Ivy Leaf's Diary




We wish all our Readers a Happy New Year



January 2018


As soon as the printers go back to work, we will submit the 2018 calendar for printing. We will hold the cost at £10 plus post & packing this year since there were no other associated production costs. Already we have three of our regular models and two newcomers keen to participate in the 2019 calendar, but more news of that will come later in the year.

How are the Mighty Fallen...


We do not often quote from the Second Book of Samuel, however, auction pictures of a Namsie girdle caught our attention (right). This limp, flaccid apology for a girdle was really nothing more than a support for one's stockings. I well remember the industrial strength, classic Namsies of the 1960s (left). The modern version has a plain elastic back and quite a pretty, but token nylon panel at the front. In the old days, the zipper was made of metal, the elastic of heavy-duty woven rubber and it had enough bones in it to stand up for itself. 'Fully Guaranteed' indeed (below).




Meanwhile on the subject of industrial matters, what it is about the advertising industry and building sites that they find so appropriate to market foundation garments? The cartoonist, Maidenform and Gossard all had this peculiar association between girders and girdles.






The 2018 Calendar is ready


The printers excelled themselves and turned the calendar around in 24 hours.

It will cost £10 + £2 post & packing = £12.00 to the UK; Euros 11.5 + 5 = Euros 16.50 to Europe and US$ 13 + 8 = US$ 21.00 to the USA and Australia. We have a list of interested parties and have sent out Paypal invoices. I should add that the faces that are blurred in the previews (right) will be in full focus on the calendar.



We would like to thank those of you who have bought the 2018 calendar. The response has been excellent and we covered our production costs within 48 hours of receiving the calendars from the printers. Well done; any profit now accrued will be donated to charity.

Today I will be meeting with the group of friends that are enthusiastic about making another calendar. In order to get it printed well before the end of the year, we will probably have the photo shoot in the summer. This has the advantages of warmth and copious natural lighting. Whilst the ladies love dressing up and trying on the vintage foundation garments, the fastenings and suspenders (garters in the US) always take them by surprise. My husband is often frustrated at the delay between photo sessions and sometimes equally embarrassed to be called in to help one of the models to close a hook-and-eye. Another moan that they have is "Why, oh why, did they put in back suspenders that you have to sit on?"

The 2018 calendar has sold out!

Thanks for your excellent support and let's look forward to the 2019 edition which will feature the classic house location, some familiar models and some new recruits.


Meanwhile, we are always delighted to discover new facts about an aspect of corsetry that we thought we knew so well. We came across an advertisement for St. Michael brand girdles marketed by Marks & Spencer from 1932. This is two decades earlier than I had supposed.



March 2018


We attended a local lecture last week regarding that famous author, Jane Austen. Sitting in front of us was an acquaintance, a well-built but wealthy and habitually, a very well-dressed lady. After the interval, during which most of us had repaired to the bar for a glass of wine, our friend sat down in front of us and revealed no less than six inches of her back-side from the waistband of her trousers, that had dropped to seat level, to the hem of her jacket. (This is known colloquially as 'Builder's Bum' or 'A Dagenham Smile'). Modern trousers are often cut short in the waist and our friend had presumably purchased trousers designed for a younger and lighter woman. Both pallid, quivering buttocks were clearly visible and quite disturbed my husband's concentration as he attempted to look anywhere except at our friend's behind. There was not a sign of underwear, let alone the powerful elastic that might be expected of such a woman. Your foundations should shape your body and your clothes should fit that shape.


How often have we commented on the excesses and hyperbole of the advertisers and marketing departments? We came across a 1960s TV advert for the famous Playtex 18-hour high-waist panty-girdle. The scene entitled 'the beautiful waist' shows the same lady clad in three historical costumes grimacing and moaning as she descends the stairs. She even holds a hand to her waist to accentuate how much she suffers in the uncompromising underwear of those periods.




Then, in modern attire she descends like a feather with a ravishing smile on her face because she is wearing an 18-hour girdle. What is blatantly apparent is that her waist is the same size in all the poses despite the story line that she is encased in whalebone, rigid stays or one of Dior's waist whittling 1940s girdles. What is the message that they wish to convey? Is it that the old-fashioned underwear didn't pull in the waist? It certainly did. Is it that they could not be bothered to source the correct period underwear? I suspect so. She must have been wearing the 18-hour girdle for all the poses if she even wore a girdle at all. I bet she did for we all wore girdles then.


It is very sad to relate the passing of Lys Assia, (1924 - 24th March 2018). Born Rosa Mina Schärer, she was the first winner of the Eurovison Song Contest in 1956 when the competition was a million miles from the political minefield to which it has degenerated.

