Garter belt is a woman's undergarment consisting of an elastic piece of cloth
worn around the waist to which garters are attached to hold up stockings. In the
United Kingdom they are also known as suspender belts.
In the medieval period, garters were worn in a similar fashion. The Order of the
Garter is the highest order of knighthood in Britain. Its motto, Honi soit qui
mal y pense ("shamed be the person who thinks evil of it"), is based on the
story of a gathering in which a woman's garter fell off, and the King picked it
up and slid it up her leg for her. The king said the motto in answer to the
knights snickering at the event.
Also, in medieval times, the groom's men would rush at the new bride to take her
garters off her as a prize.
Garter belts were a common, popular alternative to the girdle in the 1940s
through the 1960s, especially among teens and young women. The garter belt was
simpler and more practical than the girdle because it basically was used only to
hold up stockings. It was considered more comfortable than a girdle. Some men's
magazines featured models in garter belts and stockings, sometimes with slips or
Present day use
Garter belts continue to be sold through specialty and some department stores,
as well as catalogues and websites, because many women find them more
comfortable than girdles or pantyhose. There is also a certain element of sex
appeal, too, because many men like their wives or girlfriends to wear garter
belts and stockings rather than pantyhose. There are also panties with attached
garters, similar to those seen in some of the men's magazines in the early
1960s. Garter belts today are available in a variety of colors and materials;
red or black satin garter belts are particularly popular. Six-garter and
four-garter versions are available; women find the six-garter styles more
practical. Many garter belts today are made of a mixture of nylon and spandex.
A garter belt normally had two or three garters on each side attached to a
stiff, reinforced strip of material (at least two or three inches wide) that
fastened around the waist. Three garters worked best in attaching the stocking
because the two-garter version did not hold the stocking as tight.