Date: c. 1950s
Fabric: Floral patterned stretch mesh, nylon
This corselet or ‘guêpière’ in French (referring to the creation of a ‘wasp’ waist) is unusual in that it is made of almost entirely stretch fabrics: the main body of the garment is a floral stretch mesh, and the waist tape is a strip of foldover elastic. Although the fabric has been stretched out over time, it is still possible to see that the garment gave a cinched waist and pointed bust silhouette. Most foundation garments during the 1950s were made with exceptionally rigid fabrics, so this style would have offered unparalleled level of comfort. However, early elastic technologies meant that it didn’t take long for these sorts of fabrics to stretch out, so whilst an occasional panel within a bra could be easily altered, a full garment would have lost its tightness of fit impractically soon.
The cut of this garment is particularly noteworthy, combining vertically seamed panels with interruped boning channels: the interior view of the garment shows that at the front of the body, the spiral steel bones extend only to the underbust (both rising from the top and bottom edges of the garment). This staggered structure gives the bustline a silhouette similar to the Cathedral style of bra.
The garment is embellished with a narrow sheer nylon trim at the neckline, and a skirted sheer nylon flounce a the bottom edge. There are four suspenders sewn into the corselet, comprising of an unadjustable elastic encased within a ruffled nylon channel. The bone channels and bottom hem are covered with a cotton bias tape, and the garment fastens with a column of hooks and eyes at the centre back.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska