White Cotton Adjustable Maternity Corset By Gossard

White Cotton Adjustable Maternity Corset By Gossard, c. 1914, USA. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice

Date: c. 1914

Origin: United States

Fabric: Cotton, elastic

Brand: Gossard

 

A maternity corset that allowed for easier self dressing and adjustment, with the busk fastening and lacing panels placed at the front of the body. It is made of a heavy cotton drill, with elastic panelling and a broderie anglaise trim at the underbust edge. Four suspender straps are adjustable with decorative metal components.

Although the notion of wearing a corset during pregnancy may seem anachronistic in today’s world, for women that were accustomed to wearing foundation wear on a daily basis, these garments helped to provide valuable back support and comfort. A 1914 advert for a very similar corset style made note that ‘usual household duties may be continued’ through wearing the garment. It retailed for $5, worth approximately equivalent to $129 in 2020.

Gossard was founded in Chicago in 1901 by Henry Williamson Gossard. The company specialised in women’s corsetry and other garments. By the 1920s the label had expanded and opened offices in the UK. It pioneered corsets that laced in the front, allowing for easier self dressing. By the 1930s, Gossard had closed the American wing of its business and operated solely as a British company. In the late 1968, the brand was granted the license for the ‘Wonderbra‘, which it produced and manufactured for over two decades, before losing the rights in 1994. Gossard continues to make lingerie to this day, offering a selection of both fashion and solution styles in a wide size range.

 

Many thanks to Caroline Elenowitz for assistance with object research.

From the collection of Karolina Laskowska

Museum number: KL-2020-028

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