Strange Names that Failed

 

A tribute to the IPHITALL Studless Busk, an invention of the Menzies Corset Manufactury of Nethergate, Dundee.

 

Before we embark on this slightly humorous trip through the twisted minds of the marketing department, let us not forget that Fred Burley, a man with a particularly inappropriate surname, started a company that would become one of Australia's, and even the world's, leading brands! The only concession was to call the company Berlei, and in one deft change of emphasis, turn the word Burly into something altogether more elegant, perhaps even French.

 

 

Despite the corny names, some of these companies actually produced some elegant and useful foundations. The hidden lacing has always appealed to a niche-market amongst the vain, but was the Abdo-lift corset a relation of the Abdo-slim, or were they rivals? The abdo-slim emanated from that curious establishment 'Needle Trade Developments' who were at one time based in Croydon.

 As for, Tummy-ins, I'm sorry. Panties will never flatten a tummy. A good girdle or corset is required.

 

Sky-Hi

The Sky-Hi panty-girdle was well made and pretty, but no different from a hundred of its peers. Very American early 60's with exposed suspenders, charming satin panel and reinforced waist-line I'm sure it did its job well. It's special feature was the name Sky-Hi that alluded to the elegant airline stewardesses and the jet-set lifestyle that was coming into vogue. Whilst on the theme of airline glamour ...

... comes the Co-Pilot!

Again a girdle aimed at the younger lady, were the manufacturers so forward thinking that they imagined that one day women would be allowed in the cockpit? Surely not. I belive the co-pilot reference was aimed at the future husband of the stewardess!

Lingerie Plastique

What is so special bout the garment from 1929 on the right you might ask? Firstly, the name - Lingerie Plastique made by Bon Ton. Not that the name means garment is plastic, simply that it is supple. The revolutionary part and I quote "As Lingere Plastique is made all-in-one, it does away with the bulkiness of four separate overlapping undergarments; a double layer of silkiness replacing girdle, vest, panties and brassiere." In many respects, it echoed the sentiments of Roussel and was aimed at the willowy figure who required a foundation, but hardly any real shaping. The little petticoat around the base was all part of the same garment; they forgot to mention that.

 

The Amazing Controlacing Berlei Liftbac 7296 joins this section by virtue of its incredible name. I think anybody who purchased this garment would realise that there must have been something that seriously needed attention with her figure!

 

I was informed by an erudite gentleman that Plastik also means 'sculpture' in German. I suppose that is what Triumph intended!

It wasn't just Bon Ton who lauded the benefits of Plastic, or Plastik as Triumph was keen to show us. Exquisit-Plastik was the latest line in brassieres around the 1960's. This was the era of artificial fabrics and nylon petticoats and a plastic-looking (albeit) nylon brassiere was all the rage. At least it would dry quickly after washing!

 

One of my all time favourites comes from those archetypal, straight-speaking, Flemish Belgians Le Compressif. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!

     

 

Dissolvene (left) Another howler where rubber dissolves away unwanted fat. The booklet of rubber garments will display an alarming array of corsets and moulds, not just for everyday wear, but for use whilst sleeping. In those days it could take a lady longer to prepare for bed than to prepare for a ball. Pity the poor husband faced by an unrecognisable rubber-clad parody of his wife. Horrors!

Many women have pet names for their girdles (rarely affectionate I might add), and to market a girdle as The Tamer shows a degree of realism. I suspect the hand of a women in the marketing department here.

 

Restrictions (left below) by that famous French company Scandale exhibits both a positive and a negative message. The very name, Scandale, is redolent of risquée French affaires d'amour. Whereas, the garment itself, uncompromisingly called restrictions, seems to indicate that the wearer, far from conducting a love affair, simply wants to get rid of the wretched thing. Either that or Maman has let her petite fille wear it, but with strict warnings of just what and what not she might be allowed to do!

 

Apparently, restrictions is NOT the name of the corselette. The advertisement refers to restrictions in the use of rubber during the war. A think a French double entendre was intended. It caught me out anyway! The letter pointing this out is reproduced below:-

You included under your article on Strange Names a Scandale advert entitled "Restrictions" which I found rather odd because one would not normally use the word in that context and because many if not most Scandale ads I have seen emphasize souplesse and legerte, i.e. flexibility and lightness.  Unfortunately, the image you posted was too small to read so I searched for a legible copy and found a similar but legible companion ad.  It dated from 1941 and referred to the restrictions on the use of rubber imposed by the war.  It says that Scandale had reduced the rubber content by 50% but maintained its ability to shape the figure without having to resort to laces and other devices that reduced flexibility.  If you have a legible copy of the advert and forward it to me, I would be glad to translate it.  Scandale made a series of film adverts that I believe were shown in theatres and which were quite amusing.