This is a naturally beautiful woman who had the figure to emphasise the sculpted waist of that period. Was that figure the product of foundation garments or nature. In 1956, it would probably have been a combination of both.




April 2018


For fans of 1960s fashion, there is a super YouTube clip that was recommended to us. It shows some lovely fashions as well as the construction process of a girdle.


Many years ago, we asked our readers if anybody had information on the demise of Wilbro, that famous specialist corset manufacturer. Today, we received a copy of a letter from Dr. Yvonne Cawcutt, the last owner of Wilbro, to a client in 1992. How sad that such amazing bespoke corsetry houses faded away. Sad, but not surprising as the rot started in the mid-1960s. It is amazing that most of the bespoke brands struggled on for another three decades.


Does anybody remember a corsetière called Dorothy Stokes who operated from her salon in Birmingham in the 1980s?


Our lack of updates recently is simply a consequence of our time of life. My husband and I are retired and, while we still can, we enjoy travelling, especially during the school term time. It was with a pleasant surprise that on our return home, we found on the doormat a small brochure from that long-lived mail order company, Ambrose Wilson. Sadly, the pages dedicated to serious lower foundation garments have vanished, however, on the back page was full page advert for the Triumph Doreen brassiere; a garment almost as long-lived as Ambrose Wilson itself:

"The world's bestselling non-wired bra".

I fully agree.


The article above prompted one reader to send us some scans of a 1939 J.D. Williams catalogue. J.D. Williams marketed many products under the name 'Ambrose Wilson', but where does this name come from? Whilst researching this, my husband came across the address of the registered company at 53, Dale Street, Manchester, UK. The edifice used to be known as Ambron House, but trawling through Google maps we could find no evidence of this name. Oddly enough, the rather run-down area (faded splendour might be kinder) that Dale Street has become was the set for one of the scenes of 'Captain America' (2011) portraying 1940s Manhatten.


The film scene (insert) and the street are one and the same. The building on the right of the street beyond Fred W. Millington Ltd. (57, Dale Street) is presumably number 53, the old Ambron House. Like their lower foundations, things are not what they used to be.





May 2018


We have discussed within these pages the topic of 'At what age did girls start to wear girdles?' We received a most interesting article from the pages of the Corset, Bra and Lingerie Magazine of 1967 from the Teenform company. Their thrust seemed to be to exploit an opportunity in the market to get pre-teens to wear foundation garments that surely they did not need. The idea was to get girls into foundation garments early so that they would be easy marketing targets later on.


Another reader alerted us to a Spirella calendar from 1938. This poignant reminder of pre-war Britain had the corsetiere's name and address stamped on the back; she may well have circulated these to gain business. With the power of Google map and pegman, one can visit these locations and sadly, but not surprisingly, the establishment is now a British Red Cross charity shop, just one of many charity shops in what once was a busy shopping street. The lady would have lived in a maisonette above the shop. The only connection with corsetry is that from time to time, old foundation garments find their way into these establishments.


We have received several communications regarding modern 'shapewear', in particular, the heavy-duty, long-leg, zippered, what would have been called panty-girdles in the good old days. It seems that sizing is a problem if bought on-line. The main complaint is that the garment might fit one's thighs, but getting the waist closed is a real struggle. We found a promotional video for just such a garment marketed in Latin America and it takes the customer and the sales girl their combined efforts to 'stuff' (an inelegant word but very apt) her abdomen into the elastic confines of the garment. The end result however is very pleasing but are we not reverting the days when a lady required a maid to get dressed?


We described in last year's diary, how we met a re-enactor / costumier at a local fair. Realising that she lives locally, we met her again recently over lunch where we discovered the depth of her knowledge of materials and foundation garments. She was charming, knowledgeable and, most importantly, very keen to join in our next calendar that will be the grand finale. Our new friend is also an excellent amateur actress and we feel that she will bring a whole range of expressions to our next efforts. An excellent seamstress, she makes her own costumes and corsets as well. She described how her mother had worn a girdle until the late 1960s whereas her granny was never to be seen without a decent lower foundation garment. Both women were slim but we all wore girdles then. We showed our budding model some of the Jenyns corsets that we have used for the calendar. She correctly dated both corsets with ease, the first of which was a present from Pat and Ken Jenyns when they visited us in 2010. They kindly gave us three 1912 corsets unopened in their wrappings. We have only ever opened one that has been worn briefly by our model Victoria in 2014 and by Cathie Jung in 2016 (right - note that corset is loose on Cathie and rather tight on Victoria. It has a 19-inch waist).

Amazingly, this morning we received an email from Pat Jenyns reminding us of their visit in 2010 (was it really eight years ago?). Pat Jenyns has recently published a book about her (Great?-)grandmother Sarah Ann Jenyns (left). I ordered a copy straight away. Sarah Ann travelled to Britain from Australia in the early 20th century to register the patent on the corset that she had designed; women were really tough in those days. The patent rights were granted to Symingtons of Leicestershire so that they could manufacture Jenyns corsets in England and the corset featured here is one of those.


The copy of Pat Jenyns book has now arrived and we look forward with pleasure to read about the amazing Sarah Ann.


Meanwhile, whilst sorting through some rarely visited areas of our archives, we came across some pictures from CAMP catalogues of the 1930s and 1940s. The standard corset modelling pose at that time was in front of a mirror so that one could see the front and rear of the corset in the same picture. Sometimes (and Spencer used this frequently) there would be a bowl of roses present. Was this to indicate style and femininity or to disguise the rubbery odour of the pre-lycra elastic? CAMP alone has the model holding a dog up high. The message seems to be "I can now lift objects (like the cute little doggie) thanks to the support of my CAMP corsets." Presumably with another few tugs on those powerful straps she could have hoisted a Great Dane. It reminds me very much of that classic line from Tom Sharpe's hilarious novel, 'Porterhouse Blue' (1974). "Lady Mary adjusted the straps of her surgical corset with a vigour that reminded [her husband] of a [horse] race meeting." Mr. Sharpe knew a thing or two about corsets. In his novel 'Indecent Exposure' (1973), he writes "The Colonel hauled the bush out of the ground, a feat which had it not been for his wife's corsets would certainly have ruptured him". Should you wish to know why the Colonel was wearing his wife's corsets, I recommend that you read the book.





RIP  Madame Medeq


It is always a pleasure to hear from Bob and Cathie Jung who phoned us yesterday, however, this time they told us of the very sad news that Madame Medeq (Diana) had passed away on 22nd March this year. For a while she had been living in a care home and Bob and Cathie visited her in November 2016. Even then, she was a shadow of her former self and we count ourselves so lucky that we managed to visit her in 2011 when she was still bright and full of life.



June 2018


Desbeau Corsetry


Two years ago we talked about the COOPERATIVE  WHOLESALE  SOCIETY  LIMITED  CORSET  FACTORY in Desborough, UK. The cooperative society in Desborough was formed in 1863 to counter exploitation of workers by agents and employers. One of the enterprises founded was the corset factory that still stands to this day and still produces lingerie for the Wacoal Group. We received an email from a gentleman containing a link to how they made corsets at Desborough in those days, for Northamptonshire and Leicestershire had been the hubs of spinning and weaving since the 17th century. Their corsets were marketed as 'Desbeau', an attempt to attach a suggestively French quality label to a corset that was designed for the cheaper (albeit good quality) end of the market. In the same way that Desborough can be turned to Desbeau, so Medical Equipment can be contracted to Medeq as in the late Madame Medeq mentioned above. It's all in the name. The gentleman's aunt worked in a co-op corset shop and wore their products as many of her peers would have done. We have shown a few clips from the video entitled 'A Matter of Form' below:



Firstly, there's the mandatory corset-lacing scene from the 'bad old days', then the workers trooping to the factory, the corset inspector and finally the co-op corset shop window display.


The sheer volume of corsets made pre-war and girdles post-war takes many by surprise. It was another world well over half a century ago and these factories were state of the art. The health of workers was a major concern, not just at work but in a far more general sense. The factory had playing fields and an active social club (much like Spirella in Letchworth). Sadly, those playing fields have been turned into a modern housing estate quaintly called 'Desbeau Park' as a nod to the past.




We have added a few photographs of Madame Medeq's corsets.


It is always gratifying and humbling in equal measure to learn that what one thought was one's comprehensive knowledge is incomplete. We found quite recently, a page from a Marks & Spencer publication of the 1960s that we have placed here. Here is a transcription of a text passage:

WHEN YOUR MIRROR tells you that you should really chose a firmer foundation that will really control, it’s time to buy a St. Michael highline zip girdle. Made in satin  elastic or nylon and  elastic net,  they give the s-m-o-o-t-h-e-s-t hip and waistline you’ve  ever  had  and  cost  only  39s 11d. for sizes 26” -32” waist.  Also available luxury&nbbsp; version  at  49s. 11d.  for  even firmer control.

No wonder our search for a satin elastic girdle to fit a 34-inch waist has been in vain. This explains why in the 2012 and 2013 calendars, the stouter lady, Madeleine, wears the nylon and elastic girdle whereas the three slimmer women can fit into the satin elastic. The last time Madeleine tried on this girdle in 2015, my husband was called in (at her request) to help fasten the hooks and eyes before pulling up the zipper.


I believe that the second girdle from the left is the 'luxury version'.


I might add that Madeleine and Marjorie (far left) are both keen to pose for another calendar.



