Date: c. 1910s
Origin: United States
A pair of garters made from strips of ruffled elastic, threaded through suspender style adjusters that would have allowed the wearer to get the perfect fit, even as the elastic’s stretch deteriorated. Early elastics had a relatively finite lifespan and were made from cores of latex encased in textile fibres. The latex was relatively unstable, and would quickly rot or dry out. The adjusters are of an intricate scrolling design, with an engraved ‘M’ and plated in gold. The ends of the ruffled elastic have been folded under and embellished with cream silk ribbon rosettes.
In the 1920s adjusters were manufactured and marketed for exactly the same purpose as the ones used in these garters: to allow women to create perfectly fitting garters from any commercial elastic at a fraction of the usual cost. These, however, were a much more luxe version and appear to have been custom made, or at the very least custom engraved.
Garters were commonly worn to keep stockings up just above the knee until the popularisation of suspenders, whether attached to corsets or a belt. Until the invention of elastic, garters were tied onto the body with ribbon. Elastication allowed for a more comfortable and flexible fit.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska