Thursday 12 January 2012

So you want to wear a girdle?

Then you may want to read this post. There is no doubt that a proper foundation do a lot for the way clothes hang and vintage clothes are made for women who wore that. If you look at these two pictures, it’s the same dress (albeit the second one has added sleeves) and the same me in a dress after a 1950’s pattern. In the first picture I wear modern shapewear, in the second a corset and a fuller petticoat, but the same bra and body weight. I think you will agree with me that the fit is a lot better in the second one.

However, foundation garments may give you the shape you desire, but it does come with a price. They will constrict you, more or less severely and you need to take that into consideration. First, ask yourself if you can even bear to wear garments that restrict your movements. Some people can even stand to wear ordinary clothes that fit snuggly and if you are one of those, then you will probably not enjoy underwear that restricts you even more. Personally I quite like the feeling of being closely confined and wear corsets quite often, but that is a matter of taste.

There is also a variety of foundation garment and I think you would do well to consider what would suit you the best. But whatever kind you wear, you really need to consider the fit. Don’t let your vanity win over your comfort. Wearing ill-fitting underwear is just as awful as wearing chafing shoes and will take out all the fun in wearing your pretty clothes. Even if these clothes are restricting, they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable to wear. As they fit so snuggly you may need another size than you ordinary wear and you should also bear in mind that size can differ dramatically between brands- it can be a bit of a hassle to find something that fit properly, but it is worth it. If you just want to wear foundation garments for special occasions, then you may be able to stand some discomfort, but if you wear a girdle and find that you can’t eat in it, sit comfortably or breathe well, then it doesn’t fit and you shouldn’t wear it. Period. And if you want to wear it every day, you really want something that you feel comfortable in.

Modern shapewear are made of stretch fabric. Some just even out your figure so your “bulges” become less appear ant and some can really get a slimming effect. There is no boning in these garments which makes them the least restrictive and unobtrusive option.

Girdles May or may not have boning and be more or less supportive. That was true even in the forties where you could find girdles that looked quite monstrous.

Or quite simple.

There is also a variety of shapes, like the ones that enclose your whole torso or just function as garter belts.

How to choose the right foundation for you, fun advice from 1956.
I gave this link in yesterday’s post as well, but is so informative on the subject of girdles, that it is worth repeating.

Corsets is the most restricting type of underwear you can find, but also the one that can change the shape of your body the most. There are a lot of strange myths circulating about them, some of them rather strange. To wear a corset does not mean that you have to lace yourself within an inch of your life. Even a moderate lacing can shave of 4 inches of your waist and there is absolutely no need to lace yourself so hard you feel discomfort. There are people who tight-lace and can show of some really spectacular waist reductions, but those people have often worn corsets daily for a long time and only gradually reached that point. If you want to wear corsets, the very best if to have one custom made, but that is quite expensive and if you just want to wear them for fun, then you can find good ready-made ones too. They are clothes that have to withstand some hard wear and tear by their very nature, so good quality is worth the money. Under all circumstances, never rush yourself into a corset. Begin with lacing the corset snugly, then do something else for 10-15 minutes and then lace them a bit tighter. If you lace yourself in stages, then you can lace the corset tighter without discomfort.

If you are interested in corsets, then I think Staylace is a very good place to start. Tons of information and pictures.

Where to shop You can buy foundation garments in any underwear shop of course, but if you want a vintage feel to it, then these places can be worth checking out.

Kiss Me Deadly
Nylon Dreams I have one of their pull-on garter belts, which isn't restrictive as all- a good option if you want to wear stockings, but not want any restriction.
Rago Good quality and variety of selection. I like their girdles very much.
What Katie Did Sells both girdles and corsets with a wonderful vintage flair, as well as bras and hosiery. Their corsets are definitely worth the price. I have one and plan to buy another one- they have a very short one that quite closely mimics the waist cinchers of the 50’s.

(Picture sources:


Rowena D said...

Fantasic post and just what I need. I've recently decided I really should get some proper foundation garments. This has given me a lot of good adive about it.

snippa said...

Thanks for those links.
The corset picture is fantasic.

Laurence said...

I don't like to order lingerie by internet it's always hard to choose the good size maily with international size conversion... I think I will visit what katie did shop in LA in March....
Love your post!

Rowenna said...

