Date: c. 1940s
Fabric: Embroidered tulle & brocade coutil
A corselet made of heav
y floral coutil, single layer body, with elastic gussets at the hem and a bustline of Schiffli embroidered tulle. The garment is structured with spiral steel bones, and is fastened at the side seam with hooks and eyes, and cotton lacing through metal eyelets at the centre back. The shoulder straps are adjustable with metal sliders at the front, and include small pieces of elastic at the back. This small detail was relatively innovative for the time period, when standard shoulder straps were non-stretch and non-adjustable. The shoulder straps could also be removed from the corselet with button fastenings. There are four suspender straps stitched into the corselet, but only the rear straps are adjustable.
In 1910, the Spirella Company of Great Britain was formed following its success in the United States and Canada. Spirella corsets were made to measure. Women could visit Spirella salons to be fitted for their Spirella corset or go to a dedicated Spirella corsetiere to have their corsets made. They had corsetieres dotted around Britain who would create the made-to-measure corsets.
The aim of Spirella corsetry was to shape the body into the fashionable figure of the period, which in the 1930s and 40s was relatively slim. As the Spirella corsets were made-to-measure, it gives us a good idea of the shape of the women who wore the Spirella corset. Whilst many other corsets moulded women’s bodies, Spirella corsets arguably enhanced women’s individual body shapes. Spirella was known for creating well-fitted and well-made corsets. Advertisements for Spirella corsets from this era emphasised that female figures differ and they therefore wanted to cater to women’s individual needs.
Many thanks to Fiona Ibbetson for assistance with object research.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska