Once at MIA: Artful underwear

Munsingwear advertisement 1944She might have stepped out of a painting, a goddess in satin unmentionables. Which is presumably what Munsingwear was going for with this August 1944 photo shoot in the MIA fountain court. Classy. Elegant. Underwear so beautiful it could be in a museum.

Munsingwear, founded in Minneapolis in the 1880s, wasn’t known for sex appeal. It was known for its Union Suits, the adult-size onesies with the handy drop-down flap in back. That began to change during the Great Depression, when it introduced its girdle line, the Foundettes, to help women become “slim and graceful as a ballerina” and ran ads with a figure skater named Erna Andersen whose fans “go all dreamy-eyed over her lithe beauty of form.”

The lithe beauty here is the 1944 Aquatennial Queen, Patricia Carlsen. She may or may not have been familiar with her surroundings, but Munsingites, as the thousands of Munsingwear employees were called, were encouraged to dive into arts and culture, start musical and reading groups at work. There was even a city library branch in the north Minneapolis factory. A class act, with or without clothes.

Watch for more Once at MIA flashbacks every Monday at MIA Stories.