Ivy Leaf's Diary
Wishing all our Readers a Happy New Year
Here we go again in our 21st year.
What better way to start than with beautifully crafted Spirella foundation garments. The material is Spirella's 'orchid', a popular nylon satin.
On the left in white, Eileen is seriously confined by a Spirella 325 corset (the front- and back-lacer). Not that common, it was still being manufactured for a discerning clientele well into the 1980s and even when Spencer took control of Spirella in Britain, it soldiered as as Spencer's 'posture corset' with the optional back-lacing. At 5 foot 4 inches, with the corset 22 inches long in the back, it covers her long-line bra completely but what a well-controlled and supported (not to mention stunning) figure is the result. In the right-hand group, Eileen has opted for a slightly shorter 305 corset, by far the most popular variant; her friend Marjorie on the right wears a similar combination of garments (we met Marjorie at the end of last year). The oldest lady here, Madeleine, elects to wear a girdle.
Reiterating a few points from last year:
We are still missing:
vols. 1 - 4; 64, 66, 71and 72 plus any others that were published after February 2008. Please can you help to fill in the gaps.
We will start to sell off some of the collection this year and have already listed on Ebay the pretty 1970s colourful underwear from Marks and Spencer that was so well modelled by Victoria.
More costumes and foundation garments will be loaded onto Ebay in the coming days.
16th January 2023:
RIP Luigia 'Gina' Lollobrigida (1927 - 2023)
Sad it is to relate the passing of another 1950s - 60s icon, Gina Lollobrigida, known to her fans as
La Lollo and
An accidental actress, she flourished in later years as a photo journalist and politician.
Brainy indeed, she also possessed a stunning figure that appeared in various corsets over the years, a garment she hardly required.
A set of Spencer and Strodex measuring garments have been loaded onto Ebay. We are in the process of thinning out the collection and over the coming weeks you will find some corsets and girdles that may appeal to you. As always, we are open to any offers for elements of the collection.
The Ivy Leaf Collection comprises the following:
The web-site of 600Mb and 30,000 files.
The Ivy Leaf data base of nearly 50Gb and 45,000 files.
library of 100s of magazines, books and brochures including the
Spirella house magazine from 1958 - 1971. (Partly donated
to an arts university in England and partly sold).
of brassieres, corselettes, panty-girdles, girdles, corsets,
and fitting garments. (Recently
sold on Ebay).
uniforms and accessories that were used in the making
of the calendars. (Recently sold on Ebay).
On a lighter note (pun intended), my husband informs me that in Southern England where we live, the sunrise is 30 minutes later than the darkest morning and sunset is one hour and 10 minutes later than the darkest evening. Winter is on the wane we hope.
We must apologise for a dearth of recent updates to the site. We spent some time in the Netherlands seeing my ageing relatives and friends whilst dealing with the potential sale of the collection. At the same time, we are considering updating our last book and expanding it from 250 pages to over 500 pages - no mean task this! During our researches for the book, we found a web-page that we had not properly linked to the rest of the site concerning Spirella's history. This has now been remedied.
Spirella's History as derived from the British Phone Directories
We also came upon a number of interesting pictures:
Is that a very large corset or a rather small lady?
Looking at a rough set of statistics, in the UK, the average waist size for today's woman is 35 inches and in the USA over 38 inches. In the 1960s, women had an average waist size in the mid 20s.
We are gathering more detail on this subject, but isn't it ironic that yesterday's women who didn't need a girdle would wear one, whereas today's woman who certainly does, doesn't.
The comment above elicited a memory from an American gentleman:
"Mum never weighed more than 7 1/2 stone (if my mental arithmetic still functions, about 47 kg) and wore a girdle her entire adult life - indeed, I would, in later years, take her to the last of the old-style foundation wear shops in the area and discreetly had them send me the bill. They closed down about a year after she passed on, and I’ve often wondered if she was keeping them in business! By that time, it was becoming difficult to find more “traditional” foundation garments and stockings - she never made the change to tights, just didn’t like them".
