Rubber undergarments

Rubber underwear is something that I find fascinating. Having lived in Australia for just over three years now, the mere thought of wearing a tight rubber girdle under my clothes makes me break out in a sweat! However, such garments were popular for many years, and from what I have learned, served more purposes than simply providing support to problem areas.

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image sourced from pinterest.com

It would appear that rubber foundations came about in the 1920s or 1930s, although some of the images of women on advertisements appear to look quite Edwardian.

Many items were available to everyday women, such as bras, open-bottom as well as panty girdles, knickers, corsets and corselettes. The patterns from which the garments were cut were very similar to those that were made from regular fabric. The main differences were that they were glued rather than stitched, and rarely contained boning.

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Image sourced from corsetiere.net

So, if women already had functional foundation wear, why would they need ones made of rubber? Although some saw them as a novelty item, rubber underwear was seen to be quite progressive as it allowed for less restricted movement and was therefore a lot more liberating than the garments the older generation would have worn. Rubber was a step towards elasticity, and was therefore welcomed by younger women.

Some garments combined traditional fabrics such as coutil (tightly woven cotton) with the rubber; although the cotton fabric was usually directly against the skin with the rubber material being visible on the outside. The majority of rubber foundations however, were made completely out of rubber. women must have smelt a little funny during the summer months!

Image sourced from pinterest.com

Image sourced from pinterest.com

As you will see if you research rubber foundations, they usually had perforations all over them. This was to allow for movement and slight stretch, but also to allow the skin to breathe. Although the holes were functional, designers took advantage of them by creating decorative patterns and motifs. Some of them are actually quite beautiful in my opinion.

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Image sourced from corsetiere.net

 

Charnaux1934_S

Image sourced from corsetiere.net

As I previously touched on, rubber garments were not only sold as ‘standard’ foundation wear. I have also read stories of women wearing rubber underwear underneath their bathing suits to appear more slender and shapely (foundations for swim suits). The funniest part however, is that they were also marketed to men and women who saught cosmetic improvements to their faces and bodies.

‘Medicated rubber garments’ included:

  •  Frown eradicator
  • Neck and chin reducer
  • Bust reducer
  • Abdominal reducer
Ecent_RR_1

Image sourced from corsetiere.net

On this particular advertisement, Dr. Walter boldly claims that they are ‘comfortable and never fail to accomplish the desired result’. Never, huh? That is a very big promise to make! I honestly can’t imagine a rubber brassiere or band actually being able to reduce a woman’s bust… Although this may seem like a ridiculous thing to claim and also to believe in, it did remind me of the recent ‘waist trainer’ fad. Women are currently being sold ‘waist trainers’, under the pretense that they will be able to achieve significant and permanent weight-loss and waist re-shaping. So although the idea of wearing a ‘chin reducer’ may seem hilarious to us now, our current generation is just as guilty as believing such ridiculous claims.

Image sourced from socialitelife.com

Image sourced from socialitelife.com

Much like the nylon used in nylon stockings, production of rubber garments slowed down dramatically to be able to contibute as much rubber as possible to the war effort. After the war, the rubber girdle experienced a revival and the main brand which manufactured such items was Playtex. The rubber girdle seems to have died out during the 1970s.

If you were to look online for rubber girdles, available for purchase, you will notice that they are incredibly expensive. Many are listed for several hundreds of dollars. The cost is, in my opinion, directly related to the scarcity of these garments. Perspiration would have caused many of the garments to deterioriate, meaning that a very small proportion of the items which were actually worn would have survived.

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Current ebay listing (August 2016)

Although I would love to own my very own rubber girdle, I can’t say that it is something that I would want to wear on a daily basis!

Elinor 

5 thoughts on “Rubber undergarments

  1. Gaack!! Rubber sound horribly impractical and undesirable. I suppose it would depend a great deal on the level of humidity and heat where you live…but still. Great research and reporting. Fascinating.

  2. Latex rubber being a natural material also has the habit of simply deteriorating in storage, which is why plumbing that hasn’t been used can fail for no apparent reason. Be very careful when buying new old stock items at high prices because they may be a lot less durable than originally manufactured.

  3. I suspect your words “served more purposes than simply providing support to problem areas” sum this all up. There seem to be lots of fetish sites which sell a wide range of latex underclothing. Uuummmm?

    Thankjs

  4. I arrived via a link in a story about online harassment. So sorry you have to deal with people like that. I was “targeted” in a brief incident in the comment thread of a mutual friend’s Facebook post several years ago. The things he said to me were so outrageous that my immediate reaction was to laugh. I certainly didn’t take the offense he intended, but he did ultimately leave a lasting impression. Before that, I couldn’t quite believe that anyone would dare be so openly callous and heartless. But I was wrong, and some people are downright awful. I’m glad you continue to keep this blog.

    I’ve long had a mild curiosity about underwear. When I was young, I saw an unusual pair owned by a classmate from the USSR. For some reason those made me wonder what other varieties existed. But, aside from idle pondering once in a while, it never occurred to me to research the subject. Now that I am able to read about it, I’m completely fascinated. There is so much interesting history, and I fear I will be up all night now, reading as much as I can. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and passion.

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