This may be a touch on the philosophical side for underpinnings, but I think a lot of whether or not one is comfortable wearing a girdle or corset or even a garter belt is in one's head. Your mindset must change a bit--you can't slouch, you must sit straighter to be comfortable, you carry yourself a bit differently. How you look is more important that whether you can flop on the couch in a corset :) It's very different from our modern concept of "comfort is key."

I am absolutely covetting a merry widow or corselet from What Katie Did!

Isis said...

Miss Rosie Beau: So glad that you found it helpful!

Snippa: It's a What Katie Did corset. Pigalle, I think. :)

Laurence: I agree with you, it's somewhat hazardous, though when it comes to girdles and garter belts I have been lucky. Bras, one the otehr hand, I only buy online if I have bought one that fits well- then I shop for that brand online.

Rowenna: You are so right there, I think! we are used to comfort and for example Vinatge Vogue put in extra ease in their patterns so that it should appeal to modern tast. Which for us who wear the proper foundation garments mean that they tens to turn out too larg... I often hear coplaint over the small sizes when you buy vintage, which of course IS beacsue they tend to be small in size, but also because they have less ease so people think they are too small when the same size woman 50 years ago wouldn't have thought there were. :)

What-I-Found said...

Thank you for the mention! I have a bit more of 1956 foundation garments to share so do come visit again.

Anonymous said...

I think most of the trouble and discomfort of wearing girdles have to do with the stockings, much as I love stockings, not the foundation garments in themselves. I have full inner thighs; they tend to chafe if left to their own devices. So I have several pairs of bloomers and drawers, of course, but the effect over a longer girdle is... not great, and I kind of hate panty girdles.

I generally fall back on severe waist cinchers (I make my own, or reinforce existing ones) and semi-modern full-length girdles. The granny kind, that a few old-fashioned companies still make for a declining customer base, are really the height of functional foundation garment design, in many ways; great shaping AND comfort in modern materials, better cut, fit and effect than many of the repro companies, although you really have to fetishise the granny underwear thing to find them visually appealing. Moderately pointy cups, great lift and support, nice, moderate shaping without bones, and comfort.

They are getting harder to come by, though, and the size range isn't great either, although the cups often run large - as a modern 75F I can get a decent enough fit from an 80C. My favourite is a 70's or 80's Fox; being cut more like 50's or 60's garments, they are difficult to date.

Isis said...

What I Found: My pleasure. :)

pimpinett: The inner tigh chafing is no fun, though I generally do OK, unless the weather is too hot.

I can well imagine that the granny-kind is the best to be found- I hope they will be able to find a new customer base so all that knowledge doesn't go away. I really wish Spirella was still around... I have never found one that fits me when it comes to the bra department. I have a 34HH, which isn't that easy to find with modern bras either. I guess I ought to learn to sew my own, but the thought rather daunts me.

Katie Cahill said...

I wear a girdle , open bottom Playtex 18-hour , all the time. But then I trained in them since very young, 13 years of age. And I just kept it up as others left them off through the years, I was so used to it and even gotten to like it. And though a normal natural figure ( size 14 - 12 in girdle) I have always worn one from up in the morning to bed at night.
The girdle holds me up, its front panel flattens my belly, and hips and thighs smoothed out, I like and enjoy the uplift it gives to my backside too. Waist - 2 inches off .
You'll get used to it and even enjoy its suppi
ort afer a while and love what it does for you too.
Little tips are to leave it down over your backside so it will give you a lovely hug behind, pull it right up over your belly, sort of 'arch' into it , then do up your back suspenders ( garters) first.
yes, even when used to girdles like I am you'll still feel them from time to time , but only the firmness around you when you think of it , a well - fitted girdle becomes quite easy to wear all the time, and of course I absolutely love the nylons that go with them .
So, yes, girdles are fab when you're used to them , after a few months daily wear every day - depends on the person really. That's what I find. In no time at all it's true, you will forget you have it on- but know when it's off!
Go for the 18-hour Playtex, it's still available, it's the best girdle ever made, comfy , hard-wearing , pretty.

Isis said...

Katie Cahill: Thank you for the infomration! Very interesting!

Katie Cahill said...

