‘I noticed a distinct lack of retro style undergarments made for the more voluptuous amongst us…I want to be able to cater to the women who have been left out.’
Elinor of The Nylon Swish is a vintage enthusiast who blogs about lingerie, stockings, foundation garments and their history, and shares her tips for embracing your shape and finding the right vintage-style underpinnings for any body. You may also know her for calling out the sexual harassment she receives for being a lingerie blogger and woman online, and from our previous interview when we discussed corsetry and the pleasures of the perfect vintage foundation. Since then, Elinor has taken up sewing her own corsets and creating her own suspender belt range, called Everyday Glamour. She dropped by to chat vintage lingerie, sewing, the elements of the ultimate suspender belt, and why she has started to design her own: (Plus, I bought one of her suspender belts recently and gave it a test drive. Check out my review below!)
What originally ignited your passion for vintage stockings, foundations and lingerie?
My love of retro lingerie and foundations definitely originated with burlesque. Seeing Dita Von Teese in her Swarovski encrusted corsets and glamorous, shiny stockings was very inspiring for me in my teens. However, my attempts at wearing what I at the time deemed to be retro underpinnings, were met with disgust (“Ew, that’s so fetish!”) or laughter (“Why are you wearing THAT?”). It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I was introduced to practical foundations and lingerie by my partner who saw it as something to be encouraged, rather than mocked.
We both did a wonderful corset making course with Lowana of Vanyanis last year, and you’ve since gone on to many sewing and corset making projects. When did you start to sew and what do you enjoy about the process?
I started to sew in 2015. I owned a very temperamental sewing machine and absolutely no idea what to do with it, but all I knew was that I wanted to learn! I enrolled in a vintage dress-making course at a local college and absorbed an incredible amount of information in a very short period of time, thanks to my wonderful and patient teacher. I then went and bought a pile of inexpensive fabric and just experimented. I made some horrible franken-dresses, tops and skirts which I thought were incredible at the time! Although most of what I made was unwearable, it gave me the confidence to try out new things and just chip away at something until I nailed it.
I’m a very anxious person and find it difficult to sit still and focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Sewing helps me to relax and I am able to focus for hours on end without stopping. The best part of sewing though is turning a flat piece of fabric into something wearable!
Day one in the wonderful @vanyanis studio with my friend @the_nylon_swish, learning corset making. First toile. Tomorrow we re-pattern for adjustments and begin with the coutil. By the end of the weekend I will have made my first corset. #corsetmaking #corset #course #learning #learnnewskills #foundations
What are some of the sewing and designing projects you’ve completed in the past year? What have some of the biggest challenges been?
Last year I wanted to concentrate on corsetry. Creating a corset from scratch is something that I have dreamed of doing for a couple of years now but never thought I would ever be able to succeed in doing. I used to look at corsets as a whole and was totally overwhelmed by the work that (I imagined) must have gone into it. Once I had mastered the basics of sewing, I decided to sign up to Foundations Revealed and spent hours upon hours reading their articles. I realised that while corsetry is certainly challenging, if broken down into small steps, it is definitely achievable. So I think that the biggest challenge for me has just been overcoming my own mental blocks.
The biggest project that I have completed in the past year is my Foundations Revealed competition entry. I have looked forward to the competition for the past two years, and loved seeing all the stunning corsets that people had created. I decided that I needed to challenge myself and so set about making a gold corset with black lace and beading. I used fabrics that I had never worked with before, as well as attempting an overbust style which was totally new to me. There was lots of broken needles and swearing but I really enjoyed this process and can’t wait to start all over again this year!
I also managed to make a grey corset with white lace for a friend who is completely new to corsetry. I was very satisfying making a corset for someone who was skeptical about the comfort level of corsets, and then hear her rave to her friends about the corset I made for her.
What made you decide to design your own vintage inspired lingerie?
There are so many inspiring retro underwear brands that I adore, but very few that make designs exactly the way I would have liked them – for example the number of straps on a suspender belt, certain bra cups or straps, the structure of a girdle etc. I decided to start with with the suspender belt as it’s a garment that I feel quite strongly about! It has been a great learning experience and I’m hoping that sooner rather than later, I will be able to offer other items such as bras and girdles.
Although there are many brands that offer both ‘standard’ sizes and ‘plus size’ outerwear, I noticed a distinct lack of retro style undergarments made for the more voluptuous amongst us. This is something that I would very much like to tackle in the next couple of years. I want to be able to cater to the women who have been left out, and this is ultimately what has led me to start creating my own designs. This is very much the case for stockings, and a lot of women who I have spoken with with larger thighs often complain that many brands that claim to offer ‘plus size’ stockings don’t actually fit them properly. I’m excited to say that in March, I will be releasing stockings from a size medium up to 4XL in two colours!
Tell us about your new suspender belt range, Everyday Glamour.
Over the last few years I have tried out a large variety of suspension and realised that there are several things that are incredibly important. The suspender belt must sit on the natural waist and should be deep. The straps should be wide (I prefer 20mm or wider) and the clips should always be metal. However the one most important aspect of a great suspender belt (in my opinion) is the number of straps. A minimum of eight straps will keep one’s stockings up quite evenly, will keep seams straight and will prevent the welt from sagging between each clip. This also means that the stockings are more likely to stay up between the thighs, thus preventing chafing.
My suspender belts come with four different strap counts; I have white designs with 10, 12 and 14 straps, as well as a black version with eight straps. Although I am aware that many women find the thought of more than four straps daunting, I promise that it doesn’t take as long as one might think!
I chose white for my first range because I really love the white vintage lingerie. I used to only wear black underwear, but gradually moved towards lighter colours such as cream, white and peach. I also thought it would be great for my customers to be able to dye them any colours they want.
Thank you for stopping by, Elinor.
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I recently bought the Everyday Glamour suspender belt in white (below), and chose the 10 strap option, taking Elinor’s advice on wearing more straps than the usual 6 or 8 I was used to. I quickly found that I liked the look, it only took a few more seconds to get dressed, and the design really did help to keep my seamed stockings from twisting. This design is flattering and comfortable. Elinor, you’ve converted me! I don’t think I’d return to a suspender belt with fewer straps. Thank you.
Thanks to my husband, Berndt Sellheim, for taking this photo in my new suspender belt:
To check out the Everyday Glamour suspender belt range go to Elinor’s shop.