Tonight, the clocks 'Spring' forward one hour and the evenings are instantly one hour lighter and not before time. It has been one of the coldest winters in the last decade with far too many mornings at -8C (18F).
The Ivy Leaf Collection of garments is scheduled to be donated to research and shared between two English universities. It will be the end of an era for us, but the beginning of an era for some lucky research students.
I have emphasised to the universities involved that if you wish to understand foundation garments, you have to wear them.
Meanwhile, we came upon a curious photograph
The girls do not look happy in their rather elegant foundation garments. Are they models that are simply tired after along day on the catwalk or were the crab sandwiches at lunch slightly off?
6th May 2023
Waists just aren't what they used to be. Whilst most of the guests at the coronation were immaculately attired, some were definitely not.
There were several women and one man in particular who could not have looked in the mirror or perhaps their partners were just amazingly inattentive.
One lady raised 'panty lines' to a new and unwanted visibility. She should pay attention to the two Queens above or perhaps more practically to the garments below.
It is said, and all bridegrooms should beware, that "girls will ultimately turn into their mothers". This phrase came to mind as we sorted through the collection whilst constructing an inventory prior to disposal.
Above we see a pristine Young Smoothie 1068 (the darling of Lyn Locke) but in this case, the mother's girdle in a rather large 38-inch waist. Alongside are her daughter's standard wear, either a Liberty size 24 with boned waist and (something I have never seen before) boned legs, or, if you had the money a Spirelette 104, little more than a pair of elastic underpants. Quite a sobering thought for the potential young husband!
Whilst on the subject of little and large, let us consider the evolution of the humble suspender belt into a fully-fledged foundation garment.
From an unboned piece of waist elastic designed to hold up one's stocking, the garment develops bones (to prevent the dreaded roll-over), longer bones, stronger elastic, firmer material and finally, the garment morphs into a well-boned, figure-shaping girdle.
"And that ladies is how we do that!"
Firstly, a few apologies. The Contents page has stuck firmly on April when in fact it was May and the site was not updated for a while when we had trouble communicating with our server. Why did they change platforms without telling us? Perhaps they did but we may have interpreted the baffling geek-speak as spam. It's a bit like my husband's encounter with our local accountant when he got stuck filling in his tax returns. He told the accountant "I'm sorry but I don't speak Dickensian. What does this mean?" My husband is a Cambridge graduate but in physics, not in ancient English.
Meanwhile, back to the early 1960s with an excerpt from our magnum opus.
Here, we guide you through the five essential ages of woman:
Miss: Victoria (18) wears a light M&S panty-girdle. She is setting out into adult life; perhaps she has a good job such as an airline stewardess where her girdle will be de rigueur.
Matrimony: Moira (28) wears the sturdy Spirelette 105 panty-girdle to ensure a good figure, at least on her wedding day. Satin, satin and more satin is the order of the day with the older women trussed into their progressively formidable foundations.
Marriage: Marjorie (50) wears what hundreds of her peers will wear, the M&S girdle to restore her post-natal figure. She may now have returned to work and a firm girdle will be part of her smart office outfit. In America, she might still favour a panty-girdle, but in 1963 Britain, the girdle reigned supreme,
Matron: Madeleine (72) wears a Spirella 305 corset, the most popular of their made-to-measure line. It gives her a good figure and supports her aching back. It also acts as a firm anchor for those hated surgical stockings.
Mutton: This is a bit unfair on Doreen (85) as she supports her abdomen that has at last given up the struggle against gravity in a Spencer abdominal corset. But many of her peers will go to extraordinary lengths to conceal the advancing years and we deal with this is quite some detail in our forthcoming book.
Last month, half the collection was delivered to an Arts University and next Monday, the other half will be delivered to a similar institution. Fortunately, the universities share donations and work together on projects. The second university lies 250 miles away, more than a day trip there-and-back at our age so we'll take the opportunity to spend a few nights away and break up the journey on the way back. The volume of material means that the rear seats will have to be taken out of the car (it is one of the clever features of this model). My husband has instructed me to pack light "Other than 150 corsets?" I joked.
