Stephen’s Story (1964 – 1968)
I must confess that during the mid 1960's whilst at boarding school, I played a prank when I noted our own Matron’s Marks and Spencer white satin panel girdles on her washing line billowing gently in the breeze. Clandestinely, I removed it and hoisted it up our particular flag pole. I made the mistake of bragging to other boys of my prank and an unknown school snitch reported my misdeed. Fortunately I was not expelled, however, our headmaster was furious and I was given six of the best with one of his canes over the seat of my own white Marks and Spencers "St Michael" underwear! I think in retrospect that I would also have been expelled had it not been that I was coming up to taking my final GCE "O" level exams. I have a further sneaking suspicion that despite my Head’s apparent fury, he did see some degree of humour in this youthful jaunt! Whatever, that caning was an excruciating punishment and experience.
I have always had a passion for ladies’ foundation garments. Although my wife wears modern day panty-girdles for normal wear, she has managed to collect a few gorgeous vintage foundation garments in mint condition from charity shops. These she wears only for our mutual pleasure and enjoyment. Now in her 50's she has a nice mature figure and fortunately understands my tastes.
The Matron’s girdle was most definitely a "St Michaels" brand as they were identical to my mother’s own girdles and corselettes. These I also used to hugely admire, festooned on our washing line and billowing and ballooning out gently in the breeze. Mum used to buy all of our underwear and her corsetry from Marks and Spencers in those memorable far off days. <link>
Mother was very conventional, orthodox and strict in general life and also when it came to choosing foundations and underwear. As far as I can ever remember she always wore open-bottom high-waisted firm control girdles, corselettes and long line bra's. They were gorgeous garments always well laundered and snow white with satin panels and long zip panels. Occasionally, if lucky she would accidently leave the bathroom door slightly ajar and I would get a fleeting glimpse of her in her corsetry. She had a lovely mature matronly figure in those days. She was also a very skilled, accomplished horse women and the only concession she made to these normal foundations was when she went riding when she would wear a high-waisted, long-leg panty girdle. Again, a firm control garment, it had very substantial crotch and inner leg gussets. This panty girdle she wore under her riding jodhpurs and I think it helped to prevent the skin of her inner thighs chaffing in the saddle and also protected her kidneys and lower back. She was all very well aware of my interests as I was caught rummaging in the washing basket one day! My guilty bright red blushing face instantly gave me away and she knew exactly what I was looking for! She threatened me with a severe strapping if she caught me again.
My elder sister, even after school and weekends, had to wear those enormous full cut regulation schoolgirl knickers of the day. They were bottle green to match her uniform. However I recall that when she was about 14 or 15 years old, my mother took her to buy her first panty-girdle at Marks and Spencers.
It was also a very firm control garment but cut in the brief style (no legs). Mother said that it was to "tuck in her puppy fat" and to wear "as best" to youth club dances. In reality I believe she intended it as a modern day chastity belt and as a fortress against the wondering hands of the local village boys! It also had suspenders to support her stockings and the year must have been about 1966. I think that my sister cherished that first girdle because it represented her blossoming into full womanhood.
In the early 1970's, whilst a young B.Sc. Engineering student at a Midlands University, I used to help with a milk round in our particular village in Warwickshire. Normally we would place the milk on the front door step. However in those days when we came to submit the week’s invoice and collect the milk money, as a matter of protocol we had to use the back (tradesmans’) door. This inevitably took me past their washing line which was a great bonus for me. We had many older ladies in the village, well into their 70's and 80's, who were born around the turn of the century in Victorian times. I was to witness quite a few pristine examples of heavy unlaced vintage corsets displayed on their washing lines. They were indeed very fine garments which were left to dry either doubled over the washing line or pegged unfolded and in full glory. Some of them had long pockets which retained the steels that were removed prior to laundering. They had intricate brocaded panels and rows of eyelets through which the laces were threaded. Some had my favourite satin panels. I was also to enjoy a fine array of more modern day open bottom girdles, corselettes, panty-girdles and brassieres. A further glorious sight was the lovely ‘directoire style’ knickers. Magnificently full, deep garments with intricate gusset panels and widely cuffed leg and waist bands. Some even were double seated. A further peculiarity was the occasional glimpse of a rubber girdle.
The upshot of my experience was that I accurately knew exactly what foundation and underwear each and every individual woman in our particular village was wearing. A rather exciting thought don't you think?