Wednesday 27 December 2017

My grandmothers wore

"corsets". They were monstrous flesh coloured items that wrapped around their bodies with boning, lacing and hooks. 
My maternal grandmother wore one in an attempt to look  slimmer than she actually was. Nothing would have made her appear "thin" but she still attempted to look firm. Her corsets were enormous. She had them made to fit by a store in the city. There was a department in each department store devoted to the "fitting" of corsets - along with other items of women's underwear and sleep wear. I imagine they were, relatively, expensive. Certainly my mother and both my aunts by marriage never wore such things.
My paternal grandmother refused to wear one for many years. She certainly didn't need it. She was the opposite in physique, almost tiny. The Senior Cat says she was never "fat". Eventually, in her 80's she wore one at the suggestion of a specialist because her spine was gradually twisting and slowly crumbling. She found some comfort in the support it offered her but also found it awkward and uncomfortable.
I have been reminded of these corsets recently because I have been doing a little research for a proposed Victorian era project - an era when corsets were much worn. They must have been intensely uncomfortable to wear. Goodness' only knows what they did to the internal organs of the women who wore them. They were stiffened with "baleen" also known as "whalebone" and designed to make the waist look unnaturally small compared with the hips and the bust.
There are modern "corsets" of course - both medical and fashionable. I hope the medical corsets provide relief to wearers rather than further discomfort. The fashionable corsets look anything but comfortable although people apparently wear them.  (Yes, men wore corsets too.)
No, I do not plan on trying to make one. I will instead continue to hunt for the patterns for pence bags, miser  bags, reticules, shrugs, shawls, bonnets, caps, vests and more. All those things can be knitted, crocheted, beaded, embroidered and more. I need to know more than I presently do about these things but they interest me. Corsets? I think I would prefer to leave a detailed knowledge of those things to other people.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I have a book about fashion duing the first world war - apparently there were specially designed corsets for the young women working in the munitions factories - not too tight, but giving support to their backs for the long hard days.
The late Queen Mum was brought up to sit on a chair without letting her back touch the back of the chair. Corsts must have helped there. What it took to be lady!

catdownunder said...

That's fascinating Jean - and the late Queen Mother certainly had good posture!

Jodiebodie said...

I have a miser purse pattern somewhere...shall I look it up?

catdownunder said...

Start thinking Jodie! I'll keep you in the loop with the progress of the idea.

helen devries said...

My maternal grandmother wore corsets all her life...though she was tiny. I gather she wore them when nursing pre and during World War I....

When at school we were taught to sit upright...backs not touching the backs of the chair...soon abandoned that notion once free!