Ivy Leaf's Diary

2012

 

 

Wishing all our Readers a Happy New Year

 

 

 

January 2012: 

 

It has been a stormy start to the New Year. I did not realise that we get winds of over 160 miles per hour in this country but we did over the festive period. Even the Glaswegian hills felt 100 mph gusts on Tuesday. This was unfortunate since that is where we were spending the New Year and our travel arrangements were somewhat disrupted as was the electricity supply. Even today, back in the west country (and that is a long journey by car, some 400 miles) our electricity has been on and off. My husband says that 400 miles for our American and Australian readers is probably little more than a 'short hop', but for a woman of a certain age wearing 'proper underwear', it is a tiresome eight hour slog. I am glad that my husband elected to take our four-wheel-drive vehicle. This sits infinitely better than his ageing sports car which is an uncomfortable companion for his ageing wife. I do wish he would sell his sports car; he is far too old to be having a mid-life crisis!

 

 

 

..Meanwhile, Life goes on

 

with a fascinating visit to the museum.

 

     

My husband and I are serious researchers and managed to see what goes on behind the scenes, however, he does to tend to lapse into a state of eclectic interest as he assembles bits and pieces that make a point or interest him. This frustrates my serious approach but does yield some lovely period pictures.

From the left:- An old measuring garment: Either the lady is tiny or that corset is huge! The poise of the professional model sets her apart from the amateur (or does it? See the 2012 calendar!) Say it with flowers! Period cartoon (my husband instantly wanted to make a lampshade from my old corsets. I think my look alone dissuaded him!) Rack after rack of research material.

     

 

...with some more research.

 

We have some excellent examples from Spirella in Sweden, however, rather like our interest in the German side of Spirella, we were keen to find out if the factory and shop still remained in Malmö. Obviously (and sadly) they would not be making and selling corsets any more. My husband dived into the world wide web with a will and, although failing to find the factory, did find the original facade of the Spirella shop as the pictures reveal. There on the Gustav Adolfs Torg,  a street famous for its corsetry emporia (note Fox korsetter) lies the Spirella shop, the outlet for the factory. Ironically, the shop is now the home of 'Les Trois Roses' a choclaterie. Sadly, just when your Swedish woman could well do with a firmly constructed lower foundation, this is no longer available to her.  Click on the right-hand picture to see the shop today.

 

A very rare example of a Swedish Spirella back-laced 205 girdle

Demonstrably the same building (above) in 2012 as the photograph from the Spirella magazine in 1957.

 

 

In the 1960's, high-waisted girdles were de rigeur with Stockholm's smart set; a far cry from the liberal and liberated picture that is commonly associated with the Swedes. In fact, the Scandinavian countries produced some elegant yet extremely functional foundations during this period.

 

 

I must apologise for the somewhat random 'brain dump' nature of this diary. We have always "published first, and edited later," a poor industry practice, but this is an amateur venture! From time to time, we will move sections of the diary onto the appropriate pages.

 

A huge frustration to any researcher is the publisher who fails to date his work. We came across a Spirella catalogue but it was undated. These catalogues are rare, particularly from the 1950's - 1970's, however, this particular catalogue yielded some valuable information. It was the catalogue that solved the problem of the mystery girdle in 2011 that we wrote about in the Diary in 2007 and 2008. We could not identify this girdle until we saw a picture in the catalogue that confirmed it to be nothing more than a standard 205, but not of the pattern we had seen in brochures from the 1970's. It was an earlier style. Spirella had to re-design the old favourites after the war as the trend of more food, central heating and an easier life-style became established. Women simply grew bigger, the hip-spring increased and the 205 that was a good shape for the scant hips of yesterday was simply not fitting properly. As the motor manufacturers know, if you have a successful name (Cortina, Civic, Golf and so on) you do not change it, so the 205 was re-designed in the mid/late 1950's. The evidence for this is as follows:- the catalogue does not mention the 246 girdle that was introduced in 1958, therefore the catalogue is from 1957 at the latest. We know that the 246 girdle was developed in response to the social conditions mentioned above and we have therefore assumed that the 205 was re-designed in that era. Why the 246 did not keep its predecessor's name, I do not know. Perhaps it was not such a good seller as the 205. The change in design is shown on the right and allowing for the artist's exaggeration, it is the placement of the elastic gores at the front that distinguishes the dates (pre-1960 on the left; post 1960 on the right). The backs of the girdles are identical. We really must update the girdle page soon.

 

 

February 2012:

 

The mild winter has given way to more seasonal weather and the temperatures have dropped below freezing point. For some reason that escapes me and infuriates my husband, a litre of fuel for the car now costs £1.46 in our neck of the woods (that is US$ 8.65 per US gallon for our American readers). It is quite sobering in what might be regarded as a 'well-off' village that people are choosing to wear fleeces indoors and to turn down the heating to save money. Who would have thought that after a lifetime as a professional, we would end up in such a state. At least the banker who moved into the largest property in the village appears not be suffering. Was it Woody Allen that said "A banker is somebody to whom you give your money so that they can live a lifestyle you can't afford!"

 

Enough of the rant, the calendar has generated some very positive responses. We had dinner with the models and their husbands the other evening and a very jolly time was had by all.

 

 

A HUGE THANKS! ....

 

to all of you who purchased the 2012 calendar. The kind comments and the response have been excellent and we recovered the printing costs within the first day of sale. Everything since then has been profit that will be donated to charities chosen by the models. A lingerie shop snapped up 20 calendars without even thinking about it and have placed orders for the 2013 edition! We have effectively sold out now and raised £350 for charity in the process.

 

 

 

March 2012:

 

One of the uplifting consequences of maintaining this site is that one learns all the time, and what one had regarded as fact is sometimes challenged and disproved by our eagle-eyed readers. I had always assumed that the panty-girdle developed in response to the advent of tights. I am at a disadvantage here since the panty-girdle barely made any impression in Holland where I grew up, but in Britain I know it replaced the girdle (for those women who persisted with a lower foundation) at the end of the 1960's and in America, almost a decade before that, however, it origins are far earlier.

 

Meanwhile, we came across a lovely Spirella advertisement that capitalises on the British obsession with the weather. Mind you there is good reason. My husband got a suntan working in the garden yesterday, today it rains hard and last Sunday it snowed! This lovely picture of a young lady in her girdle and long-line bra holding a brolly over her head is so typical of the Spirella theme where an otherwise normal lady in a normal situation appears to have forgotten to dress. Our calendars have played heavily on this theme!

 

Talking of calendars, so many of you commented favourably on the format of the 2012 Ivy Leaf calendar. We decided to re-make the 2010 calendar in the same format as 2012 so that the pictures have an A4 page to themselves. We have received a draft version from the printers and, I must say that the full colour version is rather special. It matches the 2012 calendar and will form a set with the forthcoming 2013 calendar and, who knows, a 2014 edition*. Compared to the 2010 sepia rendered version, the re-figured calendar has full colour photos that have more space to be displayed and are larger than before. We intend to make a limited print run of 25 calendars and sell them for the usual price of £10.

 

* We have illustrated a 2014 mock-up, but such a calendar would use new photos taken later on this year.

 

Please register your interest with Ivy Leaf.

 

 

Times flies! It's nearly three weeks since we updated the web-site. Getting the 2010 calendar re-print has taken up some of that time but family matters have intervened.

 

As often happens, after a lean spell on the web-site, a reader from Sweden sent a veritable cascade of information on Swedish corsetry including some Spirella data that was completely unknown to us! It will take us a little while to load this data and sort it out.

 

 

April 2012:  Old Money

 

