Aug 272012

I have recently spent time researching all the vintage girdles and other vintage lingerie recently added to the shop and more to come, finding details about them which are not obvious to the naked eye such as the brand, fabric and dating. Mid-read I suddenly felt inspired to clarify the difference between a corset and a girdle, as to those new to such foundation garments it may not be obvious in this era when we do not grow up exposed to such restrictive underwear.

The Corset

vintage corset from

A fine example of a vintage corset by Camp from Boudior lingeie shop

A corset is an undergarment worn to hold and shape the body into a desired shape. Corset have been popular throughout history for both men and women but most commonly by women and famously during the Victorian period. Corsets are also used as a medical aid to help support the core of the body and back. Corsets are usually rigid sometimes with cups or support for the bust, constructed in sections and boned at the seams with lacing or hooks at the rear.

The Girdle

In contrast a girdle encircles the lower torso, often extending below the hips and unlike the corset rarely has cups or a bodice. The girdle is often worn as a support but was as a popular replacement to the corset from about the 1920s to the late 1960s. There are two key types of girdle; the open bottom or ‘step-in’ girdle (see below by Berlei), an almost tubular construction extending from the waist to thigh, and the panty girdle (see below by Bien Jolie), a tight device with gusset resembling either high-waisted briefs or athletic shorts. Girdles of both types often came with attached or removable stocking suspenders. Girdles can be either multi-paneled or cut from a simple two piece pattern and are usually made of strong elasticated materials.

A blue  floral 1960s Berlei girdle

A 1960s floral girdle by Berlei


Peach 1930s Knitted Bien Jolie Flash Panty Girdle

1930s Peach Knitted Flash Panty Girdle by Bien Jolie

  2 Responses to “The difference between a girdle and a corset”

  1. About 4 years ago I starting having a problem – I started to have a belly.
    I am not really fat and I work out about 5 to 6 days a week. My belly was effecting my posture and I was getting lower back pains. My doc to me that as one becomes older that you lose muscle strength in both your stomach and back area and that I should try and find a corsetier to help out. With some research I found a corsetier and I set up an appointment for both consulting and a fitting. She asked me personal questions about my life style if I am very active and what kind of work do I do. I am fairly active but I sit a lot working on computers. This told her the kind of foundation garment on should be in – she recommended a long legged high waisted boned and zippered panty girdle. I asked her if I should be in a corset, she told me that wearing a corset would be way to resrictive for me.

    After the consulting she then pulled out a Rago 6210 girdle. She had to teach me the right way to put on the girdle. She had me lay down on a bed lean way back and pull up the girdle, then hook up the hooks and eyes and pull up the zipper – then stand up. I was amazed I had never experienced anything quite like it the support in my tummy and back was great, my posture improved right away, I felt a dramatic increase in energy and confidence, I was amazed. The corsetier could tell.

    She had some futher consulting for me, she explained that it does take up to a few weeks to become completly use to and comfortable in daily wearing a girdle. She explained first I had to create a positive habit of daily waking up cleaning up and putting on a girdle each and every morning. Then she explained that I needed to when standing and sitting to keep my belly muscles always relaxed, this I found was somewhat hard to do, she explained that is a subconscience thing and over a period of time I would become and rely on the girdle versus myself. She told me when standing up from a bed or a seat to use my arms and my legs and not my belly muscles. I found doing this and just relying on the support from a girdle I felt much better.

    I followed exactly what the corsetier told me and she was correct after a few weeks you do develop a habit and you feel absolutly fantastic wearing a girdle every day. Now that I am use to being firmly encased in a girdle I found I am really uncomfortable if I am not in a girdle and I wear a girdle now just even relaxing around the house and I love it and you will to.

    • Hi Tom,
      Thank you for your post. It’s a good peoint that I didn’t touch on; corsets and other body moulding underwear can have a very positive medical function. I suspect I would benefit from wearing a girdle as my posture is awful, like you I spend a lot of time hunched over a computor. I wonder I could get used to wearing one as well as you have.

      Best wishes,

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