Ivy Leaf's Diary - 2006

 

The New Year got off to a fascinating start as emails from Britain, France and America arrived with various observations, recollections and anecdotes from the world of corsetry. This new volume of data will have to be translated (in the French case) and put into appropriate chapters on the site, however, I would love to share a few choice phrases from our French correspondent. The French language can be very rich and beautiful, nevertheless, the literal translation of A-cup to A-bonnet is faintly amusing. However, the expression guêpière sans bretelles baleinée is such an elegant way to describe a boned, strapless corselette that all is forgiven. We have published the charming tale “My guêpière is killing me” amongst others under a new section titled 'letters.'

 

 

January 2006: Black corsets, and why do they tear so often?

 

There is definitely something about black underwear. Some women will not wear it. It is often, and incorrectly, associated with ‘loose women’. Certainly to wear a black (or dark-coloured) brassiere under a white blouse is to make a visual, and frequently ambiguous statement. I’ve recounted elsewhere the tale of the Irish lady who purchased a black corselette and suffered dreadful pangs of guilt afterwards. But to most women, black can be considered ‘special’, just a touch exotic perhaps, but nothing more.

 

It’s an odd thing, but of the corsets in our possession that have suffered splits in the material, three are black Spirellas. I know that Spirella suffered from a poor batch of black orchid material in the mid-1980’s that lead to them discontinuing the colour altogether. However, I believe that there may be more to the story.

 

Although some women wear black underwear as a matter of course (read the story of the camper who used to hang her black 325 corset on the washing line), most women reserve the colour for either special or formal occasions. This, I believe, is where the problem lies. Corsets that are not ‘broken in’ properly will suffer excess strain on the material. My corsetiere has always recommended spending the first week gently tightening the laces more each day until the required tension is achieved. Anything less will drastically reduce the life expectancy. (My husband added that it’s like ‘running in’ a car, and I countered that shoes take a similar ‘wearing in’ period.) A dress corset tends not to have experienced the ‘breaking in’, and may be laced not just to normal tightness, but a degree further in the quest to fit into a new dress. (See Cautionary Tales of Vanity and Tight-Lacing). The result is usually a rip, and particularly at the stitching where the material joins the bone casings. So well were Spirellas made, however, that the failure point is usually contained over a few inches, and that the corset ripping catastrophically asunder is rare. The rips, in my experience, always occur at that point of maximum tension, ‘the crease’, where the action of sitting puts an incredibly expansive (and expensive) strain on the garment. One of the corsets is my own, and I ripped it sitting down. A salutary lesson in vanity; it was not easy to repair.

 

Lacing too Tightly

My corsetiere tells of one woman who laced tighter than she recommended (as opposed to genuine tight-lacing). Every fitting was a battle of wills between the client, who felt that as the purchaser she could have anything she wanted, and the corsetiere who was protective of the reputation of her company and their products. Her brassieres had no elastic sections and were tight, even on the third row of hooks-and-eyes. Three months later the garment would be ruined, the eyes progressively pulled out, and the material stretched to extremes as the wearer proceeded to the next row of eyes. Even before this, the brassiere would be returned for repairs to hooks that had torn out under the strain. Her corsets fared little better, although small elastic gussets were positioned on top of the thighs to allow the wearer to sit. The client returned the garment periodically as firstly, eyelets would pull free; then the laces would snap, and finally the seams would start to split. This is expensive to repair, and after four of five months another corset would be rejected. The corsetiere begged the woman to wear her underwear less tightly, but the client rejected this and, to her credit, never blamed the workmanship of the corset company. To the corsetiere’s eye, the wearer, apart from the discomfort she must feel, looked tightly fastened in, an image that the corsetiere did not want to project, but the client was vain enough to put up with the discomfort and the expense. “She looked stunning, but when she moved you could tell how tightly she was laced. What was worse, other women tended to comment on it, but not within her hearing.”

 

A tragic waste of good garments (above). Eyelets pulled-out, and the busk almost ripped from its casing. The laces were knotted at places where they had broken. On the right, the classic rip at the crease of the garment.
 

Lacing too Loosely

 

Although we frequently expound on the consequences of over-tight foundations (above, tight-lacing), the elderly often get trapped into the reverse process. Weight-loss is a frequent occurrence as one grows old and passes beyond the weight-gaining years. So often the elderly then end up in a vicious circle, where declining wealth and weight, render a lady in need of new foundations, but without the wherewithal to afford them.