I suppose that my husband and I could be pigeon-holed as middle class, financially reasonably comfortable (although Goodness knows for how long, my pessimistic husband added) and fairly chameleon-like in our ability to blend in at most levels of society. A normal, older retired couple I suppose you could say. We were invited recently to a local farmer's house for no better reason (I imagine) than to enjoy the warm weather and to get the village together over a buffet lunch in one of his barns. I had been introduced to the farmer's wife via my lately deceased acquaintance (of the muddy boot episode) and had got on well enough with her to merit an invitation. My husband had never been to the farm before and was suitably impressed by the size, age and abundance of buildings and the barn of a garage that could have swallowed our house with room to spare. Tractors and farm equipment were dotted around like a child's discarded toys and the paddock was full of the guests' cars, nothing flashy you understand, simply Land Rovers and a smattering of Jaguars, Mercedes and Audis with some smaller Volkswagens, (ours included). This was very much a landed gentry, hunting set, old farming money gathering. You could spot the men with the real old money, they wore a sort of uniform:- brogues, corduroy trousers, Viyella check shirt and tie and a Barbour jacket. It seemed important that although the ensemble should be 'nature'-coloured (so as not to scare the prey), on this festive occasion, the trousers should be of a clashing colour at the ochre-red end of the spectrum. A flat cap and an attendant retriever completed the outfit. Needless to say, my husband was more normally attired. The women, oddly enough, were far less predictable and wore anything from jeans to tweed. Nothing was flashy, everything was understated, but there was the indefinable scent of serious money in the air. The buildings in the farmyard would be worth well over three million, without even considering the hundreds of hectares attached thereto. Every horizontal surface was festooned with sandwiches and cakes, cups of milky tea and coffee and at the end of one enormous barn, hidden by a throng of men were several barrels of beer. I am just setting the scene for the appearance of a lady that grabbed the attention of both my husband and myself. She appeared from the main house carrying yet another platter of meat but was dressed more as I had expected, that is a throw-back to about 50 years ago. She wore a smart tailored tweed skirt, a silk shirt and a cardigan, all in hues of the countryside. She was old, possibly in her late 70's, but was immaculately turned out and had an enviable figure. I imagine her pearls and the few rings she wore would comfortably have paid for our car, yet she carried her tray and chatted with the hired maids and farm labourers. Old, old money and infinite confidence personified. I wanted to talk to her, but never got a chance for this, I am almost certain, would be a lady that understood foundation garments.

 

click to enlarge

Meanwhile, we have come across a couple of curiosities, such are the caprices of the corset marketing departments.

 

Regard on the left a vaguely sinister advertisement from Spirella of Sweden. The text goes along the lines of the 1950's ethos where hard-working women needed firm foundations least they collapse under the burden of responsibility. Of course that girdle (recognisable as a Swedish 205) would be needed to hold up those support stockings, another hall-mark of the working woman. Nevertheless, dental surgeries are, to my mind, not the first choice to attract me to a product, in fact, I was tempted to skip the advertisement altogether! The nurse, who lacks that 'angel of mercy' expression, that so endeared us to the film "Reach for the Sky", appears to be holding a large hypodermic needle or is that just my imagination! Sorry gentlemen, you have just lost a sale, not that a dental nurse could afford Spirella in the first place!

 

On the right we have an interesting alternative to the padded brassiere; just wear six at once! Seriously though, I have mentioned elsewhere that the wearing of multiple foundations was not uncommon and I know of a lady today that wears three 'shapers' of various lengths and configurations to persuade her body, and the casual observer, that her shape has remained constant for decades. In practice this can be successful, but one has to tread a careful line between compressing one's torso, whilst adding layers of elastic.

click to enlarge

 

Overheard at a party "I never let my husband see me in my shaper, he hates them!" "Oh my husband likes to see me in my shapewear - in fact, he's more supportive than my girdle!"

 

 

Spirella in Sweden:

 

Thanks to the kindness of one of our Swedish readers, we have enlarged the Spirella in Sweden section considerably!

What is this fabric ?

 

A reader recently found an immaculate Spirella 305 corset in a charity shop. The fabric (below left) is something that I have not seen before, comprising embossed lucky charms. Has anybody seen this fabric before? Whilst we are on the subject of fabrics, I photographed two fabrics from a Spencer swatch of the 1950's and then a Camp corset of similar vintage. Utterly gorgeous fabrics, but can they compare to the Marks and Spencer satin elastic girdle of the 1960's (right). Incidentally, the picture on the right was taken in 2011 of a charming lady wearing an immaculate girdle that is half a century old. The lady would have been 17 then and could have worn such a girdle, however, possessing a 19 inch waist in those days, she had no need of such a device. At 67, she actually asked if she could buy it since it really gave her much appreciated support. They just don't make them like that any more!

               

 

May 2012:  The 2010 re-mastered calendar is ready!!

 

At last, as promised, the full-colour, larger version of the 2010 calendar is ready. It was delivered from the printer on Friday and it looks fantastic. The printer asked why we were printing a calendar two years out of date and we explained that we wanted the same format as the successful 2012 version. The format is being used for the 2013 calendar and will be used for subsequent productions so that they form a set.

 

Please let us know your wish to place an order by email to

 

ivyleaf@corsetiere.net

 

An invoice will then be sent to you with a request for a postal address where the calendar should be sent.

 

Despite a 17% increase in printing charges, the cost will remain the same as before:-

 

GBP 10.00 + 2.00 p&p;

EUR 12.00 + 3.00 p&p; or

USD 16.00 + 4.00 p&p.

 

All proceeds will go to a charity chosen by the models.

 

 

Thank you to all those who have purchased the new 2010 calendar. The comments have been very favourable. It seems that the much larger format of the pictures and the colour have added an extra dimension to the calendar. Meanwhile, the 2013 calendar is with the printers and we will be making a far larger run of this one since it will be sold as part of the Spirella Centenary in Letchworth. Ultimately, we hope to have the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 calendars as a matching set.

 

Meanwhile, a reader sent in a request about the 'Dr. Wales' corset. I remember the advertisements from the past, but for the life of me, I cannot remember who sold them. Was it Ambrose Wilson?

We have added a couple of whimsical pieces that I encountered recently. One is to do with corset misconceptions, the other is a little game along the lines of 'What Lies Beneath' devised by a German manufacturer. The prize was, surprisingly, a brand new Fiat. Why not a BMW? Whilst I was composing the piece on misconceptions I wrote the phrase "their fair share". As a native Dutch speaker (albeit fluent in English), I think it reveals why non-English speakers find the mis-match between a word's spelling and its sound something of a challenge.

 

 

June 2012:

 

Just in case you have been pondering about the German 'what lies beneath' advertisement, let me up the stakes by offering a free 2010 re-mastered calendar to the first person who guesses it correctly.

 

13th June:

Well done to the winner of the competition. Several readers had a go, but only one got the right answer and a calendar is on the way to this lucky person. The correct answer was A=3 B=2 C=4 D=1. I still can't get over the Germans offering a Fiat as a prize! Actually, I rather like the Fiat Panda, being a sort of upright car for a sort of upright woman! My husband pales at the very suggestion muttering darkly about reliability and so forth, but as usual, he is probably several decades out of date - thank Goodness!

 

Just to let you know that the sales of the original 2010 calendar, the 2012, re-mastered 2010 and 2013 calendars have raised over £3,500 for charities chosen by the models. 

 

 

The Abdominal Dr. Wales:

 

It is a fact of life, certainly as the marketing department knows it, that when women and vanity are involved, any amount of exaggeration can be expected. Corsetry advertising was far from immune to this 'Snake Oil' school of salesmanship. One effective technique was to invent a plausible character to feature in your advertisements. Spencer, to their shame, invented a mythical Anne Spencer to whom concerned women could write about their figure problems, like some sort of Corsetry Agony Aunt. Of course, if you really want to convince your female public that they have all sorts of figure problems, including the terrifying sounding lordosis or floating kidney, you invent a medical man. Pontin's had their 'Dr. Wilbur's Abdominal Corset' that was based on the fan-lacing principle and Beasley's of Bournemouth had their own 'Dr. Wales' who mysteriously seems to have developed the same design (right)! Well done to the American-based Scotsman who unearthed this advertisement. Women really did buy these devices (that were actually rather effective) and if you were a customer of Ambrose Wilson, who sported their own gimlet-eyed Mary Armstrong, you could have the whole contraption made from perforated rubber (left).

 

Ambrose Wilson's Mary Armstrong: 

"Let's not romance about corsetry!"

Frankly, I wouldn't dare!

I shouldn't mock too much, since I am prey to exactly these advertisements and am quite a fan of the fan-lacing corset (no pun intended!). I have stated elsewhere that a busk-fronted corset with fan-lacing of the Camp design is probably the easiest and most effective corset to don and to wear.

