The Nylon Swish and the Pleasures of the Perfect Vintage Foundation

‘One of the things that I do to help myself is wear a corset, and treat it like body armour. This empowers me and makes me feel like I can deal with whatever comes my way.’

Elinor from The Nylon Swish is a British born blogger and vintage undergarment aficionado living in Sydney. After struggling with body confidence, Elinor began to embrace vintage style in 2013, starting with stockings, girdles, bullet bras and corsets, and then gradually incorporated vintage outerwear into her look. She found that she ‘developed a newfound confidence almost overnight’ and wanted to share this experience with other women experiencing similar problems. She started her blog, The Nylon Swish in January 2014, and it has evolved into a great source of information for vintage lovers, as well as an online shop.

Elinor kindly allowed me to exclusively publish these beautiful new images by Russell Thomas. We spoke about Dita, body image, cross dressing, misinformation about corsets, and the pleasures of a perfect vintage foundation.

Welcome to Victory Lamour. What first got you interested in vintage, and specifically vintage foundation garments and stockings?

I have loved burlesque since I was a child and there have always been good books hanging around my mum’s house, such as Dita von Teese’s book – Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese, so I was exposed to the vintage aesthetic at a young age. I grew up in a very small town and frivolities such as red lipstick and pretty dresses were seen as being ridiculous and over the top. I went through a phase of trying to dress in a more retro style, including my underwear, but I was laughed at, even at university.

A couple of years ago I met my partner, who loves foundations and fully-fashioned stockings. At the beginning of our relationship he took me to the What Katie Did boutique in London and told me to choose anything I wanted. I came away with some lovely pieces that I will treasure forever. Everything changed from that day onwards. He taught me how to wear the correct foundations for my body and encouraged me to try different styles. He made me feel beautiful again, and for me that is what vintage foundations and clothes represent, feeling beautiful and feminine.

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Elinor of The Nylon Swish photographed by Russell Thomas. Corset by Riwaa Nerona.

As you’ve written, ‘There is a very common misconception that vintage style underwear and stockings are too uncomfortable and restrictive for daily wear.’ What tips do you have for vintage lovers who want to start to wear vintage and reproduction undergarments but don’t know where to begin?

That’s a great question, I have seen so many people jumping straight into very firm undergarments that don’t fit them properly and this often puts them off completely.

I would suggest starting with a deep suspender belt with no less than 6 straps. Make sure that it sits on your natural waist rather than on your hips and only buy metal clips; if you don’t follow these two rules you could end up with stockings around your ankles!

I would then suggest wearing cheaper stockings at first. I buy a lot of my stockings from Stockings HQ and some only cost a few dollars a pair. One of the biggest complaints amongst stocking skeptics is that they think that stockings will fall apart as soon as they are out of the packet. This is not true but it certainly does take a bit of time to get used to being gentle with them, and not walking through bushes as I used to do. If you wear cheap stockings, it won’t matter so much if they get laddered. Once you have mastered cheap stockings, upgrade to something a bit fancier.

You have been outspoken about the misinformation around vintage foundations, girdles, waist training and corsets. Can you tell us what some of the biggest misconceptions are?

I think the funniest thing I have been told is that corsets can cause women to drown. A lady came up to me at a market once and scolded me to selling corsets (they were actually girdles), because women aren’t able to run away from an incoming tide if they are wearing a corset and would therefore drown.

On a more serious note, I am constantly asked if what I’m wearing hurts, but if it hurt, I wouldn’t wear it! Foundations and corsets are designed to be worn for long periods of time, if they feel uncomfortable, it is likely that the garment is the wrong size and/or is being worn incorrectly. I would also warn men and women to thoroughly research waist training before going down that route; I won’t go into it too much here but it needs to be a well informed decision and one needs to have the correct corset with which to train in. (To date I haven’t done any waist training.)

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Elinor of The Nylon Swish. Corset by Riwaa Nerona.

I have several tattoos, and they all mean a lot to me. Each makes me think of the particular life experiences and ideas they symbolise. They are reminders of my life, and for me, a personal way of claiming my body as my own. Can you tell us about what your ink means to you, and what experiences (if any) prompted your choices?

I have quite a few tattoos… I have a small Chinese symbol that means ‘Buddha’. When I was 19 I moved to China and made friends with a German guy who had been living in Shaolin temple for over the last 10 years. I was having a bit of a life crisis at the time and he helped me to focus and encouraged me to continue studying. One day we were sat in a café and he doodled the symbol on a napkin. I secretly took that napkin and got the character tattooed on me the same day.

The other tattoos mean a lot to me but only because of the people I was with at the time. I got my first tattoo in a Chinese flea market, and my arms were tattooed by one of my favourite people, Gore from Chapel Tattoo (Melbourne), he was my first friend when I moved to Australia. I asked him to tattoo a leopard, some peonies and a he chose everything else, I trust him completely. I have one tattoo that has a practical purpose, I have big feet (Australian size 11) and people would regularly comment on their size. I got fed up with feeling self-conscious about them so I decided to get a tattoo on my foot to distract people. I haven’t had a comment about the size of my feet since.

You are very open about depression and your body confidence struggles, and by telling your story, you connect strongly with readers. I found that by telling my story, it encouraged a lot of people to share theirs with me. It’s an honour, but can also be hard at times. Does your openness prompt a lot of people to tell you their stories, and if so, how do you find it?

Yes, I receive so many emails from both men and women alike. Women, as you mentioned, tend to ask body confidence issues, whereas men usually ask me questions relating to cross dressing.

It has taken me a long time to not only accept my body, but to love it too. It genuinely breaks my heart to hear women talking negatively about their own bodies, and it can sometimes be upsetting. As I have said many times before, I’m not interested in hiding women’s bodies with foundations, instead I want to help make the most of their natural form and show how their clothing will sit better thanks to it’s sculpting effects, which in turn will make them feel more comfortable with themselves. One of the things that I do to help myself is wear a corset, and treat it like body armour. This empowers me and makes me feel like I can deal with whatever comes my way.

I have spent a lot of time talking with men who either simply enjoy wearing women’s clothing or feel that they need to, for whatever reason that may be. I want to help people to feel empowered, and if some men get that from dressing like a woman, then I am here to support them.

I have seen how badly low self-esteem can damage people so if I can help in anyway, I will. It can be draining at times, but it’s also extremely satisfying.

You have been using Periscope to talk through your lingerie and demonstrate how to put on things like bullet bras and girdles properly. You get a wide range of comments, from technical questions and fan comments to trolls. This particular exchange cracked me up: Random guy: ‘show boobs’. You: ‘Look, if you want to see boobs, go to Google.com. You don’t need to see mine.’ 

How often do you use Periscope and how do you find the experience?

I have only been using Periscope for a month or so, but I love it because it is so instant and cannot be edited. I decided to show people how I get dressed most mornings, to stop them from thinking that it takes a long time or that it’s not possible to dress yourself. It was terrifying doing the first few broadcasts. It has taken me a while to get used to posting photos of me in my underwear on the internet, so getting dressed in front of strangers was really scary. A few people think I’m doing it for attention, but I’m quite happy getting dressed on my own without everyone watching, I just want to break down some of the misconceptions that come with retro underwear. The fact that it’s live is great, too, because it shows that I make mistakes, such as choosing the wrong girdle or the wrong length of stockings. It’s important to me that people see that I mess up as well. I can’t get it right all the time.

Some of the comments that I get are ridiculous! It’s mostly the men who make stupid comments, which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I think a lot of men think that women only wear underwear for them.

I actually wear it for myself which a lot of guys can’t seem to comprehend.

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Thank you for joining us, Elinor.

For more check out Elinor’s Instagram and blog.

All images by Russell Thomas.

Words by Tara Moss AKA Victory. 

3 Comments

  1. Carol Sue

    My stepmother was a stout 5 foot 8 tall woman who had short jet black hair and always wore bright red lipstick, red fingernails and white beads and earrings. She believed in dressing up and wearing makeup, string of white pearl beads, white pearl earrings. She almost always wore black crinoline or straight taffeta dresses with seamed stockings and black patent high heels. She would also often put on long black satin gloves along with a black bonnet that had a black veil that would hang down. I always liked what she wore and her clothes happened to be my same size in my latter teenage years.
    When I was 16, she started letting me wear some of her vintage lingerie outfits. I often selected one of her several strapless heavy “Black Diamond Opera Girdle” garments, (had a Nu-Bone Foundation Company in Erie, PA silk imprinted ribbon tag) full length open bottom double zipper black girdle which was an “all-in-one” corselette that had four large metal garters per leg and satin tassels that hung over both front and back of each garter. The Nu-Bone girdles had a long left side zipper that zipped from the left bra cup all of the way down to between the girdle’s front left and side metal garter. The girdles also had a full length back zipper that zipped from at most the bottom between the back garters all of the way to the neck. She would also pull out one of her taffeta black slips that had an accordion lace hem, lace in the bodice and lace at the breasts and a long metal zipper that zipped from the middle up to the left under arm . I would always select a pair of her dark seamed stockings and black patient high heels to wear underneath one of her black or red full circle taffeta or satin dresses
    I was entranced with her outfits were for several reasons. I guess the first was because I often heard a deep throated wicked sound of a long large metal zipper, or often two zippers, as my stepmother zipped her vintage girdles of a morning. I was emotionally hypnotized as she would slowly zip them up and down multiple times as I heard then from my room. She had said in the past that she liked the sound of zippers, the rustle of crinolines and slips against the girdles and the sound that nylon silk stockings made. When she walked, her seamed beige or black nylon silk stockings made a wicked swishing sound. The combination of those sounds left me almost breathless and my heart pounding when I heard it so I loved experiencing what she had felt wearing such vintage garments. Just like her, prior to slipping into the girdle, I also applied red lipstick, already had red finger nails, and also donned one of her strands of white beads and white dangling earrings. As a woman now in my 50’s, I still love vintage lingerie and inherited all of her vintage lingerie. So I was glad to run across this site to share my thoughts, photos, and ideas of such a vintage era of the 50’s and 60’s.

