Ivy Leaf's Diary




Happy New Year




January 2010:  A New Year, New Opportunities



The elegant lady wears a satin combination of an American Camp corset and a Swiss Desiré brassiere.

We have so many plans for the coming year. Buoyed up by the success of the calendar, we really want to use the Ivy Leaf Collection to its full potential. The Collection needs to be modelled and probably thinned out a little. We have many duplicate garments that should be sold off, and some of such rarity that they really should belong in museums for the benefit of others to enjoy.


Several years ago, we lamented the passing of the foundation garment, little realising that the 'shaper' was about to hit the shelves of the fashionable stores. On one hand, our few remaining stalwart corsetieres struggle on, with our Liverpool friend selling only three corsets this last year, but our Eastbourne contact measured an encouraging 12 clients. The former commented on how poorly the corsets in the calendar were fitted. She is absolutely correct, however, we only had a limited range available (there are a million more female shapes than our motley collection of 500 garments can match). Also, modern women are bigger than their sisters of four decades ago. We did our best and had a lot of laughs, but this year, we want to do better. In the last two days, apropos of nothing, we overheard two women at two separate parties commenting on their shapewear. One mentioned that shapewear was part of her standard wardrobe and another commented on the feeling of blood rushing back into compressed spaces after her night-time escape from its powerful embrace. Comments like this, I have not heard in many decades. Perhaps the '20-teens' herald a new era.


Indeed perhaps they do. There is any amount of literature on the correlation of social harmony and tight underwear. One can only hope that the return of half-decent corsetry heralds something better than the offerings of the last decade!


Let us start the year with a couple of charming offerings from a web page that we are currently developing called "Making the Calendar."



Annual Calendar Awards:


Our calendar was entered for a competition that I barely registered at the time, the British Annual Calendar Award. We received a note two weeks ago asking four of our team to attend the 'Worshipful Company of Stationers' by St. Paul's Cathedral in London. My husband, who loathes London, encouraged me and three of the models to attend, however, it was decided that my husband, myself, another of the models and the lady whose house had been used as the set should attend. It meant an over-night trip plus, I could predict, an incessant series of husband-like rants:- "HOW much for a cup of coffee?" and the like. I don't know what we were expecting, but we didn't really imagine that we would be competing with the top national calendars! Predictably we failed to gain any award, however, we were congratulated on getting the calendar displayed. Only 150 calendars out of 500 entrants got that far so we were rather pleased. The wine and canapes, were not only delicious and plentiful, but free (since we were a charity) and served by charming young ladies. Even my husband was impressed!



February 2010:


Oh dear! We must apologise for the lack of updates recently. This is partly due to travel (when we could), incessant snow (when we couldn't) and numerous invitations. The latter are part and parcel of village life, however, the Calendar has attracted rather some attention and we have been invited to speak at functions in June, July and September. In addition, it seems that Leeds University has a course in which textiles, fabrics, fashion and corsetry figure prominently. We have had numerous enquiries about the Collection in particular and corsetry in general. It is very gratifying to be part of this foundation renaissance and we hope that we can make the most of this opportunity.


Meanwhile plans proceed apace. We hope to photograph the collection as worn by real women and to begin an entirely new project called "What Lies Beneath!" Perhaps this might be the subject for a 2011 calendar?



St. Valentine's Day:


St. Valentine's Day is another occasion that might as well have been invented by shop-keepers to part us from our hard earned cash. The link to romance, however, which is always appreciated, seems to have been a 14th century invention of Geoffrey Chaucer. My husband read this text and commented that if separating us from our cash  was worthy of note, then every day should be called Bankers' Day! But I digress. Across the country, roses and cards will be given and expensive meals eaten. Amongst the younger couples, saucy undies or night attire might be be presented to a blushing wife for one night of passion before, like the others before it, it gets consigned to the back of the 'not for normal use' drawer. One of my husband's old aunts had one of those drawers that, on her death, was found to contain an outrageously diaphanous nightie, a maternity corset and some old and rather stretched girdles that seemed to have been used for spare parts in later years. Indeed, the chronology of the last sentence might be exactly correct. It was this very lady who once commented "I owe my hips to Darwin and my waist to Spirella", however, no Spirella foundations were ever recovered from her house. Perhaps they had become too expensive, or possibly she was echoing a remark made about Mae West by an unkind, if truthful reporter. "Mae owed her figure to the Spirella corset company!" Mae's Teutonic ancestry was blamed for her lifelong struggle to keep her waist and hips under control.