 

Beasleys went under in the 1980's I believe, however, as the advertisement on the far right, from May 1939, shows, they were well into rubber corsetry before the war. They were successful for the best part of half a century Dr. Wales or no Dr. Wales!

A classic duo from Camp and Jenyns

  

 

 

Congratulations:

 

One of our calendar models  was recently given an award in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for over half a century of services to charity.

 

 

July 2012: Monsoon Season

 

All things being equal, I suppose after the warmest winter and spring on record, we should, yet again, suffer a 'summer' of unremitting rain. The covers have been pulled across centre court at Wimbledon, practice at Silverstone has been suspended and a general air of ennui and lassitude pervades the country. Perhaps we are tired from the Diamond Jubilee, or simply gathering strength for the forthcoming Olympics. Long gone are the days when the ladies tennis was conducted in corsets, albeit, less rigidly boned 'sports corsets'. Nowadays our grunting heroines slam the poor ball with appalling and ferocious velocity allowing their skirts to reveal knickers of dubious hue. Talking of which, I must accuse my husband of serious double standards here. If I wear a bra and corset of different colours he objects on aesthetic grounds, yet today he dressed in colours that almost completely failed to match. This he puts down to the better colour vision of women. Hah! On the subject of women and sport, the marketing departments of the major corsetry firms used sport frequently to advertise the flexibility of their products. My husband was particularly fond of this little advert that he calls "Banana-skin lady!"

 

 

August 2012:  Ivy Leaf's 1st Decade!

 

 

Amazingly, this is the 10th anniversary of the Ivy Leaf web site. It seems so long ago that we were inspired by Lyn Locke and Mike, the Virginian, Cathie and Bob Jung, The Long Island Staylace Association, and the Spirella and Spencer corsetieres of many years' acquaintance. We have received thousands of emails and letters that have intrigued us as well as humbled us in what we thought was our fair knowledge of corsetry.  The collection in its current form goes back to the 1960's, but its real beginning lies in a common draper's shop in Renfrew that was the home for my husband's aunt well before the Second World War. More than anything, the calendars have brought this era back to life and if anybody is interested, the 2013 calendar is for sale on the usual terms. All the money goes to charity; that is why we all gave up our time, the models, photographers, set owners, stage managers and dressers alike. The models could not get over what they had achieved. "Did we really spend all day in corsets?" "What will we tell our friends?" Well, the friends that knew about the project simply asked "Can we be models next time?" We leave you with a picture, a very rare picture from a British film that, in our recollection, is the only example of a 1960's corsetiere at work.

Joan Sims (1930 - 2001), playing the part of Esme Crowfoot (corsetičre), laces up Amelia Bayntun (1919 - 1988) in 'Carry on Loving' (1970). Spirella provided the corset and advice to Joan Sims who appeared in their house magazine of December 1969. The advice, however, appears to have been sacrificed on the alter of cinematic licence as Miss Sims sticks her knee into her client's back and tugs on the laces "Hold it, hold it - that's right!" A sound-over of stretching material and grunts (perhaps these were real from the long-suffering Miss Bayntun) accompany this all too short sequence.

              

 

 

Footnote:  I came across a lovely Spirella advertisement for their younger clientele the other day. It was dated 1970 and showed a young lady in a ready-made, patterned panty-girdle. What struck me was the waist size available, 25 - 30 inches. Other than the stick-insects of the cat-walk, there are simply very few women who could fit into such a garment these days. This was always a problem with our models whilst making the calendar. One of our models who struggled to don a Marks and Spencer 30 inch girdle admitted to having a 20 inch waist when she was married. Mind you, she is 67 now and still extremely shapely by any standards; more so with the girdle on!

 

 

A Surprise Call!

 

At our age, keeping up with technology is a constant challenge. This challenge, so easily and ravenously embraced by the young is more of a chore for us. For sure, one has to keep up; I pity those that cannot use a PC, but do we need a smart phone? Probably, because that is the way things are going! We keep up in fits and starts and the last of these was to install Skype onto our laptop computer. We tested the system with close friends from Scotland and it worked so very well that we wondered (as always) why it had taken so long for us to do this. Imagine my surprise yesterday when thumping away at the keyboard, a message declared that we had a connection from Cathie Jung! Unused to the system, I panicked, lost the connection and called for my husband. The outcome was a delightful 60 minutes talking to that famous and fascinating couple Cathie and Bob Jung. In their mid-70's, they have met so many interesting people such as Ethel Granger, Iris Norris, Mme. Medeq, Lyn Locke just to name but a few. Cathie's waist is still a remarkable sight and it was such an amazing moment to share, especially on virtually the 10th anniversary of Ivy Leaf!

 

Tributes to Ivy Leaf

 

We have been delighted to receive some lovely tributes for the 10th anniversary of the Tribute to the Corsetiere web-site. We have included some of these on a dedicated page.

 

We have received some comments that pages from the web-site have vanished or are not referenced any more. They are all present: Seek and ye shall find!

 

 

What you see is not necessarily what you get!

 

This was the advice that generations of fathers passed on to their sons before they became too heavily involved with the opposite sex. "Mistaking her tight corsets for voluptuous promise" comes from a heart-felt passage in Herman Wouk's book 'Marjorie Morningstar' (1955). We received a lovely story on this topic that we have inserted into Corsetiere's Tales. Gossard provided us with a chuckle this month in an advertisement that extolled their 'Buzum-hi' girdle! Meanwhile the Olympics have delighted us and, it has to be said, that for the boyfriends of the female athletes, 'What you see is probably exactly what you get!' Little has been left to the imagination, however, neither myself, nor any of my female ancestors have ever sported anything that resembles a 'six-pack'. Mind you my granny's stomach was as hard as steel, largely because it was covered in steel. I exaggerate but only slightly. To quote Betty MacDonald from her book 'The Egg and I' (1945) "The Corset Lady had a ... stomach apparently encased in steel, for when I brushed against her it was like bumping into our oil drum."

 

 

September 2012: Flirtation walk and dancing classes

Time flies and so does the clock that controls the seasons for suddenly it is Autumn. To pass the time during the torrential rain that has greeted this new season, I was leafing through some old advertisements. It is all too easy to poke fun at these reminders of a long forgotten era for we always imagine that the styles of today are the pinnacle of human achievement. We thought that in the 1960's as well and the avocado bathroom suites and economy cars that did 25 miles per gallon are salutary reminders that we live on a steep learning curve. Enough philosophy.

 

Bestform made an excellent girdle in the 1960's called 'Flirtation Walk'. The expression on the model's face can be read many ways but the bottom line (pun intended) is that the girdle would make you look good and by looking good you would have a better chance of catching Mr. Right. I also believe that 'flirtation walk' was an accurate description of the way a woman walks when wearing a girdle. I have mentioned elsewhere the comments of a young boy who confided to his chum "I know when mummy's wearing a girdle 'cause she walks funny!" Observe any number of old cine-camera clips of weddings in the 1960's and not only do the women 'walk funny', but often the bottom edge of the girdle makes its presence obvious by the fall of the skirt (right).

 

Another advertisement (right) of a girdle with discreet back-lacing to give the desired attenuation of the waist, reminded my husband of dancing classes that he reluctantly attended in his early 20's. He fancied a rather lovely girl who, unfortunately, had no sense of timing and subsequently he migrated to a metronomic matron who was, in fact, a very good dancer. The trouble was where to place his right hand. In the accepted position he encountered to top ridge of her girdle or corset. To get below this obstacle, he was in danger of fondling her nether regions and to move above the ridge was to encounter soft wayward flesh that prevented him from steering his partner with any accuracy.

 

He received a number of 'old-fashioned' looks from his charge until, during a short stop for instruction, she took his hand and placed it firmly below the ridge. "I think you'll find that more comfortable" she smiled as winsomely as her dentures would allow and my poor husband passed the rest of the course in terrified anticipation of further advances from this virago of the boards. It never happened of course and my husband went out with the pretty girl for several years. He still can't dance - I wonder why!