  2. Carol Sue

    Like you, I have several tattoos. But there is one tattoo that makes me think of a particular life experience that I had when I was still a 19 year old teenage girl and still living with my stepmother. I believe that experience prompted my life long choice to wear full length girdles to accent my natural form through sculpting effects. When I would wear a full-length vintage zipping girdle, seamed stockings, full length slip and a sculpted well-fitting dress I felt empowered to confront any of life’s challenges.

    That tattoo reminds me of the following event which happened. On that morning, I was wearing a pink 50’s style full circle pink taffeta dress with two white crinolines underneath with an underlying full-length pink left arm zipper heavy slip, full length pink all-in-one Spenser-Spirella girdle which zipped up the left side from the garters all of the way up to the underarm. I also had on a pair of beige service weight seamed stockings, pink spike high heels, beads, earrings, red lipstick and a bonnet.

    My stepmother was wearing a black 50’s style full circle taffeta dress with two black crinolines underneath with an underlying full-length black back zipper heavy slip, full length pink all-in-one Carol Brent girdle which zipped on the left side from the left bra cup hooks all of the way up to the left front garter. I also had on a pair of beige service weight seamed stockings, pink spike high heels, beads, earrings, red lipstick and a bonnet.

    The black whip you are holding in one of the above page photos reminds me of the 16 foot black bullwhip my stepmother had when I was a teenager. I remember she once had me and my cousin go outside and watch her practice with the bullwhip one morning when her friend Jean visited us on the farm. Her and her friend Jean were practicing a routine for an upcoming small town fair whip demonstration that they both would put on several times a year. I remember that Judy told my stepmother that she had full protection on for the practice and invited her to look at the garments just to be satisfied of the clothing protection layers. My stepmother then stood behind her and unzipped the back of Judy’s blue jean dress which unzipped from the top all of the way down to the bottom in the back. My stepmother then unzipped her full-length black satin slip that unzipped in the back and then looked at Jean’s heavy black Georgette brand girdle that had a huge 24 inch metal zipper that zipped from almost the bottom of the girdle all of the way up to almost the bottom of her neck.
    I noticed that Jean was also wearing a pair of heavy elastic nylon Bauer Black support stockings with dark seams running up the back of each of her legs with black patent high heels on.

    My stepmother then unzipped Judy’s black girdle in the back and then zipped it back up again, then zipped up the slip and finally hooked the blue jean dress zipper at the top and proceeded to zip it all of the way down Jean’s back and hips to the bottom. She then had Jean stand out in the yard and raise her black hair above her head. My stepmother then curled the long black bulwhip over her head several times making a loud wicked hissing sound. The bullwhip then curled twice around Judy’s waist resulting in a loud crack. But my stepmother used a skilled well-practiced whip body wrap technique that did not strike skin. Judy reacted to the hissing sounds and sensation of the bullwhip snaking around her body with mouth and eyes wide open followed by gasping and trembling. Jean quickly ran over to ask Judy if she was OK. She then embraced her and said it did not hurt, kissed her and said don’t worry.” At this point my who body was trembling and heart pounding from the sounds and Judy’s reaction to the first lash. My stepmother then delivered five more body wrap curls around Judy’s dress with each bullwhip lash ending in a loud crack. I then walked over to Judy at which time she exclaimed that “she was burning up from the heat” and needed to go to my stepmothers bedroom to be unzipped out of her dress to cool down. My stepmother then hurried Judy to the bedroom where my stepmother upzipped Judy out of her blue jean dress. I then stepped in and unzipped Judy’s slip to get her down to her girdle. I noticed that there were no tears in any of the garments so I felt assured that the whip did not penetrate the layers of clothing. I told Judy this but she then said that there were two streaks of burning fire across her back and asked me to fully unzip her girdle in the back. When I slowly unzipped and unhooked her girdle, it was then that I saw three red raised welts across her back. Just then assured me that she was fine and I proceeded to put some cold cream on the welts which soothed Judy. In conclusion, as a woman, that event and other experiences solidified my fixation on wearing vintage lingerie in my 20’s, 30’s and beyond. Today I still wear lingerie and foundations for satisfying my self. Not anyone else. Let me know your thoughts back to see if I am still realistic in my thinking even in this era of boring fashion and dress

  3. Carol Sue

    Hi!….Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your postings. I currently stay with my cousin Tom’s house. He has been gracious to allow me to use his computer and internet accunt while mine was in the shop. I just got it back today. Unfortunatelt tomorrow I am leaving the Beaufort/Savannah area and moving out to my aunts house in rural west Wyoming where there is no good internet, This is my last post. Thanks for having a great sire dedicated to lingerie. As a woman now 64, I will always remember the great era of lingerie in the 50’s and 60’s….take care and Cheers!

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