For as small as it was, The V&A’s exhibit “Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear” was extensive. At least it was for me. It provided interesting commentary, new designers, key moments in lingerie history and more. There were several stop and pause moments that made me think back to a time that once was. One of those moments – The Little X Girdle.
Designed in 1958 by Ann-Marie Lobbenberg, The Little X Girdle was particularly popular with the younger generation. Ann-Marie was the widow of Max Lobbenberg, who co-founded ‘Ski-Corsetry’ in 1887. They made corsets, obviously, and were one of the few companies to stay in business during the First World War and The Great Depression. Actually, they were so successful that they had subsidiary companies in Paris, Amsterdam, London and the US. But the rise of the Nazis during World War II forced them to sell to a Bavarian company. The London office, however, continued to operate. The name changed to Silhouette Corset and throughout the 1930s, they became the leading corset company in the UK. In 1937, they introduced the ‘Silhouette Radiante’ to provide a “stimulating, even rejuvenating influence” of radiation. Ha!
So, about The Little X – it was an all elastic girdle that provided movement and light control to a generation of women who were moving away from structured lingerie a la corsets and bullet bras. Made of Lycra, it promised that it, “wouldn’t wrinkle, roll over or ride up.” When I was looking at the light blue Little X behind the glass window at the V&A, which you see in the photos today, I couldn’t help but think that it didn’t look “freeing” at all. In fact, it looked like a shield of armor. Am I right? I guess at that time and compared to what was available then, it was “freeing”. Nowadays, women have so many options, especially in the last few years, that it’s hard for me to imagine. Kind of makes me be thankful that women and our undies have come such a long way. #girlpower
Can a girdle be fashionable today? Are they outdated? An excessively restrictive garment of the past? Depending on the style and cut, I understand their intimate appeal, however, their also very intimidating. I’ve never worn one and quite frankly, wouldn’t know how to wear one. Why not wear a garter belt? It’s what I would choose and so much sexier. For fuller figures, maybe it’s more flattering/comfortable. Not trying to body shame fuller figures – just trying to reason. If I didn’t want to wear a garter belt, and was looking for something more everyday, I’d opt for a cute boyshort like harMONICA’s undershorts.
Your turn – did you wear a girdle? Would you wear one today? Might you provide some links to cute options for everyday?
WANT TO KNOW MORE BRA HISTORY?
The History of Silhoette England
5 Vintage-Inspired Girdles for Everyday Wear
A Short History of the Soft Bra
A Lesson in Bra History: Elsa Peretti
Bra History: John Kloss
That Time I Made a Garter Belt