When I learn new things about foundations and stockings, I get very excited. It is quite difficult to find extensive information about this topic and often involves digging around in old books and in the dustiest corners of the internet. Naturally, I must share new learning with you all!
I have only just discovered this phenomenon called ‘girdle anchors’. When I first found this item, I was trawling through the fantastic sleek n chic website, which sells a great deal of vintage items. The description of the product is below:
Vintage Girdle Anchors: Circa 1950 Fabulous “Girdle Anchors ” by Beautis are exactly that, anchors! In the original cellophane packet* which states “Stockingless Women, hold your Girdle down with Beautis Girdle Anchor”. These anchors were used when a woman would want to wear her open-bottom-girdle but stockings weren’t needed. The problem arose as to how to hold the girdle down. So, girdle anchors were the solution. Slip them onto your upper thigh and these comfortable knit, flesh colored anchors provided something to hook the garters onto and hold the girdle down!! How ingenious! No label to tell what they are made from but the fabric is knit (almost like a sweater) and has stretch to it. These anchors are new, unworn and in excellent condition. These are definitely a rare find and a must for any collection!
The photos provided along with the listing intrigued me even more:
I thought to myself, “why on earth would any woman want to go outside without stockings on her legs, in the 1950s?? What is this madness??”. Initially I thought that ladies might have used them when paddling in the sea or … nope, that’s all I had. However I wasn’t convinced by my own paddling theory, so yet again, I went digging and found out what these girdle anchors would really have been used for.
It turns out that this invention came about in the late 1930s, and Sears was one of the first brands to offer such a product. It turns out that women didn’t need special leg attire for paddling in the water (damnit), but they actually used them as an alternative to panty girdles, so that the open bottom girdle could be adapted to be worn with trousers. The ladies of the time would have been able to benefit from the shaping qualities of their girdle, and could have worn trousers without the girdle riding up. Genius!
(On a side note, I always wonder how ladies wear girdles without stockings, doesn’t the girdle ride up? Stockings and girdles work together as a team – the stocking hold down the girdle and girdle holds up the stockings. Anyway, that is by the by.)
There have been several variations of the girdle anchor over time, some more effective than others:
This idea later developed into panty girdles such as these (on the left on each side):
And modern designs from brands such as Rago Shapewear:
Well I think that’s super interesting!