Do you remember suspenders? Yes, I am talking about the days before pantyhose. It was part of our journey as we entered the teenage years. We were garbed in vast elastic girdles with metal clips attached. These girdles were like constrictions around our youthful groins, ready to attach nylon stockings, or horrid grey hosiery for schooldays. GGGGGRRRRRROOOSSS!
These girdles were pulled over white cottontail full bloomers – real passion deterrents for teenage boys. Job done. None of my mother’s daughters had unwanted pregnancies or shotgun weddings. By now, it would not have mattered if we did. I guess you could say we had a mother on a mission!
After sports time in high school, during which we’d discarded the girdle for sports tunics and yellow-gold bloomers, we had 10 minutes to readorn ourselves with those ghastly girdles before the lunch bell. Great were our struggles trying to heave the elastic girdles over our budding hips! Some forward girls showed off lacy forms in basic black, with black briefs. They were the envy of the class and very popular with the lads. I do not know if their black unmentionables led to their early marriages.
Worse than this, for any social event, a party or school dance, my mother would stitch frocks to go over these undergarments. We didn’t have much, so we had home-made dresses. Hours on school holidays were spent, bored to fatigue, browsing through paper patterns in the local fabric shop. There were such favourites as Buttericks and McCall’s. I still do not know what the big life-changing decision was. We always ended up with embarrassing ‘chubby’ patterns, an A-line frock with a bow at the neckline.
We did not even look good. These were the days when orange and purple were popular colours. Before Covid-19 became a global pandemic, it was a modern ritual for teenagers to have debuts or formal dances, before their schoolies at the end of the year. The girls looked lovely in expensive frocks and travelled in designer limousines. All non-social distancing, of course. At their age, I had two orange frocks, a fashion statement, over the suspenders and bloomers.
I must say we were glad when pantyhose were introduced. They too had runs, the bane of a woman in nylons. One old-fashioned remedy was to dab on nail polish to save our hosiery.
Yes, Baby Boomer women, if you remembers suspenders, you know we did it tough, but we survived!
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