July 2018


Nine years ago we wrote the following that is equally pertinent today as we bask in a similar heat-wave with no remission in sight:

"England is a curious country. For two years the population has moaned about the dire summers. This year, we've had no rain and temperatures over 30o C (that is 86o F for the Imperialists amongst you). Still not satisfied, the population bemoans the heat and discomfort at night. I must admit, the orchid material (Spirella's popular artificial satin) from which my corsets are made is a little heavy for such temperatures, however, experience tells me that we'll soon be back to cardies and tweeds before long! I do have a few old Spencers constructed from light-weight Aertex material that would be cooler, but regard the picture on the right. The fitter shows the light-weight corset to the client who I'm sure will, as the advertisement claims, lose every bulge. The problem is the transparency of the material compared to the bone casings. I have a morbid dread of my corsets being seen through my clothes and I suspect that however cool and effective that Spencer corset might be, its presence will be detected through a thin dress. Also I just hate the material, so I'll suffer through the hot spell."


We have added a new section called 'Transparent Corsets' to the web-site (currently under construction). I am not talking about some flimsy scrap of titillating diaphanous lingerie here, I mean a real corset. Hot summers are rare in Britain and so the 'transparent corset' was much more a feature of American Spencer and Spirella where the 'Miami Matron' could achieve her shape confined within a girdle of well-boned Aertex. Personally, I have no desire to see a panorama of compressed cellulite reflected in my dressing room mirror.


We have started work on the 2019 calendar. Our first model came for a fitting session and it was as hilarious as always. In this case, the lady remembered her grandmother was a wearer of Jenyns corsets and that her mother-in-law was regularly fitted for her corsets at some up-market establishment in London. We have also procured another photo-shoot location that will be perfect for some outdoors photographs. We hope to conduct the photo-shoot some time in August and get the calendar printed by October.


You could not live in England at the moment without realising that the England football team is doing rather well. Meanwhile, at Wimbledon, the ladies tennis grunts its way to the semi-finals. I have to say that Serena Williams' outfits this year, both at Roland Garros and Wimbledon have certainly attracted my husband's attention. *



In years gone by, the tennis stars of 1960s were quite happy to advertise the Playtex girdle:


SARAH PALFREY COOKE Holder of 40 Nation Tennis Titles says "On the court, in the drawing room, PLAYTEX does wonders for your summer figure. So comfortable and invisible, it gives the illusion of no girdle at all!"


PAULINE BETZ  4-times Nation Woman's Tennis Champion "The only girdle allowing complete freedom of action. You hardly know you have a PLAYTEX on, yet it keeps curves where they belong."


By today's standards, it seems odd to advertise your girdle, but on the other hand, Spanx has made its inventor extremely wealthy using celebrities' endorsements.


Just after the war, Cooke was ranked world number 4 and Betz world number 1. Betz won Wimbledon in 1946.


It might seem strange that such sporting women would wear girdles (and I've said it before), but we all wore girdles then.


St Michael


Marks and Spencer dropped the brand name St. Michael in 2000, 72 years after its inception. Marks and Spencer was struggling to cast off an image of middle-aged, middle-class clothing. As far as I know it still is. We have friends who can be considered as 'alternative'. They are very arty and my husband once remarked to the lady (who is in her early 50s) "I suspect that you never wear and never have worn anything from Marks and Spencer, whereas I only wear clothes from Marks and Spencer." This is true; my husband shops for clothes about once every two years and then with great reluctance in a mad dash that ends up with me having to take back half the purchases that are the wrong size.


In the Marks and Spencer archives are some interesting pages and articles. There is a brief article called 90 Years of M&S Lingerie and a far longer spiel that amazingly fails to mention their classic satin elastic girdles. There is a video as well that, once again, neglects the girdles of the 1960s. Having read and watched these articles we find a number inconsistencies that we have discussed on the Marks page of this web-site.

What's in a Name?

Whilst searching the collection to provide suitable items for our models, we came across a minute panty-girdle from the early 1960s. This garment was labelled for a 24 inch waist so would have been worn either by a very slim woman or, more probably, her daughter. Even so, I imagine some waif with a 24 inch waist would still struggle to don this formidable article. It has six bones, front, back and sides and, incredibly, a bone on the inside of each leg. There are satin panels front, rear and both sides that add an additional nine seams, the last seam being down the centre front under the satin panel. In fact the girdle is double-skinned at the front. When the poor girl would have divested herself of the wretched thing at the end of the day, there would be no less than 15 vertical welts around her torso, two on each thigh plus the embossing of the suspenders, not to mention the tourniquet-like ridges grooved into her flesh at the base of each leg and above the waist. Before you ask, toileting required removal of the garment. No wonder we didn't drink so much in those days. The name of this torture device - LIBERTY! (Mind you they did make some really good girdles).

