Training Belts "London Life" Magazine July 23, 1927.

Waist contours
The Viennese Steel Training Belt.
The "pipe-stem" waist was more
popolar on the Continent. especially
in Vienna, but I had the pleasure
of training one young lady's waist
to this unusual style. The most syc-
cessfuld result was due entirely to
training from the age of 11. Very
carefyl lengthening of the waist was
instituted with the aid of expensive
belte, and the young lady was strictly
dieted. At the age of 18 she had a
perfect "stem" waist, 5in.. in length.
and an outside measurement of 14in.
  Referring to my records. I find
that the very smallest waist---over
corset measurement--was poesessed
by my favourite model. whom I had
trained from the age of eight years.
She was a great attraction: but
much to my sorrow. she. at 19 years
of age. married a wealthy man. who
simply adored her marvellous waist.
  Gloden--such was her uncommon
name--had. at 18 years of age. a
waist of 11 1/2in.. over her stays. and
regularly wore this tiny waist for four
hours daily, afterwards releasing to
12 1/2in. or 13in.
  Correborating renders statements.
it is a fact that it was considered a
deadly sin for a lady to show any
signs of distress during the lacing
of her stays. I remember two maiden
ladies who had adopted a very pretty
little girl. When the latter attained
the age of eight years I was ordered
to fit her with suitable stays. Her
little figure was very easily moulded
until at 13 years she was fitted with
fully fashioned. heavily boned stays.
and the very strictest lacing com-
menced. She had her hair "put up."
and assumed ground-length dresses.
and was never wuthout the tightest
gloves. strictly veiled outdoors, and
3in. heels to commence with.
  She was privately educated by a
governess, chosen for her strictness
in the matter of deportment. etc.
Each day, at a certain hour, the two
older ladies carefully watched whilst
their adopted child was laced in by
a maid. Mounted on the highest
heeis, atteched to pinching. needle-
pointed shoes, her tiny gloved hands
grasped an overhead bar. and as her
waist was unmercifully squeezed in
she would carry on a conversation
with the ladies. smuing as theugn
extreme tight-lacing was a really
pleasant operation. On her secen-
teenth birthday I myself laced her
an over corset mensurement of 12im..
she shewed no signs of distress--a
marvellous example of self-control.
   In conslusion. may I say that the
fashion of tight-lacing is not ex-
tinet. as meny people imagine? Many
men greatly admtre a small waist,
and many a strainght up and down
freck hides a trim little waist--not.
of course. as tiny as those of 20 or
30 years ago. but small enough.

  It is a well-known fact that the
waist, that flexible portion of the
body which lies between the thoracic
cavity (enclosed by the ribs) and the
pelvic cavity (enclosed by the hip
bones), can be trained to withstand an
almost limitless pressure and that the
organs can be moulded (particularly if
training is begun at a very early age)
and will function properly even
though forced considerably out of
their normal positions by extreme
corset pressure, and that the zone of
the waist can be made so tiny that it
seems to enclose very little besides the
  There is without a doubt great
many very novel mechanical means
for forcing the waist into its very
smallest compass, beyond that which
it is possible to attain even with the
most skilfully cut tiny waist corsets.
These so-called training belts are
usually made to suit the designer or
invariably also the wearer. Very
few of these belts are commercial
  The modern training belt was in-
spired by the corset covers of steel
which were worn in Queen Elizabeth's
and Catherine de Medici's time.
These instruments of torture were
made to wear over the corset after the
waist had been reduced by lacing to
the required standard. Consider then.
what history tells us about the fashion
of that period :  " A thick waist
was an absolute abomination. extra-
ordinary tenuity was insisted on, a
thirteen inch was the standard
required by the ladies of these courts.
and almost unbehevably tiny waists
were attained."
  It was the most strennous periode of
tight lacing in the hustoriy of fashion.
According to various writers, ladies of
the eaurt suffered terrible agenias
when imprisoned in these close-fitting
fortesses which squeezed in their
poor little bodies from. armpits to
hips. and hours of perseverance had to
be undergone in order to attain the
degree of slenderness required to
appear at the almost endless gay
  Steel  corsets were by no means con-
fined to the ladies of that period, for
we find that the gentlemen of the
court also boasted of their slender
waists, and wore elegant padded
doublets and breeches in order to
emphasise their tiny waists. Henri
III of France was much addicted to
the practice of tight lacing. and
possessed a waist which was the envy
of many a fair damsel at the court.
  The modern training belt is worn
for three principal purposes :--
First.--To change the shape of a
  corseted waist either to a perfect
  circle or to an extreme oval.