March 2010:


We have been doing our annual audit of the Ivy Leaf Collection. There's well over 500 garments and the statistics are interesting. Just over half the garments are white, a third are variously tea rose, pink, flesh, skin-tone or beige, and about a sixth black. There's some blue foundations from the lovers of that colour, the French, and some unlovely patterns that Marks and Spencers thought would sell in the early 1980's. They didn't. A quarter of the collection are girdles, a quarter are corsets from conventional to bizarrely complex and a third are generically brassieres, although this covers corselettes, torselettes, all-in-ones, guêpières, basques, bustiers and combinaires. The brassieres run the gamut from long-line, midi-line, short-line, cathedral, bullet, uplift, minimising, laced-back and laced-side.


The statistics don't actually mean anything, in fact they are misleading. They are simply the result of 40 years of eclectic collecting, gifts and the residue from some corsetieres and corset shops. Inevitably the odd sizes and unpopular styles last into history. The popular fashions just wear out and are usually consigned to the dustbin. After all, for the last 20 years, brassieres have outsold lower foundations by more than 99 to 1. We always enjoy the audit and inevitably we discover garments that we had completely forgotten. We hope to share far more of the collection with you all this year that we have done in the past. The 2010 calendar was but a taster.


A charming advertisement passed our way recently. In the 1930's, the corset houses were remarkably candid and slogans such as "Are any of your friends inclined to be stout?" (to which the answer is - "probably yes, but if I want them to stay friends, I might not mention it!") filled the columns of the woman's weeklies. However, the Spirella advert depicted here coins a new phrase "Figure Tragedy." A walk along any street in Britain these days will explain exactly what that means. The advert is actually rather clever, combining a slim maiden in a new-fangled automobile with the ever present fear of curves, bulges and, without the assistance of Spirella (like some corsetry RAC), ultimate figure tragedy would follow.


One little bonus of the collection was the re-discovery of a rather severe Jenyns panty-girdle. Slightly yellowed with age (it would date from the late 1960's), the interesting point about this garment is the broken top of the zipper pull tag, where the original satin flash has broken off the end of the tag. This could have been a manufacturing defect. The old corsetiere in Upper Street, Croydon refused to sell any zippered foundation in the 1970's due to the unreliability of the zippers. There is however, other evidence in the distorted lower hooks and eyes that reside beneath the zip. Indeed, this garment was far too tight for its wearer. Whether this was simply sheer vanity or 'figure tragedy' (described above), we cannot say. What is evident is that closing the hooks and eyes must have required heroic effort. Pulling the zipper taut against the elastic forces of the over-stretched garment must, at some point have overcome the zipper tag. Was the wretched women trapped in her underwear, the zipper at half-mast I wonder? Oh, the perils of vanity. A word of warning  to any lady that tries to wear too tight a lower garment. You may think it's tight when you don the article standing, but when you sit down, the nether regions will expand and place a huge force on any fastenings around the hip area. The forces involved can become intolerable to wearer and can, in short order, part the zipper and pull the hooks and eyes from their industrially anchored mounts. It is a miss-conception that tight lacing (or tight underwear) puts a strain on the waist. It may do, but the strain is constant. It is the strain over the hips that can increase dramatically as one attempts to sit.


