Thought i’d post this interesting feature on The Corsetiere.
These corsetieres worked for the major firms that supplied conventional foundation garments to the vast majority of women for many decades in the last century.
Found these wonderful images and accounts on The Corsetiere
Here is one story from Alison
My mother was always very happy, very pleased, to be trying on her new foundations; she loved them. After fitting her, I would sit back on my stool while she looked at herself in the mirror, and she would ask me if I thought she looked good. She did look wonderful and absolutely beautiful in those white satin and brocade foundations. She always asked for ribbons adorning the suspenders and fine lace over the front panels and cups of the long-line bras she favoured so much.
These were very firm and very well boned garments; the bra cups were full coverage, the corselets were long over the thigh, and the bras were quite high backed. But they had a lovely sheen to them, and had the lace and ribbon adornments that made them so feminine; and of course, they produced such a lovely silhouette.
I was always expected to be beautifully turned out, and we would sometimes go out for lunch as a break during the course of our day, or after a morning of product reviews and preliminary measurements. I don’t think this intimacy, yet privacy, normally exists in the family today. I enjoyed these afternoons (but I didn’t let on), and she knew it. My father was very proud of his wife’s appearance, and his business colleagues always complimented him on how stunning she was. He loved that, so he never complained about the Spencer bills.
Occasionally her lady friends were invited for coffee at 11:30 and I would fit them too. After their first fittings, the new designs and fabrics were discussed in great detail. These were also social occasions, so whilst corsetry was discussed in great detail, decisions would also be made for which foundations would be the most suitable for a forthcoming event, where a particular suit or gown would be worn.
As you know only too well, ladies openly discussed foundations in those days. The personal matters and private aspects or complications of a particular fitting were, though, absolutely confidential, and a special trust existed between me and my mother and her friends.
When I saw an ad to be a Spencer Corsetiere, I applied. When I joined Spencer in 1953 I had to attend a training class given by our local manager. In this class we learned about the product line, how to analyze figure problems, and of course how to fit the girdles using the “Spencer method” and the measuring girdle.
Ultimately I became a “Spencer Consultant” and had a territory, and I visited ladies in their homes and fitted them with custom-made girdles and bras. I liked the job very much and I think my customers did too. All the measuring and fittings were done in someone’s home, and it was a lot more relaxing than going to a store.