As a young girl, I remember watching my short plump grandmother go through the daily ritual of squeezing her ample body into a tight corset then carefully lacing it up to hold herself together. A corset was a sturdy garment and served many purposes with its built in bra and garter straps that kept grandmother’s heavy support hose in place. Next came a full slip before donning her plain housedress and sturdy comfortable tie shoes with a slight heel. After fixing her face, combing her hair, and adding a clean apron, grandma was ready for the day cooking meals over a hot stove for her boarders. She didn’t own any jeans or t-shirts which seem to be the official and more comfortable uniform of today’s grandmothers.
The days of corsets are gone now but a few women still wear girdles to give them a slimmer silhouette. I had a roommate in college who was slightly overweight and she always wore a girdle. We used to look at each other and giggle at BYU whenever we sang the song How Firm a Foundation in church. In fact, I still remember her every time I sing that old familiar song. Girdles or foundation garments were a movement away from restrictive corsets. They still gave you support in needed areas with the invention of laytex. No need for corset ties just wiggle into a girdle. Women today have successfully freed themselves from all constraints including corsets, girdles, garter belts and sometimes even bras.
The development of panty hose did away with the need for garter belts. The early nylon hose developed during WWII times had a seam in them and came in pairs. When putting them on you had to be careful to keep the seam straight in the center back of your leg. That wasn’t easy. If you had a run in your stocking, a little nail polish would stop it. Having a spare pair of hose was helpful because if one of your nylons had too many runs you could just exchange it for a new one from another pair. You wouldn’t think of wearing your high heels anywhere without nylons. When women started wearing trousers and jeans for casual wear, it greatly simplified the undergarments required. Contrast that with today’s more comfortable modern lifestyle. There are always sweat pants and shirts that hide lots of secrets. Sloppy is in.