 

It must be understood that several decades ago, an older woman's foundations were not simply corset, brassiere and stockings, but a combination of all three, with the associated tensions and forces connected, and hopefully complementary. Many corsetry houses expanded on this in their corsetieres’ guide-books. The strong downward forces exerted by a pair of support stockings ends up distributed along the corset, that may or may not be anchored at the waist. Without a waist-line anchorage (and most women lose their youthful hip-spring), the brassiere has to be attached to the corset and the forces thus pass to the shoulder straps of the brassiere. That is why some shoulder straps seem almost over-engineered; it is simply that the entire tension of the ‘foundation system’, other than that removed by friction of the garments against the skin, is riding on them. Should the ‘system’ get out of balance, the older woman will end up fighting her foundations.

 

Spirella (right) in its training package refers to 'anchorage', that is keeping all the garments working together.

 

The lament of this poor women illustrates the point. An elderly women was heard to mention that she felt under a lot of tension recently. Her friend enquired whether it was the stress of her grandchildren that were visiting.  “No, no.” the old lady replied, “It’s not that sort of tension. It’s my new stockings. They pull my corset down ever so much, and that pulls my bra, and that stretches the straps. If it wasn’t for the stays in my corset, I’d fold up completely!”

 

 

 

February 2006: Football Tummy

My husband came up with this curious expression some years ago. He claims that he thought of the expression even before he read the narrative in Herman Wouk’s ‘Winds of War’ where the hero’s wife cries “I’m bulging a FOOT. I look six months’ pregnant. I’m horrible and I’m wearing my tightest girdle!”  Apparently, at University, he had been introduced to an elderly spinster at a garden party. He remembers being fascinated partly by her distinct moustache, lipstick that barely acknowledged the outline of her lips and a stomach that bulged in quite an alarming fashion beneath the waist-band of her skirt. Naively, he believed that had she been married, she might have worn something a bit more substantial beneath her frock.

Such a sight was relatively common 30 years ago. (I’m not talking about the hideous modern habit of exposing one’s midriff to the world. Marginally acceptable on a slim teenager, it is utterly grotesque when practiced by an overweight, middle-aged woman – but I digress.) The ‘football tummy’ is caused by wearing an un-boned lower foundation (often a roll-on), and then wearing the belt of one’s skirt or dress far too tightly. It is a classic mistake to use one’s clothes to control the flesh. That is the job of the foundation garment. How often have we seen straining buttons on a blouse? The trouble with women is that our bodies are far softer than men’s and consequently a tight belt can really nip in the waist. The consequence is the awful bulging of the incompressible flesh, hence ‘football tummy.’

My husband recently met a high-flying female executive. He claims that her designer outfit and shoes alone would have cost over a month of his salary, but what really irked him was that she was so badly dressed. “Honestly, she looked like she had a football stuffed down her pants.” Apparently her shirt gaped between the straining buttons, and her jacket shoulders bore no relation to her own. He muttered darkly about silk purses and sows’ ears. “Talk about ‘football tummy’, it looked like the whole team was in there!”

We have made a small series of (depressingly accurate) sketches to illustrate the point.

 

Ghost of Spirella

Compiling this web site is like visiting antique shops. You can spend ages looking around and finding very little, and then, suddenly, that gem, that rare piece is found like a tiny beacon in a sea of mediocrity. These gems, in our case, are vintage foundation garments, letters, emails and the recollections of those few women that remember the corsetiere’s trade. It was thus so delightful to receive, not just a letter, but some pictures from a Californian teenager, Sarah. She had made a copy of a Spirella corset for regular wear. I was amazed, delighted and excited to find somebody of the younger generation with not just an understanding but also an appreciation of corsetry. Sarah herself coined the term “Ghost of Spirella,” and that is the title we have given to her letter.

Doesn't this charming photograph from the cover of a 1960's Jenyns catalogue, simply speak volumes about a bygone era? Where was the photo taken I wonder? The Melbourne Cup? There are still a few dedicated Australian women keeping their Jenyns going, for sadly, this long-lasting enterprise folded up just at the end of the last century.

 

 

March 2006:

 

After a famine of new information, I received several emails and a letter (many elderly folk have not yet, and never will adopt the internet.) The emails concerned the legendary Iris Norris, a London post-War corsetiere who possessed a remarkably small waist. I had seen the enclosed photograph many times before without realising that this lady was actually the famous Mrs. Norris. The attenuation achieved is not as extreme as Ethel Granger or the modern Cathy Jung, but quite remarkable none-the-less.

