Dorothy Was Different
by O.Y. Dalziel
Corset Training for the Young Male Beginner
Selection of the Corset
Every caring mother should take her young son to a well-known and highly recommended corsetiere who specialises in designing corsets that train and shape the youthful male figure. A good corset maker will be able to give the best advice, and can offer the latest and most scientific ideas regarding the design and manufacture of the best type of corset for a growing boy. Some mothers, in an excess of zeal, make the mistake of closely confining their young son within a veritable suit of armour, and lacing him to a degree far beyond the tightness that is necessary for his first corset.
Forcing a boy of eleven or twelve years of age into a training corset much more severe than that which is required, could cause him to become prejudiced against the whole slow and careful process of shaping and disciplining his figure, and he may strongly resist any or all of the future efforts that are made on his behalf. Furthermore, if his first corset is too heavy, too rigid, too severely shaped and too tightly laced, his general health may be adversely affected.
So a mother should always take the advice of the trained corsetiere. She will design a corset for your son that will be easy and comfortable for him to wear, whilst at the same time fulfilling all the necessary and basic requirements of training, moulding, and shaping his growing figure.
His first corset should be long enough to restrict and control all his body movements from his shoulders to his knees. It should be strong and rigid enough to give him an erect posture when sitting, standing, walking, or reclining. The corset should have two rigid and pre-formed steels at either side of the back lacing. These shaping steels, which have been formed and tempered into an S-curve, are designed to give the wearer an arched back line, and, in conjunction with the broad and rigid busk at the front, will help to give him the proper carriage of his whole body, with his hips well back, torso inclined forward from the hips, his chest up high, and his shoulders, neck and head held back.
The supportive boning at either side of the corset, which is supplementary to the front busk and back shaping steels, should be heavy enough to ensure the proper fitting of the corset to the boy's body when it is laced closed. Normally, ten bones or steels on each side are sufficient if they are rigid enough, and are properly placed.
The best material for facing and lining this first corset is strong, high quality kid leather. It does not stretch and is gentle to tender young skin, preventing rubbing, gouging and other common skin irritations. It will not slip or slide readily on the boy's body. It adds its own supplementary rigidity to the corset and may be quickly and easily cleaned by using a damp sponge.
The corset should be firmly anchored at the top and bottom to prevent it moving up and down on the figure, so that the newly corseted boy cannot move his body within his corset. This can be done by the use of wide and padded leather shoulder straps at the top, with their fixed ends sewn to the front of the corset. The straps should go up over the shoulders, and be crossed behind the back. They are then threaded down through loops in the fabric, to fasten at the front to firmly secured metal buckles at or just below the waist level.
When the straps are properly adjusted and buckled they will anchor the top of the corset and prevent downward movement of the garment on the boy's body. They will also give proper carriage to the shoulders, preventing slouching or rounding and at the same time forcing the shoulders down and back. They will draw the boy's back into the back of the corset, raising his rib cage, and lengthening his waist.
Careful and precise adjustment of the shoulder straps is most important. They should not be pulled too tightly. The boy's shoulder blades should be drawn back firmly, until the requisite degree of adjustment has been attained. The straps and buckles should be examined at frequent intervals to ensure there is no chafing or irritation of the skin. Padding of the straps at the point of irritation, and the daily application of talcum powder will largely eliminate these problems.
The best method of firmly and securely anchoring the corset at the bottom is by means of boot straps. Six strong leather straps should be sewn and riveted to the bottom of the corset, two at the front, one at either side, and two at the back. These straps are designed to be drawn through metal buckles that are sewn and riveted to thigh length kid leather boots. The buckles should be attached to the boots about six inches above the knees. The boot straps should be fastened to the buckles, adjusted to a suitable length, and then drawn up tightly, to prevent any upward movement of the corset on the figure.
The boots, which must be carefully fitted, should be boned at their sides and back to prevent wrinkling. Five light flexible bones on each boot, reaching from the shoe part of the boot to the boot top are usually sufficient for this purpose. The boots should rise to the full length of the leg, and be fitted up to the line where the upper thigh joins the torso. The shoe of the boot should be designed with a short vamp, high arch, and high heel. A four inch Louis heel is high enough for the beginner.
The interior of the shoe should be carefully padded to prevent foot irritations and should fit the foot very closely. Such a fitting may tend to inhibit the growth of the feet. When the shoe portion of the boot is properly fitted and laced, the wearer should not be able to move his toes or any part of the foot within the shoe. The boot above the shoe must be closely laced to shape and confine the ankle, calf, knee and thigh. The mid-point of the thigh between knee and torso should measure one inch smaller with a tight tape over the laced boots than without them.
Dressing the Trainee
When dressing the boy in his first figure training ensemble, some general rules should be followed to obtain the best results:
1. Before putting on the boots, the feet, legs and thighs should be copiously powdered. Then, using a shoe-horn, the feet should be eased into the boots, the boots laced closely and tightly from bottom to top, and the laces securely tied.
2. The boy should now stand erect in the boots, with his back arched. It may be necessary to allow him to support himself, by holding on to the back of an upright chair, until he becomes accustomed to the height of his newly raised heels. The unlaced corset is then wrapped around his body and the front busk fastened from bottom to top.
3. The shoulder straps should be passed over the shoulders, threaded through the various loops, and firmly fastened to the buckles. The boot straps should then be attached to the boots, but not drawn up tightly, to prevent the corset from riding either up or down while it is being laced.
4. The front laces adjusting the corset apron below the busk should be laced closed. This will bring the booted thighs closer together and place the boy in the proper posture and attitude for his lacing.
5. The lacer should then start lacing from the top and bottom edges of the corset, taking the slack out of the two sections of the back laces, and working upwards and downward to the waist, until the corset is partially tightened and all the slack lace has been taken up.
6. After this has been accomplished, the lacer should start at the bottom and slowly but firmly lace the two sides of the corset together until they are touching, and the corset is fully closed, working upwards from the thighs, up over the posterior to the waistline, tying a temporary knot at the waist, and then lacing downwards from the top of the corset to the waistline .
7. It may be necessary for the boy to hold on to a firm structure, such as a door, or some other item of heavy furniture whilst this final tightening of the laces is being effected, to avoid him being pulled off his balance.
8. The boot straps and shoulder straps should now be finally adjusted and tightened.
Physical Effects of the Corset
The corset is a mechanical device, which has been designed to bring about certain noticeable and physical changes in the bodily shape of the wearer. So let us examine the young boy, now that he has been closely laced into his new corset and boots, and survey the final results of our combined efforts.
If he has been correctly laced up, his thighs will be drawn together, regulating and restraining his stride to a length of twelve or fourteen inches. His hips and posterior will have been closely confined but not tightly laced. He should measure at least one inch smaller over his buttocks with the corset laced on than without it. This has the effect of drawing the lower portion of the front busk closely into the abdomen, compressing it and holding the lower internal organs securely in position.
The tightened and waisted portion of the corset between the hip bones and the rib cage forces this section of the torso inwards, visibly reducing it in circumference, and at the same time exerting an upward pressure. Particular pressure is also placed on the muscles of the small of the back at the waistline. The pressure of the laced corset in this general area tends to inhibit abdominal breathing and confines the muscles of the stomach. It holds the floating ribs in an almost static position, and restricts the movement of the diaphragm, helping the front busk and stiff metal side bones to push the rib-cage upwards.
The waist reduction required to bring about these changes should be at least four inches but never more than six inches for a beginner. In other words, the waist should be four inches smaller with the corset laced on than without it. The corset above the point of the breastbone should fit more easily, permitting the growing boy to raise and lower his upper chest in high costal breathing. As time goes on, and smaller waisted corsets are worn, his diaphragmatic breathing will be completely eliminated. The upper chest will expand and grow, so that with the aid of physical exercises the well trained boy or young man will ultimately have a larger chest and greater lung capacity than his uncorseted contemporaries.
Reactions of the Boy to Figure Discipline
Mothers who are confirmed corset-wearers may sometimes be unsympathetic towards a newly corseted boy. They should try and remember the difficulties of their own corset training and adopt an attitude of sympathetic firmness towards him. They should have a clear idea of his physical and mental problems and discomforts, based upon their own early experience. They must ensure that he is never unbearably uncomfortable. His first boots and corset should not be too severely laced, and, while he may not be at ease, he should definitely not be in serious pain.
He may not like his tightly fitting boots. He will previously have been accustomed to easing his feet by wriggling his toes or perhaps removing his shoes whenever it became necessary. He can no longer do this, because his feet and legs are now confined within two closely fitting and permanent moulds. He has not been accustomed to high heels and high arches, and his feet and legs will ache from the unnatural strain. His waist has been considerably reduced, and his legs and thighs have been closely laced within his boots, and he will be unaccustomed to this total pressure from the tips of his toes to the top of his torso.
The unaccustomed tightness and rigidity of his corset will come as an unpleasant surprise to the boy, no matter how strongly it has been advocated and its purpose and many benefits explained to him. The closely fitting corset apron, and the compression in the thigh and hip area will combine to confine and restrict his normal stride when he is walking, and will prevent him from indulging in activities such as running, jumping, climbing trees, or galloping about like an ungainly colt. He will soon find that he is only able to move in a restrained and dignified manner.
He will also find the tight constriction and reduction of his waist, and the rigidity of the boning to be particularly irksome at first. He will no longer be able to bend from his waist, and must now learn to bend by using his hips and knees only. The pressure on the small of his back, which is necessary to enforce the arched back line will be particularly onerous. He may have a stifled feeling because of the confinement of his diaphragm, which can be quickly eliminated by training him to breathe by raising and lowering his upper chest. He might also become very resentful of having his shoulders strapped back into a practically immovable position.
He will have some difficulty when sitting down. In the seated position the tension over the posterior is increased; it draws the lower portion of the busk into the abdomen, forcing the chest upwards and arching the back more extremely. It may be impossible for him to sit in low or easy chairs, but if he sits upright in a straight backed chair of the proper height, he will find that sitting need not be intolerable. Even so, the new corset wearer may try to avoid sitting at first, and it is advisable to urge him to spend several hours a day seated so that he can accustom himself to that position.
Finally, he will have a general sense of tension and strain. He will feel unbalanced in his new, tight and stiff restraint, and the unaccustomed height of his heels. He will no longer be able to relax but must at all times maintain an erect posture when sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. He will find that he is unable to move either his body or his legs within the confines of his rigid and restrictive corset and boots, and may resent this loss of freedom.
No single factor is more important when setting up a training regime than the early establishment of the principle of Constant Wear. The boy must accept from the outset that his corset and boots will never be loosened, by day or by night, except for his essential sanitary requirements. This is a hard and fast rule. He should know why this constant wear is so important, and why he can have no control over the laces, buckles and straps which adjust his training garments.
He must be told that, by wearing his corset and boots constantly, day and night, he will become both mentally and physically conditioned much sooner than if he wore them during his waking hours only. Furthermore, this method will be much better for his health, because his whole body, and especially his internal organs, will have a chance to adapt themselves to the corseted position and will not be subjected to a nightly change from a confined to an unconfined condition. He should accept that his figure will soon "spread" if the corset is removed, and this will render it impossible for him to make any steady progress in permanently re-shaping his figure.
By keeping his body under constant compression for all but an hour a week (the time necessary for his ablutions), it will submit to the dictates of the corset much more readily, and it will be easier for him in the long run. It is a well known fact that if he wants a well defined waist of eighteen inches or less, with his chest and hips in proportion, then the constant wearing of his corset and boots is the only method of achieving this very desirable objective. Many men will testify to the benefits of full time corset wearing, and research has confirmed their testimony.
Some mothers might find that the boy will not readily accept this full time restraint, and will wish to return to his former freedom. Soon after his corset has been laced and tightened up he may beg you to loosen this strap or that lace "just a little" for "just a few minutes." You must be quite firm with him, and at the same time explain to him that you are refusing any easement of his laces in his own best interest. He may resort to crying spells and even hysterics to appeal to your sympathy. If you resist these appeals, and make it quite clear to him that you will continue to resist them, then in a relatively short time his emotional appeals will cease.
The average boy will not enjoy wearing his corset at night. At first, under this rigid discipline, he will be restless, uncomfortable and unhappy. He has always been accustomed to relaxing in his bed, free from restraint, and he now finds himself closely confined and compelled to maintain the same posture throughout the night. The temptation to release himself from the corset, or to tamper with his laces and straps will be almost overpowering when he knows that the rest of the household is asleep and he is free from supervision. Consequently it is advisable to restrict the movement of his hands while he is in bed.
The best method is to firmly attach wide and carefully padded leather cuffs to both sides of his bed in a position where his wrists and forearms would naturally fall if he was lying in bed on his back. Fasten the cuffs securely around each of his wrists, making sure that he cannot free his hands. With the cuffs buckled on in this fashion the boy will be unable to reach any of the fastenings of his garments. He will also have to sleep on his back, which is the preferred position, because it allows full upper chest expansion when he is breathing. He may not like the restraining cuffs but he will eventually rest more easily with them on, and will not be able to loosen his laces and straps.
During the first few nights of bed corseting, the young man may be very restless and will not be able to sleep, but within a surprisingly short time Nature will take its course and he will sleep as well as he ever did. It is a good practice to ease his shoulder straps a little at night. This will help him to relax, while still not allowing him to round his shoulders.
There is no necessity for any extra restraining devices during the daytime. Proper supervision, and the fastening of his under and outer clothing at the back will effectively prevent him from tampering with the adjustments of his restrictive garments. He should not be left alone for long periods. Nor should he be left alone in the company of other boys of his own age, who are not themselves wearing tight corsets.
Another very important factor in a correct figure-training regime is proper supervision of the boy's diet. The general rule should be for him to have small, easily digested meals at frequent intervals. The aim should be to feed a well-balanced diet sufficient in quantity to keep the growing boy in good flesh. The reasons for such a regimen are obvious. The digestive organs are strictly confined in their corseted position, and if they are overloaded by large and bulky meals the result will be an uncomfortable feeling of fullness, followed sometimes by indigestion and severe distress.
A few simple dietary rules are given below:
1. Five small meals a day should become the rule, rather than fewer and larger meals. A suggested schedule is breakfast at 8 A.M., a light lunch at 11:00 A.M., lunch at 2:00 P.M., afternoon tea at 5:00 P.M., and dinner at 8:00 P.M.
2. Stimulants, such as tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages should be forbidden.
3. Sweets should be kept to a minimum.
4. Heavy, doughy and bulky foods should be avoided.
5. Liquid intake should be regulated to prevent discomfort.
6. Dietary emphasis should be placed on rye bread, and an adequate sufficiency of fresh fruit and vegetables
7. Administration of a daily fish-oil tonic is very beneficial.
8. Food should be eaten slowly, and every mouthful thoroughly chewed before swallowing.
9. Sufficient fruits and roughage should be eaten, to induce regular bowel movements. The boy should be watched closely in this respect since there is often a tendency towards mild bowel irregularity during the early period of the figure disciplining process. He should be trained to have one bowel movement a day immediately after rising in the morning. To allow him to use a commode or W.C. for a bowel movement it will be necessary to unfasten the boot straps, open the front apron and loosen the lower section of the back-laces from the curve of his posterior down. The upper section of the torso should be kept confined during this process and the internal organs will remain in the corseted position while the bowel movement takes place. He should have no difficulty within a short time, if careful supervision if maintained.
Also very important to the health and happiness of any boy or young man is regular exercise. His continued physical development within a tight corset depends to a large extent on supervised exercise of the right kind, and in the correct amounts. No exercise is more beneficial for the newly corseted boy than regularly scheduled, long, brisk walks. A good plan is to arrange for a two-hour walk every other day and to have a two hour deportment and exercise period on the alternate days.
During the first few weeks the walks should be rather short, gradually increasing in length as the subject learns to move more easily and rapidly while under close bodily restraint. After a month or so his mother should enforce a policy of longer, brisker walks, and should, within a six-month period, schedule walks as long as eight miles during the two hour walking period. Walking for such a distance, with his restricted waist and shortened stride, will not allow for any dawdling or rest periods and will give the boy sufficient exercise to tire him thoroughly, so that he will sleep well at night. Walks should take place regardless of the weather. If the boy is well wrapped up, he will suffer no harm from exposure to rainy or wintry weather.
On alternate days his two hour exercise and deportment programme should be held indoors with open windows. This programme may be varied but should include the following:
1. Fifteen minutes of breathing exercises.
2. Thirty minutes of supervised aerobics or callisthenics with light Indian clubs.
3. Thirty minutes of deportment drill, including training in going up and down stairs, sitting down and rising from a chair, and picking up objects from the floor.
4. Fifteen minutes of military marching drill to crisp commands, with correct and perfectly erect posture and proper carriage being strictly enforced.
5. Thirty minutes of fencing instructions, dancing or rope-skipping to induce grace and ease of movement. Again, as during the walking periods, the policy should be to keep the subject exercising briskly throughout the two-hour period to bring on a healthy feeling of tiredness.
It will be found to be beneficial to set up a regular daily schedule, and adhere to it closely.
