In Praise Of The Humble Slip

slip ii

Am I contravening a sewing blog rule? Because I’m going to recommend something most-very-shop-of-bought. The humble slip!

I used to believe that slips were worn by Great Aunts and, er, my mother. (Hi, Mum!) Then I invested in this simple slip and ever since it’s been on heavy rotation.

Here’s why it works for me:

  • Winter warmth – an extra layer in the cold.
  • Tights. Enough said.
  • Some sewing projects don’t suit a lining, such as my four Ultimate Shift Dresses. But I do want a fluid drape, and a slip helps.
  • Avoiding compromising translucence when sewing with finer fabrics.
  • Allowing makes to sit smoothly against my body without VPL.
  • Winter warmth. Did I say that already?

Do you wear slips? Buy them, or sew them? I’m not sure I have the energy to make one and I like an item I can chuck in the washing machine on a weekly basis. But then, I see what other people are achieving with silk and lace…  Is now the time to sew a slip?


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62 Responses to In Praise Of The Humble Slip

  1. lauriesannie says:

    Yes, now is the time.

  2. Alessa says:

    Definitely slips! I have three in rotation, but they’re some slippery poly/lycra fabric. Silk would indeed be nice…

  3. Anne-Rose says:

    I have the same one, two in black and two in nude. I also have some half slips which I wear with unlined skirts, great for Summer! I haven’t sewn any myself yet, it would be nice to be able to use nicer materials and to have more colour options though.

  4. I do love slips! I invested in a machine washable silk one early on in winter and it was a fantastic purchase. Yes, you could sew your own, and I could to, but I went 3 years without a silk slip because I kept procrastinating sewing one, since I simply didn’t want to in the end. I haven’t for one moment been sorry I bought one instead!

  5. ellensmart12 says:

    I was thinking about the humble slip just the other day! It definately keeps all my dress from riding up in the most unladylike manner 😉 I’m yet to sew one though!

  6. beales56 says:

    I agree totally, I wear skirt slips with all of my dresses/skirts and a long fitted slip if the dress needs it. Linings are not meant to be a substitute for a slip, they stop fabric clinging to your skin, but its the slip that enables clothes to hang well when they are worn. Think Betty Draper in Mad Men her slips were gorgeous.

  7. Claudia says:

    Timely post – I resurrected an old sewing project and will make a slip rather than line it. I really don’t know why people don’t wear slips. I have more half slips than full slips, but a silk full slip would be mighty nice.

  8. Melissa C says:

    Slips are fab! I sewed my first full slip as an adult just this past December. I love it. I wear it whenever I can (today actually!). It’s silk and lace. And much easier to sew than I ever thought possible. The free Ruby Slip pattern was what I used. The sew along is amazing. Literally the best thing I have ever sewn.

  9. Hay says:

    I wore half slips up to the age of 20 when I decided they were for old ladies, I vowed I’d never wear one again that was until 12 years ago I watched Elizabeth Taylor swanning around looking uber glamorous in Butterfield 8 , I made it a mission to make several using gorgeous silks, I’ve only managed 1 so far, I wear it whenever I can, practical and dare I say rather sexy! Perhaps it’s time for me to make another.

  10. Britney says:

    I haven’t work slips ever, but i feel like it’s necessary to buy one now. The main reason being that I just sewed up a moneta in a lightweight knit and its kinda see-through haha. I don’t think i would sew a slip up if its just the supporting garment not the main event. I only really want to sew things that are FUN haha i might sew a slip if its one to wear lounging around home and it’s silky and lacey!

  11. I am a huge fan of slips for all reasons you sited, particularly warmth, drape of unlined dresses and the see through factor. I have made half slips but am thinking of a pretty silk and lace full slip project on new Bernina with
    special fine fabric throat plate that works like a charm to prevent fabric being pulled and damaged without using tear away stabilizer underneath. Do you have a pattern in mind?

  12. Emma Gibney says:

    Much needed! My favourite is the thermal slip – cut a thermal vest under the armholes and stitch it to another one, long sleeved and sleeveless, they make clothes more wearable. A non-sewing friend suggested it when I couldn’t find one anywhere. Uniqlo heat tech tops are great too for super thin layers.

  13. Jenny Lester says:

    Being of a certain age – no respectable teenager would go out without a slip of some sort, so,you could say I was brought up with them. Gives shape and style to garments and sleek lines even when dresses are lined! And warm and snug and comfortable especially with tights. Why wouldn’t you!! M and S have wonderful simple ones in packs of 2 – nude and black not worth the bother of making, especially as the fabric may be difficult to source – TMOS perhaps??

  14. Toni says:

    I’d love to make one. Emma One Sock sells Venezia knit lining fabric that feels heavenly against my skin. It’d be perfect for a slip.

