German Corsets

&

the Pendulous Abdomen

 

 

Figesta

 

 

In 1968, every German town, and probably most towns throughout the world, had a good selection of corsetry shops. On display were a large variety of corsets, girdles, and, perhaps surprisingly, panty-girdles, but of a much more substantial construction than their British equivalents.

 
The range of girdles and corsets was surprising until one considered the range of women that they were designed to accommodate. From the descendants of the elegant Marlene Dietrich, to the latent bulk of the sturdy 'hausfrau', all shapes could be catered for, and laced, strapped, or squeezed into a Teutonically acceptable shape. Für Rubensfrau was a term frequently used in German advertising!

 

 Also, of note, were the colours involved. It seemed that the German ‘hausfrau’  enjoyed sturdy quality with lively contrast in the patterns and materials. Rather than an invisible magnolia design on a magnolia background,  pinks on blacks, and strongly contrasting shades from beige to brown predominated. Bone casings were often leather tipped. White was in the minority. Of course, it is impossible to say, whether the shops' displays represented what the average woman wore, or what the shops wanted to sell.  

 

   

 

 

 

Sturdy corset fabrics from the 1970's.  These would control the most wayward Hausfrau and keep the chill (and most other things) at bay.

 

 

A striking difference between, for example, British and German corsetry, is to be seen in the products from that famous firm, Triumph. Triumph has lasted for decades, and is still famous in Britain and continental Europe as the manufacturer of one of the best ever long-line brassieres, the Triumph 'Doreen'. As much as I liked my Spirella lowers, the 'Doreen' was, and still is, my favourite long-line upper foundation. Nevertheless, whilst the 'Doreen' sold in millions in Britain, Triumph in Germany (as well as other companies) were producing garments that harked backed to earlier times.

 

The Triumph 'Brilliant K' was the most common of these garments and, until recently,  was still sold in Germany. 

A German lady that we met in Bonn in the 1980's and with whom we corresponded until recently said that her Mother always wore one. Sadly, it became harder and harder to find the garment in the 1990's; a sad tale all to often related by the elderly. 

The laced corselette seems to be a particularly German favourite. I have seen them in Britain, but rarely--and hardly at all since the 1960's. The British versions were very much the preserve of the elderly and overweight. Perhaps this was true of their German equivalents; however, these models below look like they could have been worn by any stylish women of mature age. They would certainly put a superb figure perhaps on a German woman, past the first flush of youth but still determined to show off the statuesque lines of her youth.

 

 

The laced corselette lasted on the high street until the early 1990's, well after it had died in Britain and America. The example below shows, once again, the use of satin to produce a serious, functional but extremely fashionable garment. Compare it to the Norwegian corset below.

Another feature of note here, that will be discussed later is the use of boning in unusual shapes. This appears to be a phenomenon of the 70's and 80's and restricted to Europe.

 

We'd like to end off these few recollections with a couple of interesting corselettes. 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 was being made well into the 1990's, displays the characteristic German abdominal support, albeit in attenuated form. 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.

Would this garment have worked in practice? Could the elastic have held those massive steels against the wearer's spine? Well somebody wore it and cherished it since it has all the hallmarks of use but careful ownership. 

These bands that hold the abdomen lead us to a whole chapter of German corsetry, since so many of their garments featured this sort of control. It is a fact of life that people's lifestyles influence their appearance, and there are sufficient German 'hausfraus' whose appetite has spawned an entire type of corset: The abdominal support.

 

 

On the left, the model wearing the Elda brassiere from 1975, could well have owned the Perfectana girdle. They do go well together. Even the humle panty-girdle is treated to the hip bands. Indeed, one of the words for girdle in German is Hüfthalter, literally, hip holder.

       

 

Let us end on an encouraging note. The garments above might be articles from the past, however, similar products are still available for purchase in Germany. The company involved FIGESTA has been very helpful in providing some excellent information and we have devoted a page to their  excellent products. Click on the corset technician to proceed.

 

 

 

 

Brassieres

I'm sure this is not a typical German brassiere, however, it had some interesting features. No less than than six girdle hooks secure the brassiere to the lower foundation. Certainly this hausfrau's bosom was kept firmly under control. The gaps at the back of this front-fastening garment allow the spine to breathe. But best of all is the name "Nelly" by that famous German company 'SKI'.

 

 

The Ultimate German Supports

 

The Ultimate German Supports

We came across these amazing examples of German corsetry that, in many ways, sum up all that we have been describing in these pages.

Both garments have extremely firm, complex and with supportive underbelts to hold up that tummy. Three sets of lacing and innumerable hooks-and-eyes must be adjusted to don this armour.

The corset and corselette, although ostensibly from different manufacturers, have used the same material, and how Teutonic it is. Dark, but with bright bold patterns. Certainly the wealthy Frau that could afford these would need a barrier of petticoats and sensible fabrics to prevent her underpinnings becoming embarrassingly visible!