Posture Correcting Devices: Stocking Supporters

Figure 1.--

There were also other garments such as hose supporters that were more commonly worn that puportedly had a positive impact on posture. There were several different types of stocking supporters for which this claim was made. This is a bit complicated and somwwhat confusing. The confusion arises because there is some overlap between the various categories of hose supporting devices--garter waists, suspender waists, underwaists--and because different ads use different terms for the same style of garment--i.e. skeleton waist, Dr. Parker waist, Kern's child's waist, etc. Here we have listed hose supporter ads that specifically mention the posture improvement feature. These include shoulder garters, a Ferris underwaist, and several later garter waists (Sears examples). All of these garments, speaking loosely, are garter waists because they function as hose supporters. The Kazoo suspender waist also mentions the encouragement of good posture, so the posture claim is widespread through three of our HBC categories: Garter Waists (which includes shoulder garters), Underwaists (the Ferris example), and Suspender Waists (the Kazoo example)--i.e. almost any device with shoulder straps and garters combined.

Garter Waists

One of the most important was garter waists. American garter waists with shoulder straps often claim that these garments served also as shoulder braces to improve posture in addition to their function as stocking supporters. There is a strong connection of shoulder braces with garter waists and the claim that garter waists are posture-correcting garments as well as supporters of long stockings. Our research shows that this claim is fairly constant historically. This claim is too widespread, I think, simply to ignore. A 1897 Sears advertisement offers mens, women's, and children shoulder braces in the context of hose supporters. The text in one case advertises a shoulder hose supporter as a "combination" of shoulder brace and support for long stockings. A 1925 Sears Garter waist is labeled as a combination "Shoulder Brace, Belt and Hose Supporters". A 1937 Sears garter waist Kern's "Dandy" claims that it "act as [a] shoulder brace". What is quite interesting culturally is the obsession with straight shoulders that such advertising claims reveal. As we've said before, I think this claim is quite false. Light-weight tape straps over the shoulders are fine for distributing the pull of hose supporters to the shoulders, but they have almost no effect on posture. A problem here is that many garter waists were referred to with a variety of names. Some examples here are 1901 Eaton's Shoulder Brace and Hose Supporters Combined. Another example is the 1918 Eaton's shoulder brace with hose supporters (This is the boy wearing the shoulder garters in the center.) Both of these Canadian waists mention the posture correction benefits which is stressed by the use of the term "shoulder brace". To complicate matters a little bit, a 1918 Eaton ad shows a skeleton waist without garters. But this is just the same waist as the one with garters shown on the same page. In this case, apparently, customers could buy the same waist with or without garters, perhaps because they already had the garters or perhaps because they wanted a waist for smaller children who wouldn't need the supporters because of wearing short socks. The term "skeleton waist" is just a synonymn usually for one kind of garter waist--i.e., the Dr. Parker style garter waist. So "skeleton waists" are are in a sence included in the generic category, garter waist.

Suspender Waists

Manufacturers also made posture correction claims for suspender waists. The 1917 Kazoo suspender waist makes the posture claim. The Kazoo suspender waist also mentions the encouragement of good posture. The 1919 Kazoo suspender waist ad makes the point that wearing this waist "encourages straight shoulders".

Under Waists

Even the Ferris underwaist, which doesn't have separate shoulder straps (only built-in reinforcement straps), is supposed to be supportive of the upper body and therefore to affect posture. But, generally speaking, underwaists don't make this claim. The Ferris example is exceptional. The 1907 Ferris waist for boys is advertised as beneficial to a boy because it "supports the back and the abdomen". This isn't quite the same as a shoulder brace but seems to be closely related.


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Created: 7:08 PM 6/28/2005
Last updated: 8:31 PM 6/29/2005