Exploring the Vintage Shadowline Lingerie Archives

Running a lingerie business is hard (but rewarding) work. From designing new garments to attending trade shows, to keeping up with all of your orders, our days are always busy – and we wouldn’t have it any other way! But every now and then it’s nice to pause and just reflect on how far we’ve come.

Our Shadowline® lingerie brand was born shortly after the end of WWII, in 1946. Naturally it’s grown and changed in the 75+ years since, but we’ve also stuck firmly to the things that make this brand so special.

Nylon lingerie has become harder to find over the decades with many brands choosing to swap it out for polyester, but we love this slinky, ultra-durable fabric and know our customers do too, which is why we’re so committed to continuing our tradition of high-quality 100% nylon sleepwear and underwear.

Not only that, but to this day we still use the exact same trademarked nylon fabrics that the fledgling Shadowline® brand developed to improve upon existing options: Opacitrique®, an unusually high-denier nylon (as far as sleepwear goes) for enhanced opacity, and Satintrique®, our feather-light option for those who like their negligees sheer, floaty, and with a hint of shimmer. They’re even still being made in the very same factory here in the USA!

Image courtesy of Amanda at RogueRetro on Etsy

We’re also continually turning to our vintage design archives for inspiration when developing new collections. At one point, Shadowline® was creating eight new peignoir sets every year, so there’s no shortage of ideas to be found there! Isn’t the sleeve detail on the example above just delightful?

Much of our physical archives were unfortunately lost when Shadowline® joined with Velrose® in 2008, which is why we’re always over the moon when someone gets in touch to show us a vintage piece from their personal collection. Often, it’s something they’ve found in their mother’s (or grandmother’s!) closet – like the wispy, pale yellow peignoir set at the top of this article which was sent in by Cathy from Oregon, and originally belonged to her mother Jean who was born in 1922.

Image courtesy of Lorrie at CreativeEnergyShop on Etsy

Just as with nylon sleepwear, over time many brands have stepped away from offering matching nightgown and peignoir sets, whatever the material. But there’s something to be said for perfectly coordinated homewear – it just makes you feel instantly put-together. Our designers insist on always having a few matching robe options available across our collections.

If you love the ultra-fine, transparent look of many vintage nylon pieces, our Silhouette robe is our modern equivalent. Although perhaps ‘modern vintage’ is a better descriptor, because we’ve been making this exact style for decades! Crafted from our luxuriously-glossy Satintrique® nylon, it’s incredibly lightweight and floaty just like the popular styles of the 40s and 50s. At 54” long, it pairs perfectly with the 53” Silhouette nightgown or our newer, tulip-hemmed version.

Image courtesy of Nancy Drais

Of course, we’ve updated the Silhouette peignoir set over the years through new color additions – most recently silver. At this point, we’ve probably made a garment in every color of the rainbow! One of our longest-standing collections is Petals, and a few printed fabric versions have even appeared in the range from time to time.

It’s a good thing our silhouettes are so timeless (and our fabrics known for their durability) because fashion is cyclical, they say, and trends that have fallen out of style will eventually come back around again. Like this gorgeous sapphire blue, which has been a major color trend in intimate apparel this year and last. Our Silhouette nightgown is very similar to the style above and comes in a vibrant navy, or if you’d prefer something opaque, this Petals nightgown and Petals robe set is currently available in both navy and this bright sapphire blue shade.

Image courtesy of Johnny at SeamsSewVintage2 on Etsy

We look to our archives for inspiration in the finer details too. Rosebuds for example have been a recurring theme in Shadowline® sleepwear over the years. They’re just too pretty to resist! Today, we’re paying homage to these iconic ribbonwork decorations through our Rosebud collection, which features shell-stitched necklines adorned with a little ribbon rosette at the center.

If you have a vintage Shadowline® piece with an interesting design or story behind it, we’d love to hear from you – our email inbox is always open, or you can tag us on Instagram @shadowlinelingerie. Here’s to continuing our tradition of fabulous nylon sleepwear design for decades more to come!