On the same theme, I remember a lady recounting how, in exactly the manner described above, she pulled the end of the tag off her zipper. The zipper was finally hoisted by the use of a pair of pliers (not the first time these articles have been usefully employed in dressing or undressing).



Late March 2010:


We came across this picture of a Spirella corset (the 305 model of course). Contrary to what many people might imagine, this corset was made in the 1980's although the style dates back to the 1930's. Some pointers when dating corsets are to be found by regarding the suspenders (garters - US). As skirts became shorter and shorter, so stocking became longer and longer. Indeed, latterly it became impossible to buy any quality short length stockings. Consequently, the length of the suspenders became shorter and shorter, and in this corset, they have almost vanished underneath the corset skirt. Artistic licence aside, Nora Batty's wrinkly stockings were a feature of many elderly ladies as they simply could not purchase stockings short enough for their aging foundations. Attempts to fold over the stocking top to shorten it courted the humiliation of suspender and stocking parting company.



April 2010:


I was going to write about Spring being in the air, and the budding flowers, but the 1st April dawned frosty, and my poor husband was, for the umpteenth time this winter, forced to scrape the ice of the car windscreen before driving to work. Roll on retirement I say; if we can afford it. Goodness knows what hitherto respectable institution will try to relieve us of our savings next. But let me shake off the gloom for it is Easter and we will have four days to sit peacefully at home and listen to the accounts of strikes and traffic jams on the radio. We may continue our foray into the collection that, now it is all hung up and displayed, is quite an amazing, even daunting sight. Daunting, for we know that we must catalogue every one of the 530-odd articles at some point. Duplicates will be sold and the classic pieces photographed with as much skill as my husband can muster. Sadly his skill with a camera, like his DIY abilities is sadly amateur and I may encourage him to take classes in the art as soon as he retires. My husband is graduate of the school of thought that believes "Only two items are required for DIY. Gaffer tape (Duct tape in the US) and WD40. Gaffer tape sticks together that which has parted, and WD40 parts that which has stuck together! Job done!" Sadly, it rarely is in my husband's case. 


Talking of sticking together, I have lamented on other pages, the demise of the busk in traditional corsets. It was so easy to fasten as opposed to the myriad hooks and eyes currently employed for the job. By why oh why did the French use buttons on many of their corsets? That sounds awfully faffy to me. This brings me to April Fools Day. It was some years ago when I was donning my trusty Spirella 305's. I had just fastened all the hooks and eyes when my husband commented (ungrammatically) "You've done it wrong. You've got one left over at the bottom." I may have uttered some 'words' as I automatically started to unfasten the wretched thing. As I was half-way down my husband shouted "Hunty* Gowk!" and started to laugh. I did not find it funny, simply very irritating, but since we have never fought in over 30 years, I was not going to start. I simply extracted my revenge later on!


*Hunty Gowk is a Scots expression for April Fool. It comes from Hunt the Gowk, where Gowk means cuckoo or fool.

In numerous places on the web-site web-site we have commented how the traditional displays in corset shops have been replaced by an anodyne 'sea of bras.' I recently came across some pictures that I had seen that I thought rather appropriate!


mid April: I have lamented the passing of the finer materials for corsetry, the busk and numerous little details that used to make female underwear so alluring. I must add, however, that the allure is rather a male pre-occupation. Women are far more interested in comfort, fit and wearing what their peers wear. I remember well the slogan on the corsetry pages of Ambrose Wilson's 1970's catalogues. "Let's not romance about corsetry!" admonished a rather stern looking Mary Armstrong. Sadly, this has become the norm and the ardent swain who dreamed of un-lacing his girl-friend's corsets would be less enthusiastic about the peeling of her latter day counterpart's anodyne beige shaper. Camp, who had in their collection, some of the most gorgeous confections, have been reduced to beige (again that colour) coutil secured with Velcro. To disembark from this 1990's abdomination from Camp requires ripping asunder no less than six large pieces of Velcro. Even the most ardent of lovers I fear would be running for the hills by this point.


