Although a modern woman may occasionally wear a slip under a dress or around the house as a sleep or lounging garment, slips are not as prevalent as they once were. Originally worn under coarse, heavy fabrics, a slip was a protective layer between the skin and garment, and it provided a layer of insulation. Today, cotton and nylon are common slip fabrics because they are lightweight, washable and economical. Although expensive silk slips require special care, the luxurious feel of silk against the skin makes them a popular choice as well.
Form and Function
Body-hugging fashions call for smooth undergarments that don’t create lumps and wrinkles. When you wear a smooth slip, your dress slides as your body moves, without bunching up. A slip camouflages panty lines and bra lines for a sleek look. Some slips are elasticized to contour the chest, waist and hip areas into smooth curves; some slips include an attached bra for support.
White or colored slips worn under cool, sheer dress fabrics such as cotton lawn, dotted Swiss or silk voile serve dual purposes. This type of slip is typically made of slightly heavier fabric for modesty, and the see-through overdress is often color-coordinated with the slip.
Wearing a half-slip that runs from waist-to-hem under a skirt adds a privacy layer as well as comfort. Half-slips in straight, flared or gathered styles are available to accommodate any type of skirt.
References and ResourcesFashion-Era.com: 1950s Petticoats, Stockings & Stocking Adverts
ResourcesRandom History: Gendered Fashion, Power, and Sexuality: A History of Lingerie
Fashion-Era.com: Undergarments History: Pants, Drawers, Briefs and Knickers Fashion