Underwear Is A Girl’s Best Friend
As a conversational topic, underwear came out of the boudoir and into the drawing room when Marilyn Monroe said, “I never wear underwear, because I can’t stand wrinkles. I wear a dress, period.”
Her faithful imitator Mamie Van Doren echoed, “I wear nothing under my dresses because I like to have my body breathe all over.”
At about the same time, Marie Wilson announced, “I don’t believe in garments that are structural or engineering news.”
Those statements made headlines. And don’t think it wasn’t planned that way. The girls knew they’d get plenty of news space by proclaiming themselves a microscopic-sized minority—in Hollywood as in any other civilized town.
What really decorates the lovely figures under the glamour gowns? Armed with a tape measure, a divining rod and a lie-detector, I set out to bring you the facts, ma’am, just the facts. I interviewed not only feminine stars to hear what they actually wear and why but a few male stars to find out how effectively girls are dressing according to the males.
Neither Janet Leigh nor Tony Curtis goes for Marilyn’s “no underwear” slogan. “I wear a bra,” Janet says frankly. “I’ve got to, with my measurements.” (Highly photogenic measurements, as every fan knows.) “And it’s more provocative,” she adds, “to wear panties and other frilly underthings.” Tony agrees with Janet.
Rock Hudson’s more explosive: “If there’s one thing I can’t stand to look at it’s a girl who’s wearing falsies. I can spot ‘em at thirty paces.”
Well, I hate to disillusion the dear boy, but many of Hollywood’s loveliest wear the delightfully deceitful sort of bra, and the result can fool even the eye of the camera. I won’t tell you who the wearers are, but some names would surprise you. Let me add that Audrey Hepburn’s is not among them. I’ve never seen Audrey au naturel, but I’m told she resembles a classic Greek statue of the goddess Diana. There’s nothing flat about her, except her tummy. She just refuses to over-accentuate the positive.
A well-made bra, of course, doesn’t produce exaggerated lines. Debbie Reynolds also speaks up in praise of this bosom friend. Says Debbie severely: “Girls who don’t wear bras or underwear are promoting their bodies, not doing the best for their dresses. I think both should look good.”
Mitzi Gaynor’s reaction is more skeptical: “Lots of girls say they don’t wear anything under their dresses. But they do. They just think it’s more sexy and exciting to say they don’t. Me, I enjoy pretty things. Of course I wear a bra! I’m so active that if I didn’t I’d lose my figure. Native girls in the South Seas don’t wear bras, and their figures go to pot very early.” Bra-topped slips have been a welcome addition to Mitzi’s wardrobe. The unbroken line takes care of those wrinkles Marilyn was worrying about, and the brief skirts are particularly good under slim suits, since they don’t show when Mitzi sits down.
Though Jane Russell owns one of the world’s most famous chests, she doesn’t go along with the theory that a low-cut evening dress offers an excuse to dispense with support. She always has a strong-boned bra built into such gowns. Under Mona Freeman’s favorite formal goes a long-line bra that insures a smooth curve right down to her slender waist.
Really smart Hollywood women recognize that even the most naturally beautiful figure looks better in clothes when it gets some assistance from art. Elizabeth Taylor, for instance, always wears a bra, though in her case nature’s work seems to call for no improvement. I know that’s true, because I happened to be in her bedroom when she was trying on the wedding dress she was to wear at her marriage to Nicky Hilton.
Incidentally, if you think all this talk of underwear makes Hollywood girls sound slightly immodest, here’s proof to the contrary. My son Robbie, then four years old, was with me that day. Before undressing, Liz said to him, “Will you please turn your back, little boy?” I assured her he was probably much more interested in the picture of an airplane he was trying to draw.
Debra Paget goes Liz one better. When Debra’s being fitted for a new dress, she won’t even allow women in the fitting room—except the fitter, of course. These studio fitters could give you an earful about lingerie-less ladies. It’s said they sometimes deliberately stick pins into girls who won’t wear underwear. And naturally they’re much happier when they’re fitting a sumptuous new creation over the sleek lines that only a girdle can give.
It’s a significant fact that stars who were once models invariably wear bra, girdle and panties. With their extra professional experience, they’re fashionwise. Grace Kelly, a tall size ten, used to be a model, and she believes in the streamlined look. When Debbie Reynolds wants to step into a suit, she steps into a girdle first. Many top feminine stars tell me they’re taking special care in selecting the right girdles for this season’s new flared-skirt suits, which demand the tiniest of waists.
