A Fashionable Young Lady in 1962



In the run up to Christmas 2018, we showed a picture of Victoria in a charming satin suit and asked readers to guess what foundation garments she was wearing. Each day we revealed a possible but incorrect answer until all was revealed on Christmas Day.

If you like, it was an unusual take on the concept of an Advent Calendar.


Good guess, but WRONG

On the left, Victoria wears a Triumph Doreen longline bra and a Coppelia 41 girdle (Spirella's off-the-peg brand). On the right, the bra is the short version of that on the left beneath which is the famous, premium edition, Marks & Spencer satin elastic girdle. The latter girdle was an excellent and considerably cheaper alternative to Spirella's offerings. In 1962, despite not requiring a lower foundation garment, girls of this age might well have been wearing the girdles that their mothers would wear since this was a period before so-called 'liberation' and girls dressed like their mothers. These days, such is the power of youth oriented advertising that mothers now wear what their daughters wear (often to disastrous effect)! However, on this occasion Victoria was wearing something else.



Expensive guess, but WRONG

That's pure made-to-measure Spirella in the expensive black orchid (nylon satin) material. I imagine her mother might have gone to the expense in 1962, but it would be a serious indulgence for her daughter. In those days, many women still found black underwear quite racy and certainly not appropriate for a very attractive daughter. It is the wrong colour anyway to wear with the gold suit and latterly, the black orchid was prone to rip; disastrous!


(Left)  Spirella 234 girdle with Spirella fashion-line bra.

(Right)  Spirella 305 corset (more of which tomorrow) and a Spirella fashion line bra.


Perhaps for her granny. WRONG

It was rare, but a few young women still wore corsets in 1962. We have several documented examples from the Spirella house magazines but usually only for overweight girls going to special functions; bridesmaid at a wedding for example. Victoria is far from overweight although both corsets do fit her well and she enjoyed wearing them. The tea-rose satin from Jenyns, expensive and sumptuous it might well be, however, is granny's colour.


(Left) The classic Spirella 305 corset.

(Right) Jenyns fan-lacer model 3672/10 (supporting & reducing; short average).

This was a shorter version of their 3616/10 that we used in so many calendars.


As a bride, fair enough, but WRONG

This reproduction Victorian corset by Axfords might just be worn for a wedding in the 1960s by a bride who appreciated a tight waist-line, but it would never be worn with formal day wear either by the daughter, the mother or granny although granny might remember wearing something similar in her youth. More likely, for a bride, since the Axfords is quite a heavy corset, would be the wearing of a 'waspie'. After all, only the bust and waist are on show since the hips are covered by the flare of the dress. Spirella, in the 1950s and 60s, actually gave employees who were about to be married, a 'waist nipper' (waspie) as a wedding present. These were the Spirella 102 or Spirelette 1080 in white satin; utterly charming garments.



Too complex even for her mother. WRONG

It is amazing just how much complexity can be engineered into a panty-girdle. The Jenyns on the left is actually a little tight on Victoria as the bulges above the waist-line show. She should have worn a long-line bra. On the right, Camp's formidable panty-girdle, model 'Slim Jim' 91245 proves something of a challenge for our young model. In reality, these garments would be worn by older women determined to keep their shapes and convinced by the saleswomen that buckles and straps was the way to go about it. As in corsets, Jenyns (Australia) and Camp (USA) were also rivals in girdles.


Close, but WRONG



Victoria could well have been wearing a Coppelia 51panty-girdle if her mother had stumped up sufficient funds. Coppelia was Spirella's off-the-peg brand, rather like Spirelette. The names were an attempt to seduce the younger generation into the foundations of their mothers without all that lacing and boning, however, the Coppelia 51, and the Spirelette 105 were formidably strong and could stand up unsupported. Her mother wears a 105 on the right and (as was indeed the case when she modelled the girdle), she didn't really like it. She felt it might just be OK for horse riding.

The bra is, of course, and has been for the last few days, a Triumph Doreen short-line.

WRONG. Fantasy is getting the better of reality

We have received many interesting and knowledgeable suggestions as to what Victoria might be wearing, however, we have also received a number of suggestions regarding what the reader would like to see Victoria wear.


Here Victoria wears a classic 'discipline corset' purchased from Gardners in 1968. It has full-length spiral boning and it was quite impossible for the poor girl to sit down. There are several sections on our web site that deal with long corsets: long conventional corsets and long corsets, like that above, that stray towards the 'fantasy' end of the market.


Victoria could wear this corset under her suit but in reality she never would do so. In 2015, when these pictures were taken, her mother tried on a later Axfords corset of the same style. The boning did not run full length and the mother was just able to sit unlike her daughter.





Victoria has crossed the Atlantic and although firmly embraced by her trusty Triumph Doreen bra, she has elected to wear what her peer group in the USA are all wearing: the Sears panty-girdle, model 28497. "If you ain't wearing a 28497, you ain't nobody!" and millions of American women wore them in the 1960s. When you regard Victoria, you can understand why.


Very good guess and quite probable, but WRONG

Not for the first time, Marks & Spencer (left) goes head-to-head with Spirella in the form of the Spirelette 104. (The desperate attempts by Spirella to get youngsters into girdles resulted in a fictitious Wendy extolling her 'top of the pops' girdle favourites. Oddly enough, the 104 is actually quite a modern feeling device (apart from the suspenders), whereas the 105 is almost bullet-proof (or perhaps boyfriend-proof - above). The brassiere is a very rare bullet bra from the East German Manufacturer VEB Miederwerk Pausa from East Germany.


Perhaps we are just half a decade early here. In 1962, panty-girdles were not that common in Britain and if a young women wanted her stockings to stay up, she needed suspenders that would be attached to a suspender belt (probably) or a open bottom girdle (possibly). Personally, I prefer the M&S version with its neat satin detailing, however, to an 18-year-old in 1962, the Spirelette might have appealed more by virtue of its simplicity.



The following picture was going to be included, however, when we compared these garments, that were designed to entice a new generation into corsetry, with the other black, white and even tea-rose foundations, they seemed rather out of place and spoiled the aesthetics of the page.


Not invented in 1962. WRONG


Good try but the advent of colourful underwear was a half a decade in the future.

Marks & Spencer had for a brief period, a huge range of colourful and matching bras and girdles. Nothing quite as striking as Emilio Pucci's psychedelic girdles, but quite pretty in an 'English Rose' sort of way.

Victoria was intrigued by these garments and thought they were similar to the two piece bikinis that she was wearing in 2014.