The secret that today's girls don't know, and that is that once you train in a girdle it can be a joy to wear. You do actually forget you have it on, and when you think of it it's just a nice firmness around you, a lovely hug particularly around your bottom. It holds you up, the support and comfort can be awesome. But it's lovely to take it off going to bed, then you get so you can't wait to get it on in the morning to feel all that fab support. A girdle becomes so nice to wear eventually, in fact the support is so good you wonder how you ever lived without it. The way it holds your tummy up and in is awesome to feel, your bottom begins to feel petted. Yes the bottom hem binds your thighs together but you know this is so your girdle hem won't show through your skirt, and I certainly don't begrudge my waist nipped in a couple of inches either . It's very important to keep it down over your bottom at the back and to fasten your back suspenders first to anchor it. Then to grasp it by the top in front and pull it up before you start to fasten each front supender - and then lift each leg off the floor so you can feel the tight draw on your back suspender as you fasten the front suspender on that leg. And each time wiggle a little bit so the girdle mini-adjusts itself comfortably round your rear, done!

Well now that your belly is flattened and your bottom lovely and tight - it's actually a nice feeling, it's so snug.
Now make a cuppa , sit down, and let your belly go! this is hugely important because when you let your belly go all of you relaxes into your girdle then, and now you just feel support, blessed support, firmness all around and nothing else. And now you begin to know how we wear girdles all the time, because it's enjoyable as they do a lovely job.
A girdle is so delightful to wear, once you know how, that it makes you feel good as it makes you look lovely.
Now go look in the mirror and see what it does for you, go on and move your hands around your girdle and marvel at it, at yourself, your hands feel it to be hard but inside it you feel it soft against you, I can never get over the way it holds me up so beautifully.
Yes, I have to bend with my knees and sit up a bit straighter, that's more graceful, and it's a bit difficult to scearch an itch .

Now on with your clothes and off and let the wotld see and admire your fabulous figure ( it's for me to know and them to find out ! ) .

Isis said...

katie Cahill: Thanks again! I have never thought of fastening the back first!

Katie Cahill said...

To this day my Playtex 18-hour girdle chafes after some hours. When it happens I just rub around on my dress over the area/s affected and that sorts it out.

Some days in a girdle you get a bit low, maybe you want to take it off. Again just massage a bit around over your dress and it feels good again after a few minutes.
I always decide not to take it down when I make myself think how awkward it can be to get my girdle on again, and anyway I reached the stage long ago when I only had my girdle down when I'd miss it.
Pushing out my belly against the girdle wall helps great at times, and then just finally letting the belly sag into the front panel, massaging the odd little soreness cures it too, for another while hehehe, but really.

But you get your rewards too, like when you feel your girdle really lift you, that lovely hug right up under your bottom, there's simply nothing that can feel so snug.When you get used to your girdle the comfort can be bliss at times. And what a reward when you go to a full length mirror, hoist your dress up and look at that gorgeous satin front panel, flat, where your belly used to be, turn around, see your beautifully moulded bottom from both sides, wiggle in courtsey with a smile!
But most of the time you will indeed forget you have it on, and mostly days you feel it on it's only a firm but reassuring presence, that I would dread to ever be without.
How do other people feel, similar I'll bet once your're used to it.

P.S. I found that most men find us very sexy in girdles, even if they never actually see them, but know you have one on. Make sure to let them know, for instance just back your firm hardened bottom into a man, smile knowingly... hehehe...

Imagine that in a girdle we get used to that awesome tightness, not only that, we get so used to it, and even get to like it in a while.
I know I'll never be seen without my girdle, not that I ever was.

And what our girdles do, even to a normal figure WOW :-)

At first you'll find, naturally, that you can't move your bottom , or anything inside there. Sorry but that's a little thing you have to give up, that you'll forget about in time.As against this when seen from behind whilst walking out there's little or no movement at all. just a perky little tip, this way, that way. And together with heels you're going to have a realy dainty little step, you're going to have great posture like never before. Yet in most girdles you can still curl up comfy enough on a sofa.
All that said, your clothes will hang on you beautifully as never before, as you never imagined possible. best of Luck, Everybody

Katie Cahill said...

Yes, Isis, make sur your girdle is pulled down well beneath your behind and then fasten your back suspenders first.
Once they are vfastened then haul up your girdle well in front nefore you fasten your front suspenders.
And then whilst fastening your front suspenders, standing up of course, wiggle all the time until each buttock on thigh feels to be well inside your girdle and fully supported.
In this way your girdle will actually hold you up in a fabulous kind of support you will enjoy as well as loving your belly being supported by the front panel, just let it go in there, let your complete self go.
In fact you'll never feel so good again without a girdle!

Unknown said...

So I'm wondering that with the Open bottom girdle I should wear a "boxer" type silk "pantie" between the girdle & the slip to make it more of a privacy cover-up?

Katie Cahill said...

