Unfortunately Ethel was then unwilling to let anyone except Will see her tiny waist. Nevertheless she and Will were very proud of her small waist, for few, if any, could surpass her. London Life had no photograph on its pages of anyone smaller, only sketches, which proved nothing. Will wished that he had sent her photo to the magazine, which at one time had a competition for the smallest waist. The lady who won had a 20" (50.8 cm) waist, but Ethel was smaller.
Soon the war started, and clothing was rationed. Will and Ethel always had enough ration coupons for clothing, but it was a problem to find someone who could make a corset to measure and to find strong enough materials, because tight lacing put a terrific strain on Ethel’s corsets. Their prewar and wartime corsets were made before nylon became available. Their list of corsetières was growing short, and eventually they tried Overett, who had taken over the business of Mme. Lorette. He still had some really good fabric left, so Will ordered a corset of pink satin with a 14" (35.5 cm) waist. He and Ethel went for a fitting in Hanover Square, where Overett had moved from Knightsbridge. His display window was filled with superb corsets of black, pink, and white satin, all of the straight front type. Overett, a small, nervous man, marvelled at Ethel’s waist and figure. He had no one smaller in his records.
His corsets were cut differently from what Ethel was used to, and Ethel wanted a stiffer busk. Will’s solution was to provide Overett with a steel plate cut from a saw blade. Overett made the necessary alteration, and within a week after the corset was delivered, Ethel was comfortable wearing it closed. Will ordered a second corset with a 14" (35.5 cm) waist, having decided to stay at that size because he and Ethel had so much work because of the war. It was made of pink broche because the satin fabric was gone.
Problems getting corsets arose. Overett could not get fabric from France, and a doctor’s prescription was required for a made to order corset. As Ethel’s corsets deteriorated with time, repairs became difficult, and eventually her corsets wore out. To retain her figure and take the strain off her corset, Will made a stiff leather belt which she wore over her corset.
Nevertheless by the time the war was over, her figure had been set back by 10 years. Clothes rationing continued until 1950, and by the time good corsets became available, the smallest waist that Ethel could achieve was 16" (40.6 cm). The first corset Will ordered after the war was with a 15" (38 cm) waist, and they had great difficulty getting her into it. Ethel did not want to return to tiny waists and their restrictions.
Copyright © ethelganger.com