rainbow of stockings. Up to receiving my slew of What Katie Did Glamour Seamed Stockings, I had only tried vintage stockings (both full-fashioned, and not). All have squeezed my thighs even when freshly pulled up. I was nervous to try the Glamour Seams because they had stretch and I prefer the look of the beautiful vintage nylons and silks that feature little to no stretch – even in the welt. I realize now that I should’ve gotten over this preference ages ago, because these stockings are astounding! While their material renders them warmer than my alternative, the stretch makes them fit absolutely PERFECTLY. The fact that my legs aren’t in pain because they’re spilling over stockings so much is astounding. Although I do miss the form-fitting styles of fully-fashioneds, I’m a convert!
I now hope to stock my wardrobe with a full rainbow of these seams. And they’re perfect when one’s work garments must be black and/or white but can be accessorized with color. They’re a great way to add a little element of surprise. That little extra something more!
Hopefully, this review can help if you’ve been thinking of springing for a What Katie Did or vintage/vintage-inspired foundation-wear item. Having a pointy bust line and showing off a stocking seam can enhance any retro outfit with ease. I’m happy to finally be expanding my undergarment collection, and would love to hear if you’ve tried anything by What Katie Did!
Miss Lark Bahar