A Question for our Readers


We came across a French advertisement that extols the virtues of a girdle made by a French manufacturer, F. Berlé. Is this the French version of the Australian Fred Burley's* famous brand Berlei?


*This is not a joke, that really was his name!



Another advertisement for Révéa announces  La gaine révée   Porte hiver comme ete   La gaine toujours en place   Se porte sans slip   anti-cellulite. Roughly translated this means   dream girdle   turns winter into summer   the girdle always stays in place   can be worn without a slip (on the continent a slip means panties) and anti-cellulite of course. Why not, the girdle seems do most other things! The advertisement shows a conventional girdle with a extra piece that turns it into a proto-panty-girdle. This dates the advert to the 1950's. The imagery of the girdle as a three dimensional model reminds me of a number of French girdles in our collection that are so well built from such heavy gauge elastic that they could, indeed, stand up torso-shaped all by themselves!




Iris Norris, Corsetière extraordinaire


You are reminded that April 9, was the 10th anniversary

of the death of Iris Norris, (1921-2000). Much loved by grateful customers not

only for her kindness and understanding, her personal dedication to

tight-lacing, and her skill in producing wonderful corsets, when working at

A. Gardner and Son Ltd, Islington, London, 1942-1981 and on her own account in

Bletchley from 1981 until shortly before her death in 2000.




May 2010:


Who would have believed that in the space of three weeks we have seen temperatures rise from - 2o C to 28o C and a change of Government from a right-wing left-wing party to a left-wing right-wing coalition. We wish them good fortune for we surely need it.


The dramatic rise in temperature has hardened the mud that plagues winter on the moors. Walking is now a pleasure and there is no fear of getting stuck, the fate that befell our acquaintance from the village. The lady to whom we refer has become a good friend, especially since I passed to her the name of my own corsetiere. We have compared notes on our foundations. We both wear the successor to the Spirella 305, the Spencer posture corset, but hers are longer in the back and have two rigid steels either side of the spine. I have worn corsets like that but I hate the fact that when you bend over, the steels don't and the rim of one's stays is clearly visible through even the thickest clothing. She agreed but obviously was not as sensitive as I seem to be. She added that by wearing a laced brassiere that has no elastic panels, the effect can be minimised. I mentioned that so might breathing and bending as well. She laughed and said "Well you can't have everything! So what if people know I'm wearing corsets." There followed a grumpy old woman conversation on how morals, finances, even weather might be improved if the younger women of today wore corsets, but not, please as fashion accessories over their clothes. Now that is something I will never do!

Dear Bunty:


I lamented some time ago that our dear friend Bunty managed to scupper our Abdominal Corsets page by losing weight. We were visiting her recently in the depths of rural Yorkshire and she agreed to pose one last time in her remarkable Spirella 325 (actually a Spencer posture corset laced front and back, but spiritually a 325). At its tightest, she could insert a hand down to the waist. She also wore a Hunkemöller laced brassiere that our friend from the moors could well have recommended (above). The corset was built to accommodate Bunty's substantial frame of yesteryear, but alas no more. The corset was made for a 38 inch waist, 44 inch hips and is a whopping 23 inches down the back and 17 inches in the front. It has, of course, the six mandatory suspenders. She happily returned the item to us and confessed that she had rarely worn it, even though it used to have a great effect on her figure. I think we may sell this piece of corsetry history for somebody should wear it.




June 2010:


Talking of laced brassieres, and we have a dozen in our collection, mainly back-laced but two that are side-laced, we acquired another one recently. This Spirella gem has no give whatsoever at the bust and two firm elastic inserts over the lower rib cage. Shallow breathing from the base of the diaphragm apparently allowed the wearer to inspire enough air to survive! It is a shame that the matching lower foundation was not available. From experience I suspect that its only concession to mobility would be two microscopic elastic gores over the thighs. Mind you, minute mincing steps would be all that the limited oxygen in the wearer's blood-stream would permit. We also came across a German laced brassiere of similar lung-quenching power. When you consider the very substantial corsetry available to your average Hausfrau in the 1960's, once again flexibility of the torso was at a premium. If you regard films of the period and, if you are lucky, home movies, you will see that female locomotion is more restricted than we know today, just as the highly restricted gait of the Victorian maiden was compared to her grand-daughter in the 1960's.



