I typed an amusing ad for my Caddo blog yesterday: “We have just received, direct from the factory, the latest styles in Summer Corsets for 1902. We have a good straight-front girdle for 38c. Something real nice for 48c. Golden Rule Racket .” (BTW, a racket store was a variety store. It got the name because of displays of stuff that bumped together and made noise, or a “racket”.)
The first thing I noticed about the ad was that they were selling summer corsets. Wearing a corset and the clothing from 1902 couldn’t have been pleasant in our heat. We’re talking about floor-length skirts and layers of cloth. And I thought about some woman scrimping and saving an extra dime for “something real nice”.
Corsets, girdles and other contraptions stayed in vogue for quite a while. My grandmother never left the house without a girdle. I don’t think she knew how to get dressed without one! My mother wore one for many, many years, but finally gave it up when most other women quit wearing them. Of course I wore one in the seventies when I didn’t need it. I was at my lowest weight ever, but wore a girdle for that extra flat look.
Of course one of the reasons for wearing a girdle, or at least a garter belt, was so you could wear hose. Those slippery, twisting things wouldn’t stay in place unless you were trussed up in some contraption. And like most girls, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear them. What a fool! We all celebrated when pantyhose were invented, and then I learned to loathe them too. Haven’t owned a pair in ten years!
If you feel the need to make yourself miserable, you can still buy a 1902 style corset or girdle. You could even wear it with a vintage dress. You can buy almost anything women have ever worn. Some contraptions are made for people who wear vintage clothing for plays and fairs and festivals. Others are made for people who just like to be “compressed”. J As for me, I’ll go put on my slacks, soft cotton shirt, and comfortable shoes and go to work!