Wriggling out from under fashion police

This week our columnist Claudette Sandecki talks tightening garments, then and now

The average woman will spend any amount of money, suffer any discomfort and believe any ad that promises to make her more beautiful. Leading the trend are ‘shaper garments’.

‘Reducing garments’ are not new. In great grandma’s day, a fashion conscious woman clung to the bedpost while another adult planted a firm foot in her back and heaved on her corset strings like a fisherman securing his boat to the dock before a storm.

The goal was a figure nipped at the waist like a vinegar cruet, even if she risked an attack of the vapours for lack of oxygen.

In 1957 , Playtex came out with a two-way stretch latex rubber girdle with molded garters, that clung comfortably as a second skin and left no panty line.

Tiny perforations in daisy designs allowed rubber to adjust elasticity and trapped flesh to breathe. And trapped flesh certainly was. I recall after a lunch including raw carrot strips, I lay for 30 minutes in the locker room with my girdle rolled down below my hipbones so my tummy could expand and ease abdominal pains.

Because a Playtex girdle cost roughly half my week’s salary, I could afford only one. Every bedtime I hand laundered it, patted it dry with a towel, and spread it out to dry overnight.

If it was the faintest bit damp, such as after sweating, (and in New York most summer days were humid) no amount of baby powder would ease it on. So I wore it all day like a prosthesis, removed it at bedtime or after I was certain I would be staying home.

Once on, it bridged from hipbone to hipbone, allowing no hint of tummy protuberance, and painless so long as I swallowed not one extra bite.

The latex, though powerfully elastic, was supremely vulnerable to fingernail puncture. The tiniest puncture enlarged in seconds as though a perforated postage stamp. It had to be rolled down, every inch liberally sprinkled with Johnson’s baby powder,, stepped into, and gently unrolled toward the waistline a little here, a little there.

When new, pink and sweet-smelling as a freshly bathed baby , after months of wear it gradually turned grey, until the day it would split and fall off taking along nylon stockings.

In 1961 I met pantyhose and my future husband. He hiked my Playtex girdle to the nearest garbage can and forbade me to replace it. I happily complied.

Now, after years of pantyhose comfort, and even the acceptance of bare legs, women are rushing to adopt the latest torture device – Spanx – advocated by fashion and Hollywood’s red carpet.

Essentially a tube of industrial strength elastic, Spanx have two improvements over the Playtex girdle – they won’t split , and they let skin breathe. Just pulling them on gives a woman a strenuous full body workout and burns a lot of calories.

In one YouTube video, a slim young woman grapples with her Spanx as she strives to raise them to her waist.

Halfway through her protracted contortions her buttocks project like a shelf over the Spanx waistband.

Fancy manipulating that trapped flesh into a semblance of womanly charm without dislocating a wrist or elbow. By contrast, wriggling into pantyhose is effortless.

Then last week I saw a TV ad for arm shapers. These are sheer elasticized sleeves to be worn under regular garments, to “reduce unwanted arm flab while providing a smoothing and compressive effect.” Velcro tabs attached to bra straps at the shoulders hold the sleeves in place.

Don’t ask me to believe arm shapers can reduce upper arm batwings or Spanx reduce excess pounds. Only eating less and moving more can accomplish either.

Claudette Sandecki keeps a close eye on fashion from her Thornhill home.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Museum colouring books are a big hit with families

Curator found them tucked away in a box

City says unlikely there will be a significant property tax reduction from proposed increase

One resident has asked the Town to consider reducing the proposed 7.4 per cent tax increase

Kitimat LNG Canada worker tests positive for COVID-19

The company announced the positive case to its workers on March 28

Bachrach to donate salary hike to community organizations

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP among growing list of MPs giving raise away amid economic crisis

From inside the ER: B.C. doctor tells it like it is from the frontlines of COVID-19

‘Stay home. It’s working,’ says ER doctor in a Q&A discussion, ‘And please don’t worry.’

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Trudeau commits $100M to help food banks amid COVID-19 crisis

Funds will help ‘urgent food needs’ for Canadians awaiting federal emergency benefits to kick in

Couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas: Cowichan by-law

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

How well can cell phones carry COVID-19? Disinfecting may be wise

‘You want to keep it as clean as you would normally your hands’

3M pushes back on Trump administration call to stop sending N95 masks to Canada

3M says it has already been turning out as many of the N95 masks as possible

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Most Read