Wolverine Suspender Waist (1904)

Figure 1.--This Wolverine ad for a suspender waist appeared in 1904. Interestingly the term "suspender waist" isn't used, but of course that is what it is. The terminology is "Boys' Combination Suspender and Hose Supporter".

As long stockings became widely worn, we note various types of stocking suppoters developed in the late-19th century. By the 1900s, a varirty of stocking supporters were available to mothers. We note a suspender waist in 1904. We are not sure precisely when suspender waists first appeared, but this is the earliest one we have found so far. It was a Wolverine waist. Tghere were two versions, one for boys and the other for girls.

Sprial Mfg. Co.

Wolverine was a brand name of the Sprial Mfg. Co., Kalamazoo, Michigan." We know virtualy nothing about the company at this time. The brand name Wolverine apparently changed to Kazoo (related to Kalamazoo, Michigan, the town of origin), and the distributor eventually became the Harris Co. of New York City. Kazoo Suspender Waists eventually were sold by Sears and Roebuck through their catalogs. Note the prize offered with the purchgase of this waist. This appeared to have been a popular sales tactic at the turn of the century.


We do not know yet whay magazine this Wolverine afvertisement appeared. I would suspect something like the Youth"s Companion. We do know that it was in a 1904 magazine.

Suspender Waist

As far as we can tell, this 1904 adverisement is one of the earliest ones we have seen on suspender waists. It is the earliest suspender waist advertisement we have noted.


Interestingly the term "suspender waist" isn't used, but of course that is what it is. The terminology is "Boys' Combination Suspender and Hose Supporter".


The illustration is revealing because it shows a boy on the left with knickers and stockings that are falling down and contrasts this image with the one on the right where the boy wears knee pants neatly held up by the suspenders and black stockings tautly in place. The appeal is to mothers who are distressed by the slovenly habits of their sons and wish to correct that.


The age sizes are from 4 to 14. Interestingly there is a Girl's version as well, although this would have the shoulder straps hidden underneath the girl's clothes like a conventional garter waist, whereas the boy's waist has the suspenders in full view on top of his shirt.

Ad Copy

Here is the text of the ad: "Wolverine Boys' Combination Suspender and Hose Supporter. It does not bind the growing limbs nor stop the circulation [like round garters which were discouraged by doctors]; adjusts itself to any position of the body. Prevents the stocking from wrinkling and the boys' trousers from sagging." The ad then puts "Girls' Hose Supporters" in large print. I assume this is because boys are depicted in the illustration. The ad copy continues, "The only healthy and hygienic hose supporter and suspender. Girls like them. Ask your dealer for them. If he can't supply you, we will. Prices: Boys' 50 cents; girls' 25 cents. By mail or from your dearler. Sizes, 4 to 14 years. The Spiral Manufacturing Co. 1150 Burdick Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan."

Kazoo Waists

This waist seems to have been the forerunner of the Kazoo suspender waist, the name "Kazoo" being apparently related to the city of manufacture, Kalamazoo.


Notice that the boy's waist is twice as expensive as the girls'. This is because the boys' model has regular suspenders that show with leather ends for fastening to buttons on the knee trousers, a feature not necessary for girls.


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Created: 7:41 PM 5/21/2008
Last updated: 7:41 PM 5/21/2008