A girdle for mother rather than daughter.


* When we wrote this piece about Wimbledon, we did not appreciate that Miss Williams actually advertised for Berlei sports bras. Their advertising is spot on and rather amusing. We have spent some time on the Berlei page recently.

Meanwhile in the unusually hot weather that we have been experiencing, two Triumph beauties are close to wilting.





August 2018


A chance find on the internet recently informed us that Spirella operated out of Amsterdam in the Netherlands during the Second World War. I was completely unaware of this and have not seen it in any Spirella literature, but a postcard dated 1943 informed the Spirella clientele that they could get a 25% discount on corset repairs despite the shortage of materials. We have expanded upon this on the relevant pages.


We have mentioned on several pages (Ivy's diary of 2012 and 2015 as well as the Spencer Corsetiere) the fictitious character, Anne Spencer, invented by the company of that name. She appears frequently on their advertising and, like many other corsetry houses, it was felt important to give a name to their 'expert' corsetiere or inventor of the device in question. Anne Spencer (Spencer of course), Miss Brace (Spirella), Dr. Wales (Beasleys) and Dr. Wilbur (Pontings) all dwelt in that imaginary world of the marketing department, however, there really was a famous Anne Spencer.

Anne (Annie) Spencer (1938 - 2012) was the last commandant of the WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) when it disbanded in 1993 and women were absorbed into the Royal Navy. The picture shows Anne Spencer in the uniform of her rank sporting a wide blue stripe, the equivalent of a Commodore or 1-star general rank. Her only female senior, holding the rank of Chief Commandant, was another Anne, Princess Anne. The WRNS officer's uniform was widely regarded (by both men and women) as the most stylish of all the forces uniforms.


A reader kindly sent in some pages from the 'Intimate Apparel' magazine of January 1966 regarding 'Reasons for wearing girdles' (left - click on the thumbnail). Despite the fact that the girdle era would soon end, the 1960s saw millions of girdles sales in the USA alone.

On the right (click on the thumbnail), Spencer in the 1930s comes up with a cunning plan to convince readers of the merits of made-to-measure corsetry. Even identical twins need slightly different foundation garments!



September 2018


How time flies. I thought we had updated the website but a few days ago and it seems that it is nearly a month ago; perhaps it is the onset of old age. The calendar, that should have been photographed last month, has suffered a number of set-backs. These have been the propensity of our models to injure themselves and, to put it diplomatically, there's nothing like 1960s corsetry to remind us that the human race has evolved to be several dress sizes larger over the last 60 years - even accounting for the devaluation of the dress size. We haven't given up hope yet.



Liivia Lingerie


We have had our internet selling site now about 15 years,

but we are planning to quit this business now.

We have still hundreds of "liivi", corsets, corselets, girdles,

girdlettes, garter belts, bras, stockings etc. from the 60s and 70s,

and we could sell all these products together.

A list of products is available for the genuine buyer.

Please contact us for more information.


I think this is the biggest collection in Finland.


Liivia Lingerie





6th September 2018: 

RIP  Elizabeth Joan Winch  (1930 - 2018)



Elizabeth Joan Winch, known to millions of 'Carry On' fans as Liz Fraser, passed away on 6th September. A stalwart of the 'Carry on' and 'Doctor' genre of films, Liz Fraser usually played the dumb blonde, a part in real life that she certainly was not. There are so many pictures of her in her underwear, for that is how so many dumb blondes end up, that it is hard to chose a representative example. She was most active in the 50s, 60s and 70s and caused so many fans to laugh and lust in equal measure.



Of course, Sid James (1913 - 1976) would usually be in attendance.




October 2018



We received a most interesting email from Rachel Bichenor who has a fascinating blog, Speedqueens, relating to women in motor racing. She pointed out an article comprising the views of Émilie Marie Bouchaud (alias Polaire; 1874 - 1939) and Dorothy Elizabeth Levitt, the record breaking motorist (1882 - 1922). Polaire, who had a naturally slight figure (5ft 3ins) 'easily' attained a 16 inch waist and was in favour of the French corset that was far more flexible than the rigid confines of its English counterpart. On the other hand, Levitt, although described as a strikingly attractive women and who liked to dress well within the limitations of her adventurous hobbies, did not approve of corsetry at all.

[Click on the article, The Cult of the Small Waist, to view a large version.]

