"W" is for Waistline
"A slim, willowy waistline is necessary for summer frock and beach fashions. If you waistline is not wasp-like, you can take inches off it with a few simple measures.
The simple and waist-whittling exercise of touching your toes can be practiced each time you need to stoop to pick up anything, which leaves you no excuses that you haven't time for exercises. Stand up straight, then pick up the object without bending you knees. You will find there are innumerable times when you can practice this in your daily round [This seems to go against every OHS recommendation about how to pick things up correctly].
Here is an exercise which is quick and simple and slims both your waist and your hips. Place your hands on you hips and slowly move your body round from the hips, from right to left.
Your diet is most important of course. You can't possibly maintain a slender waistline if you insist on eating fattening, starchy foods and sweets.
To sum up, you have three simple rules for waist-slimming: Watch your diet, hold your tummy in and tuck your tail under, and practice your toe-touching exercises each time you bend down. You will find your waistline will soon be neat and trim."
(from The Argus, 28 December 1950)
This article from The Australian Women's Weekly in 1962 describes some more waist-slimming exercises. Click to see it larger.
This article from Life magazine in 1947 laments the return of the corset or 'waspie' that came into vogue with the New Look. "To the male, who sneaks an arm around an attractive waist, they will present a Maginot Line of elastic and bones of spring steel." Click to enlarge.
These days there are a nice selection of waist cinchers on the market. Not as restrictive as a corset, they are generally make of heavy-duty stretch mesh and satin, and take a few inches off the waist for special occasions. They also reduce the strain on the seams of vintage clothing, or allow you to get into that skirt that is just a little too tight in the waist.
Shown above is the Glamour Waist Cincher from What Katy Did. It comes in black or ivory, has spiral steel boning and six detachable suspender straps, and costs £45. They also do a Waspie (a shorter version) for £37.50.
Vintage Charm by Kim (one of the ladies from the Lindy Charm School for Girls) makes vintage-style waist cinchers right here in Australia. They are based on original 1940s-50s cinchers but with hooks and eyes rather than lacing, so they are easier to put on. The cinchers come in two styles: the Hourglass (shown above) takes 1.5-2.5 inches off your natural waist, and the Dior Wasp Waist takes 2.5-3.5 inches off.
Rago Shapewear also make several different waist cinchers, including this one, made of nylon and lycra and comes in pale pink or mocha, and provides firm shaping. There is also a nice one in red and black lace, which gives medium shaping, and a very serious extra-firm shaping one.