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The Little X Girdle

the little x girdle

For as small as it was, The V&A’s exhibit “Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear” was extensive. At least it was for me. It provided interesting commentary, new designers, key moments in lingerie history and more. There were several stop and pause moments that made me think back to a time that once was. One of those moments – The Little X Girdle.

Designed in 1958 by Ann-Marie Lobbenberg, The Little X Girdle was particularly popular with the younger generation. Ann-Marie was the widow of Max Lobbenberg, who co-founded ‘Ski-Corsetry’ in 1887. They made corsets, obviously, and were one of the few companies to stay in business during the First World War and The Great Depression. Actually, they were so successful that they had subsidiary companies in Paris, Amsterdam, London and the US. But the rise of the Nazis during World War II forced them to sell to a Bavarian company. The London office, however, continued to operate. The name changed to Silhouette Corset and throughout the 1930s, they became the leading corset company in the UK. In 1937, they introduced the ‘Silhouette Radiante’ to provide a “stimulating, even rejuvenating influence” of radiation. Ha! 

So, about The Little X – it was an all elastic girdle that provided movement and light control to a generation of women who were moving away from structured lingerie a la corsets and bullet bras. Made of Lycra, it promised that it, “wouldn’t wrinkle, roll over or ride up.” When I was looking at the light blue Little X behind the glass window at the V&A, which you see in the photos today, I couldn’t help but think that it didn’t look “freeing” at all. In fact, it looked like a shield of armor. Am I right? I guess at that time and compared to what was available then, it was “freeing”. Nowadays, women have so many options, especially in the last few years, that it’s hard for me to imagine. Kind of makes me be thankful that women and our undies have come such a long way. #girlpower

little x girdle

Can a girdle be fashionable today? Are they outdated? An excessively restrictive garment of the past? Depending on the style and cut, I understand their intimate appeal, however, their also very intimidating. I’ve never worn one and quite frankly, wouldn’t know how to wear one. Why not wear a garter belt? It’s what I would choose and so much sexier. For fuller figures, maybe it’s more flattering/comfortable. Not trying to body shame fuller figures – just trying to reason. If I didn’t want to wear a garter belt, and was looking for something more everyday, I’d opt for a cute boyshort like harMONICA’s undershorts.

Your turn – did you wear a girdle? Would you wear one today? Might you provide some links to cute options for everyday?

WANT TO KNOW MORE BRA HISTORY?

The History of Silhoette England
5 Vintage-Inspired Girdles for Everyday Wear
A Short History of the Soft Bra
A Lesson in Bra History: Elsa Peretti
Bra History: John Kloss
That Time I Made a Garter Belt

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    ciara

    …What exactly do you think a girdle is/does? Hint: It’s not just for holding up stockings. & they certainly do not serve the same purpose as boyshorts.

  2. Reply

    Breen

    I’ve got a lot of pudge in the ol’ mid-section. If I wear a garter belt that is secure enough to hold up some stockings, there is going to be muffin-top both above and below the belt. Not appealing. For me, a well-fitting girdle reduces bulges and gently sucks me in, much more comfortably that a corset would, anyway. I also like that it allows more air-flow to my junk than boyshorts would, tbh. I actually really like the style of the Little X. It would just look like a little high-waisted mini skirt underneath my regular clothes. If it came in more modern colors, maybe with some fun contrast trim, it’s definitely something I would buy today.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Fun contrast trimming would be a nice update – I agree!

      • Reply

        Roslyn

        @ Breean – Totally agree. For smoothing under my everyday office wear, I would prefer this than a garter belt.

  3. Reply

    fiftytwofancies

    You can still get girdles, but they’re called Spanx now!

  4. Reply

    Yavie

    Honestly I’d wear the Little X all by itself! The diagonal lines look fantastically flattering, it doesn’t look armor-like at all to me. I don’t need a girdle, personally – I don’t have any “fluff” to smooth out – but if I did I’d go for something like this. I’d prefer a snap-close crotch panel though, to prevent it from rolling up and bunching at the thigh crease.
    But then, I wear steel-boned coutil corsets pretty regularly — I’m hoping to close my 18″ waspie soon! And I prefer certain vintage bras far more than the modern “natural” look. So we’re definitely coming from opposite ends of the shapewear spectrum.

    • Reply

      maddie

      I agree that the diagonal lines would be flattering.

      If you think you could rock it, do it girl!

  5. Reply

    Marty

    A garter belt is for holding stockings up. A girdle is for holding your stomach and ass in. A girdle is not meant to be sexy, it’s meant to be useful. Boyshorts are underwear…something between you and your clothes. Do you own a dictionary?

  6. Reply

    Janet Allen Vandermeulen

    It helps to look at the context: the Little X plus a U-silhouette bra were akin to wearing a bikini swimsuit if all you’ve worn is a tanksuit. Remember Truvy in Steel Magnolias? “Well, these thighs haven’t gone out of the house without lycra on them since I was 14.” For the times (pre-pantyhose, so you needed a stocking-holder anyway) this was this was as minimal as you could get. If my grandmother were alive today, she’d be horrified to see women with muffin-tops fluffing over their low-cut jeans, and bellies spilling over their “yoga” pants.

  7. Reply

    Jane

    I’d just like to apologise on behalf of the universe for the rude comments of some people. I thought it was an interesting post.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thank you 😉

  8. Reply

    Carol Sue Arceeaux

    My stepmother was a stout 5 foot tall woman who had short jet black hair and always wore bright red lipstick, red fingernails and white beads and earrings. She believed in dressing up and wearing makeup, string of white pearl beads, white pearl earrings. She almost always wore black crinoline or straight taffeta dresses with seamed stockings and black patent high heels. She would also put on long black satin gloves along with a black funeral hat with a black veil hang down. I always liked what she wore and her clothes happened to be my same size. I loved her strapless heavy “Black Diamond Opera” full length open bottom double zipper black girdle which was an “all-in-one” corselette that had four large metal garters per leg and satin tassels that hung over both front and back of each garter. I also loved her black zipping slips that had an accordion lace hem, lace in the bodice and lace at the breasts. As a teenage girl in my late teens, I was entranced with her outfits were for several reasons. I guess the first was because I often heard a deep throated wicked sound of a long large metal zipper, or often two zippers, as my stepmother zipped her vintage girdle of a morning. I was emotionally hypnotized as she would slowly zip them up and down multiple times and I could clearly hear then from my room. She had said in the past that she liked the sound of zippers, the rustle of crinolines and slips against the girdles and the sound that nylon silk stockings made. When she walked, her seamed beige or black nylon silk stockings made a wicked swishing sound. The combination of those sounds left me almost breathless and my heart pounding when I heard it so I just wanted to experience what she had felt wearing such vintage garments. Just like her, prior to slipping into the girdle, I also applied red lipstick, already had red finger nails, and also donned one of her strands of white beads and white dangling earrings. As an older woman, I still love the feel of fine vintage lingerie. Feel free to e-mail me directly with your thoughts or questions at csarceneaux@outlook.com….Cheers! From Carol Sue

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