Dorothy Levitt 


The 1960s was one of those periods in which the social order of things would change forever. Those that study sociology and fashion can relate the firmness of a woman's foundation garments to the state of the nation or so they say. I'll take their word for it, but certainly, a great change did take place during this period. In America, the girdle was all but supplanted by the panty-girdle and even that fell victim to a new 'freedom' that saw the introduction of tights (pantyhose) and the rapid decline of any foundation garment. In Europe, however, being half a decade behind America, the panty-girdle never became fully established before tights rendered any garment to hold up one's stockings redundant. I remember from years ago reading an article where a women claimed to have 'invented' tights by sowing her stockings onto the bottom edge of her knickers. This brings me to a garment that we came across recently (left). This is simply a pair of knickers with suspenders attached; in no way could this be called a foundation garment. Fortunately, proper panty-girdles are having a renaissance originally driven in the early 21st century by women in Latin America and the Far East. The marketing department might call these constructions 'shapers', but to my mind they are good old panty-girdles (right).

Despite this encouraging trend there are still some horrors. I don't care what other women wear, but I appreciate a moulded figure that has no creases, bulges or, Heaven forbid, 'panty lines' or 'knicker lines'. It seems that a well-known brand (amongst others) has turned its attention from male underwear, where the waist band proudly proclaims the maker's name, to female underwear. I regarded a woman sitting in front of me recently who bulged above and below her brassiere, above her knicker's waist band, below the waist band and finally below the bottom edge. She looked almost corrugated. When she leaned forward my husband whispered "Calvin's a funny name for a woman."


A reader very kindly sent us a 1977 Court Royal catalogue, some pages from which we have included in the Court Royal section. We talked above about euphemisms for girdles such as shapers; Court Royal employed the term 'belt' and 'non-roll stiffeners' instead of the unspeakable 'bones'.



We came across this advertisement for 'Lucky Strike' cigarettes. Wow; is that ever politically incorrect these days. Mind you, the corset adverts, particularly for latex or rubber corsets, were hardly any better and aimed squarely at a woman's fear of gaining weight. If you wore rubber corsets and smoked, you might vanish entirely!





November 2018


A recent showing of 'There's a Girl in my Soup' (1970) on television prompted us to add a small section to the 'What Lies Beneath' page.


Mixed Suspenders

Meanwhile, we came across a girdle with mixed suspender styles (left). We have encountered this before on all the satin Jenyns fan-laced corsets in the collection (we have four). At the back of these corsets, the suspenders have the metal-centred knobs whereas the front suspenders are the later, flush so-lo design. Even Ken and Pat Jenyns were at a loss to explain this suggesting that limited new stock and existing old stock might be to blame. This girdle has flush suspenders a the rear but the new-fangled (for the 1960s) flip over style at the front. That this latter style did not last leads one to suspect that, like the flush suspender that was considered less secure that the metal pin design, the flip-over was considered less secure than the flush. Therefore, given a choice of styles, the more secure suspenders should lie at the rear and the less secure at the front where they would be far easier to re-attach.

A reader kindly pointed out that the flip-over style of suspender was marketed as the



Sadly, the 2019 calendar will not take place. Injuries and sourcing corsetry to fit the models has proved a problem as did our prime re-enactress moving to another village although we were offered some stunning locations. Perhaps next year. As a small measure of compensation we have added part of the whimsical October page of our 2016 calendar.

We were very pleased to receive a phone call from Bob and Cathie Jung the other day. They survived the hurricane season but not without some serious flooding and the consequent destruction of the lift motors to their apartment. I hope that has now been resolved.

We have added a picture to the 'Tales' page to illustrate the recollection of a politician's husband who remembers his wife rehearsing her speeches at home at any convenient opportunity, even half undressed for going to bed!


We have added a new page dedicated to the famous 'Promise by Poirette' girdle.



December 2018



RIP  Lyn Locke  (Sept 1950 - July 2018)


It is with immense sadness that we heard Lyn Locke had passed away in July this year.


In the late 20th Century, there appeared a few key web-sites that would re-introduce girdles and corsets to the world. There was Virginian's 'Girdle Zone', Thomas Lierse's 'Long Island Staylace Association' and Lyn Locke's own web-site. They informed many readers that their love of traditional foundation garments was shared by many. These sites certainly inspired my husband and I in 2002 to put together our own web-site and to create the persona of 'Ivy Leaf', a name taken from the Spirella in-house Ivy Leaf Club of corsetières. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Lyn and her partner Mike for their inspiration. Sadly, on 31st August 2010, after having run so many 'Garters & Lace' conventions (1998 - 2006) and edited so many 'Powernet' newsletters, Mike passed away and Lyn fell off the radar as she said she would.


With the help of Bob and Cathie Jung, we were so lucky to communicate with Lyn in April 2016 and we appreciated the warmth and friendliness of this amazing woman. She kindly gave her permission to include a few pictures from the 'Garters and Lace' parties to remind ourselves of a glorious period in the resurrection of the girdle, a garment that she could model better than anybody else.


We have enclosed below our last email correspondence with Lyn after we had sent her one of our calendars and we believe that the warmth of this woman shines through her words.

