House of Satin is a small British independent label with a long and storied history of making lingerie in the UK. In recent years they’ve become most known in our online vintage-style circles for their budget-friendly bras and girdles made from their vintage patterns. This year, however, House of Satin relaunched their brand with new lines, new fabrics and new price points, the latter of which seemed to displease some of the ladies who had come to rely on them as a cheap way to kit themselves out with their vintage under kit. Like the brand itself, the revamp comes with a story, one that stretches back into the roots of the mid-century that we love. So today, in the spirit of the new year, new iterations, new resolutions, I thought it was an apt time to share with you the history and passion of this British made brand.
In 1948, following World War II, this story begins not with lingerie, but with wedding gowns, when a determined young woman started up her own bridal wear business and shop in the heart of Derby. When the tailoring and altering were done, the left over fabrics from the luxurious gowns seemed too valuable and beautiful to waste, so she decided to use the off-cuts to make bras and garter belts. The undergarments were so popular that they formed the basis of the lingerie company that still exists today.
Family-run throughout the years and still remaining so today, the company manufactured lingerie for all of Britain’s best loved brands, both on the high street and designer labels. As we all know, though, when time moved on so did the manufacturing industry, taking many jobs and companies overseas to the places where production was cheaper, resulting in many of the thriving textile factories in the midlands closing down, making it harder for those remaining to source fabrics. For British based companies competing in the aggressive modern marketplace with its cheap mass production and dwindling quality, staying afloat is hard business. House of Satin attempted to do so by dusting off their vintage patterns and producing budget-friendly ‘cheap and cheerful’ pieces, those many of you may have bought in recent years, as did I.
Those very same pieces were actually made from cut-offs of the satin nightwear and robes the company were mainly producing at that time, used in the same thrifty ‘waste not want not’ fashion in which the company had begun back in the 40s. It was clever and resourceful of House of Satin to use these off cuts to produce items of use, but as a company who prided themselves on their quality and knowledge about lingerie, the items themselves were not up to the standard to which they liked to hold themselves. Those nightwear satins were not well suited to the lingerie they were being crafted into, nor were the vintage patterns they were using sized in the same way that modern women are used to.
House of Satin faced a dilemma. They could continue on as they were, not doing their craftsmanship and product the justice it deserved after 60+ years of experience, as UK manufacturing continued to dwindle further and further. Or they could make a change.
It was costly and difficult, with their relaunch greeted unfavorably by some disgruntled fans as mentioned at the start of this post, but it was what House of Satin needed to do to survive and, hopefully, thrive. I’ve spoken to the team many times in my research for this post and the passion and love that they have for this business is touching. House of Satin truly is a made in Britain brand, a family-lead team that does everything from designing, cutting and stitching their pieces to all of their order picking and posting, all under one roof in the midlands.
Today, post-relaunch, House of Satin pieces are made not from cut offs but from luxury laces, the best quality satins, high grade elastics and metal accessories (some gold plated,) that have all been painstakingly sourced. They had all of their vintage patterns regraded to fit modern sizing charts without compromising the vintage shapes in any way, added embroidered labels and beautiful packaging. All of these elements form a well-crafted product with a luxurious feel and an ethical history of production, and, finally, a product they could truly be proud of. It does come at the cost of, literally, a higher cost, both for the money House of Satin had to pour into the investment of a relaunch and for the customer, but it’s a cost that had to rise. Without this revamp, a company with over half a century’s worth of history, knowledge and passion would have been in great threat of disappearing altogether.
So, knowing the history now as I do, I hope that if any of you had felt confused or betrayed by the higher prices that came with the relaunch you now understand how and why they rose. This is not a case of money-grabbing for the sake of it; the new lines on offer are genuinely different, because they are improved, better quality, specially sourced versions of the vintage inspired pieces offered before. I own a bra and girdle from before the relaunch, back when House of Satin were making their cheap and cheerful offerings, and was sent a bra and braless corselette from the new range on offer, so now, with the history lesson over, I can compare and review these pieces for you, looking at the products themselves and what the new range has to offer.
Starting with the Black Foundation Lace Classic Bra, I can immediately tell what a big difference there is in the new range. The expensive process of regrading all their patterns to modern sizing has paid off, because receiving this bra in the 36D I wear for unpadded soft bras produced a perfect fit. It’s comfortable, supportive, and has a subtle vintage shape that isn’t intimidating for ladies who can’t quite bring themselves to don a bullet bra. Comparatively, the white and black satin bra I own from before the relaunch which was made from the same vintage pattern but with vintage sizing never quite fit me right. It was too big in the back band for me and consequently the shoulder straps pulled the back band up towards my shoulder blades, compromising the support. Instead, this Foundation lace bra supports my bust and offers a gentle vintage shape that will look nice under sweaters especially. Plus, the sheer black lace makes it a pretty piece that will look just as good when you’re undressed as well. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Next, there’s the Black Foundation Lace Braless Corselette. This is a shaping corselette made from firm control fabric to help smooth and define your figure, with adjustable shoulder straps. I have mammothly fabulous hips, measuring currently at 50 inches, so I opted for the size 18 in this piece, wanting to avoid the possibility of unsightly bulges on my hips created by fabric cutting in. Despite the fact that this size 18 is made for 46 inch hips I needn’t have worried, as this corselette doesn’t dig into me anywhere, accommodating my hips graciously. Sizing up does mean I don’t think I gain as much waist cinching from this piece as I suspect someone else might be able to gain in their true size, but it gives a nice smoothing effect all through the body that looks great under wiggle dresses, something I very much need. Plus, the braless nature of this corselette makes it incredible easy to add extra shaping elements to this piece should I wish to, resulting in a product that I can wear simply in place of a suspender belt to keep my stockings in place, or just as easily layer up with whatever undergarments are necessary to get the specific vintage shape I have in mind.
Many a high street brand offers similar braless smoothing shapewear dresses, as they tend to call them, but the issue I have with those every single time is that they just don’t stay put. Despite my rather sizeable backside and that tacky little silicone band they stitch to the inner hem, every time I wear one the skirt works its way up my thighs, over my butt, and gathers around my stomach. This not only produces an unsightly bump at my waistline that renders the wearing of the smoothing dress completely useless, but also, I’m sorry, it hurts. If I’m at dinner and halfway through a plate of pasta, I do not want a foot’s worth of firm control fabric rolling up to dig into my stomach. No thank you. Thanks to the sturdy stocking clips on this corselette, that doesn’t happen and my stockings stay straight and in place. If you don’t have the same riding-up skirt issue that I do, though, you’ll be pleased to hear that the suspender clips are detachable, adding another touch of versatility to this piece.
What I love most about these two pieces is that aforementioned versatility, which they both offer. With the Corselette it’s obvious that you can add whatever bra you wish underneath it to best suit your undergarment needs per outfit, but you can also layer other shapewear to get your desired vintage shape. It’s easy to add a corset over or under it for extra waist cinching, as pictured below. The additional bonus to wearing this corselette over your corset is that it allows the corselette to help smooth out your corset lines and flatten your corset laces in back. Alternatively, you can wear a basque underneath it for combined bust support and waist shaping.
And in terms of the bra, while the vintage shape it offers in the bust is gentle, you can help it along a little further if you want to by adding in bullet shaped bust pads, as I have done below, for a slightly more pronounced shape.
I can see why ladies who bought the cheaper items from House of Satin before would be disappointed that their new lines are more costly, because I understand that if something is out of your budget then it’s simply out of your budget. But honestly, as someone who bought some House of Satin pieces before the revamp and can compare them to this new range, the increase in quality and fit is not only notable but tremendous. I can absolutely see why House of Satin were so determined to revive their brand and produce the items of quality that they knew they were capable of producing. They have succeeded, now producing vintage-inspired garments that are as well-fitted and well-made as they are beautiful, something that has never been in doubt. I am truly inspired by their passion and tenacity, and I hope their hard work and care for their company pays off. I know I, at the very least, will be adding to my collection in future, surely with the Foundation Lace Waist Cincher…Oh, and probably the Foundation Lace Sheer Longline bra and suspender belt…oh, oh, and the Tea Rose Bridget bra, my goodness. Ah. Perhaps this has started something dangerous. Oh my.
The Black Foundation Lace Classic Bra is available in sizes 32A to 42F and costs £30 also available in white and nude. The Black Foundation Lace Braless Corsolette is available in sizes 6-18 and costs £47.50, also available in white and nude. House of Satin ship tracked internationally and are releasing new styles each week, so if you follow them on their social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) you’ll be sure to know what new pretties are on offer.
Both House of Satin pieces featured above were sent to me courtesy of House of Satin so I could provide an honest review in context of their relaunched ranges.