1930s Step-Ins and Bathroom Challenges

The picture kind of says it all. My apprehension about wearing a pair of 1930s step-ins for a day and figuring out how to go to the bathroom was real.

If you don’t know what a pair of step-ins is, it’s basically a chemise with a crotch. Step-ins had their hey-day in the 1920s and 1930s and most examples I’ve look at have the crotch sewn at both ends. No snaps, no buttons (at least not with the extent pieces I’ve studied). This begs the question of “How do you, ya know, use the bathroom while wearing a pair of these things?”

I had to make this an experiment, inquiring minds (at least historical costumers) what to know these things. So I decided to wear a pair I made a few months ago. And to keep the experiement as historically accurate as possible, I paired these with a 1930s dress I’d made out of a ditsy floral cotton.

My Step-Ins

I made these step-ins from a Reconstructing history pattern. I made them out of peach silk charmeuse. The pieces for this undergarment were cut on the bias, so there’s a lot of give in the garment. They aren’t perfect in terms of construction (cutting slippery fabric on the bias is hard!), but good enough for this experiment.

There’s a sewn-in crotch panel (that middle part that makes the hem of the step-ins pull up), with both ends sewn to the hem of the garment, no snaps or buttons.

Going to the Bathroom

So this was a challenge, there’s no way to sugar-coat it. Basically, I had to remove my dress entirely and the step-ins each time. Each Time. Thankfully, this was an at-home day for me; I can’t even imagine trying to do this in a public restroom, gross. Suffice to say, you don’t want to wait until you really, really have to go because getting out of two layers takes time.

By the end of the day I was looking very disheveled, getting undressed and dressed will do that I guess. I was so happy to change into pajamas and just have bottoms to deal with.

Final Thoughts

I think there’s a reason step-ins with sewn crotches were only around for 20ish years. They’re a dang nuisance unless you’re just using them as nightwear. No wonder brassieres and tap pants are so commonly seen in extent collections!

Have you had any experience with this antique undergarment? Let me know!

You can read my last blog post about making a 1920s brassiere? You can here!

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