A reader's inquiry, taken Letters Letter to H.Y. from S.S-H.
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A reader's inquiry, taken from a fashion magazine from 1911

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Question: I've grown up on a large farm. So far I've never had to care about fashion. Now that I'm married I'm living in town. We associate with people of very noble birth, so I have to dress myself appropriately. But I cannot manage the fashion prescriptions here. I went to the best shops and bought all my clothes there, but I cannot walk very well with all those tight skirts. I constantly feel like a a clown because I am so clumsy and my steps are so long.

I believe that the corsets from my trousseau are not according to today's fashion. I'm of average height, slim, and my bust is very nice. In spite of this I cannot manage to have a décolleté that is comparable to those of the other ladies whom we frequently associate with. Please advise me as to what to do. I don't want to stick out any more..

Answer: You've grown up in the country, so it is very hard for you to adapt to the way of life in town. This is especially so for the field of fashion.

You say that you've bought all your clothes in first-class houses, and that you are not all happy in them; the reason for this must be that your undergarments do not fit the clothes, especially the tight skirts. This fashion requires a total change, also of those garments that remain unseen. The first thing is that you should wear only one, at most two underskirts, and it is also very important that you get a suitable corset. You've grown up in the country and are thus used to making long steps, which is ill-advised and even bad manners for a high-class lady; so we recommend that you wear a long corset, one that includes at least half of your thighs and that is rather tight at the lower edge. This will force you to make smaller steps, a fact that will positively influence your appearance. Besides that you can do even more: insert a firm band of linen into your first underskirt (the one directly above the corset), at the height of the knees. This band should be as tight as the actual skirt. It will prevent you from making long steps and thus tearing the skirt.

If your stature is normal and you are not satisfied with your bust this must be due to a mistake in lacing your corset. With today's fashionable long corsets it is usual to thread the laces in a way that allows to pull at the height of the waist as well as above and below the waist. Thus you can alter bust and waist as you like it.

After having closed the corset's front clasp you should at first lace in the hips firmly (this applies for today's fashionable long corsets). Then you adapt the waistline to the dress which you intend to wear. Then, at the end, you lace in your bust; it will be lifted automatically during this procedures. If you stick to these rules, the problem you mentioned in your letter will no longer exist for you. In this context I'd like to tell you one more thing: In order to obtain a flawless figure you shouldn't lace yourself, but let yourself lace in by someone else. If you lace yourself, you will automatically bend your back to the front, which does not lift the bust, but rather press it down into the corset.


A reader's inquiry, taken Letters Letter to H.Y. from S.S-H.
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