Women who feel good about how they look often find themselves walking with an extra bounce and exude more confidence. From hair, skin and her wardrobe, most women are on the lookout for the latest trend or trick to help create a fashionable look. This has been the case for as long as anyone can remember. Two recent columns "Keeping beautiful since 1921" and "Fashion must haves for spring and summer 2012," depicted fashions from nearly 100 years ago from an old McCall's magazine and compared them to what is the rage today in 2012. Classic styles have always been lovely to behold, but they had something underneath that was most necessary. Various undergarments, specifically the corset, helped create the image. Even today, there are choices and options to achieve the desired look, all of which most definitely include a "battle of the bulge."
The time and effort it took years ago to get a corset laced up has been aptly shown in movies. One favorite of course is "Gone with the Wind" when Scarlett O'Hara was being laced up by her nanny, Hattie McDaniel. A more recent example is in "Titanic" when Rose is getting help with hers from her mother. Virtually all women wore corsets in the 19th century into the early 20th century. They made for a smooth figure and achieved the sought after small waist. Getting dressed obviously took time and effort.
Most women at that time did not work outside the home, but things changed with the onset of World War I and the ensuing years when it was necessary for women to fill the jobs vacated by the men who were fighting the war and more women who then continued to join the workforce. Women had to have more flexible undergarments, thus came the more comfortable girdle which still kept the midsection in place and was less restrictive for loose fitting dresses. With the girdle and long-line bras, up came the hemline with shorter dresses, and women wore silk stockings with the seam down the back, held up by the garter.
As time progressed, women began to dare to wear pants, and "pant suits" came onto the fashion scene. These were typically matching tops and slacks with a jacket to go with it. However, with this trend, off came the girdles, long line bras and silk stockings and out came the bulge with no girdles to hold the tummy in. Those from that era can certainly remember this time, but probably also remember that a dress code was still maintained, especially for Sunday.
I, Rosamond, recall how in the early '50s as a student at Fredonia State Teacher's College (as it was called then), my friends and I would dress up on Sundays with suits and high heels and click-clack all the way from the new dorms on Temple Street to St. Joseph's Church. Skirts and dresses were even worn to our college classes. Hats were also fashionable to wear, especially on Easter. Remember the Dixie Hat Shop next to Ehler's on Central Avenue in Dunkirk? Remember the movie "Easter Parade" with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire strolling down Fifth Avenue in their finery, both in hats?
Today, as much as ever, women still strive for a fashionable look. Many fashions still seem to be suited for the slimmer among us, thus various undergarments are available. Shape-wear to flatter the figure such as Spanx for the tummy, thighs, waist and even body suits are marketed and available to help fight the bulge and smooth out one's figure. Interestingly, a line of undergarments has also recently come out for men. These can "suck in the gut" or in a more tasteful way to say it, can "compress the core." Some styles today however are not about being flat or what some might call lifeless and an unhealthy weight on the low side. Accentuating womanly curves is good, and it is emotionally healthy to embrace the figure we have. We can fight a bulge created by our own eating and exercise habits, but our facial features, legs and overall body shape is beyond our control. Accept yourself and do what is best to look good regardless of the fashion trends. As seen in prior columns and from personal experience, it is probably a good idea to keep some of those favorite clothes in your closet. They might be the retro fashion trend next year. You may have thought a skirt or shirt had seen its better day, then lo and behold, a daughter or granddaughter is in love with it and gives it a new life.
Make it a good week. Give a smile, hug, or a compliment to someone. Feel free to share your memories or comments about women's fashions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome ideas and insights to share in the future.
Send comments on this column to email@example.com