Date: c. 1930s
Fabric: Cotton & rayon blend brocade, elastic
The Kestos lingerie brand was founded in 1925 in London by Rosamond Lilian Klin. The brand is best known for the ‘Kestos’ style bra (patented in 1926, and arguably one of the first commercially produced bra with separated cups). Alongside this iconic bra, the Kestos brand produced a full range of lingerie and even swimwear.
This girdle is created from a mix of cotton and rayon blend floral brocade and wide panels of elasticated ‘Lastex’. These stretch panels are placed at the sides of the body, with an additional gored panel at the centre front. There were originally four elastic suspender straps (one has since been torn and lost from the garment). A single ribbonwork rosette embellishes the centre front.
It is relatively unstructured, with only a few spiral steel bones at the front of the garment for structure. Coupled with the use of stretch fabric and relatively short cut, this style would have offered a previously unparalleled flexibility. This design can be seen in this advert from 1932. One of the major selling points for the brand was how suitable its products were for sports and dance, due to the freedom of movement that the designs offered.
The garment is in poor condition, and it is very apparent that it was extensively worn. There are a number of home alterations applied to the garment: an additional placket has been stitched under the hook and eye fastening at the side front of the garment (presumably to prevent chafing from the fastening), and an additional hook has been stitched to the interior of the centre back. It is likely that this was used to connect other foundation garments, to prevent them from moving out of place on the body.
From the collection of Karolina Laskowska