Second.--To force an already tightiy
  laced waist into a still smaller
  cireumference, and to determine the
  absolute minimum waist size which
  the wearer can attain.
Third.--A polished steel belt snapped
on over the dress of a very tiny
waisted figure gives the appearance
of added tenuity and the effect of
being "cut in two."
  To the lovers of tight lacing, either
of these accomplishments gives the
wearer a great deal of personal satis-
facition, and there is supposed to be a
thrill in the added severe pressure.
Let me say right here that the wear-
ing of these belts is the last word
in waist compression (and waist
torture). in spite of the wearer's
apparent delight. They are. as may
be imagined. capable od causing the
wearer intense pain. In some of the
demonstrations which I wil describe
later in this chapter the models were
se namb in the region of the waist
from extreme tight lacing that they
were insensible to pain, and for a
short while endnred the almost un-
believable pressure with startling
  In the following chapter I will
describe the various styles of figure
training belts which I have seen
demonstrated. and the results db-
tained. These belts are known as:--
1. The Viennese Steel Training Belt.
2. The English Round Waist Belt.
3. The French Screw Redaeing Belt.
4. The Polished Steal Band or Belt.
   The purpose of this beit was to alter
the shape of natural or medium oval
shape to a narrow oblong shape or the
"Austrian Waist." as it was known
in the days when small waist were
the fashion. This shape was con-
siderably less in diameter from side
to side than from front to back.
  This belt was made of steel and
aluminium, composed of an outer sup-
porting ring of steel (A). having an
inside cricumference of approximately
twenty inches [50cm]. To this was attached
two aluminium shaping plates (B) by
means of hand pressure screws (C)
and guide screws (D). The shaping
plates were padded with chamois skin,
and were padded with chamois skin,
and were about three inches wide.
The guide screws prevented the belt
from twisting.
  It is evident from a view of  the
sketch that  by turning the pressure
screws (C-C) the two shaping plates
(B-B) are forced inwards. pressing in
the sides of the waist according to the
wearer's  wishes and ability to endure
the pressure.    The belt is, of course.
worn over the corset, and is adjusted
to the figure by removing the bolt at
the back of the outer ring.
The young lady who demonstrated
the Austrian training belt was a model
in a Viennese corset salon, named Mlle.
Lilly. She was a littel girl about 18
years old, with a mass of dark curly
hair, a pretty little upturned nose and
a vivacious smile. She removed a
richly emnroidered oriental kimono
and revealed a beautifully propor-
tioned. chemise and long black lace
stockings held in place by very tight
garters. She wore knee-high lace-
boots with forur-inch French heels. a.
straight front, short hip model; ir
was a tiny 13-inch size, though is was
open at least two inches in the back.
When all was ready for the demon-
stration, the model walked over to a
lacing bar which hung in the center of
the room suspended from the cerling
bar which was then reised until her
toes barelt touched the floor, when
two maids quickly pulled her in a full
inch, adjusted the laces, and lowered
the bar so that the model could trip
accnstomed to the severe lacing and
squeezing to come. Fifteen minutes
later, this further lacing-in was re-
peated. but it was nearly an hour
before the maids had managed to
lace Lilly's tiny corset close from top
to bottom. Her's was the normally
proportioned Austrien tiny waist, ti
taped exactly 13 inches in cireum-
ference. and by calipers measured
4 5/8 inches from front to back, and
3 3/8 inches  from side to side.
  Madame, the corsetiere. walked over
to a table at at the end of the room.
opened a large plush lined box and
brought the training belt. which.
though made of steel and aluminum
was comparatively light. She re-
moved a bolt from one end. and the
belt swung open and was piaced
around Mlle. Lilly's tiny waist and
closed again with the bolt. The belt
was then adjusted to her figure so that
the two shaping plates were screwed
fimuly against the sides od the waist.
The flattening of the littel waist
was begun by the model. Lilly.
simultaneusly gave a full turn to
each of the pressure screws and every
few minutes thereafter the maids gave
both serews another turn until it was
evident that further pressure would
have to be very slow: while the side
to side dimension had been reduced
to a littie over three inches [[8cm]]. the
circumference of the waist was not
altered in the least. During the next
hour the side to side dimension was
brought under the the thtrr inches, and
when viewed from either the front or
back the waist looked phantomlike.
It prodiced the illusion of a thread-
like waist of a bere ten inches, and
when viewed from the side it was a
comfortable 17-inch waist which
calipered about 5 1/2 inches from front
to back.

An extreme Austrian (flattened)
waist, slowing steel belt used for
producing the effect. The The dotted
outlline shows comparison with the
round waist.
