Figure 1.-- This ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (February 14, 1907, p. 83) in the midst of winter. This suspender waist is very similar in construction and design to the Wolverine suspender waist. Indeed I suspect that what is here referred to as the "Kazoo" waist is just an later version of the Wolverine waist.
Here is an early image of the Kazoo Suspender Waist, manufactured in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (February 14, 1907, p. 83) in the midst of winter. The garment shown here is a combination of suspenders for knee-length trousers and hose supporters for long stockings. The diagram at the bottom right illustrates how the garment
supports both trousers and stockings. The suspenders are worn over the shirt like adult men's suspenders and attach at the back and front to buttons sewn inside the waist of the knee pants.
The Kazoo suspender waist is shown here. It is just after the company had changed the name of the garment from the "Wolverine" combination of suspenders and hose supporters. This garment
is described in the advertisement as "Progressive clothing" since it
substituted for the old-fashioned boy's underwaist with buttons for trousers and hose supporters for long stockings.
Wolverine was a brand name of the Sprial Mfg. Co., Kalamazoo, Michigan." We know virtualy nothing about the company at this time. We note that they were located in Kalamazoo, Muchigan. We are not sure about the relationship with the Kazoo Suspender Co.
Here the ad tells us, "Progressive clothing and deparment houses sell them. If not, write direct. Kazoo Suspender Co. (the largest exclusive makers of boys' and girls' suspenders in the world) Kalamazoo, Michigan. De Graff & Palmer, 48 Leonard St., New York City, Sole U. S. Distributing Agents." The Kazoo Suspender Waist was later distributed in New York by the Harris Suspender Co.
The fortunes of the Wolverine-Kazoo suspender waist in terms of the commercial outlet are rather confusing. Yes the companies are different, but the garments are virtually identical and Kalamazoo is not a big town or certainly wasn't then. I think there must have been a kind of migration of the garment. Maybe Spiral changed its name to Kazoo or was bought out by another company with that name. Then the Kazoo suspender waist was distributed in New York City later on by the Harris Suspender Co. I'm not sure how all these companies are connected, but I don't think they existed
simultaneously. First we have Spiral, then Kazoo, then Harris. But the same suspender waist is being sold by all these companies--first as the Wolverine, then as the Kazoo. It's all a bit mysterious, isn't it?
This ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (February 14, 1907, p. 83) in the midst of winter. The publication described itself as "An Illustrated Weekly Paper For Young People and the Family." It was established in 1827. The magazine was published in Boston, Massachusetts, by the Perry Mason Company, 201 Columbus Avenue. It appeared under this title until 1929. It was in the late 19th century one of the most popular weekly periodicals in America and known for the quality of the writing. The magazine catered to teen-age boys and girls especially, containing articles on sports, on hobbies, and on various literary and cultural interests. But it was really a family magazine and had many advertisements for clothing, both adult and children's. The magagazine had a very strict policy about the advertising carried because its readers were mostly children.
In 1905 all boys up to at least age 16 wore knee pants with long stockings, almost invariably black stockings.
Long stockings needed a device to support them.
Underwaists to which hose supporters were attached were somewhat unpopular with older boys, who preferred the more masculine "suspender waist"--a combination of suspenders for trousers and stocking supporters in a single garment that was more athletic in design and less restrictive than an underwaist.
Suspender waists were a support garment to hold up other garments. So-called “suspender waists” were invented at the turn of the 20th century and were popular mainly with boys who wore knee pants and needed a way of supporting their long stockings—almost always black. Although some models of the suspender waist
(such as Kazoo) were manufactured in styles that could be worn also by girls, the main wearers of these waists were boys. They were called “suspender waists” because they combined trousers suspenders with hose supporters and had leather suspender attachments for holding up knee pants in addition to hose supporters
for long stockings. The style did not last very long and was most popular during the 1910s. N.B. Suspender waists are not to be confused with the older style of garter waists (such as the Dr. Parker waist) which also had suspender-like straps over the shoulders, a waist belt (sometimes with waist buttons for outer clothing), and hose supporters. With true suspender waists only the garter part of the waist can be classified as underwear because the shoulder straps would be visible (like ordinary modern suspenders) on top of a shirt.
The garment shown here is a combination of suspenders for knee-length trousers and hose supporters for long stockings. The diagram at the bottom right illustrates how the garment
supports both trousers and stockings. The suspenders are worn over the shirt like adult men's suspenders and attach at the back and front to buttons sewn inside the waist of the knee pants. The shoulder straps continue beneath the waistline for the hose supporter attachment. Two features of this illustration are interesting. The boy wears his suspender waist over the
typical winter union suit with long legs and long sleeves. Also
note that the suspender part of the garment appears to be gray or off-white while the hose supporters at the bottom are black. Presumably this is because the suspender part would show on top of the boy's shirt whereas the hose supporters would be concealed under the boy's pants. In the illustration the pants are down around the boy's ankles because he hasn't yet attached them to the suspender straps. But he has already put on his long black stockings
(worn over his long underwear) and fastened the stockings to the supporter clasps. The ad copy reads, "Kazoo Suspender embraces four vital points for dressing any sized boy in knee trousers [up to age 18 when long pants would usually start to be worn]--
convenience, durability, and admits freedom of circulation and action. Only 50 cents & 75 cents." [The higher price would presumably be for the larger sizes.]
Although not advertised here, Kazoo also made a suspender waist for girls similar in construction to the Dr. Parker style garter waist.
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