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.
“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.”
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.
And here we have the Ideal Average Figure for 1917:
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.
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.”
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.”
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. . . .
. . . 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.”