There are a few brands of foundations and stockings that I go nuts for if I see anything even remotely related to them. I like to scour eBay at every opportunity, and I have about ten excited panic attacks each day. WHAT IF I DON’T WIN THIS ITEM?! I WON’T EVER SEE ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN EVER! OMG OMG WHAT IF SOMEONE ELSE BUYS THIS AND DOESN’T APPRECIATE IT?!
Broken suspender clip once belonging to a Spirella girdle? Sold!
Torn and stained Playtex bra 4 sizes too small for me because of the amount of pizza I consume each week? Where have you been all my life?!
Torn up Triumph advert from the 1960s? Shut up and take my money!
Some call this ‘hoarding’, I prefer the term ‘collector’.
Berlei most certainly falls into this category, so when I stumbled across a genuine ‘self measurement form’, I genuinely started to froth at the mouth. I swear to God, if I ever find a Berlei ‘figure type indicator’, I might have to be hospitalised.
So back to this ‘self measurement form’. Back in the good old days, women didn’t simply walk into an underwear shop and pick up their usual size and hope that the elasticated fabric is forgiving enough to prevent VPL. Underwear used to be custom made or custom fitted for the individual.
This little card was filled in by Berlei customers in order to guarantee the best fit. The instructions are as follows:
“Measure over the singlet only; sizes required are of the uncorseted or natural figure. Measure at the thickest part of the bust and hips and at the narrowest part of the waist. Hold tape firmly but not tightly. Fill in and take to your favourite store, where the sizes can be checked and dialled on the Berlei Type Indicator and your correct Berlei foundation selected.”
Berlei had a very particular way of fitting their foundations to the women who walked into their stores. They took their measurements (as per the above instructions) and entered them into the below ‘Body Type Indicator’.
Footpath Zeitgeist sums up how it was used very nicely:
“If your bust was 35 inches, waist was 28 inches and hips 37 inches, you’d spin the disc until the ’35’ printed on it aligned with the ’37’ printed around the edge. Then you’d slide the pointer so that the little notch on the end aligned with the same spot. And you’d look through the little circular holes on the pointer (in later designs, the whole pointer was see-through) designating waist measurements, and whatever colour peeped through at ’28’ was the figure type Berlei reckoned you had.”
I don’t really understand why a woman would measure herself to then be remeasured by a shop assistant. It would have been more logical to give the customer the card at the end of the fitting with her measurements for her own reference. Maybe it was a marketing technique, to remind the lady to come back into the store. Which leads me to the back of the card…
This little card, which is small enough to fit into a woman’s purse, reminds the owner of why they NEED Berlei foundations:
- Berlei means comfort
- Berlei means beauty
- Berlei means smartness
- Berlei means health
- Berlei means security
- Berlei means expert advice on your figure problems
That’s a whole lot of promises!
I love that old foundations brands used to put so much emphasis on getting the right fit for your body, and I’m so happy to now own a piece of Berlei’s history.