Strōdex

This certificate actually has the seal accidentally rotated. We have taken the liberty of rotating back to its correct position.

     

Strodex was a British company that appears to have targeted the same clientele as Spirella, Spencer and Barcley, however, like Barcley, it never achieved the same number of sales as the two queens of bespoke corsetry, Spirella and Spencer. Their products were, however, of a similar quality and they could produce everything from the most severe surgical corset in unimaginative coutil to gorgeous confections of nylon and lace.

    

Like Spirella and Spencer, corsetieres were issued with certificates and one can see that Mrs. Marion **** of Keadby progressed from fitting fashion foundations in 1960, to fitting of 'surgical' foundations in 1967.

I do not know why Strodex sometimes appears with a line over the 'o' as in 'ō'.

Strodex based their offices in Fletcher Street, Long Eaton (left - 1950) and as one can see, the building remains to this date (2010) although its use has changed.

 

From the brochure of the mid-1950's (please would printers of brochures put a date somewhere on the copy - Ivy), we see the standard range of foundation garments, however, Strodex had a naming system that drew from the conventional descriptions such as, corset and girdle but then wandered off into the fanciful elastibelt and pantilastic.

 

the deluxe corset, light corset, power corset, elastibelt, girdle, pantilastic

 

unilastic, unity one-piece, power one-piece, duplex R9 one-piece

 

Like its peers, Strodex catered for both fashionable, functional and surgical corsetry as demonstrated by the corsetiere certificates (above) and illustrated in their catalogue of 1960:

 

Two examples of the 'Health Belt', the 'extended back support', the 'dorso-lumbar corset', the 'Sacro-iliac corset' (back and front) and the abdominal belt.

 

Below we see a rather fetching satin brassiere and matching girdle. That this is a fashion item is evidenced by the vase of flowers so beloved of the advertising department. Strangely, the brassiere names have none of the eccentric monikers of the lower foundation garments:

 

R9, strapless, R2, B2

 

We have some examples of Strodex garments that contrast with the advertised matching brassiere and girdle advertised in the 1960's. The formidable early 1970's abdominal supports (below) are worn by two of our calendar models. The middle corset has what the brochure calls 'a fat restraining pad'! This somewhat coarse description implies a roll of felt placed at the lower extremity of the dished abdominal control panel to stop any naughty cellulite from creeping out below the corset. The sacro-iliac corset (right) with adjusting strap has the date of manufacture on the label, 1982. This must have been one of the last corsets made by Strodex. Note the attachment for suspenders but lack of same. This was well into the era of tights.

  

None of my acquaintances nor their mothers or grannies wore Strodex. If they had made-to-measure it was Spirella, Spencer or occasionally Barcley. Strodex was based in Leicestershire where the cotton mills were and produced as diverse a range as the more widely-purchased competition. A number of foundations from the more fashionable end of the catalogue became available at auction recently and we were given permission to use the photographs of these garments. They show the exquisite detail, boning and interior construction of these foundations.

Brassiere

 

Sacro-iliac support Corset

 

Corselette (left and centre) and an all-in-one with a full length back and separate upper and lower at the front just like the Spenall.

 

 

This one is a bit more tricky! Did a pregnant woman really require four sets of lacing to accommodate her burgeoning figure, or was this the sort of complex 'measuring garment' beloved by Spirella and Spencer? The latter is the case even though Camp managed to get four lacers into a pregnancy corset.

Strodex Corsetieres

 

Strodex were meticulous in their training as the advertisements suggest and the accompanying text reveals:

 

 

Make it a rule always to be (i) neatly dressed, (ii) polite, (iii) neat and businesslike. See that your shoes are comfortable - if they are not they will distract your mind from making sales, and tend to give you an uneasy appearance as you stand, walk and even sit, which may be irritating to the client. Make sure also that your shoes are not down at heel. Your hands, since you will be displaying the garments with them, should be just so, otherwise the attention of the prospect will be distracted.

Remember, in fact, that your appearance when the client first sees you is all she has to judge you by, and take care of the details as well as the obvious points so that in meeting clients and prospects you may do yourself justice and give exactly the right impression. First impressions are always important, but particularly so to the Corsetiere, for if the first is not right she may not be given an opportunity of making a second one.

