The Corset Work

What to Wear, Vol. 2: Perfect Figure,

Graceful Lines...
and the Re-birth of Charm
© 2006

Click here:
Wht2WrV2_DescpTxt060106.pdf to download the complete text and specs

Cover Corset back

Vintage Salesman Sample Girdle with ribbed elastic panels and ribbon straps.

Vintage wood doll clothes hanger

Height: 12” (including straps)

Width closed: 6”

Width opened: 12 1/2”

Interior corset with pouch for dolls

Interior Dolls with girdles opened

If you would like any hi-res images of these photos, or if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me:

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Interior Dolls back detail

Images Copyright © 2006 by Tamar Stone.  All Rights Reserved.
No images may be reproduced without the expressed written permission of the artist.

This project is a continuation from What to Wear, Vol. 1, in exploring the usage and meanings of corset/girdle advertisement through the use of paper dolls.

The text found in a girdle advertisement that said, “A Spinal Support, individually designed to provide the degree of rigidity in alignments of affected parts,” sounded like the description of my scoliosis brace.
However, this text for the girdle seemed both medicinal and somewhat glamorous since it went on to say, “This new group of under-fashions designed to make you feel the Joy of Living as well as look the Picture of Vital Loveliness.”  Of course, part of the description of the ad in small type did mention “Dress once expressed the person, now it disguises it…well, disguise may sometimes be necessary.”

These statements resonated for me because I spent so many years trying to disguise my back brace under turtleneck sweaters, slouchy clothing etc. The thought of being a picture of “Vital Loveliness” is something that never crossed my mind, as I didn’t want any more attention drawn to myself since I had plenty of people staring at me already (and not in the “Joy of Living” expression either). It didn’t occur to me that I would want to capture those moments in a picture. By using the prescriptive texts and creating these dolls I feel that the control I lost over how I was perceived while wearing my brace is now, somehow, given back to me.

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Interior Dolls. Ink jet printed girdle and doll images on Quick Fuse Ink Jet Fabric Sheets.

Machine and hand stitched girdles and dolls, connected with satin ribbon.

Doll Height: 7”

Doll Width: 2 1/2”

Total length 10 dolls joined together: 37”

Girdle Height: 5 1/2” - straps to garters

Girdle Width: 2”

Interior Dolls front, detail

Interior Dolls with

girdles opened detail

Interior Dolls back