American or European
Gift of Mrs. Benjamin Shaw, 1974 (1974.258.11)
This heavy damask girdle has much of the force and structure of a nineteenth-century corset brought to bear on the hips rather than the waist. It had an overall slimming effect since, as noted in a 1923 girdle advertisement, "Being slim may be a matter of pounds, but looking slim is a matter of where those pounds are placed." A substantial undergarment such as this one could easily move several pounds around on the body and it serves as an example of the underpinnings utilized by women whose bodies did not conform to the slender ideal of the 1920s. Although this girdle is relatively short at seventeen inches, longer girdles that started below the bust were available, as were so-called "corselets," which suppressed the breasts, waist, and hips into a columnar silhouette. Some girdles of the 1920s also utilized elastic to allow for the freedom of movement that was valued during that era.