The Ivy Leaf Collection is no more! All the literature and garments except for half a dozen favourites now reside at two Arts Universities in England.
It is the end of an era that started nearly 60 years ago. The persona of Ivy Leaf was born on 14th August 2002 and in two months, she will become 21 years old and retire.
Please could any of our readers identify the make of this panty-girdle?
What a rapid and brilliant response from one of our readers (below).
The girdle pictured is a famous JC Pennys model that was popular all the way from the early 1960s to the late 1980s in the JC Penny Catalog. While I'm told it was available in at least some of the larger stores it was a staple item in the mail-order catalog. At first it was a formidable girdle that did a good job. There was even an Open-Bottom version at least until about 1975 or thereabouts. From 1970 it became gradually less firm and copies made in the 1990s were completely ineffective. More recently Courtland has produced a version that is fairly effective but as far as comparing it to the 1960s JC Pennys version it is not in the same league. Rago now owns Courtland but runs it as a separate company.
My oldest picture of it is from the Fall-Winter 1963 J C Penny Catalog and in later catalogs, JC Penny did promote it as "Our most controlling zipper panty".
Another well informed reply
That girdle was manufactured by Cortland Intimates and was known as the Cortland 5033. As a reader already mentioned, Cortland Intimates was purchased by Rago Shapewear. Unfortunately, the Cortland 5033 was discontinued in the past month or two by Rago. I made a direct inquiry to Rago and they confirmed this. The person I corresponded with recommended the Rago 6210 as an alternative. The 5033 is still is available from various sellers but is in decreasing availability.
What an amazing response to a simple question! Now we have a photograph of a reader's wife wearing the panty-girdle.
As Ivy approaches her 21st birthday (only a month away), we are going to show some happy scenes from the making of the calendars.
Marjorie appeared in more calendars than any other model and if there has to be an 'Ivy Leaf' persona, then Marjorie fits the bill.
She appears as the corsetiere on our contents page but on that occasion, she was actually wearing a St. Michael satin-elastic girdle, something that no Spirella corsetiere should ever do on business.
The right-hand picture shows Marjorie in the same corset but in 2011. It has four rigid spinal steels and is a formidably heavy garment.
How much did corsets weigh? We put it to the test using two fairly substantial Spirella 325s from both sides of the Atlantic and dating between 1960 to 2000.
Victoria's Spirella 325 corset from Britain weighs 500 gr (just over a pound) but the Canadian corset from 1970 weighs an X-ray challenging 800 gm (nearly two pounds.) In fairness, the Canadian garment carries four substantial back support 'steels' (made of Aluminium). Both Marjorie in 2015 and Moira in 2022 have worn the corset and despite its bulk, they loved the support. Moira suffers with her back and enjoyed wearing it. Sitting down was, however, another matter requiring a very upright posture. There's no slouching in this corset!
Victoria and Moira with the same problem. The dress is too small and the corset is as tight as it will go - what to do?
Ten years ago. Lots of lacing and buckles as the ladies prepare for the 2013 calendar.
Eileen was a fan of the very long Spirella 325 front and back-lacing corset. She wore it in 2009 and loved the effect on her waist even if descending the stairs and sitting down for lunch was a bit of a struggle.
In 2011, she wore it again and gazed out of the window looking for Mr. Right, who, incidentally, she found a few years later although sans corset.
We had such fun making all the calendars that raised over £6,000 for charity even if the 2011, 2021 and 2022 calendars never made it to production.
Victoria discovers that Cathie Jung's corset will not fit around her waist! Relaxing with her phone after all that effort and now ready to take on the world and find that satin skirt that will complete her outfit.
Ivy Leaf turned 21 on 14th August 2023. She will remain forever 21.
At this point, the web-site reached its fullest size complete with some hidden areas.