Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A girdle is a piece of women's underwear that replaced the corset in popularity and usage. Constructed of elasticized fabric and usually fastened with hook and eye closures, it is designed to shape and smooth a woman's figure, thereby producing a more aesthetically pleasing and attractive silhouette. A girdle can extend as high as the neck line (incorporating a brassiere) and as low as the thighs. A girdle may also include garters to hold up stockings.
While such a piece of clothing may seem uncomfortable and unnecessary now, when it was first designed it was a significant improvement compared to wearing a corset, which would have to be laced up and included rigid boning. Girdles are still worn today, but much more rarely than during the 1950's and 1960's. In that period, the advent of the Dior New Look gave rise to women's fashion featuring a narrow, nipped-in waistline, also known as "the wasp".
Arguably the most famous girdle, made by Playtex , was known as the "24-hour girdle", as it could be worn comfortably for long periods.
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