The Indispensable Brassiere and Conservation of the Corset
By Charlotte Lillingston
The Modern Priscilla, December 1917 p.20
For those who have found a corset that is a delight, and dread the possible change which lurks in the beginning of a new season, there is reassuring news that there will be no radical change in figure lines this fall. The low bust, broad diaphragm, and natural hip line are the rule, although it is possible to obtain corsets of medium height if desired. The natural hip line is interpreted as being ten or eleven inches larger than the waist, and the waist while it may appear to be smaller because of the freedom hip measure, is really as large as it has ever been. With the present popularity of gowns having straight lines the careful dresser will pay more than usual attention to the brassiere. The bust must be in the correct position, neither too low nor too high, properly rounded, and safely anchored; it must not push up, when the wearer is sitting down or rest on the top of the corset as on a shelf.
The selection of a suitable brassiere is as essential as choosing a proper corset. This useful garment is an indispensable adjunct to every woman’s wardrobe, and is not primarily a bust confiner or bust reducer, but is designed to preserve natural lines and impart stability of form in every position assumed by the wearer.
Perhaps the most difficult figure is the one with comparatively small hips and a large pendulous bust; this type is not confined to any particular age as might be imagined; both young and middle-aged women have the same problem to face. The relation between the bust and other proportions of the figure indicate what is required to bring all into graceful lines. First the corset must fit the hips perfectly. The bust must be low and full, not only full at a little place in front, but all around, and the back must be slightly higher than the front. Under this should be worn a bandeau, closing at the back with buttons or hooks and eyes.
Types to Suit All Figures
The most effective bandeau has an elastic insert either of bands or a section of elastic webbing, covered with shirred material like the body of the garment. (See figure below) The latter is the newest development and is considered an improvement, as the elastic is concealed. At the point of closing, the garment is narrow enough to make adjustment easy, but it may, for convenience, be placed on the body in a reversed position, then moved around to the back and the arms slipped through the tape shoulder straps. There are two adaptations of the bandeau that possess distinct features to be considered when buying; for a figure having surplus flesh on the shoulder blades, a model which is high at that point and has a flexible stay to control the flesh will make the back perfectly flat; eliminating entirely the roundness at the shoulder blade caused by flesh being pushed up over the corset. A corset can never be worn height enough to overcome this ugly line.
The bandeau for this type of figure should be worn under the corset, drawing the tape with metal loop out between the clasps and attaching the loop to one of the studs on the lower part of the clasp. This is adjusted firmly when the wearer is standing. The bandeau worn inside holds the bust down where it belongs, at the same time keeping it back from the top of the corset, which sometimes presses against the flesh in a most uncomfortable manner. Over this arrangement, a dainty camisole or corset cover may be worn.
For a large bust that is not pendulous but naturally high, a brassiere crossed in back is most effective and can be worn with a medium high corset, if the corset is full enough to let the bust drop inside, the back-fastened brassiere holding the figure down and rounding it out in shapely lines. This type of brassiere can be worn without camisole or other covering as it is made in very attractive designs of lace and embroidery, and sold within a wide range of prices. For the woman whose bust is shapely and in the right place, there is an infinite variety of brassieres, fastening in front, ranging from nainsook to filmy creations of silk and lace.
Corsets May be Washed
In these days of stress when conservation is a vital issue it would be a mistake to overlook the corset. Its place among the necessities is established, and the rapidly advancing prices make it an object of economic consideration. And underlying principle of corset conservation is the possession of two wearable corsets at the same time. It has been demonstrated beyond question that two corsets bought at the same time wear much longer than two corsets, one of which is worn out before the second one is bought.
The usefulness of a corset can be prolonged appreciably by care; while other garments are laundered and mended frequently, the corset with the average woman remains in the ranks of the “Great unwashed” until the end of its career. A few women send them to professional cleaners, but it is quite possible to launder a corset with splendid results if it is not allowed to become so stained that soap and water are of no avail. Before putting it in water the first time, rip out the stitching at the bottom of every stay, so that when the cloth shrinks the stays won’t push out at the top or bottom. This stitching can be replaced and not taken out again.
Wet the corset thoroughly in warm water, rub plenty of soap all over it and roll it up tightly for an hour, then scrub with a nail brush and dry in the sun if possible. Watch for small breaks and mend them, and occasionally retrim the top.