Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vintage Berlei corselet review


A short while ago I opened up my mailbox and discovered a nondescript package stuffed with soft contents and sporting a Hungarian postage stamp. What was it?

Why, it was the Berlei corselette/all-in-one I had bought on eBay just a week before!

Judging by the style of tag, bust shape, fabric, and certain construction details, I would say it probably dates to the late 60s or early 70s.

The eBay store from which I purchased this treasure deserves some praise: mieder-eldorado-com did excellent work describing the item in great detail (both relaxed and stretched measurements were included) and shipping the item discretely.

(1) creates an excellent bust shape, rather pointy but not truly cone shaped
(2) light to moderate belly control with some hip shaping
(3) keeps me warm because it covers my entire torso
(4) well-constructed
(4) I can use the facilities in it (seems obvious, but worth mentioning)
(5) I can move around normally as it is not overly restrictive

(1) difficult to get in and out of, and I mean difficult. I actually had a moment taking it off the first time when I panicked and thought I had to chose between dislocating my shoulder and waiting an hour for my husband to come home and help me out. Mind you, this does not mean I purchased the wrong size garment, as it sits perfectly once it's actually on me.

Another aspect of this garment that is neither a pro nor a con is a strange asymmetrical feature in the under-bust area.

Notice the gap beneath the left cup (NB: patient's left, stage left, on the right side of the photo). If you look closely on the other side, no such break exists, but there is a seam with a gap a couple centimeters/an inch below the other cup.

A view of the inside reveals even more clearly the asymmetrical placement of breaks in the fabric beneath the bosom. As far as I can tell, this does not affect how this garment functions in the least, and I am hard pressed to come up with a reason why such a construction feature would be necessary. Perhaps the sewing machine could not handle three layers of thick fabric plus an elastic band so the seam was divided into two, one sitting on top of the other. Does anyone with more knowledge in this area have an explanation?

All in all I am pleased with my new all-in-one, although next time I buy a similar piece, I will opt for a version with integrated garter clips, perhaps like some of the items listed under "Korselett" at

About the manufacturer: Berlei was originally an Australian company founded in the early part of the 20th century that created and marketed foundation garments and shapewear to women of all sizes and shapes. Eventually branches were also opened in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and this popular firm continued to manufacture quality garments into the 1980s, at which point the brand was sold to larger firms. You can read more on Wikipedia and at

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