Girdle design:


 This seems to be a field of constant innovation. A classic girdle (open-bottom) essentially has a tubular shape. As soon as a connection is made between the legs, many additional points of stress must be considered (as well as hygiene and convenience). Numerous US Patents have been issued which address these design problems - especially the problem that women face when having to use the toilet while wearing a tight girdle and/or one with stiff bones or other supports. I found over 35 patents that covered crotch design. This problem was well described from a woman's perspective (albeit in patent attorney "legaleze") in 1976 by inventor Aileen S. Carlson in her patent application #3,974,836:    


Using a toilet is a problem even for women wearing an open bottom girdle or corset. In 1948, H. Karcher proposed a back slit for a classic open-bottom girdle that provided a sufficient opening for sanitary functions without removing the garment.


In my opinion, when panty girdles (and other firm, tight fitting control garments) were made with a crotch band, then the problem of stress on the garment was amplified. Inventor Zoma Stephens (Pat. #2,344,374) addressed this problem with her 1943 design to add stretch panels in the back of a panty girdle to allow for expansion when the wearer bent or sat.

Marion Chubby (Pat. # 2,705,801) designed a separate crotch piece with sufficient stretch so that it became a smooth surface when the garment was worn. She noted that the diagram (shown here) was drawn from an actual model.  

The 1960 design by Rockwell of a crotch band integrated with the front and back panels of a long leg panty girdle illustrates the complexity of this style garment. This model is also a classic example of a long leg panty girdle with garters at the bottom of the leg openings. Inventors analyzed and planned for strain using various combinations of panels with different directions of stretch.  

I found at least 90 patents for design of girdles, panty girdles and corselettes.


In 1985, B. Pundyk illustrated the direction and zones of stress as part of his patent. 



Crotch Design and Crotch Openings:


Various solutions have been proposed for crotch openings; split crotches (recently called a "ventilated gusset"); buttons, snaps, hooks, zipper or Velcro openings; drop crotches, and combinations. In some patents, a crotch opening was also referred to as a "fenestra" (Cape 1964), and Shustack (1966) and Herbener (1942) referred to a crotch "strap".  A removable crotch was illustrated in 1936 by Sears for "Sna-Panties" (This was not called a pantie girdle.)  This arrangement and illustration is almost identical to the patent application by Edward Miller in 1935.


Later, in 1942 Evelyn Bulluch proposed using a zipper to completely open the crotch area from front to back. The stylized illustration is interesting due to the exaggerated hip proportions. I never saw this used in an actual garment. However, some potential problems may suggest themselves to any man having had an experience of getting something "hung" in a zip fly.  


The 1946 sports brief with button crotch was advertised by Spiegel. This appears to be based on the patent by David Blair (#2,397,641).


A version of this garment was illustrated earlier as a "panty work garment" on page 247 of the 1943 Montgomery Ward catalog. The button crotch arrangement lasted until 1960 as shown by the ad by Montgomery Ward that year. Although originally intended for use with shorts or slacks, this model featured detachable garters.


In 1948, inventor Frank Cohen characterized one style of pantie girdles with a detachable crotch as being of the "fig-leaf" type. He was working on the development of a simplified detachable crotch with a smooth attachment to the body of the garment.  

George Diebold asserted in 1949 that previous inventions were improperly designed. Sometimes the fasteners were poorly placed without consideration of the points of stress in the garment and would pop open during use. Additionally, the shape of the crotch piece was poor since it would bunch up or become displaced and cause discomfort. He addressed this with a carefully shaped snap-in crotch piece design.





The design of panty girdles with detachable crotches had proceeded to the point by 1964, that Manny Farkas (Pat. # 3,140,718) was considering the nitty-gritty details of drop crotch applications. He stated that his design was "for fully exposing the urethra, vaginal and anal orifices of the wearer downwardly, while maintaining the mons veneris area of the wearer comfortably covered while the wearer is standing." He also pointed out that a good design would facilitate the changing of sanitary napkins.


The illustration for the Carol Brent long leg panty in 1964 appears to incorporate this improvement.

To make this absolutely clear, he even included a drawing that related the crotch opening to the woman's anatomy. I found it interesting that only the anus was identified with a number (#51) while the other orifices were not identified. I've not seen any other patent in this field which included an anatomical drawing like this.  


Some garments had removable crotches that were designed to be inner liners (or shield) for the structural crotch of the garment.

  As noted earlier, detachable or drop crotches didn't always remain secure. In 1958, Sears assured women that the crotch on this Charmode panty girdle would not "pop" open!

Bathing suits have many design similarities with foundation garments (and some of the same problems). Other inventors referenced this patent by Gerald Finn in 1958 as they developed ideas for panty girdles.

Despite many inventions, the Tantaline Hi-Waister in 1960 was using a detachable crotch that resembles the one shown by Sears in 1936.


The following diagram is from the US Patent application by Ms Carlson (her discussion about problems with sanitary needs was quoted at the beginning of this section).

The design used for the 1960 "Touch'N'Close" panty girdle from Aldens appears to incorporate the main features by Carlson. Possibly the production of the garment occurred at the time of the patent application - which was finally granted in 1976.  

In 1950, Beatrice Wohlman wanted to make improvements to the more traditional split crotch design. In her patent she refers to the need for "protection". I assume that this was referring to some aspect of sanitation (not the other kind of protection afforded by a stout panty girdle!). She also addresses ideas for sanitary pads.


Some Other Types:  

The design features of a panty girdle crotch were difficult to discern in most catalog images. Partly this was due to the location and to the poor quality of printing. In some cases, I suspect that the junction of the split crotch panels was camouflaged (for modesty?). There certainly is little indication of any split seam in the image of the 1961 Charmode Long-Leg. Magnification revealed a thicker seam on the right indicating that there may be an opening on that side.  

The seam of the "sit-open" crotch for the 1967 maternity girdle is slightly visible. By the mid-1990s, the printing improvements combined with color photography shows a very clear image of a split crotch for the long-leg girdle advertised by JC Penny.  
The 1969 drawing for Patent # 3,486,507 by Robert Bregenzer and Amy Arnold clearly illustrated how this was typically arranged. A key point discussed in this patent was that the split crotch increased the overall flexibility of the garment for the wearer (as well as for sanitary purposes). The two crotch panels would slide over each other as needed.  


These images from Montgomery Ward in 1964 and Eaton's in 1966 illustrate some other approaches to the split crotch design. The Sarong pantie girdle is interesting because it uses an open bottom girdle design to achieve tummy control. However, I have a hard time visualizing that the split crotch is practical with this design. Possibly, one side of the cross-over panel detaches to allow access and leg freedom.  

Some catalogs sold spare crotch inserts. Some were even disposable!



Some crotch inserts were for replaceable inner linings, and some for replacement of the "structural" part of the garment. (In the late 1960's, while conducting field surveys in a small community, I noticed one of these fully detachable crotch bands hanging on a clothesline with the rest of the laundry to dry.) Copy for a panty girdle on p 289 Sears assured the reader that the detachable crotch would not "pop open"!


The "panty-corsellette" (79 sr s p186) utilizes a front hook drop-crotch band.  

Concetta Cuozzi (Pat #3,746,009) in 1973 described a front hook crotch band to provide cover over a panty girdle or panty-corselette crotch opening. 


This is somewhat similar to the invention described by Ms Carlson. When I've seen this type of garment worn, I've noticed that the design of the width of the drop-crotch band was critical - to be wide enough to provide coverage but not too wide to chaff. One lady complained that the unhooked band could drag into the toilet if not held. The front hook arrangement may be seen more clearly in the next illustration and following detail.



As noted by "Virginian", such appurtenances could also have more than a "utilitarian" purpose.  In 2002, inventor Jaynie M. Frazier developed "easy convenience pantyhose" (with an open crotch) so that "the wearer may perform bodily functions, such as urinating, defecating and engaging in sexual activities through the opening . . ."  (Patent #6,457,185).  This feature was also mentioned in the 1971 novel: A Garden of Sand by Earl Thompson.



Herbener in 1973 and Ewing in 1991 patented two other approaches for one-piece garments with a conveniently opening crotch. These designs were also applicable for bathing suits. Both employed a type of attached panty that made a second, outer layer of the garment.  


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