Friday, June 22, 2012

The Origins Of The Corset

When we think of sexy women's clothing the corset is one of the garments that immediately springs to mind. But what is it about them that has made them so enduringly sexy and popular through the ages?

Read on to see their history:

The corset is a garment that women have used to give them a svelte hourglass figure. They work by sucking in your waist and defining your figure more than it may already be, and get their strength due to an in-built structure of reinforcement.

If you already own one then congratulations, you've got a piece of history as old as Shakespeare as they've been around since the 16th Century.

At this time they were mainly used for pushing up and defining a woman's bust and keeping their tummy flat. I can't imagine they were very comfortable at all though as they were actually constructed from flat pieces of wood (called bones) wrapped in cloth!

This style stayed pretty much the same until the early 1800s when corsets became less strongly constructed. Despite this they were thought to be beneficial to one's posture, as well as giving shape to the body and woman's bust like before.

Because they weren't as rigid they actually weren't so good for improving posture as it turns out, because they actually lacked the support necessary to really help straighten posture. Call it teething troubles in the evolution of the corset, if you will.

At this time there was another type of corset that was starting to become fashionable, the high-waisted model. As you can guess by its name, this model created a waistline higher than your own natural waistline by pushing in the body just below the bust, so under your ribs.

This was fashionable at the time and to be able to visualize this waistline you should think of an Empire dress (which was also coming into fashion at this time) which also has a waistline in the same place.

By the time Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 19th Century the fashion had changed again and women were once again using corsets to define their natural waistline rather than create an artificial one.

In fact this Victorian style is the one that still remains today and its main strength is that it creates a gorgeous hourglass figure.

One fashion that has thankfully disappeared since Victorian times is the practice of 'tightlacing' which was eventually proven to damage the wearer's internal organs! This is when, as well as the structure of 'bones' in the body of the corset, a lattice-work of laces were also tightened to add extra definition and make women's waists as small as possible.

Articles and letters from upper-class ladies of the time refer, amusingly, to the lengths that their handmaidens would have to go to in order to get them into their corsets. If you imagine you can almost visualize a group of sweating handmaidens struggling to pull tight the laces of their chubby mistress's corset!

In the 20th Century, the Edwardian style came about which altered a woman's posture in order to make her waist look smaller by moving her hips back and bust forwards. Women's hips are naturally forward and so this type was hard to wear an uncomfortable and so didn't last long!

So we are left with the modern corset which is based loosely on the Victorian style. Rather than being made from wood, whale-bone and other less comfortable materials, they're commonly made now with silk, lace, satin and plastic or even metal boning.

Why do they endure? They're sexy, fun and give you an amazing hourglass figure, so what's not to like!?

Although not so common on the shelves of most stores, corsets can be found easily online and are relatively expensive!

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