I was recently asked by the Australian Sewing Guild to speak about my favourite topic, underwear!
I hadn’t been to a guild event before so I had no idea what to expect. The one thing I did know however was that the women in the audience would be from a generation that rejected the type of foundations that I love. This detail paired with the fact that I am terrified of public speaking, caused me to have anxiety attacks during the weeks leading up to the talk. I was very excited to be given this opportunity, but there were times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to go through with it.
After much consideration, I put together a talk that consisted of the following:
- An introduction to my blog and recent sewing projects
- The history and evolution of foundations from the Victorian Era through to modern day
- The impact of underwear on my body confidence
- And finally, the conclusion and title of my talk ‘why I’m bringing back foundations’
I discussed (at a very high level) the impacts that society had on fashion, gender roles, how the latter influenced fashion, from silhouettes to hemlines, and how women achieved the various silhouettes. I then discussed the current pressures put on women to look perfect naturally, and the impact this has on women, such as plastic surgery.
I talked about my own experience, starting as an unhappy young girl who hated her body, to the woman I am today, with exactly the same problem areas and body shape as I had all those years ago but armed with the tools to take control of my body.
This talk was very important to me as it pretty much summs up everything I believe in when it comes to undergarments.
My conclusion went along these lines:
So why am I bringing back foundations? At a time when there are so many expectations on women and so much pressure to look a certain way naturally, with absolutely no help… I want to help change that attitude. Wearing foundations is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your body, or that it’s not perfect the way it is. It simply means that you are picking and choosing the shape of your body whenever you feel like it. whether you want to cinch your waist one day or wear a bullet bra another day, you should be free to do so without judgement. I don’t mind if foundations are your thing or not, but women have spent centuries using different garments to shape their bodies, so why should this generation be any different?
The research that I put into this talk and the learning that came out of it have made me want to learn a lot more about the history and evolution of undergarments.
I have decided to do a lot more research into each era and really understand how society impacted on fashion generally, how and who developed the undergarments and how they were made. I want to understand what girls, teenagers and women wore. I also want to know more about men’s undergarments.
I basically feel inspired to take on my own research project! Well, it’s not like I have anything else to do!
Back to the talk… Despite my nerves, and there were definiteky nerves, I think the talk went well. I made the ladies laugh, I got to show a few pieces of vintage underwear and the feedback I received from women after the talk made me so incredibly happy. Yes, most of the women hated the idea of wearing stockings and girdles, but they were also very happy to share stories from when they wore foundations themselves, or stories about their mother and grandmothers. They told me how they felt the pressure to conform to a particular silhouette and what they wore to achieve that shape. I am so grateful to these women for accepting me into their group and for showing me an incredible amount of support.
Thank you ASG, it was a pretty awesome experience!