Retro Lingerie on the High Street

When it comes to retro style lingerie the easiest go-to options are the well-established vintage-inspired lingerie brands such as What Katie Did, Kiss Me Deadly, Rago, and of course Dita Von Teese’s line for Von Follies. These lines all offer gorgeous well-made pieces, but at a cost. For those pinups on a budget, or those just branching into this style of dressing, it’s nice to have lower cost items available to them, and at potentially more readily available sources. This is why it’s especially nice that the British high street has been providing some retro inspiration undies of their own this summer, and I’ve made it my mission to track down some of the current available options I’ve spotted of late to share with you. So check you’ve got your bra size accurately fitted and get your debit card out, because some of these beauties are just crying out to be snapped up.

New Look – The item that first caught my eye from New Look recently was the Black Lace Caged Bralet (£9.99), which is beautiful, so retro, but sadly out of stock, though the good news is they must be planning to restock it because there’s a ‘Notify me’ button you can use to ask for an email alert when your size is in stock. It’s not just this particular retro inspired bra that New Look currently has for sale. There’s the Black Multi Strap Mesh Balconette bra (£12.99) and panties set; the Black Lace Contrast Panel Caged Pushed Bra in electric blue (£14.99); the Trim Flocked Polka Dot Balconette Longline Bra (£12.99) in both pale pink and blue, for a fun polka dot injection; the Contrast Geo Flower Lace Overlay Balconette Bra (£12.99) in both black and white colourways; and the entire Kelly Brook range, which features corselettes, a range of gorgeous caged and lace balconette bras, and matching panties, of course, and the occasional suspender belt will also feature among their lines.

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Marks and Spencer – The most vintage inspired piece in the Marks & Spender collection currently is the Allure Lace Underwired Padded Balcony (£29.50). This plunge cage bra features lace accents, is available DD+, and as a babydoll and knickers set (£49.50). It’s also available as a non-padded version (£29.50) in cups A-DD listed as the ‘Floral Lace set’, as well as in basque form, which is particularly gorgeous, both black and white colourways. Like New Look, Marks & Sparks can be relied upon to carry a pretty range of balconette bras that will certainly look retro when paired with the right accompanying panties, stockings and suspenders. And speaking of such, suspenders are also something you can regularly find from this store, something that’s not always easy to track down typically on the high street, along with a range of stockings, including seamed (though not often nude seamed, alas.)

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Forever 21 – Technically an American brand, Forever 21 aren’t known for their retro clothing, because, duh, they don’t make it. One lingerie staple they routinely have in stock on their UK website however is their Strapless Lace Corset Bra, which is a low backed bustier bra that comes with detachable straps and normally in a variety of pastel shades. Even if this bra doesn’t quite look vintage enough for you it’s a useful piece to have. I wear it either when my top or dress has a low back, or when my usual bras are creating an unsightly bump around my bra back band in a dress that tightens considerably at the waist, this bra instead giving me the smooth lines of a corset to the waistline but within the restriction.

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H&M – H&M often have retro inspired pieces but the downside is that their full collections aren’t always online. Two retro style soft cup bras I saw in-store last weekend, one a mesh triangle bra reminiscent of a bullet bra without the bullet, and the other a two tone black and white spot triangle cage bra, currently aren’t listed online. They have listed to lace corselettes, though, and a couple of very pretty ruffled and classy bras. The Balconette bra in lace (£14.99), available in black and white, and the Microfibre push up bra (£12.99), which is especially pretty in their powder pink colourway with black lace accents. There’s also the Bustier in Lace bra (£14.99.), but to be confused with their Lace Bustier, which is a simple lace longline bra. H&M don’t seem to name their products so it can get confusing here when I talk about their ‘corsets’ (essentially basques, corselettes or cami suspenders more accurately,) but their black matching set of Lace Corset (£24.99) String Briefs in Lace (£5.99) and Suspender Belt (£9.99) pictured below, is lovely. There’s also a white Lace Corset (£19.99, one again not actually a corset but that’s what they’re calling it,)

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Ann Summers – Ann Summers has such a vast variety of beautiful lingerie sets that I covet a dozen of them at a time and scrolling through their website makes me so covetous that I find the lines blurring in my mind between what is retro and what is simply so pretty that I can’t tell anymore. Lace of all styles feature heavily amongst their designs, alongside satin and silk. A huge range of their bras can look retro when paired with their matching panties and suspender belts, the latter of which Ann Summers really does make a beautiful range of. You’ll also find hold ups and stockings easily at Ann Summers, so this is a great stop for a lady looking to kit herself out in a full set when ready to kill with her curves. (Check out the Surrender Hold Ups for naked ladies dangling upon the seam of your stocking. Also featured below is the Aurelia Corset, Isis Waspie, Estella Waspie and the All Wrapped Up set.)

