Roger K. writes:
"I've just read
"Albert's Avenue" #3 & #4,
which describe training Lacie's spine so it bends
inward to accommodate a straight-front corset. I
therefore thought you'd be interested in a description
of an appliance to train the spine to bend it inward.
(Probably by stretching the spinal ligaments
permanently.) It comes from London Life,
and is reprinted on page 22 of Amazon Dry Goods’ $10
publication, The Corset Question, Book 4.
(See http://www.amazondrygoods.com/ or write to 2218 East 11th St., Davenport, IA 52803-3760.)
“A Swedish Lady’s Figure Training”
“To make Mabel’s figure still more curved and swayed-in at the back, Mrs. D [her mother] made her a special apparatus consisting of a bar of steel of the same height as the stays, but about 2 inches broad, formed as an “S,” but more curved than the back of the girl. The steel had three cross-bars—one at the waist, one higher up, and one over her hips—fastened with leather straps at the end of each bar. The apparatus was placed on the back outside her dress and stays, with the waist-strap tightly drawn in. When the other two straps—one over [i.e., above] her bust, and one over her abdomen—were pulled in, her back got still more swayed in and the hip part very much pushed backwards.
“She had to wear this arrangement every day for one or
two hours, the straps being pulled in tighter and
tighter until her back got quite as curved as the
steel. Naturally, it was rather irksome, more
especially as the stays were laced in at the same time
to the utmost degree. But the result was quite
obvious, because she got the most lovely curve of her
figure, with her wasp-waist half vertical and her form
showing a veritable curving in. I am quite
convinced that this rather
severe training has given Mabel such a wonderful figure, which still persists.”
[Ed: Bear in mind that many corset-folk consider letters published in London Life to be the product of wishful fantasies]
Albert Cst writes in response to Roger K.'s words above:
"I can quite imagine that one thinks of such a device, but from the point of view of mechanism it will not work very efficiently, assuming that the hip crossbar is smaller than the hips. Even if you pull the strap around the hips very tightly, the force that pulls the hips backwards is still low. It would work if the hip bar were much broader than the hips, almost sticking out from the body. The same applies for the chest part of this device.
"I think the best way to train a straight front is with a stiff front in the corset, and pulling the waist against this with the strength of the corset itself. In order to give the S-shaped body a maximum support and take over the task of the muscles as much as we can, I have made for Annalai’s corset a very stiff lacing protector. In the protector there is a steel stay that can be barely bent by hand force. Annalai had a soft protector to begin with for the black corset and we tried a stiff protector later, which worked. Then she requested herself that I make a very stiff back-support-protector for the cream corset, and that she wears it all the time now (except for shower). See the pictures in Albert’s Avenue Edition 8 and 9. Thanks for the interesting discussion!"
...and more from Roger:
"In the original letter about 'Mabel' from London Life, the width of the crossbars was not specified. Albert is no doubt correct in saying that the back-pull force would not be efficient unless they were wider than the body. (Otherwise the straps would tend to mostly cut into the wearer's sides.) It may well be that such wide crossbars were included in the apparatus used by 'Mabel's' mother-but the letter-writer failed to mention them.
"(Incidentally, there was another flaw in that letter in London Life: the apparatus was described as shaped like an "S"-but a "C" shape seems more logical.) Once the waist-strap was pulled closed, the upper and lower ends of the "C" would stick out perhaps six (?) inches behind the wearer's body. Then, when their straps were tightened, the curve in the small of the back would be exaggerated beyond the curve it would normally assume in th ecorset. (It would be necessary to remove any rigid lace-protector during
such extreme bending.)
"It seems to me that this temporary stretching of the spine beyond its normal in-curve in the corset would reshape it faster, or further, or both. Here is an analogy: bending a flexible strip of metal into a new shape. It is necessary to bend the strip temporarily BEYOND the curve desired in order for it to "set" itself into the lesser curve. Thus, in that case (and maybe therefore in this), "The sufficient is insufficient." (Or slower, anyway.)"
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