A belt to alter the shape of the tightly laced waist
The purpose of this belt was to alter the shape of the tightly laced waist from the natural or medium oval shape to a narrow oblong shape or the "Austrian Waist" as it was known in the days when small waists were the fashion.
This shape was considerably less in diameter from side to side than from front to back. This belt was made of steel and aluminium, composed of an outer supporting ring of steel (A), having an inside circumference of approximately twenty inches. 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 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 srews (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 outerring.
MLLE. LILLY, THE MODEL
The young lady who demonstrated the Austrian training belt was a model in a Viennese corset salon, named Mlle. Lilly. She was a little 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 embroidered oriental kimono and revealed a beautifully proportioned, slender figure clad in a black lace chemise and long black lace stockings held in place by very tight garters. She wore kneehigh laceboots with four inch French heels, a black satin corset of the prevailing straight front, short hip model; it was a tiny 13-inch size, though it was open at least two inches in the back.
When all was ready for the demonstration, the model walked over to a lacing bar which hung in the centre of the room suspended form the ceiling, the model took a hold on the lacing bar which was then raised until her toes barely 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 around the room and gradually get accustomed to the severe lacing and squeezing to come.
Fifteen minutes later, this further lacing-in was repeated, but it was nearly an hour bfore the maids had managed to lace LILLy's tiny corset close from top to bottom. Her's was the normally proportioned Austrian tiny waist, it taped exactly 13 inches in circumference, and by calipers measured 4,75 inches from front to back, and 3,75 inches form side to side.
THE TRAINIG BELT IS APPLIED
Madame, the corsetiere, walked over to a table at the end of the room, opened a large plush lined box and brought the training belt, which, though made of steel and aluminium, was comparatively light. She removed a bolt from one end, and the belt swang open and was placed 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 firmly against the sides of the waist. The flattening of the little waist was begun by the model, Lilly, simultaneously gave a full turn to each of the pressure screws, and every few minutes thereafter the maids gave both srews 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 little over three inches, the circumference of the waist was not altered in the least.
During the next hour the side to side dimension was brought under the three inches, and when viewed from either the front or back the waist looked phantomlike. It produced the illusion of a thread- like waist of a bare ten inches, and when viewed from side it was a comfortable 17-inch waist which calipered about 5,5 inches from front to back.
THE EXTREME AUSTRIAN TYPE
At the time of this demonstration Mlle. 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 stell plates between the shaping plate and the corset, which was laced with steel wire after the waist was pressed to the desired degree of flatness, after which the belt was removed and the extreme flat effect retained.