Holy Grail Garter Belts (And Corsets)
Words by April Piazza
Photos by Alison Leigh
Detail shots of lingerie by April Piazza
Location: The Bookstore Speakeasy
In the words of LovetoknowLingerie.com‘s Crystal Shwanke, “If you admire retro lingerie at all, you should have a garter belt in your lingerie drawer.”
Though created in the 1920s for the very noble task of holding up ladies’ stockings, garterbelts (also referred to as ‘suspenders’) were commonly used throughout the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. After that, their popularity began to ebb with the rise of the more easily-donned, and therefore more convenient, pantyhose.
But there’s something undeniably charming and sexy about garter belts that you’re just not going to find in modern hosiery. As Schwanke alluded, if you’re into vintage media, you’ll see them often. In my quest to fill my drawers with retro or retro-inspired pieces, I found it rather difficult to find garter belts at all, much less for a price befitting SCR. Thusly, garter belts became my personal Holy Grail…and I was on a quest.When I initially began my search without much luck, I resorted to checking out Victoria’s Secret. Now, don’t get me wrong – I ADORE their lingerie!…just often not their prices (However, I DO love their Semi-Annual Sale!), and when I believed I wouldn’t find a garter belt at an SCR-worthy price, I was right. In fact, I almost didn’t find one at all! In their entire store, there was only one garter belt, and it was part of their bridal collection. I was pretty shocked. I thought for sure I’d see at least one for the every-day!
Scrounging (and largely, TJ Maxx!) to the rescue! Almost magically, roughly immediately after I began looking for them, 2 garter belts cropped up in as many months:
I found this “Satin Doll” black lace and pink satin garter belt by Jezebel at TJ Maxx (locations in Whitehall, Bethlehem, and nationwide) for $2.99 (Retail price: $14.00).
I usually pair my garters with inexpensive G-strings or thin-banded thongs that happen to match them, rather than buying sets. It’s easy to find either cut in black, white, neutral, or what have you. In THIS case, I was lucky enough to find the EXACT match to the “Satin Doll” set: the baby-pink satin G-string! This photograph gives you a better look at the pretty, intricate detailing:
This, too, was $2..99 at TJ Maxx (Retail price: $12.oo). The set might’ve cost me over $30 online with tax and shipping, but finding the pair in store ran me well under a third of that.
Not long after, I again found myself perusing the aisles of TJ Maxx in search of a birthday present, and was elated to find a second Jezebel garter belt! Like the pieces before it, the lace and mesh “Edgy Girl” garter belt with white floral threading was mine for $2.99 (Retail price: $28.00). The contrast between the “Satin Doll” set and the “Edgy Girl” piece were perfect for me in their diversity. As a hobbyist model, I’d be more likely to choose the item with fuller coverage for a photoshoot, and save the more scandalous ones as a surprise for a sweety.
Then, just as I was wrapping up organizing the above material for this blog, Victoria’s Secret made me eat my words. I popped in to cash in on a free panty coupon and found sale bins. This white lace garter was mixed in with panties and marked down to $8.99 (retail price: $16.50). Not as cost effective as TJ Maxx, but far from expensive…and as I had yet to garner a white garter belt, I had to add it to my collection.
Now that we’ve covered what one should be wearing down below, the question is: What does one pair with a garter belt? Easy-peasy! A well-fitted, flattering bra will do it justice (the notorious Bettie Page often sported such a combo in her printed work).
But if you’re feeling naughtier than the average bear, try a corset. Corsets, formerly known as bodices or stays, were once part of the rigmarole that was daily feminine garb. Oddly enough, from the Renaissance on, corsets were literally meant to bind in the morality, as well as the charms, of its wearer. Today, we’ve turned that idea on its head: corsets are the very epitome of 21st century sexiness and female empowerment. I spied both of these beauties at tween-hip headquarters, Hot Topic, in the Lehigh Valley Mall. Here at SCR, we have no shame, and will go most anywhere (barring dumpsters) to procure a piece at a good price (Looking at Roxy, you can’t say the ends don’t justify the means). Both the black and floral stays retailed at $32.50, but were on clearance at an astonishing (when you consider that many corsets go for hundreds) $11.99.
Part of the fun of these more elusive pieces is being able to play with them. Have fun with it. Own it. I can guarantee, you – and anyone that has the pleasure of seeing you in them – will NOT be disappointed!
Local TJ Maxx locations:
– 2631 Macarthur Rd., Whitehall, PA. (610) 266-6172
– 3926 Linden St., Bethlehem, PA. (610) 317-0930
Victoria’s Secret and Hot Topic locations:
– Lehigh Valley Mall, Macarthur Rd., Whitehall, PA.