Friday, May 4, 2012

A Personal Matter: Underarm Freshness

One of the things that interests me in my vintage magazines are the adverts. And it's not just the ads for glamorous products like shoes and lingerie and beauty products that catch my attention - I'm also intrigued by the advertising for personal products available through the ages. So I've decided to celebrate these unglamorous ads in a new blog mini series, starting with a brief history of underarm freshness.

Early armpit care consisted of padded "dress shields" designed to protect delicate fabrics from corrosive perspiration - though the 1908 "Beautifit" shields of rubberised cotton sound enormously uncomfortable! Dress shields continued to be popular through the first half of the 20th century and beyond, perhaps used in conjunction with the variety of deodorants and anti-perspirants (some offering up to a week's protection!) which became available. I also think that "Odo-Ro-No" is the best name for a deodorant ever.


1908


1940


1947


1949


1949


1950


1950


1951


1952


1953


1955

17 comments:

  1. I love these ads! My favorites are the often-overlooked products, strange things and 'unmentionables'. I admit, I think I could stand to own some dress shields now and again myself! But not those rubberized cotton ones. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used to like the 'a girls best friend is her mum' adverts from my teens, these are great too! X

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember the 'dress shields' of my mum and aunty, back in the 50's. The first deoderants I remember are 'Mum Rollette' and 'Body Mist' in its squirt type bottle.

    They were very highly scented, it drowned most perfumes!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had a bottle of 30s Odor-o-no a few years back. It was a red liquid and had an applicator like a cotton bud attached to the lid, it must have taken ages to apply. Unfortunately any scent it may have had was long gone.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My grandmother swore by deoderising talc all her life. I remember seeing an article in an old mag, it was extremely fastidious and had a suspicion that some women washed less than daily and used deo instead. I suppose back in the days of weekly baths, there were a few people who'd do that!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you! I have always wondered about this, looking through various decades of magazines, when deodorant really became the norm. Great ads, the illustrations are so charming!

    xoxo
    Solanah

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kleinerts is still in business selling dress shields! I really do need to order some new ones...

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is such a brilliant idea! I love all of these :D I must admit, I've thought about using underarm guards because I just sweat so darn easily and so much. Haha.
    -Andi x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thought-provoking article; I'm not sure putting chemicals under our arms for our entire lives is a healthy thing. The ads were fantastic, though. I would love to see a resurgence of dress shields. I guess I'd better buy some! Thanks, Charlotte.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually use Pit Rok crystal deoderant, which is a magic non-chemical deoderant that doesn't block your pores so it's healthier for your skin. But since it doesn't stop you sweating (it just stops the sweat from smelling) perhaps I should actually look into those dress shields...

      xx Charlotte

      Delete
  10. My friend and I used to wear her mother's 50's dresses in our teens, they all had dress shields in them, which would be taken out and washed/changed regulary she told us.

    I remember seeing a black Victorian dress....bodice and skirt actually....once that was absolutely covered in sweat stains, ugh! Mind you, by the time you'd buttoned up the amount of tiny buttons on it you'd be perspiring alright. No wonder they had maids!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wonder what era did women start shaving their underarms, and is that connected with deodorant use? Less hair = less smell, IMHO...

    I need to invest in some dress shields if I ever get brave enough to make & wear a dress out of silk. (I also swear by Certain Dri, which cuts waaaaay down on sweat production by shrinking the sweat glands.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure in some of my 30s mags there are ads for products to get rid of "ugly hair" including armpit hair. Now I'll have to go through them all again to check!

      xx Charlotte

      Delete
  12. Fab ads indeed :) The old cream deodorants sound awful to use. I remember my Nana telling me that they were not particularly effective and tended to stain the clothes. But I guess it was better that being afflicted wit the dreaded...BO!! ;P

    I have dress shields that I use when wearing most of my vintage attire. They are fabric ones that I bought in 'Spotlight' (sewing supplies chain in Oz.) They certainly protect underarm area and save a bunch on cleaning bills. Just pin them in then wash them when you are done! Pretty much identical to the old ones I have found still pinned in vintage dresses on occassion

    ReplyDelete
  13. I always love flipping through my old 40s and 50s magazines and finding the Mum and other deodorant ads. The more things change, the more things stay the same! lol.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hehe! Great ads! Now I have a new topic of conversation to bring up with my grandmother!

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails