It Isn’t Done - The Berlei Figure Type Indicator

It Isn’t Done - The Berlei Figure Type Indicator
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After taking Barb’s measurements, Ms Blake calls Ms Trent and asks her to check them against the Berlei Figure Type Indicator, which indicates she is a ‘slender average type’. A suitable foundation garment for evening wear is brought up to the room to correct Barb’s ‘figure faults’. After slipping it on, she stands in front of the mirror where she admires herself in her evening dress. Barb is now converted, agreeing that from now on she will never forsake her Berlei – 'it simply isn’t done!’. Summary by Poppy de Souza.

In the shot where Barb catches herself in the dresser mirror, the reflection of the cameraman – with his hand-cranked camera – can be seen in the top left corner of the mirror.

It Isn’t Done synopsis

The ‘futility of careless dressing and the importance of correctly moulded figure lines’ is demonstrated through the fitting of a Berlei foundation garment underneath all frocking.

It Isn’t Done curator's notes

According to Berlei’s own advertising slogan of the past – Berlei products are the ‘the foundation upon which fashion rests’. This 1930 cinema advertisement for Berlei continues a tradition in designing fashionable and comfortable women’s corsetry that began in 1912 when Fred Burley founded Unique Corsets Limited with his brother Arthur. Berlei grew from a small store in Market Street Sydney where it offered ‘made to order’ corsets for discerning clientele. In 1919, Berlei Limited was born and since then the company expanded its product line into the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Today Berlei remains one of the most recognisable names in the manufacture and design of lingerie and underwear in Australia.

This advertisement, as well as showing off the fashions of the 1930s, is also a beautiful example of set design. The art deco interiors with shaped mirrors, door frames and seating all align with Berlei’s reputation for quality and beauty. Advertisements often capture the details which shimmer around the edges of the products or services they promote, and this is certainly the case with Berlei. 

Notes by Poppy de Souza

Stanley Hawkins
Adapted by:
Phil W Warner
Ethel Clarke, Olive Lewis, Freda McGhee