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Girdle

The term girdle, meaning "belt", commonly refers to the liturgical attire that normally closes a cassock in many Christian denominations, including the Anglican Communion, Methodist Church and Lutheran Church. The girdle, in the 8th or 9th century, was said to resemble an ancient Levitical Jewish vestment, and in that era, was not visible. In 800 AD, the girdle began to be worn by Christian deacons in the Eastern Church.

The girdle, for men, symbolizes preparation and readiness to serve, and for women, represents chastity and protection; it was also worn by laypersons in the Middle Ages, as attested in literature. For example, the hagiographical account of Saint George and the Dragon mentions the evildoer being tamed with the sign of the cross and a girdle handed to Saint George by a virgin.

Since the 20th century, the word "girdle" also has been used to define an undergarment made of elasticized fabric that was worn by women. It is a form-fitting foundation garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often to shape or for support. It may be worn for aesthetic or medical reasons. In sports or medical treatment, a girdle may be worn as a compression garment. This form of women's foundation wear replaced the corset in popularity, and was in turn to a large extent surpassed by the pantyhose in the 1960s.

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