I look forward to seeing your calendar!  It will be such a highlight of my day to sit down and really enjoy going through it! 
And a special note of gratitude  for the memorial page you made for Michael and Garters & Lace. 

I had not looked at any pictures since Michael left so it was a wonderful reminder of such happy times!
Hugs to you both,


What a beautiful calendar! The ladies were absolutely gorgeous in their girdles and corsets. 

Michael would have enjoyed the satin pictures immensely. I can still see him smiling when a model would turn and walk away with her satin glistening in the light. 

You certainly did an outstanding job with your calendar. 

It certainly was a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Spirella.
Thank you so much for sharing. What beautiful memories.

We hope that Lyn and Michael have been re-united.



Moving onwards from the tragic news above, we have encountered another one of those marvellous devices that the gullible used in the 1960s to massage away that unwanted flesh. Is it a corset? Is it an exercise device? Is it even a torture device?  In fact, it was a patented combination of all three that perhaps even rivalled those amazing 'Trim Jeans' that also failed to have any effect on the wearer. We have linked this remarkable device patented by the Raille Heath Appliance Company with the article on Trim Jeans.



For those of you that did not buy one of our 2018 calendars, here is December 1962 that happens to have the same calendar dates as December 2018.

Victoria, our charming young model asks you "What lies beneath? What am I wearing beneath my gold satin suit?"  Answers please to ivyleaf@corsetiere.net

The spirit of Lyn Locke lives on in the background, for without the inspiration of Lyn and Mike, the Ivy Leaf project might never have started.

Leading up to Christmas we will reveal what Victoria might have been wearing in 1962 and finally as a Christmas present what vintage foundation garments she was actually wearing when this photograph was taken on 19th August 2014.


Thank you for your interesting answers to Victoria's question. Firstly, she was not wearing an open bottom girdle, and each day, we'll reveal what she was not wearing until Christmas.


Good guess, but WRONG

On the left, Victoria wears a Triumph Doreen longline bra and a Coppelia 41 girdle (Spirella's off-the-peg brand). On the right, the bra is the short version of that on the left beneath which is the famous, premium edition, Marks & Spencer satin elastic girdle. The latter girdle was an excellent and considerably cheaper alternative to Spirella's offerings. In 1962, despite not requiring a lower foundation garment, girls of this age might well have been wearing the girdles that their mothers would wear since this was a period before so-called 'liberation' and girls dressed like their mothers. These days, such is the power of youth oriented advertising that mothers now wear what their daughters wear (often to disastrous effect)! However, on this occasion Victoria was wearing something else.



Expensive guess, but WRONG

That's pure made-to-measure Spirella in the expensive black orchid (nylon satin) material. I imagine her mother might have gone to the expense in 1962, but it would be a serious indulgence for her daughter. In those days, many women still found black underwear quite racy and certainly not appropriate for a very attractive daughter. It is the wrong colour anyway to wear with the gold suit and latterly, the black orchid was prone to rip; disastrous!


(Left)  Spirella 234 girdle with Spirella fashion-line bra.

(Right)  Spirella 305 corset (more of which tomorrow) and a Spirella fashion line bra.


Perhaps for her granny. WRONG

It was rare, but a few young women still wore corsets in 1962. We have several documented examples from the Spirella house magazines but usually only for overweight girls going to special functions; bridesmaid at a wedding for example. Victoria is far from overweight although both corsets do fit her well and she enjoyed wearing them. The tea-rose satin from Jenyns, expensive and sumptuous it might well be, however, is granny's colour.


(Left) The classic Spirella 305 corset.

(Right) Jenyns fan-lacer model 3672/10 (supporting & reducing; short average).

This was a shorter version of their 3616/10 that we used in so many calendars.


As a bride, fair enough, but WRONG

This reproduction Victorian corset by Axfords might just be worn for a wedding in the 1960s by a bride who appreciated a tight waist-line, but it would never be worn with formal day wear either by the daughter, the mother or granny although granny might remember wearing something similar in her youth. More likely, for a bride, since the Axfords is quite a heavy corset, would be the wearing of a 'waspie'. After all, only the bust and waist are on show since the hips are covered by the flare of the dress. Spirella, in the 1950s and 60s, actually gave employees who were about to be married, a 'waist nipper' (waspie) as a wedding present. These were the Spirella 102 or Spirelette 1080 in white satin; utterly charming garments.



Too complex even for her mother. WRONG

It is amazing just how much complexity can be engineered into a panty-girdle. The Jenyns on the left is actually a little tight on Victoria as the bulges above the waist-line show. She should have worn a long-line bra. On the right, Camp's formidable panty-girdle, model 'Slim Jim' 91245 proves something of a challenge for our young model. In reality, these garments would be worn by older women determined to keep their shapes and convinced by the saleswomen that buckles and straps was the way to go about it. As in corsets, Jenyns (Australia) and Camp (USA) were also rivals in girdles.


