The “hourglass figure” — attainable only at the cost of serious constriction of one’s abdominal organs — was one of the daft ideals of the Victorian age — and one that proved immensely profitable for the makers of corsets. It was an age in which a political expansiveness, which carried the West to all parts of the world, was offset by a kind of corset terrorism. “You’ll go all out of shape,” my mother was warned by “Mrs Ireland Senior”, after she refused to strap herself into one of the contraptions. Remembering that ascerbic exchange, and real-izing that at least half the population was pressured to aspire to a wasp waist, I thought “Hourglass era” would be as good a title as any for a website that records some of the attitudes and opinions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This website was constructed with assistance from justpi at http://wpbtips.wordpress.com/. Some of the material was previously presented at a Lonex.com website, under the title “The virtual world of adilbookz”.
My other domains are: adilbookz.com, alanireland.com, jameskirkup.com, kiwicrafts.com, kiwidollar.com, kiwiseek.com, nzsf.com, pukekopress.com, and blimpdeflator.com. To contact me directly, click here. To add your URL, or to exchange links, go to kiwiseek.com. — Alan Ireland, New Zealand
The two illustrations, at left and right, are from an Edwardian advertisement for “Novo Belts”, which reads as follows:
“The ‘Novo’ Corset Belt is made to come above the waist, and enables the wearer to dispense with the ordinary corset. Com-
presses the figure firmly below the waist, leaving the upper part of the body free, which is essential to health and elegance of the figure. Can be had in any depth required.
“The ‘Novo’ Corset and Compression Belts are made on the same principle for gentlemen, and are highly recommended by many sports men and actors.”
Prices ranged from 31/6 to 48/6, even if one opted for “specially prepared net instead of Coutille”. The corsets were “forwarded upon receipt of postal order” by the manufacturer — Novo Belt Co., of 35, Brown Street, Manchester.