Women have often said that girdles were invented by the Devil. Calling one's product Diabolic, confirms this, however, I suspect that in French there is yet another subtlety that I may have missed.

 

This 'Swing-sette' panty-girdle by Gossard is pure 60's Americana. Its unusual feature is that it was selected by the US Olympic committee to underline travel ensembles and parade uniforms worn by the female athletes in the 1967 Pan-American games.

Once again, modern women are astounded by this, but they shouldn't be. Athletes, like anybody, wear what their peers wore, and in 1967, a proper young lady was undressed without her girdle.

Mary Rand, Britain's Olympic gold medallist for the long jump in the 1964 games, was photographed several times visiting the Spirella premises for one of their publicity brochures.

 

Spencer's Rejuveno corsets actually became quite popular despite the crass name that lasted but a few years in the mid-1920's.

La Camille's Ventilo Back

certainly deserves a mention, if for no other reason, that we keep getting queries as to what the holes in the back were supposed to do. The name is redolent of the British Music Hall (we announce the Great Ventilo and his talking dummy!) and frankly, even by La Camille's own admission (below), it appears to have been a stylistic exercise with reasons developed later and rather vaguely!

 

 

Popular words that use combinations of other words, incorrectly and illogically, are an abhorrence to the student of the English language. One of the worst and most commonly used is Workaholic. However, Camp's Campopaedic corset was so badly named that the company quickly reverted to a plain old corset. After all, there's little doubt as to the purpose of Camp's corsets, although some people persist in misunderstanding them!

 

 

Originally, we thought that the Swedish manufacturer, Kronan, who made some superbly elegant and high-waisted corsets, had fallen into the trap of making a comment in one language that has an amusing connotation in another. My husband, however, took the trouble to consult an internet translator that tells us

 

 Håll-in

does actually mean "Hold in". Swedish has some interesting forms of our simple letter a, and Häll-in means "Pour in" or "Haul in". The back-laced satin confection in the advertisement would presumably require the Swedish maiden to pour herself in, and then haul herself in. It would certainly hold in the wearer. It amused my husband no end for a few days afterwards (such is the child-like mind of the male) to exclaim "Hauling in Darling?", each morning when I started to dress for the day.

 

Apart from the corny name Fre-Mor with its equally corny Even-Pul accessories and conformance panel (I ask you), the advertisement does mention a real problem that the woman of today could barely understand.

 

A lady's foundations from this era were a combination of garments, not just brassiere and girdle but, vitally important, stockings as well. All the garments were linked; the brassiere to the girdle or corset by hooks, and the girdle to the stockings by suspenders. The stockings secured the combination at the foot end, and the brassiere straps the security at the top end. If this balance of forces became unstable, then the result was a creeping discomfort that could ruin a dinner party or a night out.

 

Apparently Fre-Mor had a unit of vital control that 'kept it all together', although it is not exactly clear how!

 

 

The Nu-back corset last many decades since it allowed the top of the corset (or brassiere), to ride over the lower part, thus facilitating bending over. However, I had never seen before some French advertising in the 1920's calling the concept Telescopic. It is quite correct of course, but women prefer less scientific names.

 

 

How often can one rely and the old rubber corset industry to come up with, not just inventive names, but advertising hyperbole worthy of the best 'snake-oil' salesman!

The Sturdi-flex cannot help but suggest that Madam requires the firmest of corsetry to control her wayward curves, yet something less than armour-plated, Madam will still be able to move and bend once ensconced!

No mention is made of the fact that this is one of Kleinart's specialities, the rubber corselette. Even Playtex knew that selling these sweaty contraptions was an uphill struggle. Note how they are at pains to avoid reference to the dreaded latex, and stress that their garment is 'odour-free'. Remember the long-suffering widower whose wife had been persuaded to wear a rubber corselette and latex yarn support stockings, "The old dear used to pong a bit in the hot weather" he less than wistfully remembered about his wife.

 

The Hug-Waist Junior from 1952 seemed to be designed to prevent any blood circulation getting as far as the poor girl's legs. No doubt the surgical stocking manufacturers would cash in later.

Na-Row is a fairly sad name for an otherwise excellent high quality girdle from that famous firm Maidoré. Look at the sumptuous satin brocade and the plush-backed zip.

