Fashion #TBT : Remembering the Panty Girdle

There was a time when a woman wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without a girdle.  In fact, it was almost de riguer for a woman to wear some kind of girdle under just about every kind of clothing.  As we can see here, even under a pair of Bermuda shorts while grocery shopping!!Panty Girdle WedgieNow, if you’ll notice, one of the reasons for wearing a panty girdle is to hold up one’s stockings as much as to hold in one’s flabby tummy and lift up one’s sagging derriere.  The trouble is when there’s no stockings to hold the thing in place.  Then, you risked getting an old-fashioned panty girdle wedgie–and probably a rash as well, given that the materials of most panty girdles weren’t all that breathable any more than they were all that comfortable.\r\n\r\nSome of you might be wondering why women would wear panty girdles under Bermuda shorts if they weren’t wearing stockings.  It seems reasonable that if one needed stockings, and one was wearing a dress that required one’s body to be molded into a particular shape to fit the dress (vs. the dress molding to one’s body) then girdle wearing was a necessity.  But to the grocery store?  Isn’t that a bit much? Well, with the revival of structured clothing at the end of World War II–known mostly as the “New Look” created by Christian Dior after the couturier Charles James’ designs–came the revival of ideas about how women’s bodies should be shaped.  The ideas were very similar to those of the 19th Century, when it was “improper” if she were out in public without her corset or other item that strictly controlled her shape.  Given the styles of the 19th century, there was no way a woman could go out without a control garment.\r\n\r\nThe same could be said of women’s dress garments of the 50’s and 60’s.  Casual clothing had come into fashion in the 1930’s, and women were less inclined to wear girdles and such in the 40’s because of the War and rubber rationing (there was no such thing as spandex in those days.)  Once women were forced back into corset-like stretch girdles, it became difficult for many to feel comfortable without them.  Thus you get the woman who feels she can’t leave the house in casual clothes unless she’s controlling her body with a panty girdle.\r\n\r\nOf that seems to be one of the message in the ad.  Along with the message that Perma-Lift makes a better, non-wedgie producing panty girdle.\r\n\r\nBTW, women who didn’t want to wear panty girdles all the time, but didn’t have the money for spas or exercise studios,  were the first to start working out at home.  Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne had one of the most successful, if not the first, exercise TV show for women.  My Mom exercised with him Monday through Friday throughout the 60s.  She hated panty girdles.\r\n\r\nSo while we have the ubiquitous Spanx brand, and other kinds of modern-day panty girdles made of spandex and other miracle control materials, which come with their own binding and rolling issues, at least we can choose not to wear them under Bermuda shorts for a trip to the grocery store.

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  1. Thanks for this, so soon we forget how things were for women not that long ago. Sport girdles and of course there was the Jr. training panty girdle for pre teen girls….what a different attitude today, in the 70s women threw their underwear away, and Madonna said ware your lingerie and show it too….now it’s a mixed bag that is close to plastic surgery in it’s ability to shape and fill. Anyway, loved the article, thanks!

    1. Thanks Sandra! Fashion–and foundations–evolved so fast in the 20th Century! Then, it was like everybody forgot about the real use of foundations (that is, after we started wearing the old stuff as clubwear.) I just look at that old stuff and think “holy moley! No way could I wear that stuff every day!”\n\nAlthough there’s one (of many) interesting thing I learned from customers when I sold lingerie: in Caribbean countries (and probably others) women wear corsets after giving birth to help train their bodies back to where they were before pregnancy. That’s really not a bad idea, as a corset adjusted properly can give support without being uncomfortable. One woman I spoke with told me that back home, women’s mothers or grandmothers would make the post-pregnancy corsets for them. When it comes to corsets, as opposed to girdles or “shapewear”, it’s preferable to have them made to your body for a number of reasons. Having a mom or grandmom actually make the garment makes it more special, too.

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