 

The letter drew my attention to a newspaper report from Atlanta in the 1960's. Apparently, a young woman passed out at a military parade. On examination by the medics, she was found to be wearing no less than four panty-girdles. According to the duty doctor, flesh of her buttocks was virtually compressed solid under the layers of elastic. I mentioned this to some friends who seemed to think that wearing two panty-girdles was not uncommon. This was either done for extra strength, or simply because the wearer wanted a high waist and a long leg, and could not find a suitable garment. (For a while, the high-waisted panty-girdle was a rarity in Britain and almost unknown in Holland.) Corset wearers never, of course, wear two corsets since it would be fairly pointless. I mean if one rigid corset can't do the job, two won't either, although one might quibble that the under-belt is like a second corset. I did know of a lady who wore a corselette over her Camp corset simply because she felt it hid the intricate tracery of the lacing. It didn't! If you wear a Camp, don't bend over in a tight skirt unless you want the world to know your secret!

 

 

April 2006:

 

I came across a charming booklet from 1947, entitled, “The Good Corsetiere” in which the chapters are titled:-

Figure Analysis:-

            The Teen Ager

            The Active Twenties

            The Young Matron

            The Sagging Fifties

            The Back-Lace Seventies

The ‘Little” Woman

The Maternity Figure

 

I suppose when you are in the trade, there’s no point of beating around the bush, although there are chapters dedicated on how to speak to your client and to put them at ease. I refer to some disastrous encounters on the Corset Shop page! Mind you, people were more blunt in those politically incorrect days, witness the sentiments of the following adverts:-

 

“Are you inclined to be stout?”

“Are any of your friends obese?”

“A Panic in Fat” is the helpful title of one of Spirella’s brochures in the late 1930’s.

"A Super Corset for Fleshy Women", and lastly Spencer's accurate summary,

“Every Woman’s’ Problem”

The last title is simply good marketing. Persuade a woman that she has a problem, and no amount of money will be too much to fix it.

 

more ...

My casual reference to the excessively girdled girl at a military parade resulted in a fusillade of correspondence, mainly, although not all, from men. There appears to be a fascination with what lies beneath the uniform, whether military, civilian or airline. It is a rather strange obsession, since the answer is quite simply, that women will wear what their peers wear, whether they are in uniform or not! Certainly, a uniform demands (or should) a degree of smartness, however, a women in uniform has a job to perform, and in no way will she encumber herself unnecessarily. I can back this up admittedly with a small sample, however, I believe it to be representative.

My husband, many years ago, worked briefly in an office that housed a WRNS second officer. This beauty (he recollects like something out of the Cruel Sea) would often bend over to attend to a map cabinet and my husband recounts that she probably wore nothing more exceptional than a pantie-girdle (if even that) and bra. His girlfriend at the time confirmed this assertion. His girlfriend freely admitted that she wore a pantie-girdle since she was quite chubby, but many of her friends, including a number of WRNS did not. It depended on their peers, parents and pride.

Another uniform, of a sort, is that formalized wear that horse-riders adopt. Horse-riding develops an excellent posture in the rider, and remarkably strong arms and legs. In this case, I have known several riders to wear a corset, usually for support of the back after injury. Only in one case did the lady wear a corset purely to provide the erect posture she had as a girl, that sadly she was unable to attain in later life. Somewhat typically, she would sneer at the slouch and sloth of the younger generation whilst conveniently ignoring her debt to Samuel H. Camp’s ingenious engineering. (My husband met a New York lady some years ago. Her arms were so strongly muscled that he asked of she was an equestrienne. She replied that she was, in fact, a baggage handler at Kennedy International airport. Read into that what you wish!)

Which brings us to that evergreen question “What do airline cabin crews wear beneath?” I will disappoint the male population by asserting that they wore exactly what the WRNS would wear; simply what was smart, convenient, and standard for that era. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that my friend, who has served as a stewardess on a European airline for thirty years) has never worn anything more than her knickers. She has no need, her figure is quite stunning even in her mid-50’s. The only support she wears is on her legs, three decades’-worth of tramping the aisles having caused the odd vein to rebel. Thirty years is quite outstanding for a stewardess. Normally the routine, obnoxious passengers and marriage to one of the air crew intervene, but in this case, happily married outside the industry, she makes the perfect advertisement for her company. She tolerates no ‘nonsense,’ but genuinely enjoys her passengers, and on every flight she claims that if she hasn't raised a laugh amongst her charges, then she's failed at her job. I do like to fly when she’s on the crew.