  15. Ryan says:

    I wear a slip with nearly every dress or skirt. I even have a pair of pettipants (shorts made of slip material and trimmed as such) that are great in the summer and with my shorter skirts. I have a collection of vintage slips that I purchased in my 20s and some nylon contemporary slips. Ive been thinking if sewing one because the selection in stores is so poor. I’d love a silk one and might use some bright peony charmeuse for the first one. Of course it could only be worn under a few dark or opaque dresses but it’s what I have and a bright silk slip would be great fun.

  16. Bernice says:

    I have 2 full slips: 1 nude and 1 black. I wear them with skirts and dresses and my clothes look and feel so much nicer than without. Actually, I agree with all of the reasons you mention. Mine are RTW and while not silk are quite lovely. I doubt I will sew my own.

  17. BMGM says:

    I sewed a half slip in nylon tricot and it’s the most comfortable one I own. I’m going to sew a full slip next. They needn’t be lace and silk. In fact, I find lace unbearably scratchy and that is why I want to sew my own.

  18. Jen (NY) says:

    Somewhere I have a small collection of vintage slips, some of which do not even fit me very well, but I keep them because they are so pretty. Most are from the 60s and early 70s I think, in pastel nylon with lacy details. The benefit of the nylon tricot in the vintage full slips is that it stretches a little, so that might be something to think about. I would probably only make a half slip, maybe in a rayon satin. A teddy can substitute as a slip too, and I’ve thought about sewing one since RTW all-in-one things never fit me quite right in the length, if you know what I mean.

  19. Margaret Beard says:

    I do have a favorite slip I wear with certain outfits to make it more attractive….

  20. KW says:

    I too buy the M & S twin packs. If you buy a couple you can cut the slips (don’t bother with hemming) to different lengths for all your dress / tunic needs! Not overly attractive but they definitely make the top layer more so.

  21. Kathy Lynch says:

    Climate definitely plays a huge part! Living in sub-tropical Brisbane, I couldn’t bear to wear a slip, half or otherwise, with my Summer dresses. Eeeek. However, for the month or 2 of Winter we have, I wear one to avoid the dreaded tights/skirt cling. My fav is an M&S one I bought last time we were in your fabulous city. (Honestly don’t think I would be bothered to make one.)

    • LinB says:

      Yep. In central North Carolina, we dwell in a steamy miasma much of the year. Stopped wearing slips (well, most underwear, really) in my late teens and 20s. Took up bras again when I got pregnant and needed them; and now I will wear some nice cotton granny panties.

      I hate, loathe, and despise to wear a slip: they hold heat in against my menopausal body in a hot climate. Would 18,000 times rather line a garment than wear a slip — and the lining and the garment both have to be natural fibers.

      That said, an all-cotton slip makes an excellent nightgown. I’ve sewn up slip patterns in quilting cottons for nightwear before … Probably ought to drag out the old reliable KwikSew pattern 2766 and run up some fresh ones for this spring and summer. It has bias and straight-of-grain versions in several sizes.

      • Ha, ha, ha! Lin B, I’m not sure I can quite read between the lines here. Do you like wearing slips … or not? You made me laugh out loud. Guess slips aren’t for you x 18,000!

  22. kitkatkrispie says:

    Don’t you just love good undergarments? I have a black one in three lengths from a well know high street store. It is brilliant because you can wear it either way round, v neck or scoop neck. I always think it helps garments to hang better. However, as someone who feels the cold, it saves wearing thermals and a good liberty bodice!!!!

  23. And I thought I was the lonely one. I’ve always worn slips they support the outer layer and protect delicate skin from fastenings and of course they stop skirts creeping up, m&s ones are perfect.

  24. norma says:

    I’ve got a little collection of slips. They really are useful and quite pretty. I’ve never made one but I am tempted when I look at my 1930s books. Maybe one day.

  25. Mags says:

    Hi made gerties slip from one of her kits (I think the worst thing about seeing a slip would be having to source all the bits). It wasn’t difficult and it’s really comfy, so I’m a convert, but think I will buy them in future. I prefer the full slip to the waist slip because it is sleeker under your clothes.

  26. Like you, I am a slip lover. Mainly to stop the dress/cotton undie attachment issue. I recently found some silk in the charity shop and thought I might make one for the very first time. If you have any pattern ideas I would be keen to hear them. I have to say I am a silk virgin.

  27. Vicki Halliday says:

    Yes! I made two from a drapey rayon in white but dyed one piece beforehand so I have a light & a dark. I’m so much more comfortable in a dress with a slip underneath, for all the reasons you give. I frenched all the seams & forced myself to make them carefully & I’m so glad I did since I wear them all the time.

  28. i’ve made a recently, but for summer dresses huge fan of the M&S slip. Oddly seldom wear one in the winter as I line wool dresses due to itch factor.

  29. Twilight says:

    I have one half slip and a full one. I don’t wear them that often, but there are undoubtedly times when they are sorely needed…Both were bought, unfortunately. I’d like to make one if any of mine get too old.

  30. Roobeedoo says:

    This is a major gap in my wardrobe. I don’t have one and it limits my choices. Would I make one? Can’t be bothered! Would I buy one? I have this phobia of synthetic fabrics… but the words “cool comfort” are tempting me! Thanks Karen!

  31. jay says:

    I have some fabric on my cutting table bought for a slip. It’ll happen eventually.

  32. Anne Frances says:

    On yes. They really are quite quick to make. I use a vintage vogue pattern.Cut them on the bias. I use satin back crepe silk, and throw them in the washing machine – but they do need a touch of the iron. They keep draughts off , in silk are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and make anything with a skirt hang better. I also have trouser liners – bias cut silk narrow legged pyjama-type pants, elastic waist, lace trimming at (short so they don’t show) leg ends, that feel wonderful for keeping trousers warm in winter and preventing them bagging out where I bend.

  33. Jess says:

    I don’t feel comfortable without a slip, I ‘must’ wear one. I have a lovely piece of lawn left over from the christening gown I made for our Grandchildren which I’ve kept for a slip but have not got around to making it. You’ve inspired me so I will make that up this morning as a treat for myself.

    I attended a summer lingerie course a couple of years ago and learned some very pretty ways to make the straps and binding as well as how to apply lace both at the hem and at the neckline. I have a couple of sliders for the straps so I’m all ready to go.

    Oh! I’ve just remembered why I am adding this post, it’s to praise the humble VEST. I wear trousers most days so the top half of a petticoat, a pretty cami., a thermal RTW from M and S. Sometimes pretty , sometimes boring but. ALWAYS a vest. I like the lacy ones that can be allowed to show at the neckline to give a fancier look to a plain top and of course if the top is a bit too low.

    I’ve got a better chance of getting it finished if I put my iPhone down and get on with it though.

    It’s a lovely day here in sunny Wiltshire.
    My two Westies will drive me insane wanting to be let in and out. If it were warm I could leave the conservatory door open but it’s too cold for that just yet.
    Happy crafting 😎

  34. Zoë says:

    M&S all the time, I really don’t think they are worth the effort of making myself as they are so affordable and well made already. Perfect for winter and summer too.

  35. I always wear a slip – in addition to the advantages you listed, they give one a nice feeling of retro, Joan Holloway-ish glamour. It’s nice if one’s top pulls up not to get a draught around the midriff too.

    As a teenager I had a collection of FAB sixties nylon slips in all different colours which I wore as dresses with DMs, black tights and long-sleeved black t-shirts. I couldn’t pull that look off now unfortunately…

  36. Claire says:

    I wear my black short M&S slip all the time. For all the reasons you said. I made a white cotton full one using a 1950’s pattern to wear under summer dresses – I love that one. And I made a black silk full slip that was awful to sew on my machine so most of it was done by hand.

  37. SaSa says:

    I always wear a slip when wearing cotton dresses with tights. So I am able to wear them in Winter too, and in summer one layer oc cooton is enough. I have got five bought slips of thin, slippery viscose knits. I never saw a fabric like this to buy. Another advantage is, that without lining, the dresses can be pressed more easily. 🙂

  38. Laurie says:

    Thanks the heads up on the M&S slip. I have made a really bad slip (too many seams for the function of slip) that I wear anyways. I have bought several slip patterns, just a few weeks ago one from Burda. I have fabric for it and I Just. Can’t. Bother. Now M&S slips are headed my way. They have a great Canadian web site and a 20% off first order offer! One of the slips was only available in a length longer than I wanted – No problem, it will take no time to hem since I gained all that time by not making a slip 😉

  39. Sometimes making THE perfect garment is matter of timing. When you find the pattern, fabric and time – you will know it’s the right time. You don’t have to make everything you wear and if you have a nice store bought item that serves you well you should enjoy it… Unlike your ultimate shift dresses and I’m glad you have found a way to add warmth!

  40. marycr8on says:

    I’m am really dating myself here! I haven’t been wearing dresses or skirts for quite awhile now. But when I was working retail in the 80s and 90s, I wore them all the time with slips. I made a flannel half-slip with 8″ eyelet on the bottom to show under a wool skirt. It was really warm and more comfortable than a poly/nylon one. It really changed how the skirt hung on me, for the better too.

  41. susew says:

    Yes, I love slips – for the extra warmth in winter or early spring – or even under my looser summer dresses. Have three full slips I made- one in black silk, one in light weight cotton, another in polyester georgette. Keep meaning to buy a Vogue Donna Karan pattern just for the slip- usually bias.

  42. Ann Johnston says:

    Last time I was in London I made a trip to M&S specifically to buy slips, my old ones were completely worn out! I wear them under everything, in every weather. Never made any, but maybe next time they wear out I will think about it.

