Home » A History Lesson in Fashion: The Corset

A History Lesson in Fashion: The Corset

By definition, the corset is a close-fitting piece of clothing that has been stiffened by various means in order to shape a woman’s torso to conform to the fashionable silhouette of the time. The term “corset” only became popular during the 19th century; before that, such a garment was usually referred to as a pair of bodies, a stiff bodice, a pair of stays or, simply, stays. The corset has been around for many centuries and is still used today. Let’s take a look at the history of corset designs and how they have evolved over time.

The corset rose to popularity in France during the sixteenth century. French royalty, specifically Queen Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henry II, popularized the rib-squeezing garment and from there it spread like the plague. This began in the 1500s, and by the 1600s corsets were commonplace in the rest of Europe. While the corset has typically been worn as an undergarment, it has occasionally been used as an outer-garment; corsets as outer-garments can be seen in the national dress of many European countries.

The most common type of corset in the 1700s was an inverted conical shape, often worn to create a contrast between a rigid quasi-cylindrical torso above the waist and heavy full skirts below. The primary purpose of 18th-century stays was to raise and shape the breasts, tighten the midriff, support the back, improve posture to help a woman stand straight, with the shoulders down and back, and only slightly narrow the waist, creating a ‘V’ shaped upper torso over which the outer garment would be worn.

In the Victorian era, where everything was a bit stiffer, bone was used to give women the perfect posture – by preventing slouching. Slid down the front of the corset, the bone, often whalebone, proved to be a bit too uncomfortable for most. By 1800, the corset had become primarily a method of supporting the breasts, as the waist was raised to just under the bust line. Corsets still slimmed the torso but this was not their primary purpose.

In the late 19th century concerns about reports of tight lacing caused a movement for rational dress. Some doctors supported the theory that corsetry was injurious to health (particularly during pregnancy) and women who did tight lacing were condemned for vanity.

But like most retro fashion, corsets have increased in popularity. In the 1990s, corsets became popular in the fetish community and are now being used by fans of “Steam Punk”, a revival of Victorian era fashion with a modern twist.

Below are the types of corsets existing between the sixteen century up until today’s current day in age.

More Fashion Fabula

The History of American Footwear

America’s love affair with footwear dates way back. We decided to look at how shoe trends throughout the 20th century helped to both symbolize and

How to Wear Earth Toned Workwear

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EARTH DAY TO WORK WITH A NATURAL COLOR PALATE Discussions of color – and adding color into one’s wardrobe –

Work From Home Attire

One of the most attractive things about working from home is the opportunity to wear whatever you want to the “office.” But while it’s tempting

5 Style Habits for the Professional

While it’s true that in this day and age, office attire is more approachable and casual than ever, greater wisdom holds that dressing professionally still

Home Decor: How to Hang Wall Art

In addition to furniture, wall art can have a big impact on a room’s decor. Whether you’re hanging many different pictures or one statement piece

Look of the Week by Macy’s

Clockwise from left to right: Ray-Ban Sunglasses,Shearling Lamb Coat,7 for All Mankind Jeans,Ribbed Turtleneck,Madden Girl Boots

Quilted Leather Moto + Dress

Counter clockwise from left to right: Leith Dress, Rebecca Minkoff Crossbody, Quilted Leather Moto Jacket, Vince Bootie

3 Key Warm Weather Fabrics

The return of double-digit temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean stripping away all your clothes. While it’s tempting to reduce your wardrobe to shorts, tanks and flip

Tom Ford’s Private Blend

Care for a hint of tobacco? How about a whiff of black suede? If a taste for exotic aromas suits your style, then Tom Ford’s

The Best Jackets For Spring

Allow us to introduce you into the world of “transitional dressing”. This is your definitive guide on deciding how to dress when the weather is

Style Guide for Casual Friday

Don’t you just love Friday? One last stretch before the weekend, the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it and everyone else just seems to

How to Throw a Dinner Party

If you’ve been holding off throwing a party because you think your place is too small, or you’re embarrassed that it’s unfinished or not decorated

Look of the Week!

From left to right: Peyton Pebbled Satchel, Turtleneck T-Shirt, Wide-Leg Pant in Wool, Seavees Sneakers, Striped Trouser Socks, Stripe Sunglasses

Beauty Masterclass : Kajal Eyeliner

We’ve always been a fan of smoky, dramatic eyes. Ever since ancient times, kajal and kohl (note: you can use these terms interchangeably) have been

On Trend: Black and White

Amidst the noise of our daily lives, the simple and classic can refresh us like nothing else. Though it seems like plain common sense to

Editor’s Picks: White Out

From left to right: Topshop Crochet Overlay Dress, Dior Mono Eyeshawdow, MAC Eye Kohl, Matt Bernson Slide Sandal, MARC BY MARC JACOBS Cross Body Bag

Latest Fashion Coupons

There are no coupons currently available

Fashion Brands

Login

Use a social network:

Or:

Feedback/Suggest Brands

Again, welcome to Your Brandzaffair. Our goal is to be your daily source for immediate access to all your favorite brandz with their best offers, in addition to providing insights and reviews in your lifestyle interests. We want to always continue to improve your experience. Please tell us what you think and what we can do better.

Spread the Word