Corset Dress Stocking

Corset Dress Stocking

Of course its corsets - that fifties pinup style is back! by Debbie Mendoza

Fashion goes in cycles. Not so long ago girdles and corsets were objects of mirth - the lingerie that granny used to wear. Yet shapewear is suddenly cool again, clothing to be seen in!

Several factors underlie this growth in the popularity of shapewear - and the resurgence of burlesque as an entertainment plays a big role. The designer Jean Paul Gaultier also had a major influence when he resurrected the bullet bra, and satin shapewear generally, featuring them both on his perfume bottles and in his costume designs for Madonna.

Suddenly shapewear is no longer an embarrassing secret but clothing to flaunt - underwear has become outerwear on catwalks and in nightclubs.

Much of the current shapewear designs are modeled on fifties designs, for it was in this decade that Dior launched the 'wasp waist' look. His couture fashion demanded a well-defined silhouette - at a stroke it was essential for any well-dressed lady to wear a girdle or corset simply to be able to wear what was currently fashionable.

Retro shapewear, whilst paying homage to those fifties designs, brings them up to date with more modern materials. The rubber content of the material originally provided the elasticity of shapewear, but today lycra has supplanted rubber, offering controlled stretch. Lycra also eliminates the not uncommon problem of latex allergy and, importantly, can be made to offer increased support selectively in different places on a garment.

Nevertheless, the typical fifties features of girdles, corsets, all-in-ones and other shapewear, have been kept - the lace detailing, shiny satin panels, & sexy sheer panels.

Girdle garter clips - how many?

Look round the internet and you'll find suspender belts (or garter belts if you are American!) with four six eight or more garters. Of course the minimum four will work fine, although six is probably ideal, and more than six will add a sexy frisson to the garment, but will take far longer to clip to the stocking top! If you are looking to recreate the fifties look, six to eight garters will be preferable as you'll also be wearing seamed stockings (fully fashioned if you are a purist!) -wearing a garter belt with six or eight garters will give your stockings stability. It does not matter if a seamless stocking rotates a little in wear, but nothing looks worse than a stocking seam that snakes unevenly up the back, or side, of the leg!

Garter clip materials

Much modern lingerie uses garter clips, with plastic both for the 'frame' and for the middle garter 'button'. Take care if you order online because the cheaper designs have poorly designed buttons and the frame is flimsy - making it almost impossible to hook the stocking to the garter, or the garter pops open during wear which can lead to embarrassment! The original designs used a metal frame for the garter with a rubber button. Better retro designs still utilise this arrangement which ensures that the garter clip can firmly hold the stocking securely, even should the top (welt) of the stocking be relatively thick.

Attaching the stocking

Yes there is a correct way to attach the garter to the stockings! It is sensible to wear thin cotton or nylon gloves when putting on stockings as particularly the genuine fifties vintage stockings can easily be snagged by the slightest roughness of the hands. The stocking should be put on the foot, then the material gathered and gently pulled up, carefully checking that the seam runs straight up the back of the leg. Now the rear garter should be clipped to the stocking - the garter and the clip should be positioned above the keyhole in the welt if the stocking is a fully fashioned variety, otherwise in line with the stocking seam. The remaining garters should then be attached, ensuring each strap drops straight down and not at an angle.

Retro or real vintage lingerie?

Some people will only wear the genuine vintage whilst others are happy to wear the retro shapewear copies. There is a certain pleasure to be derived from knowing you are dressed in underpinnings with direct historic links - and it really makes an interesting topic at dinner parties - oddly enough men seem just as interested as women (or maybe that isn't so odd!). However if you are thinking of going down the fifties lingerie route, be aware that lingerie of that era is not easily found in all sizes, it may have slight discolorations or other storage marks like rust spots. The flip side is that such vintage lingerie is likely to hold its value and if well looked after can be looked on as an investment you are able to wear!

Debbie Mendoza has studied fifties fashions specializing in vintage shapewear & stockings. Ten years ago her love for lingerie of this era fifties led to her founding, firstly in the USA and for the past five years in the UK where she has relocated. Her leisure interests include reading, theatre, cinema and keeping fit.

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