Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Belts ~ It's What's for Your Waist - Part 4 Swiss Waist


I can't remember when I first heard about the Swiss Waist, Fashionable Reader.

From my personal collection
Popular in the 1860s this was a boned belt, with at least one peak (either up or down). It usually laced like a corset, only up the front, sometimes is was exactly corset-like with a busk up the front and laces up the back. The Swiss Waist was worn in addition to the foundation corset. It is, so far as I can determine historically, the only corset-like garment that was worn on the outside of a dress.

Daguerreotype from my personal collection
 1860s  The Victoria & Albert Museum Swiss Waist; my own version from Dark Garden

Here is a retrospective on the idea of the Swiss Waist. They aren't necessarily exactly this article of clothing, but they all suggest the peaks that I associate with this garment.


1829  Kerry Taylor Auctions
1872 Godeys Sept 1872 Dicky
Described as: "Overwaist of blue silk, trimmed with black lace; it is to be worn over a black silk dress, and is very dressy and pretty."

Tea Gown  1875-1880  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
[stage costume] Leonora of Mantua (1873), Valentine Cameron Prinsep via British Paintings tumblr

1880 Striped Princess Bodice

1889 Evening Dress The Metropolitan Museum of Art
 1890-1895  The Goldstein Museum of Design; Liberty & Co. dress, 1893-94  From the Victoria & Albert Museum

1895 Golf Ensemble   The Kyoto Costume Institute

 1896-1899; 1900 Ball Gown  Driscoll both The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1900 Dress  Jean-Philippe Worth,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1900s Gustave Beer, Antique Dress

1901 Ball Gown  Jeanne Paquin,  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1900s  theoryphotoart tumblr; on our merry way tumblr vintage-impressions- Portrait, ca. 1906

1906-1908 Evening Dress  Jean-Philippe Worth, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1940s Dress I. Magnin, Kerry Taylor Auctions

v-isfor-vintage tumblr 1950s style sass

1950s  Timeless Vixen Vintage blue

1950s  Timeless Vixen Vintage

1950s Carrier airconditioning advertisement. via theniftyfifties tumblr
And now for the modern age...

 2013 Aigner Fall 2013 collection via nymag.com; 2013 Ralph LaurenSpring-2103

2013 Nidhi Sunil in Jimmy Choo Over The Knee Boots. Vogue India, 10.2013 via Booted Up

2013 Willow cutout waist belt at theOutnet.com

(A quick note, I had a whole piece prepped for today on wide belts and why they do and don't work on us curvy ladies, but blogspot ate it. I was particularly proud of it, but one keystroke and it's gone, no recovery. Note to self, do not use keyboard shortcuts in blogger! Argh. Anyway, I am hugely overworked theses days and have neither the time nor inclination to rewrite it. So we skip wide belts entirely, sorry....)

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Belts ~ It's What's for Your Waist - Part 3 The Sash


I love the idea of a sash belt, but unless I am wearing a foundation corset it rolls up and doesn't stay sash-like because I am so curvy.

1950s  Timeless Vixen Vintage blue

That said I have, in a pinch, and on a number of occasions used a skinny scarf as a belt. Needs must. I kind of like that look, I wish I could remember to do it intentionally rather than in case of emergency! The ribbon belt is a cousin to the sash and seems to be all over the runways and red carpet these days. Just take a bit of grosgrain and wrap it round.

2014 red carpet

So far as I can tell people have been wrapping a sash about their waists for simply ages. It's certainly true that early on in the Victorian era it seems tied to the military look.

1850s Major military uniform (Cranford still); 1850 Dressing Gown The Philadelphia Museum of Art

1888 Afternoon Dress  Charles Fredrick Worth  The Metropolitan Museum of Art; 1889-1890  The Cincinnati Art Museum

Oliver & Co. day dress ca. 1898  From the Drexel Historic Costume Collection; 1900-1901 Tea Gown Jean-Philippe Worth, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1910 Evening Dress Lucile, 1910-1915  The Victoria & Albert Museum; 1910-1911 Callot Soeurs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 1912 Evening Dress Jeanne Paquin The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1930 Louiseboulanger,  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

 1933 Evening Dress  Madeleine Vionnet, 1933  The Kyoto Costume Institute; 1937 Evening 1937 Dress  Coco Chanel,  The Metropolitan Museum of Artbelt

1950 Evening Dress  Madame Grès, 1950s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

 1950s  Timeless Vixen Vintage

1956 Model wearing an evening gown by Christian Dior, 1956 via the niftyfifties tumblr

 1959 Evelyn Tripp for Vogue, 1959 via theniftyfifties tumblr; 1961 Sophia Loren via jeanjeani961 on tumblr

2007 Katisha-San  John Galliano, 2007  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Retro Rack is also on facebook where I post additional images and fashion thoughts.