I recently wrote about some beautiful vintage stockings that we purchased from an antiques shop in the Blue Mountains. I will have to write a post about this shop at some point because it was like a treasure box that we just kind of…stumbled over.
This shop contained some of the most beautiful items of clothing, from the aforementioned stockings, to stunning dresses, to tiny little shoes owned by ladies from the 20s, to original Playtex cone bras to lovely 1950s hats. I nearly had a nervous breakdown when we found that shop!
The one thing that I did not expect to find, was a fan laced medical back brace.
Now, before I tell you more about this ingenious contraption, I have a little bit of venting to do, so bear with me. When I was at the counter paying for my pile of vintage lovelies, the woman who was serving me picked up one of my pieces of shapewear, held it up in front of her with just two fingers for minimal contact and looked at it in disgust. She sneered at me, “who will be wearing this torture device then?” I replied that I would be. She then proceeded to tell me that her “grandmother used to wear strong corsets and girdles everyday with stockings, and how awful it was, oh and you know they had real bones in them! How disgusting, I don’t know how she wore that everyday…” Ok lady, just put it in the bag and take my money, I don’t need a lecture!
This sort of reaction to shapewear is unfortunately very common. People’s minds automatically jump to the horror stories of women having their ribs broken by their corsets or losing babies because of the desire for a smaller waist. The truth is quite different with the type of shapewear that I was buying from this shop. It is very structured and during the 40s and 50s, the shapewear would have been carefully fitted to the individual’s body to ensure a perfect fit and also comfort – the last thing the corsetiere ladies wanted was to damage their customer’s bodies.
Below are some images of corsetieres with their clients, measuring their bodies to ensure that they got the correct fit. This images are from one of my all time favourite websites, www.corsetiere.net The lady who runs that site is my idol.
This leads me back to the medical back brace that I now own. When you think of back braces, what do you think of? This?
Well, check this out:
The only thing that differentiates this garment from a piece of ladies shapewear is the lack of suspender straps.
The back contains two solid metal rods which sounds uncomfortable but actually, this provides the support needed when wearing a back brace.
The only word of caution that I would give to anyone who wears this type of brace or even wears corsets everyday is to maintain their core strength. When you are held up by this type of garment, your body’s doesn’t need to use the core muscles to support itself anymore so those muscles then weaken.
The front is attached and detached using the vertical line of hooks and eyes, just like a traditional structured girdle.
The sides are laced just like the glamorous fan-laced girdle. These would have been loosened before putting on the garment, then the wearer would simply pull the straps to the required tightness.
I’m a big believer in putting my money where my mouth is and wore this back brace for an entire evening and then slept in it. I can honestly say that this is one of the most comfortable items that I have slept in, I had no aches in the morning and I slept comfortably. I have slept in my tightlacing corsets previously which was comfortable but takes some getting used to. This is extremely comfortable, I didn’t feel like I was being tortured once!