We recently acquired a 'Fan Massagical' Corset (made in Stockport, England) and the quality of construction is outstanding, shame about the name!

Sixteen satin bone casings have been sewn into a heavy lustrous brocade patterned in blue and beige leaves. Blue satin elastic allows the wearer some freedom around the hips and blue laces complete this charming garment. It must have been the property of an elderly lady for there are no back suspenders. It laces up on the right front (in the continental style) and must have been one of the most expensive foundations of its day in the 1950's.

Beautiful satin bone-casings. Interestingly, the suspenders are hung from inside the garment. This would have the stocking tops almost level with the bottom rim of the corset.

 

The Fan brochure is riddled with appalling names:- The Fan Massagical Reducyr, the Corporect Corset and the Fyshline to name but a few!

Nevertheless, these corsets were beautifully made and Fan had their corsetieres all over the Midlands and North.

 

 

 

In this lovely example from Australia (right), it isn't so much the name, although Corlasto Egyptian Queen is a bit over the top, it is the design of the girdle that is just so reminiscent of a mummified Egyptian. I wonder if this was the inspiration in the marketing department.

From Holland (left) comes the amazing Mollester back-laced corselette. The name may be hilarious to the English speakers of the world partly because the wearer of such a device is probably the last person on earth to be mollested! To the Dutch of course, Mollester is just another famous corsetry name along with Hunkemöller and Simonis.

 

 

The insensitively named "Y.B. Stout" range of Sears corsetry (left) advertised latex reducing under-belts in case the very name of the device left you in any doubt as to your size!

 

Fitzwel, well that depends on the Fitter

I suppose!

Another insensitive name, this time from Germany comes the Enorma range of corsets. Like many Teutonic devices, this one has all the hallmarks of a firm support from the leather tipped bone casings to an industrial strength elastic under-belt. Once ensconced in this device, one would be somewhat less enorma than before!

 

Similar to the 'My Lady' line of rubber corsets comes the Sun-glo from Britian. Indeed, even in the worst of British weather, after a few hours the wearer of this girdle would be well aglow!

In complete contrast comes the Playtex Pink Ice. This clammy second skin was wretchedly cold to don after a winter's night in the un-heated bedrooms of the 1960's. I know one girl who slept with her girdle under the bedclothes just to keep it warm for the next day. But like all rubber girdles, once warmed up, it just didn't know when to give up and prickly heat was a complaint of many wearers!

As for Lady Marlene's Panty-Bra-s'lette, it seems that the marketing department just couldn't decide. A foundation named by a committee perhaps?

 

I love the advertisement on the left. To me it epitomises the American lady of the early 1960's. Whilst most British women were still wearing conventional girdles (and their mothers wearing corsets), American woman was well into panty-girdles of a style and effectiveness that never quite crossed the Atlantic. The name

Hi-Rise Majorette was just that teeny bit 'over the top' as most British women regarded their American sisters anyway!

Just by way of a change, we came across an inappropriate name for a corsetiere, rather than a corset. I mean would you attend a fitter called Mrs. G.A. Pinches ?

 

Oh dear! The lengths to which women will go to call a corset anything other than a corset. "Long laced back - reinforcing band - hose supporters" and this is NOT a corset. Really Dr. Storm; who are you kidding? The Storm Type-N.

 

The poor corselette, or is it corselet, corsolette, torsolette, all-in-one, Spenall, basque, Vassarette or what have you has suffered something of an identity crisis through the decades. This was not helped by Barcley inventing yet another appellation, the Barcolette! Strangely, Smart Form made an identical garment manufactured at the same factory. It was called the DW5C and presumably aimed at a different target audience.

 

The Grenier Wrapture Air lift

 

No doubt inspired by the Berlin Air Lift of the same period, the smaller-breasted woman need only insert a straw into the top of the brassiere cup to inflate her pride to the desired proportions. For every ten teenagers sipping demurely at their Coca-Colas, one would be secretly re-inflating her leaky Air Lift!

 

The Perma-Lift Magicool may have had many excellent properties, but I cannot believe the ecstatic expression on the young lady's face. No girdle was ever THAT good!

Indeed, the marketing on the left and right belies the sweaty reality of yet another latex girdle. Flabby, cold in winter, wretchedly hot in summer, I feel that sometimes that these slogans were penned by Real Estate agents!

Perma-Lift used Ginger Rogers as a model and a devotee but, sensible woman, she avoided the dreaded latex.