  At the time of this demonstration
Mille. Lilly was having her waist
trained to the extreme Austrian type,
and wore this belt from two to four
hours daily, sometimes inserting two
flat steel plates between the shaping
plate and the corset, which was lacedc
with steel wire after the waist was
pressed to the desired degree of flat-
ness, after which the belt was removed
and the extreme flat effect retained.
This flat steel beit was invented for
an Austrian countess who possesed a
most remarkable narrow Austrian type
I met Countess O. on several
oceasions, she knowing that I was pro-
fessionally intereseted in figure train-
ing, gladly consented to show how she
retained the extreme oval effect of her
waist for which she had become noted
and envied by many of the young
members of the capitol's fashionable
  The Countess wass tall ans slender;
her corsets were all extremely long
and tapering, reaching right up under
her arms. They were short over the
hips as she preferred the bulging hip.
thus empasising the snallness of her
tightlt laced waist. Her smallest size
was 13 1/5 inches, though her usual size
was about one inch larger.
   The Countess showed me two small
polished plates, each three by five
inches. In each end there by four
eyelets. These plates were made of
thin spring steel, Highly tempered and
about 1/16 inch thick. They were
placed at the side of her waist and
laced loosely with steel wirem after
which the Vienese Training Belt
(same style as that used by Mlle.
Lilly) was adjusted to her figure. As
the waist was being pressed flat, the
maids pulled in the steel wire, and
when the sides of  the waist were
flattened to the satisfaction of the
Countess, the steel wires were pulled
as tight as the two maids could pull
them; then the ends were twisted
tight and snipped off. Later the belt
was unscrewed and removed, and the
astonishing narrow oval Austrian
waist was produced. The steel pieces
had beeb pressed into the corset, there
being just enough "give" to the
spring steel to mould beautifully with
viewed her squeezed figure in the
mirror, smiled and indicated that she
was pleased with yhe effect.
  Her maid theb sewed her into a
black satin, perfectly tight-fitting
princess dress, and a half hour later
we were strolling in the castle
gardens, chatting delightfully. The
effect of her slender oval waist was
startling in the extreme, in fact at
times weird. As she turned there
first appeared a rather normal slender
waist (that is viewed from the side
or widest part), then by a half-turn
(revealing either the front or back
view) her waist. as if by a miracle
suddenly diminished to half that size:
in fact, was in stantly transformed into
the tiniest of wasp waists.
  The Countess was accustomed to
this severe treatment of her waist.
having been extremely tight laced,
since a young girl. She informed me,
that she very often wore the most
extreme oval or flattened waist for an
entire day and evening, not infre-
quently keeping it on all night, with
modified pressure, especialoy if for any
reason she wished to loak smaller than
usual the next day.
After about one hour, the Countess
stated that the pressure was causing
her intense pain, that it felt as though
the steel plates were meeting inside
her. I suggested that she retire to her
boudoir and obtain a littie relief,
which she did, but before unlacing I
measured her waist which was exactly
14 inches in cincumference, pressed
into an extreme oval, which ealipered
slightly under six inches from front
to back (equivalent to an 18-inch
round waist), and barely three inches
from side to side (equivaient to a
waist of less than ten inches), which
was the marrowest she had ever
The normal waist when tightly
laced in with corsets is not perfectly
round; it is slightly oval. The object
of the English Round Waist Belt was
to produce a perfectly round waist,
known as the "English Waist" It
was the belief of those who wore it,
that by wearing a metal belt so con-
structed that it was less yielding at
the widest part of the oval, the waist
would gradually assume a perfectly
round shape.

A diagram of the english round
waist belt, construeted of spring steel
and composed of five separate pias
hinged together.

This belt was constrneted of spring
steel. It was about 1 1/4 to 2 inches
wide, composed of five separate pieces
hinged together at four places with
oval eyelets. In the hack, the two
small sections were joined by two
stud posts (one of which was
threaded). Through these, a long bolt
was passed, tightene! or loosened by
a small pin inserted through the head
of the bolt. The two side pieces of
this helt were made of double thick-
ness in order that the mininum pres-
sure would be aplied at these points.
To change the size of the belt all that
was necessary was to remove the stud
posts. It will be noticed that this is
easily accomplished, and that an in-
side projection, which passes through
an oval hole at the back of the steel
belt, provides an adjustment of
approximately four inches.
