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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Victoria's Corset: 1920

Victoria's Corset: 1920

"Wells Corset Shop, 1920." Unmentionables under glass at 1331 G Street N.W. in Washington. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Real corsets

Are around too. I get them custom made.


They're still around with a new name. They are now called "body shapers". They may no longer contain bones but they try to achieve the same degree of control. "Take a deep breath 'cause that's the last one you'll get til nightfall."

Banned from Vic's

I love that the mannequin has such realistic proportions (except for, you know, the missing head and arms). She'd have no love at Vic's, for sure. The mannequins at VS feature obviously protruding hip bones--all the better for holding up those skimpy little thongs, I suppose. But this one has some curves! I realize that corsets must have been wildly uncomfortable, but they did make curves look pretty hot. It would have been nice to have lived during a time when the hourglass figure was in. Ah well--born 100 years too late.

Anyone know how long into the 1920s Wells was able to hang on? I assume this may have been toward the end of this type of establishment.

A familiar address

Wow, I check this site daily, and was shocked to see the building I work in.

Well, it's not actually the same building. The corset shop was knocked down and the new headquarters of the Second National Bank was built on this location in 1928.

The bank and offices remained open into the early 70s. Various other tenants, including a uniform shop occupied the building in the 1970s-80s. In the late 80s until 1991 the Treasury Department used some of the offices in the building.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

The building remained vacant until 2007 when the American Immigration Lawyers Association restored it for their national offices.

No signs of corset wearing ghosts, yet.

When I say vouge, I mean vouge

vouge, n. - a kind of pike used by foot soldiers in the 14th century

Considering the armor and protective gear this store sold the vouge fits in perfectly.


I hope Miss Wells didn't pay too much for that beautiful, hand lettered sign with a large "Vouge" instead of "Vogue."

[Uoch. - Dave]


It's ironic that that mannequin wears more than most women these days.

How fitting (pardon the pun)

How fitting (pardon the pun) that central in the photograph is a languishing bird trapped in a proper Victorian-style cage. Silk lacers and beautiful bows aside, corsets were pretty little prisons.

A most practical gift

Washington Post Nov 24, 1918: Advertisement

The Wells Corset store

1331 G Street

Phone Franklin 2523

The Most Acceptable Gift for a Young Girl

Is her First Corset. The dainty garment with its silk lacer and pretty bows not only appeals to her innate love of the beautiful but it suggests the achievement of the really and truly grown up stage.

It is a most practical gift for mothers to make, for the growing girl needs proper corset support.

The Wells Corset Service is well adapted to the needs of the girl with her first corset as it is to the needs of the mature matron.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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