Gauzrib- Knitted “Vest” Underwear, 1910

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed I get geekily excited whenever I find references to authentic Edwardian era undergarments. Especially everyday, practical garments like knitted vests which you can read in this blog post from 2018 (basically the Edwardian tank top that replaced chemises for many women). So, to my happiness, I came across this ad from the June 1910 Good Housekeeping magazine.

The text reads:

“Gauzrib” The Underwear Sensation

Something entirely new. The most unique and stylish underwear ever made. In quality, fit and finish “Gauzrib” is “the newest of the new” in lingerie.

“Gauzrib” is exclusive. It is unlike any other underwear, anywhere, at any price. We are originators of both machines and fabric, and we know. It is finer, softer and more delightfully glove-fitting than any other. And it is durable. You can launder it again and again.

“Gauzrib” is just full of elasticity. It gives with every movement of the body. It is the finest, smoothest, silkiest underwear fabric ever made. The undervest you see above- a size five- fitting a 36 bust, will stretch to nearly 40 inches, and yet so fine, sheer and filmy is it that you can pass it through a wedding-ring as illustrated. Think of it!

Hand-Made Lace Finish

The superb “Gauzrib” finish is something to take your breath away. Real hand-crocheted lace, every stitch of it- costing initself more than you pay for the average undervest. There is nothing like “Gauzrib” anywhere.

These statements are made by a reliable company and are truthful. “Gauzrib” Underwear for women is made by the makers of Cooper’s celebrated “Spring Needle” Underwear for men, the kind you see advertised so often. The machines which make the “Gauzrib” fabric are just perfected.

Cooper’s “Gauzrib” Underwear is not yet for sale at your dealer’s. It is too new for that. But you can secure the “Gauzrib” Undervests from us direct by ordering quickly. The price is $2.00 each, charges prepaid, and they are worth it. Send check or money order at once, if you would make sure of your order being filled. Our present output is limited. Better send today.

Cooper Manufacturing Co.

Department “J,” Bennington, Vermont

Manufacturers of Cooper’s famous “Spring Needle” Undwear for men.

Beautifully illustrated booklet on request.

In researching this a bit more online, the earliest reference I could find was from 1908, though I suspect the date is mis-quoted, as it is the same as the 1910 advertisement. In another advertisement from December, 1910, it says:

“The ‘Gauzrib’ Vest here illustrated is finished with three and one-half inches of genuine hand-crocheted lace. We guarantee fabric, finish and workmanship.

Send $2.00 for sample ‘Gauzrib’ Vest in a pretty Christmas box. If you are not delighted with it- if you don’t feel and know there is nothing to compare with it, return it and get your money back. But you will want to keep it, and buy half a dozen more for your friends. “Gauzrib” is an ideal Christmas gift- something ever dainty woman appreciates- something which will not be duplicated. Order to-day.

This sample vest, identical in fabric and workmanship but with less elaborate trimming, one dollar.

Sample of fabric and illustrated booklet on request.”

For reference, $2 is about $65.75 today. $1 is about $32.88 today. And how I would *love* to see that catalog and fabric sample in person!

Eventually, Gauzrib was picked up by dry goods suppliers and their styles were expanded, as an ad in the Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1913 newspaper advertises that “Union Suits, low neck, sleeveless style, trimmed and tight knee, $1.25. Vests, in low neck, sleeveless style, 50c- first at Coulter’s. Knitwear, Main Floor”

If you’d like a side rabbit hole into Coulter’s Department Store in Los Angeles, you can find more information here.

In the later advertisements it does mention hand done trimmings by experts, but no longer the elaborate 3 1/2 inches of hand made lace. Judging by the description, I think it’s very likely the original was a natural synthetic like rayon, with a silk-like finish. I have personally seen undergarments from the 1940s in rayon knits that are quite silky and soft, but not nearly as fine and sheer as mentioned here.

The last reference I can find at this time to Gauzrib vests is from September, 1913, so we can assume they faded out sometime before World War One.

If anyone happens to find the original catalog or an existing garment, please do let us know!

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