A recommended regime is as follows:
1. 7:00 A.M. – Rise
2. 7:00-7:30 A.M. – Inspection, ablutions, sanitary requirements and dressing for the day.
3. 7:30-8:00 A.M. – Brisk walk in the garden.
4. 8:00-8:30 A.M. – Breakfast.
5. 8:30-11:00 A.M. – Studies in the school room.
6. 11:00-11:15 A.M.-- Light lunch.
7. 11:15-1:45 P.M. -- Studies in the school room.
8. 1:45-2:00 P.M. – Lunch.
9. 2:00-2:30 P.M. – Afternoon rest, lying down fully clothed.
10. 2:30-4:30 P.M. – Walking and exercise periods on alternate days.
11. 4:30-5:00 P.M. – Required reading, or various types of seated handiwork.
12. 5:00-5:30 P.M. – Tea.
13. 5:30-6:30 P.M. – Music and dancing lessons.
14. 6:30-7:30 P.M. – Supervised free time to be used for selected reading, writing, etc.
15. 7:30-8:00 P.M. – Dinner
16. 8:00-9:00 P.M. – Preparation for bed, undressing, inspection, sanitary requirements, tightening of corset and boots if the laces have become slack, and fastening into bed.
17. 9:00-7:00 A.M. – Bedtime.
It is not the purpose of this section to deal with the normal academic schooling of the boy, which will, of course, be undertaken by those who are suitably qualified, but only to speak of his education as it specifically applies to his figure training. There are several ways to help him to appreciate and accept the fact that, with the lacing up of his first corset, he has started what will be, for him, a life-long regime of tight lacing and rigid figure discipline.
1. He should learn "The Creed of the Male Corset Wearer" by heart and recite it three times daily
2. He should read papers or books that give details of figure training and its many benefits.
3. He should have as little contact as possible with uncorseted boys or men, and they should be pointed out to him as undesirable examples of the shapeless and slovenly figure.
4. Conversely, the people with whom he is in daily contact should always be firmly and rigidly corseted, as a good example to him. A boy who has been made to wear the strictest of training garments cannot be expected to readily adapt to them, if those who impose this discipline upon him do not themselves practice what they preach. It will be of considerable benefit to the trainee if his mother and other members of the household, both male and female, are strictly corseted and conform to a similar figure discipline, including constant wear.
5. Flattery can be a gentle method of persuasion. If the boy is complimented by members of his family and by his friends on the noticeable improvement in his carriage, deportment, and the excellent shaping of his figure and general appearance, then vanity will soon play its part and make his adjustment to figure discipline so much easier.
6. One hour a day should be devoted to teaching him the history and philosophy of corset discipline, stressing the life-long advantages as opposed to the temporary discomforts involved. These advantages, which may be elaborated on indefinitely, include the following:
(a) A boy or young man with a well supported and strictly corseted figure is attractive to both the male and female sex. His well defined small waist, and his elegant and erect posture are universal objects of admiration.
(b) The boy who has undergone a carefully supervised and assisted course of figure-training will arrive at his maturity in good health. He will tire less easily and generally be more active than uncorseted or incorrectly corseted young men.
(c) Corseted beauty lasts indefinitely. Once the desired measurements of waist, chest and hips have been achieved through constant corset compression, they will be relatively easy to maintain throughout a long and happy life.
(d) The corset moulds the body of the growing boy, and it also shapes his character. The boy who has accepted the discomforts of strict figure discipline, and has known the feeling of corseted well-being, will generally be upright, dignified, and submissive to proper authority.
As the figure-training routine progresses, with the young man being more and more severely confined and compressed, he will become physically dependent on the corset for support, and will begin to feel uncomfortable if he is not wearing it. Later still, he will begin to enjoy the many pleasurable sensations that only the most strictly corseted men know, and he will rejoice in the pleasant comfort and support of his tightly laced corset and the distinctive feelings of physical and mental well-being that will result from it.
He should be required to memorise The Creed of the Male Corset Wearer, and to recite it at regular times each day, while at all times maintaining a perfect posture, and in the presence of an older person in authority. This person should insist upon the clear and distinct pronunciation of every word, and the daily recitation of the Creed in a sincere and convincing manner. This is important; for it is a known fact that a such formula, if spoken frequently and in a proper manner, will prepare the trainee's mind to receive the many truths that are expressed therein, whereas a perfunctory, and spiritless delivery will be utterly ineffective for this purpose. Never permit the boy to make light of this duty, and always make him put his whole heart and soul into the daily recitation of the Creed.
Any story that amounts to nothing more than the bare facts about "The Corsets I Have Worn, And What It Felt Like," can soon become repetitious to the point of boredom! For the present, it is sufficient to say that I did eventually manage to try on the corselette and discovered that it was another interesting but unpleasant experience.
Reason told me that the best method would be to step into the garment, take a firm grip at the top and pull upwards, as I had done with the roll-on girdle. Unfortunately, the brassiere now proved to be the principal obstacle, because it was rather flimsy and did not stretch; making it feel as if it was about to disintegrate at any moment. It was better to by-pass the brassiere; take a firm grip on the elastic lower down, and pull everything upwards. I had to pull very hard indeed because this really was a tough one! The band of elastic at the waist was extremely strong, and I had a considerable struggle to persuade it to move up over my hips. At one point I wondered whether it might not have been more correct to have put it on over my head, and pulled it downwards!
Eventually, and after a great deal of effort, it popped up over my hip bones and began to grip me very firmly around the waist. I continued to pull the top part over my rib cage and much higher than any previous garment, until I was left with only the lacy brassiere section. There were two thin, dainty cups at the front; each with a thicker hem around their circumference. The cups had been placed side by side, and sewn together at their inner ends. It was difficult to give an accurate description of their shape - roughly conical - but not quite so. I had previously tried to fill both cups by inserting my clenched fists into each one, but this had been most unsatisfactory. My advertisements had taught me enough to know that a brassiere was only of use to a woman; and that, on her, it might perform a useful function. It was nothing more than a useless encumbrance on me. It got in my way, and spoilt my fun!
It was difficult to push my arms through the two shoulder straps. The first strap was comparatively easy because I had some slack to play with; but the second nearly proved to be too much for me. My arm would not twist into the right position, and I had to try folding it and attempting to push my elbow through first. I tried various different twists and turns, until I eventually became hopelessly jammed. And then I started to develop a severe cramp in my biceps muscle; unbearably painful; rapidly becoming worse, making me quickly wrench my arm free, to the accompaniment of slight tearing noises from the brassiere! I had to shake my arm violently to try and ease the cramp.
My principal fault, (or so I have often been told by Dorothy) is that I never know when to give up! After a short breather I made another attempt, and was surprised to find that on this occasion my arm slipped straight into and through the second shoulder strap with no difficulty at all. Some pulling and twitching caused both straps to tighten over my shoulders, and when it all felt about right I made my customary excursion to the mirror.
The strong elastic belt was reducing my waist quite appreciably; my hips were smoothly outlined; but now it was the brassiere that was so totally wrong! The two empty cups were pulled outwards and had become elongated, making the centres hang loose and flaccid, and completely spoiling the ensemble. I looked most peculiar, and the strong elastic was beginning to add its own series of discomforts. My skin was trying to protrude between the grossly stretched weave of the material, and it felt as if I was developing a rash of goose pimples wherever the elastic touched me. The tips of the pimples were cold, and the waist band was by now exerting all its strength; causing me tight constricting pains and taking away all the pleasure.
The whole experience had been most unpleasant, so I pulled my arms out of the shoulder straps and struggled to remove the corselette by pushing both hands down my sides, inside the elastic, and then levering downwards. This action produced some more tearing noises, but by now I was past caring. Once again everything was carefully restored to its place in the drawer, and all the traces of my activities were removed. I decided I would save the last two garments for some future and suitable occasion.
But then - my luck ran out!
There were no more opportunities, and it became apparent that I was now the one who was being kept under observation. Was it possible that Auntie had, somehow, become aware of my activities? I was never left on my own; some doors were locked; my entrance was barred to certain rooms, and I was not permitted to roam as freely as before. Nothing was said, but there was no doubt that I was completely out of favour with all the adults!
We moved away from Grandad's house soon after this, and went to live in a very small house of our own. I had a decent sized room to myself, with a window that looked out directly on to a high brick wall, about three feet away. This was not a real disadvantage because it meant that my activities could not be observed by any curious passers-by. I could stand up straight, and get into bed without any difficulty, but the furniture was a most inferior quality. The gimcrack dressing table had no bottom in it, and there was no suitable hiding place for my scrapbook. In the end I had to hide the book under my mattress, and hope for the best.
Now began a long period of frustration. I tried to console myself by wearing Mother's maternity belt as a temporary substitute, but neither the belt nor the rubber corset were anywhere to be found. She must have disposed of both garments without my knowledge; leaving me feeling cheated and deprived. I had to exist on my collection of advertisements, and the few references that I could find in books or magazines.
My next development can best be described as Mental Assessment, or possibly Private Study. It was an in-depth classification of the wide diversity of shapes and sizes of women; closely coupled with an attempt to visualise the type of corset that each one would be wearing. I had assembled an extensive mental library of the different types of foundation garments, and found it interesting to look at an anonymous woman in the street; select the ideal garment for her and then picture it in position. Of necessity, it had to be a purely mental exercise, but it was surprising how it was to affect my future life, and I soon became a skilled observer.
I began with an comprehensive study of Mother; although she was not the easiest of subjects. She was my mother; my single parent; but we had never been really close. I was cared for; dressed and fed; but there was never any sign of any affection from her. I existed - I required various essentials. They were provided; but it was all done without any attempt at warmth or "Motherly Love."
I had never known my Father; and Mother had always refused to talk about him, even though I tried to raise the matter on numerous occasions. At first she was evasive, and she eventually became extremely annoyed whenever I mentioned him. She used her annoyance as a weapon against me, and I countered this by reinforcing my defences by adding an extra hardened and outer protective shell, which fitted neatly over my comfortable inner cocoon. It was useful to be able to retreat into this safe haven whenever life became too unbearable at home.
Mother had no outstanding features, and could only be classified as "Medium." Of medium height, with a rounded sort of face; medium brown hair, which she kept at about medium length; slightly curly, but without any particular style or shape. She had an indeterminate kind of figure, that was not helped by her clothes. She wore loose fitting jumpers and cardigans in washed-out and pale-ish colours, and a straight-ish skirt which was baggy in the seat and did not fit her at all well. She insisted on wearing flat heeled shoes, and had no use for make-up.
She was taken for processing through my system, and all her personal requirements were analysed. I decided she would look much better if she could be persuaded to wear a medium to well-boned corset of the front lacing type; shaped to draw in her waist a little, and giving support to her back. This would assist her to stand up straight, and add to the illusion of height.
Of course, she might be one of the many women who were averse to the laced type of corset, in which case I would suggest one of a wide choice of strong and high waisted girdles. I could think of two models that would be ideal. Either one would offer her a pleasant combination of comfort and support, and; having dealt with her foundation problems she could then attend to the other aspects of her wardrobe.
But; to return to the story. Time moved on; with me still filled with yearning, and my mind always straying into the strange world of fantasy. I once overheard somebody use the expression "Well Corseted." What did it mean? What did it involve? And, most of all; what did it feel like to be Well Corseted? It gave me several enjoyable hours of pleasant anticipation and conjecture, and made me decide that my final objective would be to be really Well Corseted.
Corset DiarySome memories from my youth. I remember sitting with the other ladies of the family. I was wearing a lightly boned bodice type of garment. It was secured with laces and buckles, and Oh! how those buckles did creak! Following every creak, I would be sternly told to "Keep still." The creaks would often come from Mother, Gran, or one of my aunts, who were all tightly laced into long and heavily boned corsets. Nevertheless, it was always me who was blamed for the noise, and who would be threatened with "Tighter lacing yet, my girl!"
The conversation would always be about clothes or hats, and finished with long discussions about various corsets, for different occasions. They would finally turn to the question of what type and size I would have to wear. How high should it be? be? Should it have shoulder straps, or double laces? How about an eighteen inch long busk? Perhaps an underbusk of quarter inch steel could be forced down behind the corset busk. I would be rolled on my tummy on the floor, and two of my aunts would methodically lace me until I cried. I was made to wear stockings and high heels even at that age.
Matron had creaked; a board in Mother's bedroom had creaked; and now a board in my own bedroom was creaking; and it was a constant source of annoyance to me. The bedroom floor had been stained a dark brown, with the only floor covering being a small rug at the side of my bed, and the creaking noise was coming from beneath the rug. I pulled the rug aside, discovered a bare patch of wood, walked all over it, and was able to pinpoint the creak which came from a short length of board that pivoted about its centre like a small see-saw. The board had not been nailed down, and was easy to raise when I inserted a kitchen knife at one end and applied some gentle leverage.
There were three big wooden beams below the board, and I could see the lath and plaster of the ceiling of the room below mine. A metal pipe, about one inch thick, ran between the beams; close to one beam, and parallel to all three. A screwed joint in the pipe was just below the board. I tentatively poked my arm into the dark cavity, and discovered an ideal hiding place; big enough for my scrapbook, with plenty of room to spare for any future acquisitions.
A closer examination revealed that the board had two little round holes in one end; presumably where it had originally been nailed down. I threaded a short length of string through the holes and made a small loop. This gave me a convenient handle with which to lift out the board. All I had to do was insert my finger into the loop, pull up the board, and I had secure storage facilities again.
It was shortly after this that Mother paid one of her periodic visits to an elderly Aunt of hers; a lady who was sick, bedridden, and not expected to live much longer. I was taken along, and warned to be on my best behaviour. I was informed that the lady, my Great Aunt, was about eighty years old and that she was understood to be "Well off," although I could not see the significance of this at the time. She lived alone in the ground floor room of her house, with a neighbour acting as her daily help and companion. Her Doctor and the District Nurses made frequent visits, and she seemed to be well cared for and looked after.
The neighbour let us in, and then left us alone in the house with the old lady. She had been propped up in her bed, and was being supported by a nest of pillows. She was really wrinkled and thin, and her black beady eyes kept constantly flickering all round the room, and returning to settle on me. Her bony hands lay on top of the bed, trembling all the time. They had coarse blue veins, that stood out against the translucent and mottled whiteness of her skin. She had obviously taken an instant dislike to me, and as far as I was concerned the feeling was entirely mutual! Her flickering eyes and trembling hands were unpleasant to look at, and made me feel most uncomfortable.
Mother sat down at the side of the bed and began talking earnestly to the old lady, and saying nice things to her. I soon became bored with all this chatter and began to fidget. Every time I moved, the old lady's black eyes flickered towards me, and I had to make an excuse to go upstairs to the toilet and get away from her. All the doors to the upstairs rooms were open, and I could see that many items of furniture had been either stripped down or covered with dust sheets. There was a general aura of damp; and the air smelled fusty, stale, and unused.
I could not resist this heaven sent opportunity to go "Drawer Looking," and tiptoed into one of the rooms, opened a drawer at random and stumbled on TREASURE! There was a long pink cardboard box in the drawer, with a picture of a well corseted lady on its lid. I took an immediate liking to that lady. She was sincere - and she liked me! She was the first lady who had ever liked me, and although she was only a picture, she was unique! Her head was tilted to one side; with her hair bundled on to the top of her head and secured with a wide ribbon. The expression on her face was calm; demure, and serene.
She was standing with one hand behind her back, and the other hand resting lightly upon her bosom, as though she was beckoning me. It was impossible to resist her invitation, and, tense with anticipation, I reached out and lifted the lid off the box, to reveal several layers of tissue paper which rustled loudly as soon as I tried unwrap them. I only had time for a brief glance at a brand new, strong, well boned and front laced garment, and at that precise moment my mother shouted: "What are you doing up there? COME DOWN! AT ONCE!"
I hastily put the lid back on the box; closed the drawer, and went downstairs, trying not to look as red in the face as I felt! I had almost been caught in the act, that time, and I swore to myself that I would try and forget all about this silly obsession and turn my mind to other things.
After leaving school I worked for a short and unhappy time as an apprentice in a factory; but soon abandoned that in favour of joining the Army. These few formative years were not a pleasant time in my life, and I was plagued with a number of mixed and conflicting emotions. I was making earnest efforts to change my ways and grow up, but I still had this passionate desire to wear a corset. Call me stupid, if you want to - everybody else did! It happened all the time, and I became quite used to it.
My layers of protective covering were dismantled and rebuilt to include a stronger inner cocoon; covered with a hide like a rhinoceros, and then topped with a hardened armoured carapace similar to a tortoise. I felt quite safe inside all these layers, and could weave all my fantasies, formulate my many desires, and predetermine all my arguments with other people so that I would emerge victorious from every one. Nobody could hurt me, and their most persistent efforts just bounced off, leaving me absolutely invulnerable. It proved to be a great comfort when facing up to the various obstacles that still awaited me in the future.
This desire - this awful yearning, was forever present; resembling a suppurating and painful ulcer; and the more I thought about it the worse it became! I was an only child, with no real friends; nobody to help me, and a mother who considered me something of a nuisance. I was nothing more than a liability to her, until I was able to earn some money and pay for my keep. This meant that I did not have enough money for my own use, and it just seemed to dissolve away each week. I wanted to buy a corset of my own, but could not afford one. There was also the corset at my Great Aunt's house, but short of burglary there was no way I could get to it.
The Army laid hands on me; trying to "Make a Man" of me, and I quite enjoyed the life at first. It was full of interest and there was a great deal to learn, with little time to spare for my personal indulgences. There were some signs that I might at last be losing my desire.
After about three years of military service the Army released me. I was much taller, and physically a great deal better in every way. My surplus fat had been burnt off by the action and exercise; my mind was quite clear, having been purged of all thoughts about corsetry, and, had it not been for a most unfortunate combination of circumstances the rest of this book might never have been written!
It would be unfair of me to try and place the blame for my downfall on the broad shoulders of the London Passenger Transport Board, but nevertheless they did unwittingly provide the cause!
I had to set about finding a job, and earning my own living, as soon as possible, and one of my various job applications resulted in my being asked to attend for an interview in London. This was to be my first solo visit to the Capital City, and when I arrived at the railway terminus I had to decipher the mysteries of the London Underground network. I found my destination on a large map; bought a ticket; encountered my first escalator; and accomplished the transition from terra firma to moving staircase without undue difficulty; and stood there gazing about me with great interest as the escalator descended.
There was a neat row of framed advertisements, stepping in an orderly sequence down the wall at the side of the escalator. My eyes nearly popped out, at the sight of them, because practically every other one showed a photograph of a lady, wearing a tight lacing corset! She was looking back over her shoulder; pulling the laces, and smiling at me!
I used all my mental strength; trying to reduce the speed of the escalator in order to make a close study of the pictures. My eyes protruded still more, and it was a wonder that they did not leave two long and wet smears all the way down the wall. To add to my problems, I could not help noticing that all the windows of the department stores were filled with a profusion of exotic corsetry in a wide variety of colours and styles.
Soon after this event I went to the cinema, back in my home town. I was nicely settled in and enjoying the main feature, when two women appeared on the screen in close-up. One woman was helping to lace the other into a wasp waisted corset, and the woman who was being laced kept crying "Pull - pull! Oh, harder! I want it to be tighter; much tighter! I must look my best tonight!"
That was the moment when I knew that I would have to continue. There was no use trying to ignore it, and no way to rid myself of this desire. I had to wear a tight corset, as soon as possible. I had become completely hooked - if that is the correct expression to use!
My road through life seems to have been constantly strewn with tasty morsels that kept leading me on, when all my common sense dictated that I should ignore them. Sometimes, when I am sitting "In vacant, or in pensive mood," I wonder what strange forces are at work, controlling our destinies. Why had I been chosen to travel this particular road? What would be the next impossible hurdle to overcome? True to form, it was not to be long before "Something too good to miss" appeared ahead of me.
My Great Aunt died; and my Mother, the nearest of the surviving relatives, went to the house to make the necessary arrangements and begin the house clearance. I went with her on that first visit, and we spent most of our time disposing of the multitude of bottles and boxes of medicines and pills the old lady had collected over the years. There were literally hundreds of them, with every flat surface carrying a wide assortment; not to mention the many more that filled numerous cupboards around the house. Mother sorted through them all, and I made several trips to the dustbin before making the offer to look for any others that might be upstairs.
Mother decided she wanted a cup of tea and set about making it, so I seized my chance, hurried upstairs and opened the drawer. "JOY OF JOYS!" - the corset was there! The lady on the box lid offered me the same smiling encouragement, and I struggled to steady my trembling limbs as I reached forward and removed the lid from the box; unfolded the tissue paper, and lifted out the corset. I was surprised at its weight and stiffness, and then horrified when I pulled at the knotted lace, to have it suddenly dissolve into a long length of lace that trailed across the floor. Now I had definitely committed myself; because there was no way I could hope to restore the lace to its original neat shape.
There was no time to lose, and certainly no time for experiments. Great Speed was essential, so I searched the box lid for any instructions. Above the lady's head were the words: "THE ELFRIDA FOUNDATION," in large letters, and below her, in smaller print, "With patent fastening; strong lacing, full boning, and six adjustable suspenders."
This did not help at all, so I remembered my Army training and "Acted On My Own Initiative." The stiff patent fastening had studs on one side and holes on the other, but this was not the time for a full examination or prolonged survey, because rapid action was now becoming more than vital. I made a frantic attempt to unravel the crossed laces and enlarge the corset to something near my natural size, but became totally frustrated as my clumsy fingers tied themselves in knots!
I dropped my trousers and pants, struggled to wrap the stiff corset around my body; twisted round; positioning the clip down my left side, and by an incredible stroke of luck, was able to insert one stud into one of the holes. Then I used the full length of the laces to tie the corset to my body, like wrapping up a parcel! Blind panic took over as I struggled to bend and pick up my trousers, and I eventually had to squat down to reach them. I pulled them up; smoothed myself down; fastened all three buttons on my jacket, and fervently prayed that Mother would not notice anything unusual.
I offered a brief vote of thanks to the lady on the corset box lid; replaced her in the drawer, and finally walked carefully down the stairs, to find that Mother had poured the tea and was coming to look for me. I needed that tea! For some strange reason my mouth had suddenly dried up, and I drank thirstily while trying to appear normal in every way and remain undetected.
Time seemed to drag after that, and it was a great relief when we eventually left the house to go and catch our bus. I walked behind Mother as much as possible, and was extremely polite about standing up on the bus and offering my seat to ladies. It was as well that I had the chance, because I was finding it impossible to sit down! I quickly shut myself in my bedroom when we arrived home; unravelled my lashings, took off the corset, and slid it neatly into my hiding place.
I lay on my bed and tried to relax, putting my mind into neutral and letting it roam freely over the many and varied pleasures that my future life had to offer.
"........From now on, life will all be corseted comfort. Comfortable support. A new shape; narrow waisted; slim hipped, and an upright stance; giving a feeling of well being all the time........"
I assessed and re-assessed each of the alternative possibilities; looking closely at the other side of the coin, and searching for any slight drawbacks or flaws, but there were none at all.
"......From this day forward, my entire life would be an uninterrupted and never ending sequence of total enjoyment......"
Although it happened so many years ago, it is easy to recall my first feelings of rapture and success. Thinking about it; yearning for it, and now, at last - to have it! My first, my very own corset! Now I could honestly say that all my dreams had come true.
A few interminably long days went by before any further progress was possible, and then I began by subjecting the garment to a close study. It was, of course, basically the customary drab pink colour, although the material was of superior quality. It was thicker, and had a bold pattern of leaves and flowers woven into it. I knew nothing about flowers, and was unable to identify any of the species; but the floral decoration and the superior quality of the cloth added a touch of class to the garment.
The "Patent Fastening" was made from two stiff metal strips, sewn inside the cloth at either end of the corset. One strip had five little metal studs, like miniature collar studs, projecting from its front face. The top four studs were evenly spaced, but the bottom one was closer to the others, and I wondered if there could be any reason for this unusual arrangement. The other strip had five metal loops, or eyes extending from its outer edge, and the loops emerged through the cloth of the corset. Each loop was roughly semi-circular in shape, and had a pear shaped hole punched in its centre, with the holes being spaced to mate with the projecting studs on the other strip. The studs and loops were highly polished and shiny, and below the two metal strips the remainder of the front was fastened by four conventional hooks and eyes of the popular, and familiar type.
The laces were new; flat; long, and of much stronger construction than the laces on Mother's maternity belt. They passed through alternate holes; following the customary criss-crossed pattern, and the long loops of lace both emerged at a point where I assumed that the waist level must be. The laces continued upwards for a further four holes beyond the waist level, and implied that this would be the highest laced garment that I had yet worn. There was an extra strip of cloth directly behind the lacing, and it had two eyelet holes at the top and bottom, through which the laces had been worked. The reason for this strip at first eluded me, until I deduced that it was a refinement that had been added as a means of preventing the wearer's flesh protruding through the laces, as it had on the occasion of my first attempt at lacing.
There were some further touches of quality, and both the eyelet holes and the small metal sleeves at the ends of the laces had been painted with shiny pink paint, which made them look much better than the dull grey eyelets on Mother's maternity belt. The "Six Adjustable Suspenders" were also of superior quality, and incorporated a device that allowed the wearer to individually adjust their length. There was a shiny metal clip, about half way up the elastic, designed to hinge upwards, and slide up and down to lengthen or shorten the suspenders and lock them into any desired position. The clip had a row of tiny and serrated teeth that engaged in the elastic and effectively prevented any slippage. I spent some time playing with the clip; sliding it up and down, securing it at different points on the elastic, and found it to be a very clever and reliable invention.
The corset contained an interesting selection of boning. Four full length bones at the back; parallel to each other, about one and one half inches apart, and very stiff. They had all been sewn into separate pockets in similar fashion to mother's maternity belt, and the rest of the back section was filled up with numerous shorter bones; graded in length like organ pipes. The bones at the side of the corset were full length, but they were much more flexible, and felt rather ridgy, within their taped sleeves.
The front bones were again of the stiff variety, but they were not full length. A thin bone was set at either side of the row of laces, and a total of six standard width bones was evenly distributed around the frontal area. These were all the same length as the patent fastener, but the lower front section had no boning. It was the most comprehensive set of boning I had ever seen, and it was a great help to my process of learning.
I sat on my bed, with the corset draped across my knees, and practised opening and closing the front clip, until I was quite familiar with the operation. When I tried my usual trick of closing the front clip, and the hooks and eyes, and then inserting both hands inside the closed corset, I discovered that it was narrow at the waist, and not much wider over the hips. I was not sure what shape my Great Aunt had been, but I reasoned that if she could have worn this one then she must have been about the same shape as Matron; tall and straight - and similar to the shape that I had become since leaving the Army!
When I laid the corset flat on the bed, and ran my fingers lightly across the material, I could feel a series of hard and rigid raised strips, similar to those on Matron's corset. This was an encouraging sign that I was moving along the right lines in my never ending quest for knowledge, and I felt encouraged to continue.
One of the most enduring aspects of my life has been the deep sense of excitement that is always triggered off by the anticipation of any new corset. The excitement was very pronounced on that first occasion; and was to be repeated many times in subsequent years. It increased considerably when I was able to share my pleasures with Dorothy.
I would be afflicted with a tingling sensation upon the surface of my skin; a raising of my pulse rate; and a strange feeling akin to hyperactivity, which had the effect of speeding up all my physical movements and sending my mental processes into slow motion. In these modern times it would probably be dismissed as a simple case of Nervous Tension; but in my early years it was much, much more than that!
It was never easy for me to restrain my natural impatience; but it would have been the height of stupidity to sacrifice everything by taking any unnecessary risks. My mother had often displayed a surprising ability to move quickly; and she could strike suddenly and painfully if my activities required correction! There was always the chance that she might make an unexpected entrance when I was engaged in my pleasant diversions; or, worse than that, at some point where it would be quite impossible for me to take any evasive action, and I dreaded to think what might happen if she found me! She was completely unaware of my interest in corsets, and I wanted her to continue her ignorance!
Her visits to the local shops were usually of a short duration, and would certainly not allow me to do all that I desired. I estimated that I would need a full hour to be sure of complete success, and I was glad when she announced that she was "Going into Town" on her own, which involved a twenty minute bus journey each way. I did some intricate mathematical calculations about times and distances; adding a reasonable allowance for shopping, and decided that the results appeared to be encouraging enough for me to make my first attempt.
Mother left the house; and I kept a close watch from behind the curtains until I saw her safely on to the bus, and knew that the coast was clear. Then it was time to hurry up to my room; lift the rug and the board; take out my corset; drop my trousers and pants to the floor; wrap the corset around myself, and encounter my next brief disappointment.
There was a wide gap between the two edges, and the stiff clasp showed a marked reluctance to fasten at the side of my body. I referred to my scrapbook and quickly turned over a few pages until I found a picture of a front lacing corset, similar to, but not exactly the same as my own. The lady in the picture was wearing her garment with the clasp AT THE FRONT, with the lacing slightly to one side! I had automatically, and incorrectly, assumed that the corset should fasten at the side, and this explained why it was so difficult to sit down with it on when I first wore it on the interminable journey on the bus. There was a considerable improvement when I moved the fastener to the front, and the corset began to conform closely to the contours of my body.
I opened the laces out to their fullest extent; put the corset on again, and began to fasten the two halves of the clasp. The bottom stud was quite proficiently engaged into the bottom hole; but when I tried to insert the upper studs, the lower one repeatedly popped open again. I solved this problem by first engaging the upper of the two closely spaced studs, and this acted as a kind of pivot; allowing the upper studs to move inward, while the lower stud went outwards. Then, with a quick and expert twist of the wrist all five studs could be located into their respective holes, and the clasp - or Busk, as it was to be more correctly termed - was then easily and securely fastened. The lower hooks and eyes presented no problem, and were in their turn quickly fastened. I could feel a new and pleasant sensation beginning to steal over me, because everything was starting to feel exactly as I had imagined it would!
The lower edge of the corset was correctly positioned; well below my bottom at the back, and just concealing my private parts at the front. The waist loops were both located at the point where my waist ought to be, and the upper half was rising comfortably around my lower ribs.
The manipulation and adjustment of the laces was accomplished by following a procedure similar to the one I had used with mother's maternity belt; beginning at the lower edge; carefully closing the laces, and pulling all the slack upwards until I reached the waist loops. I paused for a few moments, before taking a firm grip on the laces; then wrapped them round my hands, and pulled as hard as possible. It felt as if my waist had been greatly reduced, and I was now being tightly restrained all the way round the lower part of my body. There was no point in overdoing things, so I tied a knot in the laces; wrapped the surplus lace around my waist several times, and tied another knot.
This first success was followed by an enjoyable session of running my hands up, down, and all over the taut material at my front, back and sides. There was a series of raised ridges, spaced out at regular intervals around my back - just like Matron's. I was being held in a firmly erect position - just like Matron; and, when I carefully bent forward, against the resistance of the bones the corset gave a slight creak - exactly like Matron's! So now I really was making satisfactory progress.
Walking along the passage outside my bedroom brought with it a whole new consciousness of the stiff bones holding me upright; the front lacing compacting and restraining my stomach, and all my bodily movements being firmly controlled. The height of the boning served to extend the area of control above my waist, and prevent any tendency for surplus flesh to squeeze out over the top of the corset. The un-boned section of the lower front allowed me a degree of freedom when bending, but the extended back and sides came much further down; applying a new and unaccustomed tightness around the tops of my legs, restricting my movements and forcing me to walk with short steps rather than my usual long loping strides.
So - This Was It! This was the type of laced, boned, and well reinforced corset that Matron must have worn, to make her stand so erect. I retreated inside my safe cocoon; now greatly assisted by my new "Visible Means of Support," and began a piece by piece comparison of myself and Matron; eventually reaching the conclusion that she must have been a very happy woman if she had enjoyed the experience as much as I had!
My Gran liked to wear stiff; heavy, and very tight Victorian corsets. Both Aunts wore the long and straight busked Edwardian corsets, and Mum favoured the high waist to low hip, busked and laced corsets. The six of us would have a weekly corset tightening session. The six being Gran, Mum, two aunts, cousin Joan and myself. Joan was my aunt's daughter, and was a few years my senior.
I want to keep myself tightly laced while you are here, and I shall want you to tighten me up. Then I want to put some more corsets on top, and you can lace me up again. You will be the first man ever to witness this, and to see and feel my corsets.
Success, and Setback.
That first success with its various attendant sensations did much to stimulate my early interest; and I am often reminded of the many conflicting emotions that plagued me at that time. Take, as an example, the death of my Great Aunt. I know I should have been expressing some form of emotion or giving the appearance of sympathy, because that was what everybody else seemed to be doing. I can recall many occasions when perfect strangers would approach either my mother or myself, and say how sorry they were to hear about the old lady's death. On the contrary; I was only conscious of a sudden flood of hope. Was the corset still reposing in the drawer in the upstairs room? Had anyone found it, and - horror - disposed of it? Could I find some legitimate reason for calling at the house; or possibly even breaking in, if that was the only alternative!
Mother said she would have to go and see about clearing out some of the old lady's things, and I exerted every ounce of my influence to try and convince her that I could be of considerable assistance, if there was any heavy lifting or furniture removing to be done. She finally and grudgingly conceded that I might be of some use after all, and I had to rush to my bedroom and stuff a pillow into my mouth to conceal my obvious pleasure. Any sign of happiness on my part would have aroused all her suspicions, which might have caused her to withdraw her invitation, and that would have been totally unbearable.
My hope became delight; and my delight, in turn, became joy as we drew near to our destination. I can still recall the absolutely uncontrollable sense of hysterical elation as I opened the drawer; immediately replaced by my blind and frenzied panic as I struggled to tie myself into the corset with fingers that refused to work! The prolonged series of tensions induced by the fear of discovery on the endless journey home; followed by a completely new awareness of just what I had done. Guilt! Self doubt; and the unimaginably terrible consequences if my mother had noticed that I was wearing the corset; all mixed up with the overall sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Finally; shall I ever forget the wholly inexpressible feeling of profound relief when I was able to slide the corset into its hiding place, and know that, at last, I could relax!