The pro-underwear chorus is an imposing one, harmonizing on various pitches. There are . . .
Three famous designers make no exceptions in their support of underwear. Charles Le Maire, the head designer at 20th Century-Fox, has this to say on the subject: “Clothes are designed and cut to be worn over undergarments. Otherwise you’ll spoil the best-designed dress.” Chic Hollywood designer Marusia adds, “Everyone should wear undies, and most of them do. A slim dress requires a girdle.” Helen Rose, the head fashion designer at M-G-M, says, “Foundation garments are essential to give a smooth, neat line beneath your dress, especially if you want the effect of a long, slim torso. Without them, you can’t avoid wrinkles in your outer garments.”
June Allyson (sounding a wee bit shocked): “I couldn’t bear to go without underwear. I’d feel as if I weren’t dressed. It’s uncomfortable, and it doesn’t look nice not to wear it. All girls should!”
Mary Murphy: “I don’t like to feel my underwear, and it never weighs more than an ounce, but I’d feel undressed without it.”
Corinne Calvet: “Proper underthings give me a sense of security and confidence.”
Peggie Castle: “I’ve been wearing underwear since I was a baby. I’d feel lost without it.”
Lizabeth Scott: “I don’t like the feel of clothes on me, but I wouldn’t dream of going without undies—ever. Life is such a risk, you know. Imagine being in an auto accident with no underwear on!”
Marilyn Monroe: Take it from me, the Monroe bundles up like the rest of us when she’s cold. While making “River of No Return” up in the Canadian Rockies, Marilyn even got out the red union suits she’d worn (between scenes, that is!) on location for “Niagara.” She was, by the way, a lingerie model at one time; in back copies of high-style magazines you’ll find her in some very cute bra and girdle ads.
But the practical-minded girls are far outnumbered by the stars who love lingerie just for delightful, thoroughly feminine . . .
Terry Moore: “I pay more for my underwear than I do for my dresses. I love lovely underthings. I just don’t feel at my best without beautiful lingerie.”
Lana Turner: She’s a devotee of delicacy and frills. It’s utterly untrue that panties embroidered “I love you” are her idea of a proper trousseau item. Only Lana’s monogram adorns her lacy, ruffled, pastel-colored lingerie.
Ava Gardner: Lana’s pal, being a different type of beauty, goes for simple designs in satin. She, too, went trousseau-hunting at Juel Park’s luxurious Beverly Hills shop, before she became Mrs. Frank Sinatra. When it’s time to retire, Ava really splurges on sumptuous satin nighties and sheer lace-edged negligees.
Joan Crawford: You’d never catch Joan without the exquisite undergarments that make a woman feel all woman. She spent five thousand dollars on her last trousseau!
Marlene Dietrich: She wore practically nothing from the waist up during her night-club stint at Las Vegas; she popularized slacks for women in this country, years ago; but she’s actually the most feminine of all female stars. That extends to her choice in lingerie—even her garters are trimmed with little pompons.
Lori Nelson: “Find a girl who has real feminine appeal,” says Lori, “and you’ve got a girl who loves luxurious underwear.”
Gene Tierney: The right lingerie can make a girl feel like a princess, Gene believes. You might have expected her to load up on Parisian lingerie while gadding around in France. Instead, Gene loyally wrote to a favorite shop in Beverly Hills to order oodles of the pink, blue and champagne-colored under-pretties that she prefers.
On such an intensely personal subject, every star naturally has definite individual tastes. Piper Laurie doesn’t like black. Newcomer Kathleen Hughes, on the other hand, adores black, especially for bras. “I like real crazy underwear in all colors,” Kathleen confides. “I have leopard panties, red slips, purple petticoats.” Pat Crowley’s a petticoat fancier too. On dancing dates, she swirls out her full skirts with lots of crinoline and rustling taffeta.
Frills for females also get a Yes vote from males. Just watch a man invading a lingerie department to buy a gift for his wife. I’ve seen Jack Benny shopping for Mary Livingstone, Jerry Lewis for Patti, Van Johnson for Evie. Like the average man, they all look as furtive and embarrassed as if they were dealing with the black market. But when they get up enough courage to buy something, it’s invariably the fluffiest item in the place.
I guess that’s really what settles the one-sided underwear controversy: Men like girls who like lingerie.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MAY 1954