Nine Kinds of Ideal Figure, 1917

From an ad for Gossard Corsets, Ladies' Home Journal, September 1917.

From an ad for Gossard Corsets, Ladies’ Home Journal, September 1917.

Lynn at American Age Fashion recently wrote about the many categories of “stout” fashion sizes in 1922.  Clothing manufacturers acknowledged the existence of “regular stouts,” “stylish stouts,” “stubby stouts,” and other “stout” variations. Lynn began her post with a vintage ad assuring us that “A Contented Stout Woman — is one who has solved her corset problems. . . .” Read it here.

That reminded me of this 1917 ad from Gossard Corsets, which told readers that there were nine — nine! — ideal figure types.

lhj 1917 sept p 87 gossard corset ad nine ideal figures“One of the types illustrated is a counterpart of you properly corseted, and this desirable result is obtained only through the wearing of the Gossard model especially designed for your particular figure. Graduate Corsetieres trained in the Gossard school, assist in selecting the corset if desired, or in fitting it if you prefer.”

Gossard Corset ad from 1917 showing nine Ideal Figure Types.

Gossard Corset ad from 1917 showing nine “Ideal Figure Types.”

Even in the full page ad shown above, the photos illustrating the nine types were quite small, but, since they are posed against black, we can get an idea of their silhouettes.

From the left of the ad, Tall Slender, Short Slender, Tall Heavy, and Short Heavy Ideal Figures. 1917.

From the left of the ad, Tall Slender, Short Slender, Tall Heavy, and Short Heavy “Ideal Figures.” 1917.

Ideal:  Curved Back, Large Above Waist, Large Below Waist, and Short Waisted Figures. 1917.

Curved Back, Large Above Waist, Large Below Waist, and Short Waisted “Ideal Figures.” 1917.

And here we have the Ideal Average Figure for 1917:

Ideal Average Figure, 1917. The styles of the late 1910s -- such as the "barrel" skirt -- did not require slim hips.

Ideal Average Figure, 1917. Gossard Corset Ad.

She does look like a normal human being — or probably would without the corset! The fashions of Autumn 1917 — such as the “tonneau” or “barrel” skirt — did not require especially narrow hips, so the corset seems almost like a pointless discomfort.

Ladies Home Journal Patterns for November 1917.

Ladies’ Home Journal Patterns for November 1917.

Gossard Front Lacing Corsets

“Gossard corsets are the original front lacing corsets. You lace your shoes in front — you button your coat in front — isn’t it logical that your corset should lace in front? Soon all women will wonder that corsets ever laced other than the Gossard way — in front.”

A Graduate Corsetiere from the Gossard school demonstrating a Gossard Corset. There is a Front-laced Gossard corset on the mannequin at left.

A Graduate Corsetiere from the Gossard school demonstrating a Gossard Corset. There is a Front-laced Gossard corset on the mannequin at left.

Aside from the photos, the advertisement does not go into detail about the differences between the nine ideal figures. It must have been enough to know that — short and heavy, tall and slender, short waisted or average — your figure was “Ideal.”

Gossard Corset Prices, Sept. 1917.

Gossard Corset Prices, Sept. 1917.

Prices ranged from $2.00 to $12.50 and went all the way up to $50.00. “A Gossard booklet, profusely illustrating all types, with detailed description of models, sent on request.” For an idea of monetary values, 1917 ads for a correspondence course in nursing said its graduates could make $10 to $25 per week. . . .

Chautauqua School of Nursing Ad, Oct. 1917 Ladies' Home Journal.

Chautauqua School of Nursing Ad, Oct. 1917 Ladies’ Home Journal.

. . . And this Elgin military watch could cost between $10.00 and $17.75. It’s hard to imagine a $50.00 corset when most other corsets were under $5.00. I guess it’s not always easy to be “Ideal.”

Elgin military watch from Broadnax ad, Nov. 1917.

Elgin military watch from Broadnax ad, Nov. 1917. LHJ.

 

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1 Comment

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Corsets, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, Vintage Accessories, Vintage patterns, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

One response to “Nine Kinds of Ideal Figure, 1917

  1. Well, it’s good to know that there were many ways to be “ideal,” even if it did cost a lot! I am always grateful for the income figures to put everything in perspective.

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