 

As if an open-bottom girdle was not punishment enough, the same model (above left) throws her hands in the air in sheer delight at the all-enveloping pantie-girdle. If ever there was a sweaty way to spend your day, this was it. Magicool should have been called 'sweat dreams'.

 

Another one from the hall of infamy that illustrates a common problem at the poorer funded end of the garment trade. How often have we seen a completely unexceptional (and probably quite ineffectual) girdle, whose very mediocrity is enhanced by the barrel scrapings of the marketing department. The Bulge-Master from Tranzform ticks all the wrong boxes I'm afraid to say.

 

I like this girdle box end for a number of reasons. The name, Nev'r'oll Top, apart from being slightly crass, reveals a common problem to many girdle wearers, and that is the wretched top rolling over. Boning certainly helped. The same problem plagues the panty-girdle wearer but in this case, the sufferers is attacked from both ends as the top rolls down and the leg roll up. So far, however, I have never seen a panty-girdle with boned legs!

Warners was a great innovator of foundation wear; witness the Merry Widow and bra cup sizing, however, from time to time, they got it wrong. The amusingly named Hip 'n Tuck Thrifty, may have been a good panty-girdle, but the name did not help.

Even that stalwart of a century of corsetry, CAMP, has made the odd blunder. Referring to their patented (and incredibly effective) fan-lacing system as Magic Web, did not anticipate the internet by four decades, but simply scared away the arachnophobic, archetypal matron!

In the era when cosmetic surgery became fashionable, the Nip'n Tuck was a slang expression for any cosmetic enhancement that tightened the droops and the sags of advancing years. Spurred on by this, Cupid produced their Nip'n Trol that appears (right) to replicate oneself in triplicate. Perhaps a girdle for civil servants? Any way, the allusion to cosmetic enhancement reminded most women of the surgeon's knife, rather than the ensuing cosmetic benefits and the name was not a success.

 

Oh dear, I suppose somebody had to come up with Slimderella. It was in the Bella Hess catalogue of 1961 and made by Kleinert's.

Although this looks like the sort of panty-girdle that millions of American women wore in the 1960's, its name, the Lewella Hipaway, one feels, gave it that extra marketing edge!

 

So what exactly does this girdle do? Well, its name, the Hip-Thigh-Eze Perma-Lift Panty-Girdle sums it up; just about everything!

Yet another latex corset springs from the past. Thynmold allows you to (and how many companies tried this old one) to 'wear dresses sizes smaller'!

 

Adaptolettes, Abdo-lift, Bust-confining Diaphragm Reducer, Adjust-eze, Even-pul, Bendo-Back; these are just some of the names that sprang from the fertile brains of Lane Bryant's marketing department from the 1930's to the 1960's.

We have displayed some pages from their 1937 catalogue in the Lane Bryant pages.

 

Granted that the word Whalonia refers to the old custom of using strips of whalebone or baleen to support the corset, it must, subliminally make the wearer feel somewhat whale-like! Whatever, the brand passed out of fashion as the numerous price reductions hand-written on the box suggest. At 50 inches, however, the wearer may well have been whale-like!

Even in these informed times come the odd howler, although to be fair, it may simply be a case of 'lost in the translation' but to wear anything called Bustogrip is simply asking for one's husband to pass comment!

 

 

But it wasn't just the vintage marketing departments of America that could coin a phrase or two. Here is an example from the Ambrose Wilson catalogue of 2011!

The Balconette Banger Booster

 

 

On the left we have, appropriately enough, L'Attice. The lattice work is obvious and has taken the concept of vestigial lacing to an extreme degree! The derriere of this garments is made from the transparent nylon at the front affording a rather candid view of the wearer.

In the middle, the Flexnit Adjust-a-Thigh adjusts its own thigh size. Amazing! You mean it's not simply a piece of thin elastic inserted into the leg to accommodate various dimensions!

On the right, there's barely a trace of inspiration in the name Lipomed. You get what it says on the tin I suppose!

  

The charmingly named Lipomed is yet another sweaty latex-based contraption from the Americas.

 

There's nothing wrong with the name here, Sara Drew, and the slogan 'Foundations for the Larger Figure' was commonplace in those days. What tickles me in this particular advertisement is the expression,

The Zipper Front Flattener for "Double Chin" Diaphragms.

The corselette is designed for the full bust that tapers to narrow hips. This is a shape that I have referred to elsewhere as 'tent-peg' lady!

