Multiple Lacings



Victoria models a CAMP model 9974 size 34 (above). What? Size 34 for size 10 Victoria? The CAMP sizing for surgical corsets surprised many since they went by hip size, not waist size. This corset has four lacers: twin fan-laced side lacers and two conventional lacers offset from the front. This is in fact a maternity corset for a woman with a back problem. The conventional lacers allow for the growing abdomen whilst the fan-lacers provide the necessary tension to support the back. Victoria thought that it would make an excellent equestrienne corset.


                                                                                                                                                                                             CAMP model 9974 from the 1970s


                                                                                     CAMP model 9068 from the 1960s


The CAMP 9068 is quite a rarity. The twin side-laced CAMPs with the waist strap were common enough amongst women with back problems, but the additional back lacing is unusual, although very practical if one had size fluctuations. The back-lacer would be adjusted to the client's current size and then left alone whilst the side lacers were used to tighten the garment on a daily basis. These corsets are very powerful and can support the back and flatten the abdomen with a firm tug on the straps.


The simplest multi-lacing corset is one that has front and back-lacing. As in the CAMP, the back lacing is for periodic adjustment and the front-lacing for tightening the garment to the required degree each day. This could have been a Spirella 325 corset, however, it was made by Spencer in the 1990s to the Spirella 325 pattern after Spirella had ceased to exist. Spencer accommodated requests for Spirella patterns from their ageing clientele even to the extent of bringing back retired cutters to make the patterns.


Below we have various styles of triple-laced corsets. At the top is an American Spencer with front and side lacers from the 1950s. Note the charming details from this period: the Spencer name on the suspender clips and the old-fashioned pin in suspender knob. Below left is a UK Spirella with unusual twin front lacers and back lacing. Again, the back-lacing would be for periodic adjustment and in this case, I suspect the front lacers as well. Most unusually, the zipper is offset to the front right; almost always they are offset to the front left. This is the benefit of paying for made-to-measure. Below right is a British Barcley front-lacer with two offset front lacers using elastic laces. These offset elastic lacers act like an adjustable gore. This may have been because the client was subject (as are most women) to periodic weight fluctuations.


Now we come to a quadruple-lacer from Barcley UK. An interesting feature is that the corset has only two suspenders at the front. It is not that the other suspenders have been lost or cut off. Careful inspection of the garment shows that there were only ever two suspenders. This leads me to believe that this is a measuring garment rather than a corset for a client's wear. You always have two front suspenders but whilst being put into the garment by the corsetiere, the client could chose the location of the other suspenders. The little tabs sewn onto the garment (see enlargement) would have been used to guide the measuring tapes in the same way that the Spirella measuring garments worked (see below).


The corsetiere using her Spirella measuring garments could encase her victim, I mean client, in six sets of lacers all adjusted to achieve that perfect fit that would then be replicated in the made-to-measure final foundation garment.


Spirella's measuring garments were made from a bland tea rose cotton and frankly could be quite off-putting to potential clients particularly if you suspected that half a dozen other women had tried them on before you. This lovely example below however was made from a tea rose satin material. The three lacers and multiple rows of hooks-and-eyes allowed for that perfect fit. Note the tabs that would hold the measuring tapes in place.


We have finished with the multiple lacings on the corset proper, however, in those days, many corset had under-belts that themselves could contain two sets of lacers. We have written extensively about the under-belt and the example below shows how even a simple front-lacing corset can conceal multiple lacings beneath.