July 2010:


Summer has arrived. Wimbledon progresses without a break for rain and with my Dutch origins, the World Cup is still exciting. I have commented before about the noisy female tennis players of today. A hundred years ago, the only sound would have been that of their stays creaking!


Our updates have been few of late due to 'family problems', my husband's very busy job and travel to foreign climes when sometimes I get the opportunity to accompany him. The last trip was to the Far East and it is interesting to note how the Oriental woman, sadly these days afflicted by Occidental eating habits has begun more and more to rely on elastics rather than genetics to achieve a desirable figure.


The panty-girdle was much slower to take on in Europe than in America, as, indeed, were many styles and fashions. In the early 1960's the panty-girdle was becoming main-stream wear for both Mrs. and Miss America whereas in Britain, girdles persisted until the end of the decade when suddenly, they all but vanished from the scene leaving corsets and panty-girdles to control Granny and her offspring. (Bunty contradicted us here and maintained that the girdle still held on in the north through the 1970's, such are the regional differences in Britain - IL.)

In this American advertisement from the early 1960's, we an interesting transition period where a choice between girdles and panty-girdles of the same design was given.



August 2010:


Oh dear! Summer was good, but all too short and the rain has now returned. Mind you, the garden and fields sorely needed moisture.


In the eight years that my husband and I have been working on this web site, we have received thousands of emails, letters and general correspondence with corsetieres, corset wearers and corset makers. We love digging into history, however, this site is not a work of scholarship. We try to keep the facts straight and weed out letters that are obviously untrue or blatant wish fulfillment. From time to time we are contradicted and we love this. Learning from mistakes is one of life's great teachers.


We have mentioned many times our dislike of the euphemistic names used these days for girdle. Names such as 'magic knickers' lend an air of levity, but the word we dislike is 'shaper'. I really thought that this word was an invention of our beleaguered millennium, but an American reader kindly referred us to a wonderful old catalogue site. To our amazement, the term shaper was used in the Montgomery Ward catalogue of Fall 1976! For sure the word girdle is there on the pictures, but the generic terms for what appear to be Playtex girdles made under licence is 'shaper'. We were quarter of a century out, but now we know.



9th August 2010:  Pat and Ken Jenyns


Two years ago, we entered into correspondence with Julie, great grand-daughter of Sarah Ann Jenyns who founded the 100 year dynasty of the House of Jenyns. She put us in touch with her father and mother, Ken and Pat Jenyns who would be visiting England in 2010. Ken, a grandson of Sarah Ann, was a director of Jenyns in 1961 and, with his wife Pat, steered the company right through until the late 1980's when it passed into the hands of Sister Ann Bryant. We were delighted to welcome Ken and Pat into our home last week. This charming retired couple related the story of the House of Jenyns and added so much to our limited database. It was a real pleasure to have lunch with such knowledgeable people who worked for three decades in the corset manufacturing and sales business. We will re-write our Jenyns page in the light of all the information they kindly passed on to us. They gave us a couple of 1912 corsets made to the Jenyns patent in England. One of the corsets had not been unwrapped for nearly one hundred years! We gave Pat and Ken a copy of the 2009 calendar. The picture on the front of a Camp and a Jenyns corset sent Ken off into a lengthy description of the pros and cons of Camp versus Jenyns. We will write all this down, for such knowledge rests in the minds of very few people these days and it should be recorded.


     Ken and Pat Jenyns inspect some Jenyns corsets from the 1950's to the 1990's.


Pat and Ken explained something has had intrigued me for ages and that was the difference or similarity of Camp and Jenyns corsets.

