In these modern times, if a woman wants a slimmer waist she will typically turn to Spandex or some un-sexy body-slimming underwear. But while it might give you the trimmer waist you want, the unglamorous undergarments will only give you the Bridget Jones nightmare you want to avoid when wanting to look sexy for an important event. While a corset is less about being practical and more about wanting to look sexy, you might still choose to don one when wanting to spice up your life with a spouse. The long controversial history of wearing a corset idealized tiny waists and looking sexy for a man.
“Fashionable silhouettes have changed over time and across cultures. Since they change, it’s pretty clear that it’s not because of any underlying consistent desire on the part of any group, but a dominant result of a complex milieu in which gender politics had their part.” Lois from Kiss Me Deadly.co.uk
Corsets in the 16th Century
The wearing of a corset can be dated back as far as the 16th-17th Century where their original form was a cone shape that not only flattened the bodice but pushed the breasts to the top, as the emphasis at that time wasn’t so much on the waist but on the cleavage.
Nick from Retro & Lace.co.uk makes the point that women were peer-pressured to wear one by not only society but as a way to grab a man, “It was more down to peer pressure, the slimmer the waist the more attractive the lady.”
Wearing a corset went out of fashion in the late 1700s, but during the Victorian era they were a surged in popularity as women wanted to return to the hourglass form.
The early Victorian corset was a metal bodice and was not designed for fashion. These were for orthopedic use, and would occasionally cause long lasting physical damage to a woman when worn too tightly. Many doctors in the 19th century advised against the daily use of a corset and especially discouraged wearing one throughout pregnancy (however, many women still wore them but added a few extra buttons or laces for added comfort).
In the early part of the 20th century, publications printed advertisements on encouraging women to abandon the corset all-together – even so, during the Edwardian period the S-shaped corset became fashionable, you might remember that Lady Violet Crawley wore one in series one of Downton Abbey.
When the first world war started in 1914, it was asked from the war industries board that women held out buying new corsets as the metal was to be used for war, beginning the end of the corset era, but the real nails in the coffin for corsets was in World War II, when the same request was made a second time.
While WWII signaled the end of the corset era for most of society’s women, the practice of wearing a corset still exist to this day. Also, as a piece of vintage clothing, the garment is a must-have for any vintage collectors. Another vintage trend is the rise in popularity of burlesque dancing, which uses corsets prominently in its fashions.
Nick from Retro & Lace.co.uk has this to add about why there is still a demand for wearing a corset, “Corsets today are more contemporary in style, and some are adorned with lace and detail targeting the Burlesque and Retro fanatics. Others are still used for the purpose; there are still some elderly customers who buy corsets and belts for support and more importantly to hold up their stockings.”
I originally wrote this for here.