My subsequent corset wearing sessions had to be restricted to the limited occasions when Mother left me in the house on my own, which meant, of necessity, that they had to be very brief. Nevertheless, they were most enjoyable. My speed and efficiency when fastening the busk and adjusting the laces improved every time; allowing me to become well accustomed to the various pleasures that are associated with wearing a corset - and please believe me when I say that there is no other feeling on earth that can compare with it!
I started work as a New Business Inspector with an Insurance Company, shortly after joining the ranks of corset wearers. The work required me to do a considerable amount of travelling between different towns in the locality, and make calls upon prospective clients. One of the senior Inspectors took me round the area, and introduced me to several important customers. After he had given me a thorough grounding, he decided that I could manage on my own and sent me out upon an unsuspecting world.
The other two Inspectors had cars, and I was given a rather vague promise that "A Company vehicle might be provided at some future date." I had to travel on buses and trains at first, and quickly became something of an expert with timetables, and was able to cover great distances in the course of my working day. All this travelling provided me with an ideal opportunity to discover fresh corset shops, and pinpoint the most interesting ones within my allotted area. I confined my activities to making careful examinations of the range of garments displayed in the shop windows at first, and then developed an interesting pastime of trying to relate the many different types of garments to the various people in each of the towns.
I noticed that the high class shops in select areas would usually display flimsy and decorative garments, in a variety of colours, whereas the smaller back street shops preferred to show the more popular drab pink type of garment. Towns engaged in heavy industry would favour the heavily boned and laced corsets; and the most firmly boned, waist defining, back lacing garments were available in a seaport, well known for its fishing industry. After a short investigation I discovered that ladies who were employed in fish processing would have to spend many hours of their working day standing up, with their bodies bent forward over their workbenches, and they knew all the advantages of a strongly supportive corset. All this research, and careful study may not have done much to increase New Business for my employers, but it certainly helped to expand my fund of knowledge, and add pleasure to my working day.
I regularly passed by one shop; often going out of my way to have a look at the goods on display in the window. The principal feature was a large banner advert pasted across the full width of the shop window, which read:- "Corsets in all sizes - from 23" to 48" waist!" I shuddered at the thought of a Forty Eight Inch Waist, but was rather attracted to a waist of twenty three inches. I had used a tape measure on numerous occasions; noting that my normal next-to-skin waist measured thirty two inches. I could reduce myself to twenty nine inches for short periods when I succeeded in lacing my present corset fully closed.
I extended my window gazing by visiting museums and reference libraries in the various towns. I was making a fascinating study of the Victorians, and learning all about their considerable experience of corsets. I had discovered several references to an Eighteen Inch, or "Hand span" waist, and was avidly pursuing this line of enquiry at every possible opportunity. Second hand bookstalls were scoured for suitable books, and, if possible, pictures. One magazine article mentioned that the correspondence columns of some Victorian magazines were a fruitful source of information; adding that many of these could be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. I decided that I would have to make a pilgrimage in search of further knowledge before very long.
I continued wearing my corset at home as often as possible, and without being detected; until I finally decided that the time had come for me to try wearing it for a whole day, as a prelude to full time wear. My future plans called for me to visit a City; the work would keep me there all day, and I was going to travel on the train; so the signs and portents appeared ideal for a first attempt. I rose especially early, while Mother was still enjoying her "Lie-in;" quietly took my corset from its hiding place, and following the usual procedure put it on. I completed dressing and carefully studied myself in my small mirror for any tell-tale signs, but apart from having to pull my trouser belt two holes smaller than normal, there was nothing unusual to be seen.
I set off for work in the usual way; trying to act normally and avoid physical contact with other people; left the office; caught my train; secured a compartment to myself, and sat there feeling happy and comfortable. I paid a visit to the toilet at the end of the corridor before arriving at my destination, and carried out an inspection. There was a tendency for the lower front lacing to want to bunch up slightly, but apart from that, everything seemed to be in order.
Most of the day had to be assigned to essential business; but I examined as many corset shop windows as possible as I moved around the area. During my lunch break I allowed myself time for a brief visit to the main library, where I found several new books about costume and fashion; most of which contained references to corsetry, but I was unable to spare any time to go to the Museum.
It had been a satisfactory day, and I derived a great deal of pleasure from looking at other corsets whilst wearing my own, but it was becoming borne upon me that I was starting to suffer from severe discomfort, and that some adjustment was urgently required. After boarding the train, I made straight for the toilet; locked the door, and had a good look at myself. The principal problem was that the lower lacing had continued to bunch up, and had now formed itself into a hard ridge, which was cutting into the tops of my legs and causing an area of severe inflammation.
There was no obvious remedy other than a general loosening of the lacing, and this enabled me to continue wearing the corset until I arrived back home. Once there I stripped off as soon as possible, to find that the tops of both legs were now extremely inflamed and sore due to the constant rubbing of my skin against the bunched material. I decided it was better not to wear a corset on the following day, and this meant that I had a miserable day, with the feeling that something was missing!
This unexpected setback caused me to spend a long time searching for a solution. How could I overcome the problem of the front lacing riding up? There had to be some simple solution, and as usual there was! I had a sudden flash of inspiration:
The downward pull of a pair of stockings should compensate for the riding up of the corset. I had the "Six Adjustable Suspenders." They were designed to hold up stockings, and just at present they were hanging about and doing nothing at all!
So - my next logical step would have to be the purchase of a pair of stockings, and this presented me with an entirely new challenge. What size - What type - Where from? My mother wore stockings, but it would obviously be a serious mistake to try and take any of hers. I did look at a new pair, sealed in a packet in her bedroom drawer, and decided to try and buy a similar pair for myself. I carefully noted the size and type, and then spent some time preparing for the expedition, and trying to convince myself that it should not be too difficult.
I have already mentioned my childhood shyness; and my early manhood could probably be described as a constant state of defensive insecurity. I also suffered from a "Morbid Fear of Shop Assistants." I am not sure if there is a word to describe the phobia, but I was afflicted with an advanced form of the malady, with complications! Shortage of breath; shivering; weakness of the knees, and a complete inability to deliver a well rehearsed set of words in the correct order. My general condition became worse rather than better, as I grew older.
I made many determined efforts to overcome my deficiency by entering each new situation with a wide choice of specially prepared mental arguments. Each could be varied to suit different situations, but all were based upon a standard scenario. First, there would be a preliminary skirmish; during which both parties would state their respective points of view. Once that had been accomplished, I would say "this;" my opponent would say "This!," and I, with a brilliant master stroke would say "THIS!!," and would conclusively win the argument. Game; Set, and match; Checkmate! Leaving my opponent totally vanquished, and suitably chastened.
The arguments were prepared well in advance, and then honed to perfection shortly before the encounter. It was a perfect strategy, and it allowed me to enter every new arena with a full measure of confidence. It suffered from only one slight, but definite, flaw......
Unfortunately; when it came to reality, things never seemed to work out in quite the way I had planned!
How would the shop staff react when a man tried to buy women's things? I spent many fruitless hours, trying to convince myself there was nothing to worry about. Most of the corset shops had stockings on display, but I lacked the courage to go in and ask for them. Large department stores offered more of a welcome, and displayed a wide range of stockings, although there were none of the kind that I wanted. I was looking for a special type, known as "Nylons," and, in my innocence, I did not know that Nylon stockings were much sought after, and were in very short supply in the early Nineteen Fifties.
Meticulous plans were laid, and I chose a large town with several department stores in close proximity. This should enable me to find the most suitable store, and have one or two in reserve if necessary. My final choice was large; comparatively modern, and had several windows displaying a wide selection of corsetry; lingerie; and hosiery. After a short rehearsal of my script, I bolstered up my courage, and entered the store. An illuminated sign directed me towards the hosiery department, and, having followed its instructions, I eventually arrived in the correct place.
The general atmosphere was warm and comfortable; the carpet felt thick and expensive under my feet, and I set up my observation post at a safe distance, keeping the stocking counter under strict surveillance until I had fully assessed the strength of the opposing forces.
Two women stood at the counter; each dressed in similar black frocks. One was a youngish and haughty looking woman, and the other was the more mature and motherly type. I had an opportunity for a last brief rehearsal of my script while the young woman served a customer; then; choosing the critical moment when she was fully occupied, and the customer was paying for her purchase, I walked over to the mature woman, and switched on the full brilliance of my "Insurance Man's Smile"
"Excuse me;" I enquired, "Have you any Nylons?"
"No." she replied. "I'm afraid I can only offer you a pair when you buy something else."
