What is A Girdle?

Greek Statue

Girdles have been popularized by the likes of Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian who have claimed that their “wow” figures are because of wearing girdles. Girdles have caught the fashion world by storm and often, the question arises, what is a girdle?

A girdle is essentially a band which grids or encircles your waist to confine flowing and loose outer garments and allow free movement. It also helps to support and fasten the garments one is wearing. 

Girdle Back View

Source: Auckland Museum

Today, a “girdle” is a literary word that connotes a piece of clothing or dress rather than just a belt. It is considered as a support garment, which is worn by women and gives an overall appearance of shapely buttocks and a flat tummy. Girdles are also called support panties or support underwear.

Before nylons came into fashion, the girdles that were used did not have the panty part and a girdle was just a very tight garment that helped to flatten the tummy. The girdle had straps which attached to the top of the stockings, which held them up. However, today, many stockings have a control top or elements that provide support such as a strong elastic around the hips and stomach, which makes wearing a separate support girdle unnecessary and not very popular.

The word “girdle” precedes the garment and it was actually used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a thin belt, which was worn by men around the waist. The girdle helped to confine their tunics and hold their purses. Women and girls wore the girdle under their bosom. Both sexes did not wear girdles when in mourning.

Greek Statue

When the tunic was very long and would get entangled in the feet, it was drawn over the girdle in a way that the girdle was completely concealed under the folds of the tunic. It was also quite common for people to wear two girdles of varying widths together. One girdle was worn high up, while the other was worn lower down. Often, the tunics worn by Greek men were confined by the use of a girdle.

Britons wore girdles made of iron in order to prevent obesity. In the Druidical eras, people wore girdles to cure diseases. The girdle was used both by Anglo-Saxon men and women. The men used to wear it to confine their tunics and also support their swords. Monks wore girdles made of leather.  

The girdle was also very popularly used during the Middle Ages and you can see a mention of it in the English poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, where the Green Knight’s wife offered the red girdle, which was wrapped around her waist to Sir Gawain to protect him from injury.

The Girdle Today

Nowadays, girdles are being associated with garments worn more by women than men. They have replaced corsets which were worn by women and were more restrictive. Girdles offered tummy and waist control but did not cinch the waist as tightly as the corset did, which resulted in a comfier kind of a garment.

Open Bottom Girdle

Source: rago-shapewear.com

The development of spandex has helped to make the modern girdle more lightweight. It also helps to hold the stomach and buttocks in more easily.

Today, you have different kinds of girdles. There are girdles which are worn as a form of back support and these are known as back-supporting belts. Some girdles with underwear start just below the breasts and make the waist appear smaller. Other types of girdles are like teddies and have underwired bra and panties in the same garment.

Benefits of Wearing a Girdle

While most often women and men wear girdles for waist training, the benefits of the garment go far beyond. Some of the benefits of wearing a girdle can be found below. 

  • Offers Support: People often find that apart from supporting their figure, wearing a girdle provides a deep pressure that is naturally comforting and can help to reduce panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. The “supportive hug” of the girdle can help to heal emotions.
  • Provides Back Support: The panty girdles which reach up the back can prevent back injuries and also offer lumbar support. In fact, people wear supportive girdles for back support and also to improve their posture, apart from getting a great physique. A girdle not only helps to maintain good posture, but it can also help to reduce back pain caused due to injuries, pain in the knees and feet as a result of poor posture, pain because of scoliosis, the tension in the shoulders and neck and even migraines and headaches.
  • Provides Abdominal Support: Just like girdles can provide back support, they can also provide abdominal support. In fact, because of their supportive qualities, it is recommended for people recovering from surgery to wear a girdle. The targeted support offered by a girdle helps to provide bust support and also helps in maintaining the body.
  • Acts as a Weight Loss Aid: While a girdle cannot replace exercise or a healthy diet, it can act as an aid and help you control your appetite, reduce the size of your servings and also act as a reminder for your weight loss goals. The girdle can help to strengthen your motivation to lose weight.
  • Helps to Boost Confidence: Often, looking and feeling good about yourself can help you to feel more confident about yourself, which in turn, can help you tackle difficult tasks and social interactions better. And, a girdle can help to satisfy your inner vanity and help you feel and act confidently.
Woman in Red Dress

So, now that you know what a girdle is and its benefits, you may seriously think of investing in one. While you may enjoy a more slim and attractive physique by wearing a girdle, you may enjoy the emotional and health benefits of a girdle even more now.