Perforated Rubber Girdle, 1934It’s not surprising that women who hadn’t paid much attention their waist measurements in the 1920s found themselves desperately trying to reduce their waists and hips when the clinging fashions of the 1930s appeared.
The early thirties fashion silhouette was long and lean, and bias cut gowns clung to every figure flaw.
Madame X Reducing Corset, 1924
“A wrap-around all rubber corset, made of sheet rubber and called Madame X, appeared in the U.S.A. in 1923 but was short-lived. Similar garments were launched more successfully in the ‘thirties,… made with perforations and therefore more healthy and comfortable.” — Elizabeth Ewing, Fashion in Underwear.
The dropped-waist fashions of the 1920s exaggerated the width of a woman’s hips, so the Madame X “reducing corset” should have appealed to many women. [1920s dress patterns often ran to size 44, with a hip measurement of 47 1/2 inches, which would look very wide indeed with a horizontal belt running around the hip.]
Ads for Madame X emphasized the reducing properties of “live rubber,” [like a portable sweat-box?] but this 1920s back-lacing reducing corset was intended to be worn over a chemise and bloomers, or a ‘combination” step-in undergarment, which would have absorbed some perspiration.
The Perfolastic Girdle of the 1930s was worn next to the skin, so it was perforated, theoretically allowing some perspiration to escape. Imagine what your skin would have looked like when you took it off!