This has become one of my favourites. In 1935, Gossard marketed a high-waisted girdle called Bosom-high. I can live with that since the girdle came up to just below the bust-line. But only three years later in 1938, the marketing department had decided to modernise the title to Buzum-hi! I ask you!

The subject of 'concealed lacing' has been discussed elsewhere. For those ladies too proud to admit to wearing a corset, 'invisible' or concealed lacing was the key. Of course, any proficient corsetiere can spot a corseted torso at ten paces, however, it was a useful marketing strategy for those women who fondly imagined that they could disguise the engineering of their foundations.

What was NOT a good marketing ploy was to call the garment the ConceaLace, however, witty that might be. Just imagine your husband or son rescuing the box of such a garment to hold tools or some such and inadvertently leave it lying about the house for all to see. There is nothing worse than perpetrating a deception except being found out!

 

                     

There are a whole crop of strange names in this random collection:- Wispese to describe a truly light-weight girdle and the bizarre J'Maka, so-called to fit under Jamaica pants. The perfolastic girdle was nothing other than our old friend latex and in mentioned in the 'rubber reducers' section. The last three deserve special mention:-

 

Nemo's Miss Behave is a beautiful play on words where it implies a demure young maiden (presumably what the mother imagined) and misbehaving (presumably what the daughter had in mind)!

 

Blue Swan's Suspants tells you exactly what you get; pants with suspenders, but the variants on the theme, Moldikins, Frillikins and Minikins take the advertising copy to extremes.

 

Corsees is yet another attempt to refer to the forbidden word 'corset' without actually mention the awful word. Was anybody fooled I wonder, certainly not by Bobbie's Under-Wonders!

 

            

There is something a bit tawdry and unbelievable about the advertisements that grace the pages of the 'Sunday specials' and these three are no exception both in the credibility of their claims and the names that are given to the garments so described.

Slim-Mode for the Slim 'teen size feeling; the Duz-all girdle with 'built-in fanni uplift,' and the Tum-e-Lift health supporter belt. All were designed to trim the waist and, most importantly, to make those hip, hip, hips go away! As for the Nemo Dwindle-Waist, words fail me, although that was never a problem with the marketing department!

 

 

It might be called Desire by Corine Dalma. but I think the most ardent swain's desire would have cooled off by the time they circumvented all the straps and buckles!

On the right we have Strodex's pantilastic, one of many bizarre names that this company used to describe actually quite mundane foundation garments. Others include:

elastibelt, unilastic, unity one-piece,

power one-piece and the duplex R9 one-piece

To be fair, a panty-girdle is little more than a pair of elastic underpants.

 

The Hide-a-Waist and the Anchors-A-Waist are working the same pun.

 

The Bando-band shows a serious lack of imagination in the marketing department. "Simply constructed, not a harness (and scarily) not a substitute for corsets."

The Corsetrim with patented 'adjustable hip' that looks like simple back-lacing to me.

The Formit Girdleiere might have been good if only one could pronounce it. Three consecutive vowels might work in some languages, but not in English. If the pronunciation didn't put you off, the intimidating "...strongly constructed of heavy brocade, boned with Walohn hard rubber boning has three elastic sections ..." certainly would.

 

 

Hard to believe but an Australian company marketed Jenyns famous fan-lacers under the name Gross. "So Sheila, what foundations do you wear?" "I wear gross corsets, Madge!"

Oddly enough, Gross also marketed some Camp products.

  

It seems that the marketing department ran out of ideas here and simply called their (probably quite ineffective girdle) the Compreso Belt, spelt with one 's' I might add.

Not so much a strange name, but a highly inappropriate one. Presumably, if you buy one of Sears' pants liners, the last thing you want is for it to be 'the slack companion'. Of course the reference is that you wear it with slacks, but to me, at any rate, it sends out the message that this girdle will not be effective.

 

Not so much a strange name, although Thigh Fit implies keeping your thighs fit rather than the girdle actually fitting. It is the warning that fascinates me: "Panty girdle bind can cause varicose veins, discomfort, swollen legs and feet. Why risk it?" The mesh inserts keep all these bothersome conditions under control apparently.

Not so much a strange name, but surely the model should at least be looking happy. She appears to have lost the plot and be thinking of things more ethereal than a advertising photo-shoot.

 

The Maneuver by Gossard seems to imply that unlike some of the straight-jackets of the 1950s, one could actually manoeuvre whilst wearing this quite attractive foundation. Manoeuvring was no joke back then. Consider the heroically girdled matron in her high heels and pencil skirt. Mincing and tottering were her modes of locomotion; certainly not manoeuvring.