Yes Rita
a Boxer type panties of any material would be ideal over a girdle, and they are always worn over the girdle which is always worn next to the skin. You'll feel very comfortable in your girdle too, that way.

Regards, Katie.

Unknown said...


Lovely site, thank you!

I don't agree with the posters here that say you can wear and forget a girdle. Certainly that is generally true for pull on girdles of normal stregnth - these were obligatory for well brought girls from the age of 15 or so. However, for my first evening dress my mother insisted that it was better and proper to be well held in. This meant a zippered, well boned, not too much elastic firm control girdle and matching long line bra. These were uncomfortable to put on, and got worse as the evening progressed. Still, they did marvels for my teenage figure, but OH OH OH the joy of taking them off.


Unknown said...


Lovely site, thank you!

I don't agree with the posters here that say you can wear and forget a girdle. Certainly that is generally true for pull on girdles of normal stregnth - these were obligatory for well brought girls from the age of 15 or so. However, for my first evening dress my mother insisted that it was better and proper to be well held in. This meant a zippered, well boned, not too much elastic firm control girdle and matching long line bra. These were uncomfortable to put on, and got worse as the evening progressed. Still, they did marvels for my teenage figure, but OH OH OH the joy of taking them off.


Katie Cahill said...

@Annee Foote, I must be very lucky in that I never felt boning, though it made me sit up straight and worked wonders for my posture. I actually like bones that hold my bottom. Same with bones in the front panel as I just love to laze my belly out against the girdle - it's a good way of living in there!
I feel that if the girdle is stretched downwards fully by stockings and pulled up fully over the waist that the bones actually give great support once they are at full stretch like that.
Yes it's always nice to take it off at night though just as nice to feel its support when I get it up around me in the morning.
I think it's great to discuss things so much in depth here as more and more people are going back to shapewear aka the girdle and to keep all the good old tips alive for another generation to be able to use.
Foundations are a blessing - especially since I gave up smoking last year:-)

Brooke said...

I have a few amateur questions (:
What kind of panties do you wear with a girdle?! And do you wear them under or over the girdle? And my most important question is what do you do so you can stand to wear one when it's too hot? It's coming up to summer here in the US.

Isis said...

Brooke: I never thought much of the style of panties, but I wear them over, otherwise it gets a bit tangled when you visit the bathroom. :) It can be a bit hot, but there are mesh girdles that are a bit cooler to wear. :)

Katie Cahill said...

It's so hot today that the poor cat is exhausted all day. Well he can't take his coat off but I can take off my girdle...
and I did, out of it all and into a cold bath for half an hour. Now it's back on and I feel a lot better.

Katie Cahill said...

Like Isis I don't particularly go for any type of pantees to wear over my girdle.
That said I prefer a longish length pantees, perhaps a knickers and I actually like a bloomers to go over as it covers the girdle on me and even if a skirt accidentally blows up my girdle is not seen - I wouldn't like to be the cause of anybody fainting:-)))

I forgot to mention that I always put on my nylons first as it's much easier then to slip the girdle up over them instead of trying to bend to get them on while the girdle is already on.

After all that it's up to yourself but like Isis I actually like the feeling of confinement. You do get to like that after a while.
All that firm support is wonderful to feel today, even at my age I still feel like "taking off" every morning when I've gotten into my girdle for the day. It's a great feeling to be so firmed up all around. My belly especially feels wonderful supported by the front panel, my bottom gets a lovely hug all the time, my hips feel lovely and trimmed, and of course the nylon stockings are a real bonus, the icing on the cake. my waist is nipped by the waistband and looks delightful too.
The overall feeling of being girdled is a big hug all day, I don't mind the restrictions like sitting up straight at all. I wear a longline bra too so there's no unsightly bulge anywhere as it fits over the girdle waistband.
But generally I do in fact forget I have it on at times, that happens more and more. I hope everybody else is girdled as happily as I am because I wouldn't be any other way.

mcbee said...

I have been wearing girdles for almost 50 years and they have changed a lot over that period. I prefer the older styles however, I wear Rago at present. I wish to preserve my collection so they only get worn on special occasions. It is true about becoming girdle dependant and I feel loose without my support and my stockings.

Anonymous said...

Annikki Koivunen

Thanks for the good hints and links!
Very useful for us Transvestites!

Unknown said...

do you need to wear stockings with the girdle?

Katie Cahill said...

Yes, Sarah Byrne, you need to wear stockings with a girdle so as to anchor the girdle and hold it down.

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