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1930’s Bali bra ad

Browsing through my vintage fashion magazines, I’m amazed at just how many gorgeous ads there were for bras back then. Women in the 1950’s had for the first time the power to change their image, (and potentially their lives, too) by simply purchasing the cosmetics, personal care items and fashionable clothing presented to them in women’s magazines. Advertisers gently persuaded women readers to spend money on themselves by portraying ideal lifestyles, faces and figures – and nothing’s changed much today.

Although newspapers and magazines from the past continually ran ads for bras and girdles, the women featured wearing them were either illustrated or the photographs were heavily edited – so they weren’t too “real”. They had great tag lines too, some more memorable than the bras themselves, (and any of you Mad Men fans will know how vital it was then to come up with a good tag line!).

“I dreamed I was….” 1960

In 1949 Maidenform launched one of the first most famous magazine ad campaigns with the “I dreamed of….. . Running for over 30 years, it depicted a woman dreaming she did something in her Maidenform bra –  from the mundane “I dreamed I went shopping in my Maidenform bra” to the exciting “I dreamed I starred on television in my Maidenform bra”. They were seen as mildly scandalous at the time – the first time a model was seen in a bra in a social setting. There were endless head-turning variations of this theme and those ads are still fondly remembered today, even cropping up recently in an episode of Mad Men!

During the 1950’s and early 60’s TV ads had to show what a bra could do without actually showing a live woman wearing one! Bras and girdles  were regarded as way too inappropriate to advertise on TV and all that could be shown was a female spokeswoman holding samples of a bra while describing its virtues. Even the words “lift and separate” were censored for causing “embarrassment when teen-age boys are around….it starts the imagination”. Mannequins had to show modesty too, a girdle would have to cover its thigh area, even a hint of  “crotch shot” had to be covered up with a scarf.

“I dreamed I was…..” 1955


In the 1960’s Playtex launched their TV ad for theCross-Your-Heart Bra”, featured on a dummy. Jane Russell famously starred in one of their TV ads in the 1970’s, (again using a bra clad dummy) describing the bra’s structural advantages for “fuller-figured gals”.

By 1969 censorship had relaxed somewhat and Wonderbra launched the first TV commercial in North America showing an actual woman’s torso, naked except for a bra! By the 1990’s the “Hello Boys” Wonderbra poster featuring Eva Herzigova and her spectacular cleavage was being accused of causing numerous car crashes when first unveiled. Recently it’s been named the number one outdoor advert of all time and present-day bra adverts haven’t really changed much since then.

The head-turning Wonderbra ad

Enjoy perusing these vintage lingerie media snippets!


Do you have any fabulous lingerie ads you want to share? Let us know in the comments!




  • grant maclaine

    in the 1990s there was an ad campaign for lingerie, black n white , possibly wonderbra, one of the ads catchphrases was ” hurry up or ill start without you” against a backdrop of a lingerie clad beauty lying on a bed provocatively, can you help me trace the ads as i would like to purchase the prints series. many thanks, grant maclaine.

  • admin

    Hi Grant,

    Thanks for your comment! Sounds like a nice bra ad with a vintage feel – very nice!

    Wish I could help, but I actually have no idea where you would find this info. Google Image search may help though! Good luck!! 🙂

  • swimwear online

    Hi there, I found your site on Google while looking for a similar info, your website came up, it looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  • admin

    Thanks! Much appreciated 🙂 Feel free to add us on Twitter (@nowthatslingeri) and Like our Facebook page!

  • Jacque

    I realize this is a very old blog, but perhaps I will get a response on an answer to my question. Around the 60’s or early 70’s I distinctively remember a TV Bra commercial. The bra was floating through the air and a little boy ran thru the house saying, Mommy’s bra is alive” It was probably a Platex commercial. I was wondering if anyone remembers this commercial and was it a Platex commercial? What year? IS there any video of this commercial. Please contact me at

  • admin

    Hello Jacque,

    We looked and are unable to find the ad you are referring to. If we ever come across it, we’ll be sure to notify you.

    – The NTL Team

  • Edith Evans

    What do you know about Maidenform Bras adds of the ’50s and “60s? I have a trinket tray with the image of the “I dreamed I was a real dish in my Maidenform Bra with a woman wearing a bra but otherwise, dolled up with elbow length gloves.

  • admin

    Hello Edith!

    Maidenform is a very prominent brand in terms of lingerie, being around for almost 100 years. They have definitely inspired other brands and they continue to evolve with the lingerie world to sell lingerie today. We don’t carry them here unfortunately, but we do have awesome brands and we update them every now and then!

    – The NTL Team

  • admin

    Hello Edith,

    Maidenform was quite the iconic brand back in those decades, creating a lot of really interesting ads. It’s so interesting to see how lingerie ads have evolved over time!


  • Jason Redvers Latham

    I have clear memories about a bra commercial for a reputable brand and a well known firm that hit an unusual pitch. They used a pretty little girl who asked an older maiden why she wore a bra . The girl drew the youngster close and said For an irresistible figure. This is the first and probably the only ad I have seen that used this grouping of a child and a girl wearing only her bra. Does anyone else recognise it .? I believe another firm launched another which involved a mother wearing her bra and skirt in the presence of a boy but the ad caused controversy and was never seen again. Whether the previously described one proved questionable I do not know. I have never found either in archives .

  • admin

    Hello Jason,

    Thank you for your comment! We unfortunately can’t recall that ad ourselves, but if we end up finding anything, we’ll update you!


  • Cynthia Breen

    I remember it too! I was beginning to think I had imagined it. Glad to know I’m not crazy! It had to be mid to late 1960s. Maybe early 1970s. I know it was before 1972 because I remember seeing it when my family still lived in Yuma, Arizona. We moved in March of 1972.

  • Jason Redvers Latham

    Hello.are you perhaps able to say which advert is still
    in your mind. Its not clear from.what has been printed in your reply whether you are referring to the ones I have recalled .. if it is any use I recall the one with the little girl.being shown during the afternoons in about 1976. The one with the semi clad mother and boy was a little later but it was also discussed in a book about the history of TV commercials and it was not made by the same firm.

  • admin

    Hello Jason,

    We can’t recall that one, but there have definitely been so many memorable ads to remember. We hope they continue to be as interesting as they used to be!


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