  The in side cireumference of the belt
should be about half inch less than
corset. To put on the belt the long
steel bolt has to be removed, after
properly adjusting the belt to the
figure, the bolt should besired furnnrss
has been obtained. It will be noticed
then that the action of the belt has
been as folloes:--
1.-- The front and back piece, being
more pliable than the side pieces,
tend to compresss the waist at those
points only.
2.---The side pieces, being much
stiffer, will not alter the shape of
the waist except for a slight
expansion corresponding to the
pressure applied at front and back.
As the serew bolt is placed at the
back only it is after it has been properly
adjusted. It is distinvtly a training
belt to be worn until the waist is
gradually noulded to a perfekt round
shape, so much desired desired round
shape, so much desired desired by the
English girls in the small waisted days.

  The belt was worn by Miss E. B.,
then living in London; she wore it
constantly in the private of her room,
both day and night. When I saw her
she had a 14-inch waist, which was
perfectly round and did not vary a
fraction at any point. She dressed
magnificently in tight-gitting gowns,
always wearing perfectly round metal
belts of gold and silver ans studded
with brilliants. On one occasion I saw
her in a long tight-fitting princess
dress, her tiny 14-inch waist was en-
cirkled by a silver belt scintilating
with brilliants. Around her throat
was a tight collar, extremely high, and
covered with briliants, over each
breast was a sunburst of brilliants.
the heels of her slippers, slender and
five inches high, wers covered with
brilliants, and crowning her golden
hair was an ornament radiating
brilliant lustre in all directions.
This belt is worn when extreme
tenuity at the waist line is desired,
and is worn over the corset. It si
a woven linen or leather belt, in two
sections, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches [4-5cm] wide,
having ab aluminum screw clamp in
each end, and joined with steel
  To get the best resultsm the belt should be worn over a special corset,
made so that all the steels at the waist line can be extracted after the
corset had been laced to the wearer's
smallest size. The belt should then
be adjusted, leaving an opning of
about one and half inches in front
and back for scerwing in the waist.
This should be slowly done by alter-
nating the pressure equally at front
and back, first by full turns. It will
often be found that after the wearer's
apperent limit has been reached. by
waiting a little while, further pressure
can be applied and surprisingly small
waist measurement realised, many
inches smaller than was possible with
a regular corset without this belt no
matter gow skillfully it was designed
and cut. Smelling salt should be
handy in order to promptly restore the
lady should faintness overtake her.
A demonstration of this belt, which
I witnessed in Paris in 1909, will, I
think, prove interesting: it  was worn
by Mlle. L., a dainty little carfe singer,
who appeared for several seasons with
such a tiny little wasp waist, that
the audience  gasped every time she
  To demonstrate that she was laced
as tight as she possibly could be Mlle.
L. appeared wearing a beautiful pale
blue corset half inch smaller than her
minimum size, it was left open in the
back several inches. Two maids
endeavoured to lace it cicse. but after considerable effort decided that an
opening of about half inch would have
to remain. I taped her waist, it was
just 14 inches over the corset, and
absolutely the smalleste she could be
pulled in to.
The corset was provided with
separate waist steels, about three
inches long, inserted in small pockets
all round the waist. After the belt
was adjusted firmly, these steels were
extracted with a pair of pliers, which
left the corset pliable at the waist-
line except for the support of the
thick woven linen belt which could
then be serewed in as  much as the
material or the wearer could stand.
  As the thumb screws were tightened
the belt cut deeply into the corset. I
asked Mlle. L. if she felt uncomfort-
able or faint, she replied that she was
so accustomed to being squeezed extra
pressure the maids could apply, and
slowly the belt was being screwed in
and forced deeper and deeper into her
waist. There were now five minute
intervals between the further tighten-
Mlle. L. stated that she suffered
absolutely no pain: she felt her hips
and thighs and said she was numb
almost to the knees, but the sensation
of tightness was decidedly pleasant.
She waiked daintly abaut the room.
tip toeing on her extremely high
heels, with each step her body swayed
from  its tiny stem, and she looked
rather helplesa in spite of a constant
smile. She walked to a long mirror
and stood admiring her unique waist
band--it was forced a full quarter of
an inch into the corset all round.
There was some speculations as to
the size of the waistline over the corset.
(but under the belt). To determime
this an exact measurement was taken
of the opening between the clamps,
and this was found to be a littel less
than half inche in the front and back,
and it was agreed that she measured
just twelve inches. I said "Well, do
you think you are syfficiently small
now?" and she replied, "Oh no, I
can be tightened more, I have no feel-
ing here (putting her little hands to
the belt). I will tighten the belt a
little myself," With that she made an
effort to turn the thumb screws, but
she did not have the strength to move
the screws even a fraction of an inch;
it was already forced in so hard that
it was practically impossible for the
little body to yield any more.