"Jenyns eventually sold Camp products in Australia but they worked on very different principles. Camps had a far more adjustable lacing system with two to six pulley systems that could accommodate a multitude of figures. Jenyns had less adjustment, so relied on nine figure types to get the closest fit first and used the lacing only to tighten and to fine tune. This meant that Camps were inherently poorer fitting but compensated by more adjustment. Jenyns fitted better, but stores then had to carry many more garments in all of the figure sizes.

In a declining market for traditional corsetry, where storage for bras was at a premium, this heralded the beginning of the end. The Jenyns had to be fitted in tack, returned to the factory for finishing and then sent back to the store. The result was excellent and approved by physicians, but time-consuming. Camps tend to flatten the abdomen. Jenyns were cut more dished to lift and support the abdomen, hence the medical recommendations."

I found an Australian photo of the correct period. What is quite outstanding is that of the three fairly average women in the picture, one had taken a serious interest in her figure. Is she simply a shapely woman, or is there a proper foundation at work here; perhaps a Jenyns? Both Pat and Ken were convinced that fat cannot form under a firm foundation.



September 2010:  What killed lower foundations in the late 1960's?


I had always assumed that 'women's lib, 'the 'bra burning' episode and the advent of tights put paid to the girdle, but an expert recently challenged this point-of-view. Far from 'bra burning' in the 1960's, this decade saw the advent of the first mass produced well-fitting brassieres. Manufacturers could not make them fast enough and department store buyers clamoured for these garments. Most stores had little storage capacity, so why store bulky corsets and girdles in many sizes that were not selling quickly in a space that would make a fortune in bras! The girdle simply vanished from the stores since the money was in the upper foundation. Certainly the advent of tights reinforced this trend so the panty-girdle lingered on for a decade, but it was business that killed the girdle, not any particular social trend.


My husband and I were honoured to make a presentation of the subject of corsets to a local women's group the other evening. The group is dedicated to good causes and ties between women worldwide, so we thought the title "Pulling Together" was highly appropriate. The title is not totally original and owes its origin to the clever title dreamed up by Robert Lancaster of the Letchworth Museum, "Pull Yourselves Together Girls!" The edited presentation can be found on a new web page.


It happened to be my husband's birthday as well, and the ladies presented him with a lovely cake decorated with one of the pages from the Vital Statistics calendar. He was reluctant to cut the cake claiming that he did not want to behead any of the ladies, especially his wife!



October 2010:  Dating corsets


I suspect that this topic might turn into full page one day; it is a subject that we are often asked about. There are many clues to consider:- length of suspenders; material; is the elastic made from latex or lycra; is the zipper metal or plastic? Style plays a part, particularly in the last decades when change has been rapid. Before that, the Spirella 305 corset, for example, remained unchanged for decades. In such a case, attention to the details of fabric and elastic are critical. Generic shape is also a subtle clue as women became larger with bigger hips after World War II. In the talk that we gave last month, I emphasised that corsets did not mutate into girdles and thence to panty-girdles. There was a huge overlap with panty-girdles appearing in significant numbers in America in the 1950's. They still exist today of course as 'shapers' (a term coined in the 1960's), as do corsets. The girdle is virtually extinct as British women at least binned them at the end of the 1960's in exchange for panty-girdles or simply unfettered hips. A request recently went into some detail concerning the lower fastenings of a Spencer corset. The photos show the robust closures, the one on the left coming from Britain in 1947 (thank Goodness that Spencer often dated its garments) and the one of the right from an American Spencer of the 1950's.

Otherwise, things have been quiet in our little village. Our 'tweedy' acquaintance is still to be seen, challenging the muddy hills, her not insubstantial torso supported by Spencer's best. I wonder how long it will be before this last bastion of the made-to-measure corset will cease to exist? I know that my own collection of corsets will last for decades yet.