Close, but WRONG



Victoria could well have been wearing a Coppelia 51panty-girdle if her mother had stumped up sufficient funds. Coppelia was Spirella's off-the-peg brand, rather like Spirelette. The names were an attempt to seduce the younger generation into the foundations of their mothers without all that lacing and boning, however, the Coppelia 51, and the Spirelette 105 were formidably strong and could stand up unsupported. Her mother wears a 105 on the right and (as was indeed the case when she modelled the girdle), she didn't really like it. She felt it might just be OK for horse riding.

The bra is, of course, and has been for the last few days, a Triumph Doreen short-line.

WRONG. Fantasy is getting the better of reality

We have received many interesting and knowledgeable suggestions as to what Victoria might be wearing, however, we have also received a number of suggestions regarding what the reader would like to see Victoria wear.


Here Victoria wears a classic 'discipline corset' purchased from Gardners in 1968. It has full-length spiral boning and it was quite impossible for the poor girl to sit down. There are several sections on our web site that deal with long corsets: long conventional corsets and long corsets, like that above, that stray towards the 'fantasy' end of the market.


Victoria could wear this corset under her suit but in reality she never would do so. In 2015, when these pictures were taken, her mother tried on a later Axfords corset of the same style. The boning did not run full length and the mother was just able to sit unlike her daughter.





Victoria has crossed the Atlantic and although firmly embraced by her trusty Triumph Doreen bra, she has elected to wear what her peer group in the USA are all wearing: the Sears panty-girdle, model 28497. "If you ain't wearing a 28497, you ain't nobody!" and millions of American women wore them in the 1960s. When you regard Victoria, you can understand why.


Very good guess and quite probable, but WRONG

Not for the first time, Marks & Spencer (left) goes head-to-head with Spirella in the form of the Spirelette 104. (The desperate attempts by Spirella to get youngsters into girdles resulted in a fictitious Wendy extolling her 'top of the pops' girdle favourites. Oddly enough, the 104 is actually quite a modern feeling device (apart from the suspenders), whereas the 105 is almost bullet-proof (or perhaps boyfriend-proof - above). The brassiere is a very rare bullet bra from the East German Manufacturer VEB Miederwerk Pausa from East Germany.


Perhaps we are just half a decade early here. In 1962, panty-girdles were not that common in Britain and if a young women wanted her stockings to stay up, she needed suspenders that would be attached to a suspender belt (probably) or a open bottom girdle (possibly). Personally, I prefer the M&S version with its neat satin detailing, however, to an 18-year-old in 1962, the Spirelette might have appealed more by virtue of its simplicity.



Thank you for all your suggestions over the days leading up to Christmas. We hope you have enjoyed the show.

For now, we leave you with Victoria in sultry mood. If she was an actress, what part might she be playing?

Femme fatale, Russian spy, Captain of Industry or just somebody's rather attractive and elegant daughter getting ready to attend a wedding.



We wish all our readers and supporters a


Merry Christmas

a Happy New Year





We have to congratulate one of our readers on their excellent powers of observation.

We did make a mistake here. The photograph of Victoria in her underwear (above) was taken at 9:42 am on 19th August 2014. She then donned the suit and posed on the couch at 9:50am (left - wearing the Sears panty-girdle). However, later on during the photoshoot, we thought that the couch pose had more potential and after lunch, and 146 photos later, Victoria squeezed herself into a Custom Maid 'Fit'n Fashion' model 299 panty-girdle and that is indeed the one in the Christmas Day photograph on the settee (right and below). Our eagle-eyed reader spotted the lacy hem that is definitely not present on the Sears. Perhaps we should debate whether a long-line Triumph Doreen might have been a better choice of bra.


We are always grateful for comments and constructive criticism and certainly, we have had many comments and suggestions during the run up to Christmas. Thank you so much.



28th December 2018: 


RIP  Dame June Rosemary Whitfield 

(1925 - 2018)



Sad to relate that yet another icon has passed away in 2018. Dame June Rosemary Whitfield passed away on 28th December. This versatile actress and comedienne had a career spanning over seven decades from radio work in the late 1940s, through four 'Carry On' films, the series 'Terry and June' (1979 - 1987),  to her part in 'Absolutely Fabulous' from 1992 to 'Absolutely Fabulous, the Movie' in 2016. She described her own life, in her autobiography, as


"Full of love, affection and laughter,

of gigs, gags and a couple of gongs".


She could play the part of the outraged middle-class housewife to perfection. (Carry On Abroad - 1972)








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