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Gossard – Technically a brand and therefore possibly worthy of a disqualification from this ‘high street’ post, I’ve included Gossard because it IS available on the high street, notably through Tesco and Debenhams. Their peachy pink Phoebe range, featured below including non-padded bra, lace panties, and truly gorgeous Suspender skirt, is lovely. Some of their Retrolution items, namely the Retrolution Slip, Half Padded Bra, and Briefs, as well as their bridal slip, are also available through Tesco.

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Debenhams – As mentioned above, this department store carries the Gossard Retrolution range, as well as a whole host of other lingerie brands, including the much coveted Dita Von Teese for Von Follies line. Below I’ve picked out a sheer lace accented set from J by Jasper Conrad, a red set from Ultimate, a black lace set from Reger by Janet Reger, a black scalloped lace basque also Reger by Janet Reger,

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Topshop – There’s a ton of sets available from Topshop right now that are very vintage in feel, A TON (like, it’s kind of hurting my heart because I want to buy them all.) From longline bras, cage bras, high waisted panties and soft triangle bras featuring oodles of lace, there’s so many options that it’s easier to give you a picture taster and to simply redirect you to the site to browse yourself rather than list the name and price of every option, which is why I’ve left the names of the sets and prices underneath the pictures which you can click for a closer look. There’s also some bras that are incredible that won’t show up in the lingerie sets section because they aren’t sold with matching panties, but don’t overlook them because some are amazing and you can find some bottoms that will work with the bras elsewhere, so don’t forgot to check out the entire lingerie section as a whole.

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Asda – Most surprising of all in my high street search is discovering one lone piece of retro beauty in Asda, of all places. This Strap Lace Plunge Bra pink lace bra costs only £8, the cheapest of all featured items in this entire blog post, and is available in sizes up to a G cup. They have other pretty items available, such as this Black Lace Plunge Bra, which paired with the matching panties and a black suspender belt and stockings, would give off plenty a vintage vibe.

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The British high street is bursting right now, as you can see, so I hope I’ve helped show you some of the gems available. Now please excuse me while I go drool over my favourite pieces and try to convince myself that I do not need to add any lingerie to my already ridiculously extensive collection.

The Sweetheart Pinup Top by The Oblong Box Shop

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I’d seen The Oblong Box Shop Sweetheart Pinup Tops online a few weeks ago when reviewed by the gorgeous duo Junebugs and Georgia Peaches, otherwise known on Instagram as modernjunecleaver and ameliajetson. At the time I loved the idea but didn’t want to pay for the international shipping for one top, which is all I had left of my monthly budget.

Not long ago I thought of the tops again and went back to the site to check them out. At $20 a top with the current USD to GBP exchange rate that puts each top at £12-thereabouts, which is a downright bargain. Considering I was tempted by about 5 colours and that the international shipping was now being offered at $17 flat rate USPS, I decided to place my order.

Available in 9 colours, I narrowed down my lust list to the canary yellow, cobalt blue and white, resisting the urge to pick red, black or navy, as would be my usual default wardrobe staples. I was trying a new product from a new brand, so why not try some new colourways. The USPS shipping said it could take up to 21 days and was untrackable, so I placed my order and prepared to wait out the full term.

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Eleven days later my order was on my doorstep, sweetly cosseted inside the outer postal package in a bundle of tissue paper tied with cute striped string and a little label. These tops are made of a material that feels like a soft stretchy spandex so I was prepared to try them on and perhaps find the material might be the kind that tends to enjoy making sweet and obsessive love to the small bump created on my sides beneath the back band of my bra, and maybe a love handle or two. Hallelujah, no! The tops fit wonderfully. The ruching, great cut, and not-actually-spandex fabric skim lovingly over my slight imperfections, leaving my silhouette sleek and my confidence as in tact as my comfort level, which is whole. The cross-over style of the bust is especially flattering, despite the fact that my boobs are not huge, and the bust is lightly padded. I loved the vibrancy of the colours and the tops looked incredible with my beloved circle skirts, whether layered beneath a cardigan or worn alone. The only thing I noticed that I didn’t like was the fact that despite having wide straps big enough to cover a bra strap easily, the placement of those straps were such that my bra strap still showed in the inner corner on each side, where my bra strap connects to my bra cup. I’m really persnickety about not having underwear unintentionally showing, to the point where even clear bra straps bug me, so for me this means I either have to wear a strapless bra, which doesn’t give me the same cleavage as a balcony or a plunge, or else I will have to add a couple tiny stitches to the base of those straps to bring those inner corners in just 1cm to close up that tiny area where the strap shows.

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Overall, for the great cut, cheap pricing and reasonable international shipping fees (and delivery times) I am so pleased I bought these tops. Buying them in 3 different colours that aren’t my usual 3 shades means I can mix and match them widely across my wardrobe while testing different colour palettes on my outfits than I usual rely upon. It was a happy purchase experience that I would definitely recommend, and since this top comes in sizes up to 36 inch waist, it’s a top that can cater to the many varyingly shaped ladies among you. Additionally, for waists up to 42 inches they offer this Sweetheart Pinup Top in a criss-cross strap variation.

Happy shopping!