We still receive requests for the 2010 calendar. Sadly, we have now run out of stock and there will be no 2011 version. However, we do have plans with the photographers who took all the photos for another project.


November 2010:


I have heard people who live in the tropics lament about how much they miss the English seasons. To be honest, at the beginning of November it is hard to think why! It has become cold, everything is damp, the paths are treacherous with mud and even an innocent walk can lead to that most dangerous of all things to those with a bad back, the little slip with the automatic muscle tensing that sets off a painful spasm. Good corsets help of course but one is always on edge. Our tweedy acquaintance from the village has started to join me on occasional forays onto the moors when my husband is at work. Last week when we met at designated car park she greeted me with a hearty "All laced up and ready to go!" She slapped her hips to lend action to the words. Yes; I was all laced up and ready to go but I would rather that the local population was kept in ignorance of the fact!

“To the uninitiated, the word Spirella all too often conjures up a vision of unyielding strong satin, rows of hooks and eyes, yards of lacing, and bones, bones, and more bones” Spirella Magazine January 1958.

Whilst we were updating the page on the 'Feel of Foundations', prompted by an email from a reader, we decided to check out the girdles with the most bones and seams. Our reader commented that, as a teenager, she wore a girdle just like her mother. The trouble was that her mother was half again as big as herself so that the bones, seams and zipper, that seemed entirely reasonable to mother with a 35 inch waist, were uncomfortably close together for a girl with a 25 inch waist! The Sears standard panty-girdle does well with 11 seams, a zipper, six bones and six suspenders, the rearwards of which lie exactly where you want to sit down. The Spirellette 105, can only boast nine seams, six bones, a zipper and four suspenders but is heavier and feels more substantial. The materials are simply heavier duty items. The Spirella was, however, custom-made and the owner may well have omitted the rear suspenders. The Sears wins again around the leg with five seams per leg; Spirella can muster only four. By comparison, the M&S satin-elastic girdle of the 1960's fields nine seams, a zipper, six suspenders but a whopping nine bones and outweighs either of the panty-girdles.


"But, they really didn't stand up by themselves, surely?"


How often have we heard that comment. In the nature of scientific enquiry, my husband and I selected the Spirelette 105, an unused M&S satin elastic girdle (8054/956B, for those of you who are girdle spotters) and a 2010, firm control panty-girdle - sorry - shaper also from M&S. The results are clear to see, and those vintage girdles are not touching the wall or supported in any way other than by the very fabric of the garment. The collapsed mess in the foreground is, of course, the modern shaper!



December 2010:


I remember as a child, how many clothes we had to wear to keep warm. Our house was a rarity in having central heating (my father was a doctor) but many of my friends had no central heating at all and relied upon fires that had to be laid every day. The car had no heating and the plastic covered seats were painfully cold in winter unless one's derriere was well protected. I recall that my aunt (of rubber corset fame) clad her torso in corset, knickers, petticoat, lined skirt and coat. Often ten layers were called into play, and none of them were thin. A good half inch of assorted fabrics kept the elements at bay, not to mention my poor long-suffering uncle. These days, we have heat at the flick of a switch. Gortex and Thinsulate provide an insulation that even the most robust of brocades and tweeds cannot hope to match. It was, therefore, quite a surprise on attending a small drinks party hosted by our tweedy acquaintance from the village, that she had not turned on any heating. There was six inches of snow on the ground and a wholly inadequate smouldering lump of wood was the only external heat source. Despite being in her lounge, everybody was dressed as though for an assault on the South Pole. I hate being cold, and for the first time I realised that not everybody in the village can afford to heat their homes in these difficult times.


But let us leave the cold behind and remember the positive elements of yesterday. Frangard recently sent us a comprehensive article on a corsetière from the 1960's called Illa Knina.


Finally, as the year draws to a close and, once again, the human race astounds us scaling new heights but sadly plumbing new depths, let us fervently pray for


Peace and Goodwill


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


from Ivy Leaf and her long-suffering husband!