In Support of the

German Back

 

The amazing array and variety of the German abdominal supports, is matched by as many complex corselettes designed to perform a similar function. Many of these models can still be purchased from Figesta corsets. The principle is similar, however, lacing, although it can be employed, tends not to be, since the wearers of the corselettes, apart from requiring firm abdominal support, also suffered from back problems. It is highly likely that the two complaints were strongly interlinked. The sagging abdomen pulls at the muscles of the upper back and the poor posture of the back-sufferer allows the tummy to respond to gravity's inexorable pull. The extra length of the corselette and the requisite shoulder straps served to place rigid back boning exactly where it is required; hard against the spine.

 

 

   

 

At least there was no need for the wearer to be confined in boring, drab coutils. Satins and laces were also available, and readily so to the German Hausfrau. Strong colours were to be an outstanding feature of continental corsetry.

 

Consider the garments on the left. The contrasting patterns and shades stand out, and the figured brocades and satins lend a femininity and elegance to these powerful foundations. 

 

The garment on the left, which is still being made, displays the characteristic German abdominal support, with external bands and under-belt. The satin facing is  a lovely touch. The garment on the right is one of extreme contrasts and combines a medium weight figured elastic with a alarmingly heavy duty, virtually solid back of satin covered rigid quadruple steels.

 

The backs are typically very well-boned with long, rigid steels set in one or two pairs either side of the troublesome spine. 

Even the inside of these well-made and complex devices is finished in heavy-duty satin. The picture above shows the garment laid wide open. This would be a familiar sight to the wearers, many of whom would don the garment in the horizontal, or Trendelenburg position.

 

 

 

Above left, we see a steeply angled abdominal support belt—perhaps a stronger method of ensuring that the spine and the controlling steels remain firmly together. On the right, another variation on the same theme, but incorporating a long-legged panty portion.

 

The models are typical examples of these garments. Front-fastening for ease of access, with some controlling band connecting back to front at the hip level. Often an under-belt was included and some sort of crotch-strap, since, without the anchoring of stockings, the garment would inevitably ride up on the wearer.

In both cases above, it is the underbelt that has the crotch-strap. Typically, the underbelt is a strong, boned layer, devoid of fripperies that holds the abdomen in place. The outer layer provides both fashion, for all these garments are beautifully finished, but also the additional support, via the hip-bands, for the back.

 

Even CAMPS's adjustaband features here.

 

When one considers that such a garment might have an underbelt and a zip-fastening concealing hooks and eyes underneath (this one has a front zip), the wearer could be confronted by an amazing 48 hooks-and-eyes to connect—possibly a warning to the wearer's daughter to avoid the traditional fatty diet of the German countrywoman. (A traditional phrase that justified such feasting was, “First stuff, then lace”!)