This reply did not appear within the framework of my rehearsed script, and it left me completely at a loss for words. There was only one other thing that I wanted, but it was totally impossible for me to ask her to sell me a corset. I could feel myself turning red in the face, and hurried from the shop; wasting a considerable amount of time walking round the shopping area; telling myself to brace up, and trying to regain some of my confidence. I finally became desperate; picked a shop at random; used the same opening gambit, and met with a better response:
"Yes; we have a few pairs. What do you want?"
I quickly returned to my script:
"They are for my girl friend - you understand?"
giving the assistant a shy and confidential look:
"I know she wears size 10, but I’m afraid that's all I can tell you."
I stood there; looking the perfect portrayal of a "Helpless Male," and she gave me an understanding look; opening a drawer; taking out an opaque green cellophane packet with a clear oval window in the front, and allowing me a glimpse of something brown within. She placed the packet on the counter, and I silently read the inscription:
"Fully Fashioned; 15 Denier."
I had no idea what this meant, and the assistant could see the large question mark that was visibly forming over my head. She pointed to a celluloid leg, mounted on a small stand at the end of the counter, and adorned with a very fine grey stocking. She told me:
"The style is similar to this model, and I could normally offer you an extensive range of sizes and colours. Unfortunately stocks are short at present, and these are all I have."
"Thank you so much! Those will be perfect." I replied; paid her, and left the shop.
I took the packet home; carefully opened it in the privacy of my room, and inspected the contents. The two stockings were a light brown colour, when they were neatly folded in the packet; but when unfolded, they became almost transparent and colourless. They were made of extremely fine material, and showed a marked tendency to stick to my finger ends when I was picking them up.
Each stocking had a dark brown, double thickness band around the top, some three inches deep; with the colour fading by degrees to merge into the lighter shade of the leg. A brown seam ran down the back of the stocking from the top band to the heel, where it abruptly widened into a dark strip with a square top. The strip was about half an inch wide, and three inches long; continuing down to form part of a reinforced section around the heel. This section continued under the sole of the foot, to join with another reinforced area around the toes.
When laid flat, the stockings were wide at the top; and tapered smoothly down to about mid-calf length; becoming much narrower at this point, and continuing to taper down to the ankle. After every aspect of their construction had been studied, it only remained for me to put the stockings on. You might think that there is nothing difficult about putting on a new pair of ladies Nylon stockings, and that any fool could do it. Here is a fool who is quite prepared to disagree with you!
I selected one stocking; used both hands to open the top out widely, and then thrust my foot straight in! I did this every morning when I was putting on my socks, and it had been quite satisfactory with them. On this occasion, it was wrong - absolutely wrong! My foot went in for a short distance, and then one of my toenails caught against the material. There was a sudden deceleration, followed by an ominous dragging resistance! I hastily reversed all operations; took the stocking off again, and spent some time thinking about the problem.
After digging deeply into my memory, I recalled a film at the cinema, where an actress was putting on a pair of stockings. She had accomplished the task quite efficiently, so I tried to follow her example; carefully rolling the stocking down until I had the equivalent of a short ankle sock, and then pointing my toes and neatly slipping my foot in. This was much better. The stocking gripped my foot gently, and felt cold and dry against my skin. I carefully unrolled it up my leg; taking care to align the seam neatly and straight at the back. The top eventually came to rest at about the middle of my thigh, and I used both hands to smooth out some small wrinkles; finally taking a firm grip on the stocking top, and giving a good pull upwards.....
The stocking promptly laddered from top to bottom!
It seemed to be a waste of time continuing the operation, but I persevered, and put on the second stocking with a greater degree of success. I managed to master the technique of taking a portion of the stocking top; inserting the rubber button of the front suspender into it, and firmly securing it by sliding both stocking and button into the wire clip. The front and side suspenders were fastened to the stockings without undue difficulty; but trying to bend forward; twist sideways, and reach backwards to secure the back suspenders was much more difficult. I did eventually manage to fasten them, but was unable to see the results of my efforts, and had to trust to luck.
When everything was finally secured, it was time for another excursion to the big mirror, and I was both surprised and delighted to see that I had a really shapely pair of legs. The stockings served to flatten the fuzz of short fair hairs, and impart a new and unaccustomed smoothness that was strangely exciting. The laddered stocking rather spoiled the general effect, but I was really pleased with my new corseted and stockinged image. The downward pull of the stockings seemed to have cured the tendency for the lower corset front to bunch up, and although the stockings themselves felt cold on my legs, I liked the look of them and the whole effect was highly satisfactory.
I continued to wear the Nylons until they both laddered, and then discovered some Lisle stockings. They were much thicker, but were a great deal stronger and could be suspendered much more tightly; increasing the amount of downward pull, and pleasantly adding to my general feeling of satisfaction and security. I always wore the lisle stockings after that, and never had any cause to regret it, because they certainly stopped the front of my corset riding up.
So now I was well equipped, and soon established a regular routine; rising from my bed early in the morning; taking corset and stockings from my hiding place; lacing the corset to a comfortable degree, and suspendering the stockings. Once this had been achieved, I would turn my attention to the other aspects of dress and toilet. I could not be termed a "Snappy Dresser," and had never been able to afford an extensive wardrobe. The majority of my clothing had been provided by the Army when I had completed my period of service, and most of the items were serviceable; durable, and not particularly smart.
I continued my corset studies in libraries; shop windows, and by any other possible means. I was always on the lookout for any fresh knowledge and experience, and one aspect which gave me a great deal of pleasure was my close study of the Christian Dior "New Look." The National newspapers contained numerous references, and I was soon able to collect some photographs of New Look corsets. My scrapbook began to expand to impressive proportions, and I continued with my research in libraries and museums to the point where I was becoming an authority on corsets in general, with a specialised knowledge of the Victorians. The only thing I was short of was practical experience.
A National corsetry firm advertised a vacancy for a Sales Representative, and, full of confidence, I applied for the job; writing a glowing testimonial, listing all my virtues, and giving the fullest details of my hard won practical experience, and personal accomplishments. Their reply was rather short. It could not be called rude, but it left me in no doubt as to what they thought about my chances of employment.
I saw several examples of New Look corsets, but they all seemed to be much more decorative than practical. By chance I once went to a jumble sale, and just as I was going in a woman came out. She was carrying a rolled up corset. It was made of shiny black material; was well boned, and had laces, and was exactly the sort of thing that I had been looking for. I could only stand there with my mouth open, and watch her get into a car and drive away with it. That was a typical example of my bad luck; wanting so much; achieving so little - and always missing things.
I wanted a friend - someone who would understand and help me. I was never at ease with girls, and they all seemed to think that I was funny. Not funny humorous - funny odd! I once overheard two girls talking. They said they had both recently started to wear corsets, and were finding them hard to get used to. They were being far too dismissive of the whole subject of corsetry, and were not giving it the reverence it deserved. They had the wrong attitude altogether, and should have been saying what a pleasure it was to be privileged to wear a corset. I longed to break into their conversation and put them right about a few things, but, once again, my courage deserted me.
Tentative reference to corsets among my few men friends had produced little worthwhile response; so it appeared that I was completely alone. My own personal pleasures - corset; books; pictures, and the cinema; always the cinema; keeping my eyes open for any films dealing with corsets. I particularly liked those that contained tight lacing sequences, and it heightened my enjoyment to be wearing my corset whilst watching one of those films. I recall that "Gone with the Wind," "Two Weeks with Love," and "The First Travelling Saleslady" were all particularly exciting.
These limited pleasures, and the mixed variety of experiences all combined to move me forward to my next sequence of adventures. I was becoming more and more interested in the subject of "Tight Lacing," and thought it would be nice if I could make some experiments of my own. The whole history of corsetry kept referring to this subject, and my research had indicated that the wearing of a tightly laced and well boned corset had become popular in the 1850's; continuing into and beyond the 1890's, with some radical variations in styling after the turn of the century. I reasoned that if something had been a well established female practice for forty or fifty years, then there could not be much harm in it! I had even discovered some references about men who had laced tightly, and I considered that if they had been able to do it, then there should be no reason why I could not do the same.
So my next objective would be to investigate the many delights of "Tight Lacing!"
Apart from us girls; Gran, Mum, two Aunts, Joan and myself, each in ritual corsets and each one a torture chamber in itself and worse to wear, I had two Uncles who also wore corsets, and they in turn seemed to want to offer me some encouragement. They would frequently ask me if I was tightly laced, although this must have been very obvious, because I was the proud owner of a seventeen inch waist at the time, and my straining laces would creak and groan every time I moved.
© 2007 by O.Y. Dalziel. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, and compilation design) may be printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without the express written consent of StorySite and the copyright holder.