End Of An Era
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Corsets and Crinolines - unique vintage clothing

Tidbits : End Of An Era


A glimpse of corset styles taken from ads in the October and November 1919 issues of Woman Magazine. During the 1920's, corsets would start to shorten, have less boning and generally become less restrictive as a reaction against how early corsetry had been.
The corsets shown in these vintage ads show the last remnants of Edwardian corsetry which would disappear forever during the advent of the Roaring 20's.

An interesting advertisement targetting the plus size market. The corset itself is a typical longline corset which was in style for all of the 1910's with a short busk (typically about 8"- 10"), low bust (necessitating the use of a bust bodice for those with an ample bosom) and extending well done past the hips.
While the corset would have made the figure smaller in the body, the age old problem of the excess flesh protruding at the bottom of the corset would be solved with the addition of the "Grip Reducing" panel at the front. These corsets usually had fan lacing on the lower back of the corset which then reached around to the front on both sides. The ends of the fan lacing on this particular corset seem to end with two buckles on the end which in turn, buckle onto the front reducing panel. The front panel would have most likely been made out of the same material of the corset and boned with vertically placed bones. Although this corset was marketed towards the fuller figure, it would have also been worn by women after pregnancy to try and get back your former shape.
The fabric the corset was made out of is not noted but was most likely coutil and was available in black which is very unusual of corsets of this date. It was available in standard sizes up to 30" with larger sizes available at an extra cost.

Creating a healthier corset had been a problem since the Victorian era. Many styles of "health corsets" were created by various companies all purporting to be more beneficial to the wearer's health than regular fully boned figure constricting corsetry. Corsets had been accused over the centuries of causing every ailment to woman from cancer, consumption and gout to hysteria!
The corset in this ad has a fashionable longline shape which was in vogue for all of the 1910's but with the added benefit of having a high bust with shoulder straps for bust and back support, eliminating the need for a separate boned bust bodice. There is no boning but interestingly, there is a 9" front busk which would have still provided some rigidity and support to the figure. "Boning" most likely consisted of vertical flat strips of self fabric or cording. The cotton drill fabric this corset is made out of would have made this a long lasting and strong corset as well. It was in production until the end of the 1920s.
The elastic side lacing would have made this corset comfortable to wear and it was recommended for sporting use or for housewives who needed to move about yet needed support for their backs.

An interesting ad showing a rarely seen maternity corset. Although in an age before birth control where women were pregnant for most of their child bearing lives, maternity clothing and especially underwear, was rarely advertised. The drawing of the mother to be, shows her in fashionable envelope combinations with ribbon shoulder straps, high heel slippers and a flowing dressing gown, a far cry from the dowdy clothes most pregnant woman had to wear. Her corset looks to be made from spotted broche and had a fashionable low bust with lace and ribbon trim but still comes down low over the hips.
There is a short front bust pictured on the corset and would have had hook and eye closures below the busk to fasten the bottom of the corset "skirt".
A large, wide panel is seen on the bottom half of the corset on each side of the busk and bottom opening of the corset, this would have been most likely elastic and would have allowed for the "bump" to grow and provide support for the mother. The side lacing would also allow for the corset to be adjusted for size as the mother grew bigger.

An advertisement showing a shorter styled corset than what had been worn for the previous 9 years. This corset ends just above waist level and shows the wearer having a lower and flatter bustline than what is shown in the second advertisement for The Natural Ease Corset. It still comes well down past the hips but the shape is foreshadowing the boyish silhouette of the 1920's. Traditional features such as the front busk and full boning are present on it but the action of this corset seems less to reduce the waist than to minimize the hips to create a straighter boy shape.
This ad was found in the November 1919 issue of Women Magazine and the effects of the war rationing was still felt by the clothing and corsetry manufacturers. JB corsets make it a point to stress that although they did have to raise their prices because of the war, that their quality as seen in pre war Edwardian era corsets, did not suffer.

A longline corset with a medium high bustline for support and coming well down over the hips for a fashionable shape. Despite the corset giving the body the long lithe shape so popular during the 1910's, The Beautifit Corset was quick to point out the your health did not have to suffer in order to be fashionable. With all the hardships and work endured by women during the war, constricting corsetry was no longer acceptable so women began to demand corsets that were comfortable and would not damage their health yet still give a fashionable figure. The ad comforts the reader by stating that "It gives a beautiful lissom (sic) figure without impairing the health...".
The two lines lacing on each side of the busk would have allowed the wearer to adjust the corset easily and because of the range of adjustment the double lacing gave, it would have suited a range of figures and was recommended for nursing mothers. A remnant of wartime rationing still remains a year later in this advertisement stating that there are no "superfluous frills" and that "you pay for quality materials only".

Children's corsetry was still going strong in the late 1910's, despite wartime hardships as shown in this Chilprufe ad from 1919. The ad shows a little girl and a toddler child both wearing stayband corsets. Staybands wee worn by children up to the age of 5/6 by children since the Victorian era and were a remnant from the practice of binding. Although Victorian staybands tended to be made from strong coutil, hessian or other corsetry weight fabric and heavily boned, 1910's staybands were often made out of
With a high infant mortality rate during this era from cold, damp housing and disease caused by living conditions, Chilprufe offered security to parents by advertising their underwear as a protection against cold weather. Pure wool was also considered a healthy fabric to wear to guard against illness so many children were made to wear Chilprufe garments (including Gary's grandmother) to protect their health.
Again, despite the war ending exactly a year before this ad was published, Chilprufe garments were still in short supply due to rationing.

Even doll's underwear and corsetry was not forgotten as seen in this ad from November 1919 advertising Christmas toys. Along with Dolly's Victorian styled chemise (this style of chemise would have been considered old fashioned by 1919) and turn of the century style pantaloons (knickers), a pattern for a pair of stays was featured. Dolls corsets were sometimes made by mothers for their little girl's out of fabric from an old corset or from scraps of material.
This corset pattern made a pair of stays with button back fastenings, ribbon shoulder straps and buttons at the front for attaching a petticoat and pantaloons onto. Many of the antique doll corsets which remain today, would have been made from similar patterns available by mail order from similar women's fashion magazines.
A little girl dressing her dolly in all her underwear, corset and clothing, would have gotten used to the idea that one day she would have to wear all these layers too!

Despite 4 years of war and hardships, corset manufacturers tried so hard to retain the elegance and quality of pre war corsetry and advertising, however, war had changed women's attitudes and fashion began to move fast. Corset manufacturers would soon have to change they way they styled and marketed their items as a new generation of women with new ideals and ideas would soon arise.

All photos are from the collection of L. Hidic