Above all, your figure must be well corseted and it is essential that you wear a Strodex yourself and can show it if the occasion demands. This is also a reason why it should be in an attractive material.

Always be polite. Occasionally someone may exhibit bad manners in talking to you. Be dignified by appearing not to notice their breach of good taste, and keep calm and pleasant. By practising this form of self discipline you will impress the prospect and when you call again you can expect a better reception.

When you call, smile. When you leave - order or not - smile. A pleasant person will be invited in and will be welcomed again, where one who looks glum will not.

Always talk of pleasant things, never of your troubles. Your prospects have troubles of their own and do not want to hear of yours; but if they tell you of their troubles, be sympathetic.

Persistence will secure an order in spite of anything. Keep on calling and being pleasant, and you will build up a friendly feeling which sooner or later is bound to result in the prospect becoming your client. Persistence is the keystone of success in everything.

…………………..

Then at all times, when you read your local papers, take special note of the news of forthcoming weddings; a bride always wishes to look her best on the great day, and will be sure to want to have her foundation garment in one of the most attractive materials; while the bride's mother and the bridesmaids will also want to do justice to the occasion. Notice also birth announcements, for young mothers usually need new corsets when they get up. And look for the names of new arrivals in the district.

 

One particular item of interest is a book of receipts that details the names and addresses of clients from the 1950's. One lady ordered two corsets for £9-19-8p; quite an expense in those days, yet the address is a small terraced house typical of the Scottish town where she lived. On the reverse of the order form is the address of the corsetiere (right).

Unlike Spirella who claimed proudly "Never sold in shops!" other than their own sales room in Oxford Circus, London, Strodex obviously did. Valentine's of Crieff still exists today (far right) and the corsetiere in the 1950's was none other than T.P Valentine herself. I would love to know more about the history of this shop.

 

   

       

The deluxe corset was available with a range of fastenings and gores. I love the 'sports gores'. Can you imagine your granny in her sports corsets dashing around the tennis courts. My husband can although he has no idea if her stays incorporated these gores. One combination that I have always regarded as the most controlling yet easy to wear is the busk-fronted corset with fan-lacing. I would love to have been able to order one of those. Ambrose Wilson sold such a device that was displayed in their catalogues of the 1960's that retailed for £2-18-6p, less than half the price of the Strodex equivalent and that, I'm afraid would ultimately sound the death knell for the bespoke corsetry firms, despite a spirited attempt to get the younger generation interested:

And now Strodex for the “Youthful Miss” figure-type.

Corsetieres have requested that a range of garments be introduced which could be suitable for the youthful daughters of their Strodex customers.

The "Poisette" range is now available and provides a "ready-to-wear” service comprising a large range of fittings and from which can he selected Girdles and Pantees to give complete satisfaction to the youthful type of figure needing only modurate control, and Brassieres for figures not needing unusual proportions.

To operate this section of your business with the greatest success a stock of the new "Poisette” garments should be held by every corsetiere. The appropriate garment can then be fitted and an immediate sale made.

When supplying made-to-measure corsetry it is not possible for the customer to see her finished garment as it is not even cut until the order is placed; the same does not apply in the case of ready-to-wear garments and the prospect will want to see the garment before she purchases it. You will at least need demonstration garments if you are going to successfully promote this additional section of your corsetry business.

The "Poisette" garments are all “ready-to-wear”  and modifications or alterations to designs cannot be made. Garments cannot be exchanged and no "Poissette” garments can be accepted for alteration or repair.

Measurements should be taken over the uncontrolled figure. In the case of Brassieres, the client should be asked to support the breasts in her cupped hands in a naturally uplifted position and then the bust measurement taken round the fullest part of the bust.

We have no pictures of these more youthful garments, however, it is interesting to note that, just like Spirella, there was a strong emphasis on indoctrinating the younger generation. The naming convention illustrates the soft approach:

The short brassiere model was called “Helen”, the long bra “Ceres” and the girdles “Diana”, “Juno” and “Venus”. The panty-girdle was “Minerva”. Amazingly, the bras were sized from 32 to 40 inches, yet the girdles were a scant 23 – 30 inches. Young women must have been trim in those days with wonderful hourglass figures.

The models are from the Spirella house magazines of the late 1950's and early 60's, but they show the general shape.