Good news for fuller figures

PUBLISHED: 12:34 15 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:14 28 May 2010

Fenland lacks a proper cinema. It also lacks decent public transport in the evenings. And, so far as I can tell, it doesn t have any team in any sport which unites the folk of all four market towns. Never mind all that. I ve just realised it lacks another

Fenland lacks a proper cinema. It also lacks decent public transport in the evenings. And, so far as I can tell, it doesn't have any team in any sport which unites the folk of all four market towns.

Never mind all that. I've just realised it lacks another amenity even more urgently needed. Our local shops no longer sell corsets.

This thought was prompted by two things.

First, there was the announcement a week or so back that huge

numbers of Fen folk are officially obese. Secondly, there was my visit to a wonderful (free) exhibition in the British Library near King's Cross, charting the history of our newspapers.

Visitors can pick up a handful of free copies of historic papers and, in my selection, I found a copy of the Daily Mail from 1920. Its front page consists of nothing but adverts. One or two are for gents' "pyjama suits" and imperial army breeches. The rest are for ladies' corsets.

The Kingsonia "sports" corset came with a low bust, deep hips and was "lightly steeled for summer wear". A bargain at 17/6d (or 87.5p).

Mind you, some Fen ladies might have opted (even then) for the "Abdo" style which was advertised as being for "the generous type of figure". It had a self-adjusting band which "imparted the straightest of lines to the fullest of figures".

Harrods offered discretion. Its corset specialists would advise you free, by post or in person. Even so, I'm not sure what use they would be to some of today's "fuller figured" ladies. Harrods may have offered corsets for every size - but that was only up to a 30-inch waist.

I'm perfectly aware that many men (myself included) might benefit from a garment that would hide a generous tummy but I do wonder why women gave up wearing garments which so often improved their looks.

Was it laziness, a desire for comfort or a triumph of greed over vanity?

Fen men might like to note one particular advert - for a "belt-corset". It contained a recommendation not from a user but from her husband. "The belt my wife had is a success. By wearing it, she can walk miles. Before it she could not walk at all".

Well, gents, that's one Christmas present sorted.

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