The Extinct Catalogue.

Today I am going to talk about something that is largely disappearing from the cultural landscape, women’s underwear sections in flyers and catalogues.  I was on the Victoria’s Secret website and thought back to when the Victoria’s Secret catalogue would come tour house every once and awhile and how that really never happens anymore.   While Victoria’s secret may be the publication everyone thinks of when they think women’s underwear catalogues in truth it was at one time reasonably rare and the common ones would have Sears and here in Canada Eatons.  Those books were magical filled with so much awesome stuff and of course most little boys flipped to the Women’s fashion section to sneak a peek at the women in their underwear.  Of course for some of us it was two fold not only was it a chance to see women in their underwear but it was a chance to see women’s underwear.  I, like I am guessing many of you, will often find myself appreciating not just how a woman looks but also what she is wearing.  So a naked women is attractive but an attractive woman in some sexy underwear can be even better because of our appreciation of the clothing.  These catalogues and flyers had the benefits of being readily available, always updated, and discrete as I wasn’t looking at the women’s section I was totally looking at the toys. This was of course in the days prior to the Internet and was my only acceptable connection to this world I so desired to be a part of.  Today of course anyone can go online and look up women’s underwear and be greeted by millions of pictures but it seems different.  I started to wonder how my consumption of this media altered by preference in women’s clothing?  I did a Google image search of Vintage Women’s Underwear Catalogues and browsed around and noted that my memory was fairly accurate in what I remembered.  The bras and panties the more average models wore were fairly utilitarian, not lacy with frills.  The cups of the bras encased the entire breast and the bikini panty was the most revealing thing there.  Yet these images were so satisfying, and admittedly even today I find myself drawn to the Playtex Wonderbra of yester year.  Sure it doesn’t look as sexy as others but there is something sexy and comforting about it, that and nothing holds rolled up panties or breast forms like a full cup Wonderbra.

This made me reflect on those who are younger than me as the Internet came into being when I was highschool, so I am I the middle of the two worlds of those who grew up with Saturday flyers and those with access to anything they wanted.  I am sure my idea of women’s underwear was formed by these images and the bras on display were rarely the sexy lacy ones.  Today you walk anywhere and those large full bodied boxed bras are buried on a shelf as some sort of embarrassment even though they are so comfortable.  The limited options available to us in those printed materials were precious to us, now an image can be searched for at any point in time.  While the Internet allows us to talk and support each other so we no longer feel alone in this there also seems the risk that the innocence of all of it is lost that much sooner in the digital age.  The catalogues are out of print and the flyers today rarely have decent intimates sections and so what is a young boy to do?  Google it of course, and then be blasted with images of lace, ruffles, and frills on incredibly hot women.  It seems what I am saying is that it is ok to leave those flyers laying around for a little while just in case some little boy needs to sneak a peek at some women’s underwear.

Your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “The Extinct Catalogue.

  1. I remember fondly looking through the Sears catalogue in my younger days. I had pages that I remembered where all my preferred clothes and lingerie were. My favourite was the Christmas edition with all the very nice party dresses.

    I do agree with your point on the internet being a great tool and bringing like minded people together but with the vast amount of data out there it would be hard for troubled kids (like I was) to make heads or tails of it all.

  2. A big fan of catalogs from the other end of the gender pool. I used to play a game where I would try to get it choose my favorite 10 items from the boy’s section of the catalog, and then as I hit my teens from the men’s section (I would be unable to find anything I wanted in the girl’s section). I still have some envy when I look at the men’s section of the J Crew catalog. I still like looking through catalogs, even though I have trouble finding men’s clothing that fits.

    I don’t think it is just about the clothing, but about the desire to be handsome and self assured (and since I was a chubby girl to look normal) and to move through the world the way I imagined I could if I was a boy.

    1. I very much agree that a large part of it is being able to shop just like anyone else and being able to imagine how you would look in those clothes. Just as the target market does.

  3. I was lucky in that my parents were agents for Nobles catalogue here in the UK, and yes, furtive sessions looking at the underwear section was part of me growing up.

    The underwear of yesteryear may have been more utilitarian but they were not without their own charms. Why not overtly sexy like so much of today’s underwear, they were essentially very feminine. They started to get sexy during the 1970s, but given the fashion nightmare of those days, that also presented problems. To this day I find absolutely nothing alluring about a bright orange negligee.

    And I don’t think it’s just CD and trans boys who found these pictures alluring. You state, “So a naked women is attractive but an attractive woman in some sexy underwear can be even better because of our appreciation of the clothing.” But it’s not just appreciation of clothing. My father was fond of stating that a naked woman was sexy, but a woman in revealing clothing was truly erotic. The more I think of that, the more I realise just how correct he was. Think about it; Esquire magazine was launced in 1933 with drawings of pin-up girls by Alberto Vargas. If anyone thought that photos of nude women would confine those pin-ups to the dustbin of history, they were mistaken, Such prints remain hugely popular to this day, and strangely enough, so do “artistic” pics of women in lingerie or almost exposed. Again, these things are erotic, rather than being sexy, or pornography.

    Just thinking on this further, a guy in a pair of tighty-whites can do it for many women (and me), and being a Scot, I can say the same for men in kilts (it’s absolutely true, there’s nothing worn beneath the kilt). The point being that such images give the promise, the allure of what might be, without being pornographic, and dare I say, “smutty”. I think many see a man in a kilt and know there is ease of access, that really is quite erotic when you think about it.

    And I certainly know this does apply to crossdressing when we CDs are in a sexy mood; like any woman, we will dress to be alluring, to be erotic, to give that promise, while not being fully exposed. Well, at least I do. 😉

    1. It is possible that the utilitarianism of the intimates of yesteryear are exactly what makes them so alluring. Support garments had the one purpose, to support, and were not to be seen by anyone aside from you and your lover. Seeing these garments was something for the imagination, almost a classic definition of erotic. However today the intimate clothing is not really that intimate as the bra strap or thong band showing are not only accepted but almost expected. There is the very real that it has moved to being erotic to sexy and while there is nothing wrong with that per se it does raise the possibility that some of the charm is missing. The precise moment of this change is likely Wonderbra’s Hello Boys ad where the bra and cleavage were sexual more than erotic. Though I stand by my statement that we have an added dimension to the eroticism of the picture simply based upon our in depth appreciation of the clothing and our desire to have it. And yes the same can be said for mens underwear but that eroticism was not really brought forth until the Calvin Klein ads, they just simply are not my thing.

      1. Pretty much agree with you. As far as men’s underwear is concerned, well I don’t know that what you say is true. After all, going back to the catalogues, oh, there was absolutely NOTHING homoerotic about the male models in the underwear section was there? Only EVERYTHING! 😀

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