 

May 2006: What's in a name?

 

Another month has passed by, rather quietly on the corsetry front, however, I'm hoping that will change in May when we accept the invitation of Figesta to visit their factory in Germany. I'm looking forward to that and I hope the outcome will feature in these pages.

 

But what's in a name? We've started adding the names of corsetry that we find amusing to our page on 'other brands'. Abdo-lift, Fitzwel and le Compressif, bring names that bought a smile to many a lip whilst failing to make the commercial grade. Another is the 'Manly' girdle. This device was designed for men, the appellation 'Manly' designed presumably to persuade the buyer that wearing a girdle wasn't effeminate in any way. Their products were around for several years and latterly they produced the strangely-named 'Lady Manly'. In the way the mothers were supposed to encourage their daughters into Spirella, so the makers of 'Manly' hoped that husbands would persuade their wives. Unlikely! Tales abound of men that have been persuaded to wear a girdle by their wives, however, these are largely apocryphal.

 

Ghost of Spirella: Part 2

We received an email from our Californian teenage correspondent, Sarah. She has been inspired to create another corset based on the Spirella style and even showed us how it was planned using one of the Spirella photographs as a base. The different colours represent spiral and flat boning about which we had an interesting exchange. There's nothing worse in a corset, than bones that dig in, and fitters spent much time on the training course learning how to avoid this failing. Sarah has obviously found this out from experience.

 

She was also asking us about detachable suspenders, so we added a section under stockings and suspenders that explain how Spirella used to solve this problem. We look forward to seeing the results of her latest project.

 

She also was kind enough to ask some older women about their underpinnings and I've included their remarks under the letters section. Such information, casual though it seems, is a valuable contribution to our researches.

 

 Well done, Sarah. You're an example to the younger generation!

 

Suddenly, after such a quiet period, all our correspondents seem to have written at once! Roger K. has provided another three charming accounts of corsetry from a bygone era in Roger's Ramblings.

 

We attended a ball yesterday. The date should come as no surprise to our readers. I am Dutch and my husband is Scots, so February, May and November are always hosts to large the functions celebrating Robert Burns, Queen Beatrix and St. Andrew. Yesterday it was the turn of the Dutch Queen. I couldn't help but observe my husband dancing with a stunningly attractive, and incredibly well-endowed young American lady. Afterwards he said that he could not understand how her bosom remained contained in her black satin sheath (a bit like Rita Hayworth in Gilda). Indeed, it was remarkable, since the lady was born well after 'merry widows' and 'proper' foundations were the norm. I suppose it was simply a very well constructed dress. The downside of the evening was a very silly mistake on my part. I wore a lovely gown made from a cheap matieral, and sadly, the blue colour has run into my (very expensive) underwear. 

 

 

June 2006:

 

Often we receive letters, however, this latest one included a classic family photograph of a charming 1950's lady, the once proud possessor of a Barcley girdle that we had just purchased at auction. There's nothing quite like these charming accounts to recapture the spirit of post-war England. Inevitably, it makes my husband and I regress into memories of childhood when women regularly wore corsets and girdles, you could always park outside the shop that you wanted and, by comparison with the streets of today, the place looks so peaceful and empty. Of course, this is rose-tinting at its most indulgent, however, it makes for a pleasant evening. Once the photo albums and wine comes out, we're completely lost in the past!

 

 

July 2006:

 

Hot on the heels of the Barcley episode (above), came a letter from our correspondent Frangard. He informed us that Ethel Granger, Guinness record holder of the smallest waist of modern times (at 13 inches), was a former Barcley corsetiere. In no way did Barcley encourage tight-lacing, however, they employed Mrs. Granger before they knew who she was and were contractually obliged to sell her corsets at cost price! This is a strategy that many women have employed over the years!

 

Additionally, Frangard wrote an erudite response to our January entry about black corsets as well as an amazing history of that famous corsetry firm A. Gardner & Son, who, in contrast to Barcleys, actively encouraged tight-lacing.

 

This charming and informed history was proof read by non other than Iris Norris, the corsetiere. Amongst many interesting stories recounted in the text is how Mrs. Norris, by then a 50-year-old Grandmother, commuted three hours a day to work a 10-hour shift, whilst immaculately dressed and her waist corseted to 20 inches! If nothing else, such a feat dates the account!

