'Liberty Bodice' Children's Supportive Vest

'Liberty Bodice' Children's Supportive Vest, c. 1920s, Great Britain. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: c. 1920s

Origin: Great Britain

Fabric: Cotton

Brand: Liberty, manufactured by R & W H Symington

 

R & W H Symington introduced the Liberty Bodice in 1908 and is perhaps their most famous product, worn by vast numbers of British children before the 1950s. It provided warmth and comfort, but without the restriction of earlier children’s corsets. The bodice featured cloth strapping down the front, back and side seams, which provided a small amount of support but also kept the garment’s shape during and after laundering. There were often additional buttons – originally rubber, but later plastic – so that other undergarments could be attached to the Liberty Bodice and kept in place. White cotton fleece fabric replaced the original unbleached knitted cotton fabric in the mid-1930s.

It was a heavily marketed garment, with Symington attaching coupons to garments which could be saved up for rewards. Its wearers portrayed as active, happy, fun-loving children, and mothers who purchased them described as ‘wise’. At the peak of its popularity, Symington produced over 3 million Liberty Bodices per year, however, demand decreased after the end of the second world war and production ceased in 1974.

 

From the collection of The Underpinnings Museum. Deaccessioned from Elmbridge Museum.

Museum number: UM-2017-044

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