Merry Widow

Lingerie & Shoes | December 28, 2012

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Merry Widow

Named after the 1955 movie adaption of Franz Lehár’s 1905 operetta of the same name, the Merry Widow is a type of foundation garment very similar to a corselet. Its function is to push up the breasts while smoothing the stomach and waste area.

Although this type of foundation garment is no longer ubiquitously worn on a daily basis, some women fancy wearing them on formal occasions. A large number of lingerie retailers offer a variety of foundation garments and if women are considering purchasing one, it highly recommended they try them on first to be sure that the Merry Widow fits comfortably and looks good.

Similarly to the corselet, a Merry Widow has a rigid boning, although it is not intended to fasten very tightly. A Merry Widow begins at the chest and finishes just above the hips. The design includes half cups that support the bust and elongated garter straps to which hosiery is often time attached. In most cases, a Merry Widow is hardly adjustable and it fastens with a zipper.

The Merry Widow was initially designed for Lana Turner’s role and as the name gained in popularity more garments were produces for the general public. The original Merry Widow worn by Turner consisted of colorful, contrasting panels but the commercial versions that followed were typically made of a solid color with varying fabric types such as lace, velvet, silk or brocade depending on the brand.

Garments specifically made to be worn under a dress are usually simple as to not interfere with the cut of the dress, and when a Merry Widow is designed to be worn as a stand alone lingerie or over a clothing often time it features rich decorations and embroideries.

Keep in mind that Merry Widows are generally sized bra size and not very adjustable, so it is important to try one on and make sure that it fits correctly and that it is comfortable before purchasing it.

Photo by The Minnesota Historical Society

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