There was a gasp when she described girls being corseted from the age of 7. At left is an advertisement for an array of corsets for young people circa 1900. The kids’ corset industry was still active in the late 1910s, even as WWI forced the rationing of textiles.
“Staybands” were a pared down version of a corset worn by children up to the age of 5/6. Victorian staybands tended to be made from strong coutil, hessian or other corsetry weight fabric and heavily boned. By the mid-teens, staybands were fashioned out of fabrics like wool or flannel made stiff and form-fitting and marketed by doctors as a way to keep children warm:
A flannel binder should be worn round the stomach and abdomen next to the skin; it should be sufficiently wide to cover the whole of the belly from hips to chest, and long enough to go twice round the body.
–Dr D.E. Lock, Medical Officer of Health for the Uxbridge (UK) Urban District Council 1906.
Barbara also mentioned pregnancy as a time where upper-class women would disappear from public view for the majority of their “confinement.” I suppose this garment to the right, the maternity corset, would be for those times when I woman could not avoid public appearances. To me, that gives a whole new meaning to “confinement.”
And lest you think such a trend disappeared with the more free-flowing silhouette of the 1920s, below is an image of a 1935 maternity girdle.
According to the Leicestershire City Council webpage that sports this image
This style is from the first maternity [girdles] to be produced within the Avro range and provided a basic shape for the next thirty-five years. It continued throughout the Utility period and into the post-war ranges until it was finally discontinued in 1970, when it was replaced by the ultra lightweight maternity pantie girdle.