In Melbourne, we are coming to the end of a very painful heatwave. I have to admit that since the heat started to increase, I have only worn shapewear and stockings once. I wore a girdle and Cervin stockings under a dress and after five minutes of walking down the street, instantly regretted it. I am currently wearing a pair of trousers and a pretty standard top (long sleeves to cover my tattoos in the office) and I am feeling more and more guilty by the day about not wearing my favourite underwear. I just cannot bear the idea of anything touching my skin in this heat.
This has made me think about all the women back in the 40s and 50s who couldn’t just go out without stockings on if they chose to wear a dress or a skirt. I read something interesting on one of my favourite website for shapewear (www.corsetiere.net) about women who sold shapewear for a living:
Overseas sales were an important part of Spirella who’s empire naturally extended to that of the British Empire. In the days when an overseas posting meant a long sea voyage and probably three or five years on, six months off, the women of the empire needed to plan carefully in advance how many corsets and brassieres they would need. How long would they last in the steamy tropics under the less than careful punishment by the dhobi-wallah? Of course, replacements could be sent out on the next vessel but to maintain that stiff upper torso, one needed a good supply of foundation garments. I have enclosed a couple of orders placed with Spirella by the wife of an electrical engineer in Nigeria. Despite the heat and humidity of the tropics, Mrs. Worthe maintained her composure in a properly laced Spirella 305 and long-line brassiere!
Imagine wearing a full set of shapewear and corsets in Nigeria! I feel pathetic now …
Next week should be a little cooler and if this is the case, I will certainly be making up for lost time.