 

 

October 2012:

 

I must apologise for the paucity of information in these pages recently. A sudden death in the family set us back rather and we decided to get away from it all and travel to the Dordogne region of France for a week. I had forgotten how cheap France is compared to Britain, or perhaps it is just that Britain has become very expensive in recent years. Hotels and the associated excellent quality food was two-thirds of the British price and, my husband informs me, diesel fuel for our car was three-quarters the cost. The only expensive extra was the toll charges on the motorways that cost over £100 for barely 2000 miles of driving.

 

We visited an antiques market in Bergerac one Sunday to look at what was for sale and to indulge in a little people watching. In common with most of these markets, the trick is to spot the 1% of quality goods from the 99% of rubbish. Amongst the worn-out furniture, objets d'art and unwanted knick-knacks we saw but one box of cotton underclothes with a girdle peeping shyly over the edge. This was typically French 1970's vintage with a heavy satin front, suspenders that button on (for ease of removal in the hot summers) and bullet-proof industrial strength elastic. Sadly, most of the women in the market could well have benefited from such a garment! The chic Parisienne, I fear, exists only in our memories. She has been replaced by Euro-standard, denim-clad obesity. Mind you, the origin of the word denim comes from Serge de Nīmes, a French made heavy cotton from the town of Nīmes. After several hours of pleasant if pointless wandering we returned to our car and at last, encountered our chic French lady. Well, as my husband unkindly pointed out, she might have been a 'looker' before electricity was invented, but even in her advanced years she was immaculately dressed, coiffured and heavily (and somewhat inaccurately) made-up. I can spot a corset-wearer from 100 yards and this was one such lady. Sadly my French is not what it used to be when I used to guide Americans as a student and so I did not engage this lady in conversation. I would love to have known where she got her corsets. Can you still have them made in France? Did she, like myself and some of my elderly friends, buy enough corsets at the demise of Spirella to last their lifetime? Who knows? But in the town of Bergerac, at least one throw-back to the age of chic still exists.

 

Many thanks to the reader who corrected me in regards of the 'Flirtation Walk' girdle (above). The reader writes "Your September diary mentioned the 'Flirtation Walk' girdle implying it possibly referred to a gait. More likely, it is taken from the old scenic secluded path along the west bank of the Hudson River at the U. S. Military Academy , West Point, NY. Several Hollywood movies set there have usually included Flirtation Walk in any romantic scenes. The 1934 version so entitled won an Academy award. Another, 'The Long Gray Line' was released about 1960 and may have featured the walk."

 

 

November 2012:

 

Once again I must apologise for the dearth of news in the diary, but the persistent and torrential rain in the west country has been occupying our minds. My husband had to get up in the middle of the night (we were awoken by the howling wind) and trek around the house checking drainage and the gutters that were overflowing with the volume of water. So far we have been lucky and no water has entered the home.

 

Meanwhile, another piece of whimsy came to our attention recently. This is a frame from a Playtex advert and I think I'm safe in saying that no Playtex girdle ever made could put such a figure on a woman. She either had that enviable figure already or she was, in my husband's mother's words "tied up tighter than was good for her!"

 

I still find these 1960's Playtex advertisements amusing. They all run along the lines of "I've forgotten I'm wearing a girdle; it's so light and comfortable." If it is light and comfortable, it will certainly not be performing miracles of figure enhancement. There is a world of difference between flimsy elastic knickers (even if made of rubber) and a decent girdle, let alone a Spirella 305!

 

 

December 2012:

 

The year is nearly over and yet another fascinating year it has been. We used some of the photographs taken in 2011 to create the 2013 calendar that proved to be a great success. The re-mastered 2010 calendar was less successful although a great improvement on the original, containing full colour photos and several extra pages. At least we covered costs and donated the residue to charity. We had a delightful Skype conversion with Bob and Cathie Jung and were privileged to see Cathie's amazing waist. With the calorific season approaching rapidly I would like to remind you of Ken Jenyns' words "That which is compressed, cannot get fat!" Get your corsets on ladies!

 

We would like to wish all our readers and supporters a

 

Merry Christmas

and

a Happy New Year

 

and from the models ....

 

 

We have some great plans for the 2014 calendar!