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1918 Underwear for Ladies and Children

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

My grandmother and some great aunts in 1918.

My grandmother and some great aunts in 1918.

Lingerie for Women and Children in 1918

I have a Summer 1918 catalog for the John Wanamaker, Philadelphia store. The artwork is a delight and the prices will make you smile. The fashions look light and innocent. It was the year when World War I ended, Woodrow Wilson was president and the Spanish flu swept the nation.

Let's focus on pages 36 - 46 in the catalog which features "dainty nightgowns" and "summer undermuslins." Here are examples showing what the well-dressed lady of 1918 wore under her dresses and what she wore for bedtime and around the house.

The photo is from our family album and shows my grandmother, Ruth Vining, in 1918 with her friends.

Camisoles and Chemises from 1918 - in the John Wanamaker catalog

chemise and camisole 1918 catalog

chemise and camisole 1918 catalog

1918 nightgowns clothing

1918 nightgowns clothing

A 1918 Summer Nightgown

Take a look at the delightful descriptions from the Wanamaker 1918 catalog and how about those old time prices too. Keep in mind that the average family income in that year was just $1518. More families were living in towns and cities than before.

Description from the catalog:

P-5008 - Fine muslin nightgown with hand embroidery and ribbons. $3.50

P-5009 - Fine quality muslin nightgown, with hand embroidery, ribbons and novel sleeves. $2.75.

Crochet Pattern for Vintage Nightgown Yoke

The Evolution of Corsets and Ladies Lingerie 1900 to 1950 - Slideshow of lingerie ads year-by-year shows the changes in styles

Camisoles, Chemises and Petticoats from 1918

1918 underwear chemises

1918 underwear chemises

Vintage Crochet PATTERN to make - Antique Butterfly Filet Crocheted Nightgown Yoke

If you're looking for patterns for vintage nightgowns, check out my friend's page.

Pattern for Crocheting Decoration for a Vintage Style Nightgown


More 1918 Nightgowns

from the John Wanamaker catalog

1918 Wanamaker Catalog Description:

P-3701 - Nainsook nightgown, smartly trimmed with lace, embroidery and ribbon. $2.50.

P-3702 - Embroidery and ribbons trims this dainty nightgown of nainsook. $2.25

Vintage Graphic of a Bath-Robe

American Dressmaking Step by Step tells how to make a robe like this.

American Dressmaking Step by Step tells how to make a robe like this.

Vintage Crochet PATTERN - Antique Filet Crochet Nightgown Yoke 1917

Nightgowns of Batiste and Nainsook - 1918 Wanamaker Catalog

1918 nightgowns

1918 nightgowns

Descriptions of the Gowns Shown Above

P-3700 - Daintily trimmed with embroidery and tucks is this nightgown of nainsook. $2.

P-3704 - Nightgown of nainsook, attractively trimmed with embroidery and ribbon. $1.65

P-3705 - Nainsook nightgown, prettily trimmed with lace, embroidery and ribbon. $2.50.

P-3706 - Embroidery and tucks are most effective as trimming on this nightgown of soft cambric. $1.50.

P-3707 - Dainty nightgown of pink batiste, trimmed attractively with lace and ribbon. $1.85.

P-7308 - Prettily trimmed with lace and ribbon is this nightgown of nainsook. $2.65.


Underwear and Nightwear for Children in 1918

Description from the 1918 Wanamaker catalog:

P-4606 -- This child's sleeping garment is made of cambric, and finished down the front with silk frogs. Sizes 2 to 10 years. $1.

P-4607 -- This small girl's petticoat of nainsook, is made in princess style, fastens on the shoulder, and is finished at the bottom with a full ruffle of embroidery and lace insertion. Sizes 2 to 6 years. $1.

A Child's Nightgown from the WWI Era

This 1917 book is in my personal collection.

This 1917 book is in my personal collection.

Corsets from 1918


Would You Have Worn a Corset in 1918?

Patterns to Crochet Corset Covers & Nightgown Yokes

Ladies Wrappers from 1918

ladies wrappers 1918

ladies wrappers 1918

I love the descriptions of these robes. The first one is described as "A dainty one-piece wrapper of dotted crepe voile trimmed around the edge with lace, beading and ribbon at waist. $3.85.

What a Delightful Wrapper for the WWI Era Lady to Wear

This is called a "bath-robe" in the 1917 book American Dressmaking Step by Step. It looks similar to the "wrappers" in the 1918 catalog above.

This is called a "bath-robe" in the 1917 book American Dressmaking Step by Step. It looks similar to the "wrappers" in the 1918 catalog above.

What Interests You about 1918 Fashion?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Virginia Allain

I'd love to hear your opinions on the fashions of 1918

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on August 24, 2013:

What a fun page. You sure did a fabulous job on ladies vintage underwear fashions. Love it. Really though the fashions are not all that different from what is available today.

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 24, 2013:

My 16 yr old granddaughter wears similar styles, but NOT as undergarments. Come to think of it, I have a couple of Summer dresses very close to the 'Ladies' Wrappers'.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 10, 2012:

@anonymous: Chris - click on my avatar picture here. Then you will see my profile with the CONTACT button under it. We can continue the discussion there using email.

anonymous on January 10, 2012:

@Virginia Allain: Thank you for the encouragement, Vallain.

Many of the 1918 mail order items are both Chicago and New York.

I inventoried them at one time and have a list somewhere. Of course, there is Sears and Montgomery Ward, but there are many other fashion mailings. Most of them look like new. I am a builder and in 1979 I was ripping down a building that had sawdust for attic insulation. Under the saw dust was junk mail from 1918, Most of it was still in the sleeves or envelopes. I just don't know what it is worth or who to show it to. If you are interested, is there a direct email address that I can send a list to? Or maybe I can email some photos. Thanks. Chris

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 10, 2012:

@anonymous: Chris - I hope you stop back to read my answer. I'd recommend looking up similar items on eBay to see how popular they are and what prices they are bringing. There's another site called Flyers, catalogs and other paper items like this are called ephemera and are quite collectible.

If you don't want to bother with auctions, send a photo and description of the pieces to my CONTACT button on my profile. I might buy them from you.

anonymous on January 10, 2012:

I have a number of 1918 Mail order flyers and catalogs, mail order ads, WW1 ads celebrating the end of the war, and many other types of paper goods from 1918. What collectors may be interested in the historical material?

kimbesa from USA on July 06, 2011:

How classy...thanks!

momsfunny on May 22, 2011:

I could not have lived back then, I would have been a nudist!

anonymous on May 03, 2011:

I would love to still wear this stuff. Its so classic, I love it. Great lens!!!

Indigo Janson from UK on February 24, 2011:

I find fashions of the past fascinating. The nightgowns and camisoles look pretty. I'm glad we don't still have corsets though!

Ann Hinds from So Cal on February 24, 2011:

Adding this as a featured lens on My Rhea's of Sneedville lens. Great job and just fun.

jseven lm on February 23, 2011:

My daughter would love this, she is very much into dressing this style. :) Cool lens!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on February 22, 2011:

I think they combined style, fashion and modesty at the same time. Very beautiful, and this lens is a wonderful look back at the history of undies.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on February 22, 2011:

I just sent this lens to my daughter. She is minoring in costume design and will love the info you have presented here.


Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 22, 2011:

Oh wow, this was fascinating. Some of the nighties haven't changed much but other things really have. I sure am glad that I wasn't around for the Corset.

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