The fashion road has been paved with some prickly pebbles through the ages. As we often tell our daughters, "Beauty hurts!" Though history confirms that a woman's life has never been easy, this is sometimes the most true in women's fashions!
Am I exaggerating? You tell me.
This one has always looked a bit painful to me because of where it falls across the breast. Hovering just above the nipple line and laced pretty tightly, the stomacher was quite popular through the 17th and 18th centuries. The stomacher was a triangular decorative piece of bejeweled and bedazzled fabric that would run from the bodice to as much as 10 inches BELOW the waist! I would imagine one didn't SIT much in the stomacher. And if having this panel was too uncomfortable across you chest? Now worries, some ingenious (obviously male) designer came up with a solution:
There was a brief period during the court of Louis XVI, when the neckline and stomacher actually were below the breasts, which were covered by a transparent ruffle of fabric called a fichu. The nipples could then be rouged or even pierced and decorated with pearls or other gemstones. This fashion did not take off.
The bustle accommodated the changing fashions and heavy fabric skirts of the mid 19th century. It was a framework that was smooth in front and on the sides and then lifted in the back to keep a woman's heavy skirt from dragging the ground. Basically, the bustle is a sartorial mullett - business in the front....PARTY in the back!
Ahhhhh, the corset. A fashion underpinning that still, to some extent, remains today. Women's obsession with an hourglass figure needs some help sometime. So in comes the corset. And I mean IN! Most corsets from the 19th century don't extend to more than 20 inches!! Apparently, a rule of thumb of the day was that a girl's waist (before she married and had children) should be equivalent to her age in years. And as it was common for girls to get married at 15-17 years, these were some pretty small waists!
The Hoop Skirt
The Cone Bra
Sure Madonna made this look famous during her Blonde Ambition tour, but this look hearkens back to the late 50s and early 60s. Apparently, it wasn't enough for the breasts to be perky; but society demanded they be pointed too! This conical (one consonant away from being the more appropriate "comical") bra, was popular among younger women trying to emulate the look of the 'sweater girls" like Lana Turner and Jane Russell.
Now we're getting more modern if not more comfortable. The girdle (Playtex was a popular brand) was a more current answer to the corset and reigned in control of more body parts. Of course the physical conditioning needed to get this bad boy on would seem to negate the actual NEED for it! I think the toilet rule of thumb for the girdle was to "go before we get on the road"; because there was certainly no quick trip to the loo in this tree hugger!
Now we're moving into my era. While not an underpinning, as Ms Brooke reminded us, "Nothing comes between me and my Calvin Kleins!" That's because nothing COULD! Even my mother taught me that jeans were made to be worn tight! I remember laying on my bed and sucking in my stomach trying to get my jeans buttoned! Of course, this meant a lot of stiff legged dancing at the homecoming dance, but I guess we figured, "I'm here to LOOK good, not dance!"
The Big Handbag
There appears to be an unexplained correlation between the smallness of a woman and the largeness of her purse! Nowadays, large purses are all the rage and have the appearance of being a larger version of the overnight bag from the 60s! While I do love a big honkin' hand bag, some of these are more on the luggage scale! There are carry on's that are smaller than these gorgeous gargantuan bags! My back hurts just looking at them!
The Platform Heel
While the above is an extreme version of a modern favorite, the platform heel has taken off like a bat outta heel! (couldn't resist...I'm addicted to puns!) Giving the wearer an extra 5"to 8" in height, this shoe must be the bane of men everywhere! And walking gracefully is almost impossible in these vertiginous feet jewels. "Lumbering" would more aptly describe the gate in platform heels. Hey, no finger pointing here. I do love me some platform pumps, but my LACK of gracefulness forces me to keep it at a manageable height.
So there you have just a few of the things that we ladies have historically (and currently) put ourselves through for the sake of looking good! There are so many other pain inducing things that I left off this list like waxing, plucking, thongs and skinny jeans. A quizzical lot, these females! It's no easy row we hoe, but I think we've managed it with good sport!
What other painful processes or items do we use to look good?