Formfit Lingerie - Killing time.

You have to pity the underwear industry. How do you show a product shot that doesn't look as though people forgot to dress? After a few decades, you'd run out of excuses to show happy, beautiful people standing around in their underwear. Not so in the Fifties! In swinging 1952, people would get together in their underwear and play solitaire, Alone.
Formfit made you look so good you just had to take your clothes off and sit in a darkened room and play cards. That's what I do whenever I'm bursting with confidence and self-worth. Well, it's what I plan to do if I ever burst with confidence and self worth. Fingers crossed.

Maybe she's waiting for her date to show up? Maybe she's waiting for her husband to finish getting ready to go -BAH HAH hah hah hah hah. No, I can't even type it with a straight face. Sorry. I tried.

Say you're an art director working on a Formfit campaign. Hpw do you portray people in their underwear in a flattering way that doesn't also look absurd? I'd say the hell with it and just pretend nobody wears clothes in ad-land. People standing in line at the bus station in their underwear. League night at the bowling alley in their underwear. Some battles are so stupid, they're not worth fighting. But, not everyone lives in the cartoon world inside my head (...yet. Patience. Patience).

So Formfit shows a young woman playing solitaire in her "blissfully comfy" fabric tube. I guess the message is that she's so comfortable, she's happy to hang out in her Formfit products. Also with earrings and a bracelet. Oh yeah, and makeup. With her hair done. It's almost as if she's going to pose for a painting.

A painting by whom? Well, the work is uncredited, as are the other examples of this ad campaign I can find. Just by looking, I'd say this could easily be the work of Gil Elvgren. He's my favorite of the pinup artists of the fifties. His stuff had that loose-and-brushy-but-still-realistic look that makes me so jealous I could punch a baby. I would imagine that, if he were to do a job like this, the client may ask him to tighten up the brush work. The brushy look isn't for everyone, and he had the range to work loose or tight. I have a book to prove it. For those of you not in the know, these pinup guys didn't just paint stuff like this out of their heads. They took carefully posed photographs and used it as "reference". This is what we in the biz call "heavily photo referenced". The fact that Elvgren (or whoever) used photo ref detracts not at all from his skill, but someone who could produce work of this quality out of thin air would be a demigod, and deserving of infinite hatred.

Was the original painting in color? I have no proof, but I'd imagine so. Number one, it would give the client the option to run the ad in full color at a later date if they felt like it without new art. Number two, believe it or not, painting a person in black and white isn't any easier or quicker than color. I guess there may be artists who specialize in black and white oil paintings but they probably don't have any friends. If you DID want to do a B/W portrait, you'd probably use a B/W photo as your reference. Doing the translation from color to grey in your head could be a pain. With a pencil sketch, you're only putting down varying intensities of black on white paper, but with an oil painting you'd be constantly mixing new shades of gray to make the flesh tones. It's possible I guess, but it seems weird. Just paint in color, okay? Jeez!

If you're so enamored of these ads, you can do an Ebay search and find plenty of examples. Expect to pay about ten dollars for an ad clipping, which is a rip off. Alternately, you can buy a whole magazine for less than that at an antique mall. Then you can sit on your bed in your super-comfy underwear and leaf through it.


Craig said...

When I sit around the house in my underwear, I get dirty looks from my neighbors and family.

PS: this ad was the 1950s version of YouPorn.

Sue said...

Her scuba suit looks so tight she can't hinge properly at the waist!! Digging those prices, tho!!

Craig said...

Maybe she's playing strip poker.

Couple of bad hands, but she's still got a long way to go.

Phil Are Go! said...

Yeah. Strip poker against herself. Once she loses the brasierre, the panties, the girdle, the corset, the underbra, the garters, the stockings, the chastity belt, the garter belt, the reserve panties, the socks, the earrings, the bracelet, the eyelashes, and the "shame garment", she'll be nearly naked!!!!

paige said...

I love Gil Elvgren! He also makes me want to punch babies, so much that I have a couple of his prints framed on my wall.

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