Several efforts were made by the
maids with very little success, and as
Mlle. L. had worn the belt for several
hours it was noticed that she  showed
the effory of the terrific strain. She
tottered and would have fallen gad
not her maud quickly unscrewed the
belt and replased the waist steels in
the corset as the belt was removed.
  I was informed that nearky every
wearer of the French Screw Reducing
Belt has applied it with such
thorougness that pressure was not re-
leased until she was at the pount of
fainting or actulally fainted, and thus
learned what  her actual minimum
waist circumferende was.
This is a metal belt worn over the
dress, it is shaped to the waist and
snaps on tight and smooth at the
reqired size. It is made of steel or
German silver, either highly polished,
silver or gold plated to harmonize with
bracelets, necklaces or other jewelry.
Its effect is startling, particularly if
worn over a black satin or velvet
dress. It gives the appearance of the
wearer being cut in two.
  Note that at one end of the belt
(the inside lap) there is a small tongue
protruding which engages one of the
slots. There are four or five slots
about thee-eighths of an inch apart
for adjusting, in order that the belt
will fit perfeetly when shapped on.
Also note that the belt is hinged and
that the dress wil not show through
the slots as they are covered by the
overlapping ends. To put the belt
on it is necessary to press in at the
sides,  causing the ends to overlap their
maximum, and forcing the  small pro-
truding steel tongue to engage the
farthest possible slot. This requires
sometimes considerable pressure, and
after the belt  has clicked, the wearer
is a prisoner within its confines and
at the mercy of her strong-armed
admirer. Should she desire to remove
the belt, it is necessary to apply
sufficient inward pressure to release
the small steel tougue frem the slot,
wgich rarely can be done without

  I have heard of an instance where
the wearer had succeeded in snapping
this belt over a very tightly laced
waist and at en early hour when she
wanted to remove it, found she had
not strength to disngage the locking
device. She at once went to the
maker at the other end of the town,
and aroused him in order to be freed
from its unyielding grasp. With a
deft inovement of his fingers ans the
necessary pressure this he instantly
  I have before me a photograph of
a young kady wearing this belt, of
which a sketch appears herewith, she
is wearing a black vekvet dress. The
picture is taken with a white back-
ground, which blends with the silver-
plated belt. The result is that its out-
lines are not visible, thus creating the
illusion of being cut in two, a highly
desired effect amongst extreme tight
lacers. The same effect is produced at
the ball room or other public and
private places when the wearer is seen
form a distance against a backgrund
which blends with the belt.
  The young lady referred to who fre-
quently wears one of these belt tells
me that a sensation was caused when
she appeared at a garden party which
was attended by many celebrities. On
the occasion she wore a glod-plated
belt over a black satin princess gown
with her tiniest waist, a bere 14
inches. All eyes followed her
wherever she went, much to the dis-
may of the hostess who soon realised
that the centre of attraction was not
the prominent persons, but a tight-
laced and high-heeled litle ward of a
country barrister. She wabdered
anout with the younger ser while her
guardian circulated with the older
people and listened to their remarks.
She was the chief subject of con-
versation. Once she stood in the
direction of the setting sun, which pro-
duced the same effect previously men-
tioned. "Look at that little girl."
said a matronly lady, "why she has
no waist"--"She looks as though she
is cut in two and her upper body and
head floating in space," said another.
A gentleman remarked "What a
stunning effect that little girl is creat-
ing." Two young men, intently
watching her carried om the following
  First: "The most fascinating sight
I have ever seen. I can hardly take my
eyes off her for a moment."
  Secound: "Marvellous--looks to me
as though she broke in half and
dosn't know it."
  First: "Wouldn't it be wonderful
to hold a waist like that in your
  Second: "Lets move closer, in case
she faints; we will each catch a part
of her."
  First: "See how gracefully she
moves about, she is laced in two."
Second: "I have often heard that
expression, but that is the first time I
have ever seen a living example."
  First; "Wonderfuld waist--wonder-
fyl effect."
  Second: "Come lets walk over to-
wards her." Etc., etc., etc.
  Just another story of the fascination
of the tightly laced corset, exquisitely
  I was particularly well impressed
with this style of steel belt. There is
nothing severe in its use, it is easy
to adjust, put on and take off, though
assistance is necessary if the smooth
effect is to be obtained, and the effect
  certainly inest unique

  Mr. B. as you will perhaps reeall
from the story of his life prevtously
published, had been fasvinated by
waist constrtiction sunce early child-