  43. I heart slips! I have me made slips, some polyester and some cotton. Some full, some waist slips. I now wear them all the time even though it was something I took as little time as possible to make. Easy enough to draft a waist slip and add lace and a bow, the full slip is from the Date Night dress by April Rhodes ( it comes with an easy to sew slip) and can also double up as a nightie! It’s funny, I can remember my Mum used to make me slips ( cotton waist slips) to wear as a girl and I became more embarrassed as I recognised it was something none of my classmates were wearing so I gave up on them until the late 80s when I willingly accepted the most gorgeous full, white cotton gypsy slip with broderie Anglais lace that I’d drag my (long) skirt hems up to show off. ( and try to avoid them getting stuck in my bicycle chain…) But still slips were not something I’d miss until decades later…maybe since I started sewing more of my own clothes ? The warmth and the tights / skirt friction are the biggest factors for me..and so now I think as I wear slips the most out of everything I sew, that I should spend more time making prettier ones ( and silk sounds a great promotion!) Sorry, ramble over!

  44. I have an old slip of my Mam’s that I occasionally wore and always felt very “womanly” in but usually found them too hot. Technology means that M+S now make a slip that keep you warm in the cold and cool on the warm. Perfect.

  45. redsilvia says:

    I’ve got several slips I picked up over the years at thrift shops. One even has a metal zipper and an accordian pleated ruffle! Some are so pretty I want to wear them as outerwear, but don’t dare. My most useful slip is a regular short half slip in black that keeps tights from sticking to my dress. Cheap and cheerful nylon!

  46. Many moons ago, I scored a whole roll of a fairly solid silk satin charmeuse in black, because it had some water damage. The whole thing went in the washing machine and I discovered that basically, that’s how you get sandwashed silk. Delicious! I machine wash all my silks, but never with enzyme detergents. So natch, I have made plenty plenty black silk half slips and camis for myself and others, and I still have some left. I prefer the two piece version because then it is more versatile. but really, given how much you enjoy those mad skills processes that require focus and patience, slips are a great project to indulge in them. Teen tiny french seams, rouleau straps, bound edges, heaven! and when you make your own you can dispense with those horrible strap adjusters.

  47. Hannah says:

    I have skirt slips which are great. Stops skirts sticking to tights and saves a lot of lining when you’re making, I just wear a slip underneath instead. Think I need a dress slip though as well, might be something I invest in soon.

  48. New Capel Street: Fabric Division says:

    I haven’t worn a full slip since I was eight or nine, and the only half slip I own is awful. Like, why-haven’t-I-pitched-this awful. It stretches and rolls up, and is functionally useless. But I’m making more and more dresses to wear, and I think they’d sit a lot better on me with a slip, so one of these paydays I will be investing in some suitable fabric and giving it a go!

  49. Mary says:

    Sewing a bias slip is a great way to get in some bias practice. Plus, the fit is more forgiving/slinky. Even if you haven’t done a terribly neat job, at least it is underneath and won’t be seen. If you aren’t comfortable sewing with bias, there is also a tie option. If you look on etsy, vintage butterick 2970 slip from the 1930’s… nice, right? I suppose you’d lose a little of the smoothing effect, due to the ties… Well there are a lot of styles out there, and honestly if you have a favorite sundress pattern that too could be used as a slip pattern.

  50. I have bought ones too and I love that they just get chucked in the wash. Having said that I have bought some fabric and stretch lace to make one.

  51. esewing says:

    Not sure I would sew one , but definitely a slip wearer , extra layer and stops a full skirt creating a whole lot of static with your tights , should be pretty too

  52. Lisa says:

    I wear slips for the same reasons as you. Mine are from M&S because they do different lengths and colours. I made one once but it wasn’t as comfy as my good old M&Ss!

  53. Danielle says:

    I always groaned when my mum told me I had to wear a slip when I was a kid. I haven’t worn one as an adult but was recently rethinking that when I had a lot of static cling in a dress I was wearing!

  54. Catheline says:

    The Ultimate Shift Dress actually is very easy to line. I’ve done it with my second one (which also happens to be the second dress I’ve ever made).

    Cut the lining following the same pattern, but slightly shorter, and sew the darts. Then sew the shoulder seams of each of the two dresses. Match the outter dress to the lining, right sides together and making sure the shoulder seams line up, then sew the neck line and the arm holes. The next step is to flip the fabric inside out, by slipping the back halves through the gap between the shoulder seams. After that, the dress can be finished as usual.

  55. Lori says:

    I have not worn a slip since I was a schoolgirl, and since living in the very humid south of the states doubt I will. Most folks try to relieve themselves of extra layers.If however I resided in a cooler climate, yes
    I would add some of these dainties to my wardrobe.

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