Woman wearing girdle and glasses

A side-by-side comparison of a woman wearing underwear, seen from two different angles. The slide is hand-coloured.
Woman wearing girdle and glasses
Access fees

One of the great things about using real women as models is that the women aren't trained in how to stand and pose like other models. Each woman has a real character that shines through their expressions and accessories instead of the more passive expressions and generic look that were fashionable then and, to some extent, still are today.

We can project whatever story we want onto the images. Was this woman in her spotted corset and spectacles a spy, mother, teacher, librarian or a Country Women's Association member? 

We can't be totally sure of the use for this glass slide, but it was probably part of the educational training package for Berlei fitting trainees or included in the Beauty in the Balance films shown to women in the late 1930s. Today images like this one are a historical document showing corset styles of the past and the changing social mores of the 1920s and 30s that enabled women to be photographed in this state of undress.

In the collection there is both a black-and-white and a yellow tinted version of this slide. Perhaps the two different coloured slides were used in sequence to make a point about different body shapes, 'figure flaws', incorrect postures or ill-fitting corsetry.

Notes by Beth Taylor