 

I mentioned this story to one of my elderly acquaintances in the Old Folks' Home and it seemed to come as no surprise to her. Having abandoned her corsets years ago for what is slowly becoming almost standard female attire these days, the shaper (or pantie-girdle not to mince words), she recounted how she loathed the age of the girdle. Her corsets she liked for their support and fit. Her current shaper was comfy if completely inadequate, but girdles, she expounded, poked and dug if they had enough bones, and rolled over if they didn't. She may have a point since shapers may be in the ascendant and corsets are still sold, albeit in very reduced numbers, but girdles have almost vanished from the scene!

 

 

August 2006:

We often receive little anecdotes and memories from our readers. We try to place these in ‘corsetiere’s anecdotes’ (although this has developed into general recollections about corsets), or ‘letters’ if the article is longer than a paragraph. During the last two weeks, we received accounts with the same theme, that is, a woman using a corset to help her fit into a garment. Of course, in an ideal world, the corset would be worn regularly and the garments cut to fit the corset. In that way is elegance and comfort achieved. However, not everybody has the wherewithal to achieve this, and, in the cases described, the garments are uniforms that cannot really be altered. In this case, the corset is used simply to squeeze the waist and hips into the under-sized skirt. Don’t forget that the act of putting on a corset adds to your waist measurement until it is laced in. This is bound to be uncomfortable since corset needs to reduce its own bulk to the original size of the wearer before any genuine reduction begins. Nevertheless, however, uncomfortable it might be, as a temporary measure, nothing else will do! Sadly, it leads to what a corsetiere friend used to call “the over-stuffed sausage look!”

 

 

September 2006:

At last we are back on line! We apologise to regular readers that we had to remove our site from the internet due to an unsolicited intrusion. My husband compares it to a drunk entering a decent Inn at lunchtime. Unpleasant, irritating, but in the long run, quite inconsequential if ignored.

 

We were so lucky to receive the biography of Iris Norris. The author has sent a heart-felt plea to all those who remember Iris and hopes that they will be able to contribute their own recollections. The biography has already drawn kind comments from friends of Iris.

 

 

The Sand in the Hour-Glass

My husband, like many of his age, remembers the classic 36-24-36 measurements as somehow being indicative of the perfect female form. In fact, this was very much a Hollywood fantasy. Never have standard dress sizes and measurements conformed to this, somewhat ‘top heavy’ formula. A size 14 UK has been, since the war at least, 36-28-38. It’s well known that pre-war sizes were slightly smaller. In the USA, the dress size was, in a sense, de-valued, as the size 14 woman who had gained enough weight to require a size 16 found that the manufacturers had anticipated her increase and renumbered their dress sizes so that she could still wear a size 14!. To this day, a US size 14 is a UK size 16. Pre-war, both were closer to a size 12. Reality these days is even further from this accepted norm as women move away from fitted dresses, simply because their shapes are inappropriate. Today an outfit, doesn't! Even Spirella acknowledged, as the 234-series girdle replaced the old 205 in the 1970’s, that women were carrying more weight on their hips. How often do my British friends buy a size16 skirt and a size 14 blouse. This indicates that 34-30-42 is probably not far away from the third millennium norm!

 

 

End September 2006:

I've lamented before how correspondence dries up, and then, whoosh, the flood-gates open and all sorts of new information comes rolling in. First was a charming email from one of the top Ebay corset vendors, Gilo49. I won't reveal how these top trader secure their wares, but Gilo49 found a gold-mine. For the first time on the web, and with her permission, we see a dedicated collector and vendor surrounded by a field of corsets from one of the longest-lived of all corset manufacturers, CAMP. These corsets will soon be seen on Ebay, and, they will be well photographed and accurately described, something which many vendors on Ebay should take as an example!

 

Another Ebay example was a Spencer corsetiere's kit to which a kind reader alerted me. What a superb example of its kind, however, the fascinating part for me was that it was a Canadian kit, and, revealed that, in Canada, in 1959, Spirella and Spencer had already merged, something that would not happen in Britain until the late 1980's. However much you think you know, you are always humbled by new information. As my husband often says "If a day passes and you don't smile or learn something new, then you've wasted the day!"

 

Joanne (right) is surrounded by something new to her, and I do believe she's smiling! Not a wasted day for Gilo49!! Good luck with the auctions.

Joanne raised a very interesting question regarding some of these corsets.

 

We love to learn from the emails and correspondence that we receive. Sometimes, however, it is frustrating to know that, for example, Spanish, Italian and Scandinavian women were devotees of the girdle and corset for decades, yet it is frustratingly difficult to find any hard facts or examples of what must have been a flourishing industry. Thus it was with enormous pleasure that we received a number of files from Sweden showing and describing the girdles available to the Swedish woman in the 1950’s. As Spirella maintained, in some rare literature about their Malmö operation, Swedish women wanted and wore a higher waisted girdle than their British and American counterparts. These advertisements certainly confirm this.

 

I love the advert (left). I wear glasses and resent the ancient doggerel "Men don't make passes at girls that wear glasses!"  Another Swedish advertisement (right) bought forth some hilarity in the household that we've described elsewhere. Suffice it say that the slogan "Håll-in" inspired my husband's childish wit, and the morning's dressing is now punctuated by "Hauling in Darling?"

 

 

October 2006

Constructive criticism from a friend suggested that too many indexes and pages referred to the Spirella Corsetiere. The criticism was well founded and having put off a major re-vamp of those pages for over a year, my husband was persuaded to re-arrange them. I hope that most of the hyperlinks still work!

 

It was delightful to hear from our young friend Sarah in California about her latest home-made corset. Complete with front satin facing and suspenders, this is a real advance on her earlier models. She has more corsets planned for the future. Her accounts are full of the trials and errors involved in constructing such a complex garment. It's sad that so much of the knowledge of somebody like Iris Norris has passed away.

 

One of the delights of running this site is that we still learn more about the history of Spirella, the company that originally inspired us to put electronic pen to paper. We now know that Spencer took over Spirella in Canada in 1958, three decades before it would happen in Britain. In 1988, the Swedish Spirella trademark, machines and patterns were purchased by Berit Johansson, owner of BiJas Produktion AB of Eskilstuna. They still produce an orthopaedic corset called a Spirella, however, this is a historical reference and not a true descendant of the Spirella corset.

 

 

November 2006

One of our corsetiere friends recently introduced us to a charming elderly lady who had joined the WRNS (Womens Royal Naval Service) in the early 1950's and only left after 22 years when she got married somewhat late by the standards of the 1970's. Like many of her peers, she liked the uniform but preferred bespoke rather than the standard issue. The Navy issue corsets (which were no more than pink suspender belts) were particularly detested. Being independently wealthy, she her girdles came from Spencer and her uniforms were made by Moseley & Pounsford's of Portsmouth. Apparently, she and her friends lived in terror of a suspender 'letting go' on parade and six suspenders on the girdles was almost mandatory. "We all wore girdles then" she recounted and added that if the girl could afford it, their girdles would be cut tight on the hips and less so on the waist. Apparently it makes the uniform fall better which makes sense since uniforms are designed for men and adapted for women. "Having breasts of any size was a problem. You only ever wore a loose bra whilst marching once" she recalled. Indeed, for 22 years, this attractive woman's corsetry was the antithesis of the civilian ideal in that it was designed to reduce all curves and present a masculine image!

 

 

December 2006

With the close of the year come the parties with St. Andrew's Night in late November providing an energetic start to the process. Most Scottish dancing is hand-to-hand, however, the excessively vigorous 'Orcadian Strip the Willow' made me glad of the support of my stays. I think I can can positively declare that in a crowd of 90 women, I was the only one old-fashioned enough to be 'properly' attired (by 1960's standards my husband added). Nevertheless, I did notice a normally Rubenesque a young (30-something) Brazilian lady of our acquaintance having apparently discarded her tummy for the evening. I mentioned to my husband that whatever she was wearing it certainly was flattering. "More like flattening" he retorted. The Latin ladies certainly have access to probably the most powerful shapers (how I hate that word however descriptive it might be), girdles available outside of the bespoke corset houses.

 

But now our thoughts turn to Christmas and the beginning of another year. We have been so fortunate this year to receive excellent material from our young Californian correspondent, Sarah, Canadian Joanne (Gilo49 above) and the helpful staff of Figesta in Germany. Thomas, Simon and Mike have contributed their own experiences of young men growing up in the vanished days of the 1960's. Such recollections often provide a better insight of corsetry than women ever provide. "Let's not romance about corsetry" said Ambrose Wilson's chief buyer Mary Armstrong. Most women don't, but men do. A special thanks must go to Frangard who submitted a huge volume of text about the legendary Iris Norris and eloquently took us back to the days when real women wore real corsets (an expression that my husband asked me to insert - see what I mean about men!)

 

Peace and Goodwill to you all

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year