Sydney seems to have had a large number of fan-lace girdles wearers, as nearly every antiques shop or vintage clothing store that I have set foot in, has some sort of fan laced garment hiding in the corner. I have of course, bought nearly all the ones that I have found. And then lovingly rolled around on them…
I currently own four of these genuine vintage fan-laced girdles, all of varying shapes and designs.
Let me introduce you all to some of my shapewear:
- Jenyns – “Supporting and Reducing” – This is the only item that has the name of the manufacturer still printed on the inside. This is a back laced girdle. And…This is my favourite of the four.
- Unknown manufacturer – Another back laced girdle
- Unknown manufacturer – Side laced girdle – This piece has two metal rods sewn into the back.
- Unknown manufacturer – Second side laced girdle – This also contains two metal rods for back support.
As you can see, they all have very different engineering. Some of the designs changed through the times, mostly due to women’s changing roles in society, others simply, due to evolving fashion.
Many women previously relied on the household help to assist with lacing up their foundations. For this reason, the back laced items were more popular towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when maids were common place in a home. An example of the classic back lacing would be the corset, while it was indeed possible to lace oneself, it was a slow and tricky process.
As the times changed, so did the engineering of the corset/ girdle. Although still at the back, the lacing became fan shaped which was then attached to adjuster straps which could easily be tightened or loosened by the wearer.
“Fan-lacing was developed as the solution to self-lacing, and this factor is what kept the fan-laces in the shops for so many decades.” – Ivy Leaf
It is also important to remember that not everyone was an agile young lady, a large percentage of the women would have been elderly.
“With regard to fan-laced corsets, we found these to be particularly popular with our older lady customers, especially those whom found it difficult to lace a back lacing garment.” For those of you that have worn, or tried to wear, a back-lacing corset, let me tell you that the fan-lacing principle makes the whole task so much easier.” – Ivy Leaf
Another reason to have side lacing on a corset is to allow steel rods to be inserted into the fabric, to allow for some solid back support. To see some good old fashioned metal back support click here.
Although I can get into these lovely foundations, it is important to note that they have not been fitted to my body, this means that they do not sit on me perfectly. These garments should sit just under the bottom, however, most of my vintage finds do not extend that low down, as you can see in the close-up of my (well nourished) bottom:
I will be wearing one of these items to work in the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to it but I just hope that the temperature will be low on that day because these things are are by no means light-weight!