Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Return Engagement: Garters at Work

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Loretta reports:

Susan & I have had several discussions about garters, and where it is best to tie them if you are living in the days before the latest thing, i.e., the garters illustrated in my previous blog.

Contemporary illustrations show us that garters could be tied just above the knee or just below it.  Top left, Boucher’s The Toilette (1742), shows a lady tying her garters above her knee.  You’ll note that this is just above the knee, not up on her thigh.

You can blow up this Fragonard painting  and focus on the lady’s garters.  Again, they're tied just above the knee.  Since garters didn’t contain elastic (although they might have springs), one tied them at a place on the leg where a natural bulge would help keep them from sliding down.

Another good place to tie our heroine’s garters is just below the knee, above the swell of the calf, as Rowlandson illustrates in his Exhibition Stare-Case (ca 1811) and his many erotic engravings.

In the Rowlandson print you’ll notice how smoothly the stockings cling.  But I suspected this was not the case so much in real life.  (Anyone who wore nylon or silk stockings and garters pre-Lycra knows the annoyance of ankle sag.)

Art and illustrations usually show us smooth stockings, as in John Hoppner’s full length portrait of Captain George Porter (second at left).

But not always.  The Guitarist, by Jean Baptiste Greuze (1757), shows us how, I suspect, the stockings usually appeared in real life.


Merrian said...

Marja at before the automobile made late 18thC garters using spiral coiled wire - she also made her stockings and shoes and everything else.

Looking at her's she wears them above the knee I wonder if the below the knee was a shift in fashion with the shifting dress style?

Isobel Carr said...

It depends on the shape of your leg more than anything else. If your thigh is larger than your knee (as mine is, regardless of how thin or fat I am), then a garter on your thigh will just slip down. But if you have legs that dip in a bit above the knee, you can tie your garter around the thigh and it will stay up just fine!

Kathy said...

I'm remembering -without fondness- garter belts that went around the waist, with dangling clips... that left serious welts on the legs. yeeegods. Plus baggy nylons.

Isobel Carr said...

Hehehe, I pretty much only wear garters and stockings (can't stand nylons!).

carolyntbj said...

I've never understood HOW garters-above-the-knee could Possibly work, until I saw this video by Lauren of Little Bits Clothing Co. Haven't tried it yet, but at least it looks feasible! :-)

Isis said...

A fellow re-enactor taught me a very nifty knot that really makes the garter sit were it is supposed to sit. He preferred above the knee and also recommends using a wool ribbon, which is slightly elastic and doesn't slip. I have followed his advice for years and never have problems with slipping stockings. :)

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