Overview[edit | edit source]
The oldest find of corset is a pair of stays form in Spanish mediaeval painting from c. 1460.
- The Stays
- The French Corset (whalebone and sewing machine)
- The classic Victorian corset (steelbone and belly)
- The Edwardian corsets (hollow back.)
It is not easy to make a list of corset periods because many types were in use at the same time. All corset makers had their own style, but from about 1860, the corset industry of Paris was at the forefront of corset fashion. Below is a list of periods in the history of the corset.
Before 1500[edit | edit source]
It is unclear whether corsets existed before 1500, as information on them is unreliable.
Many books say that Cretan women used the corset c. 2000 BC because they made idols in the shape of a corset. These idols were originally two round pots bottom to bottom, the handle on the top pot being the nose on the idols and the edge line of bottom to bottom being the waist of the idols. The shape of the idols was traditional for idols, not the shape of Cretan women. The detail of the idols tell us that the old Cretan idols wore big loincloths, and the later idols have a tunic of open lace and a loincloth. The corset-shaped figure of the idols was a primitive Cretan style.
Virgins from 15th century sometimes wore a long tight lace outfit, but it was only a dress, not a corset.
1500-1970[edit | edit source]
In this period many different corsets were in fashion.
|iron corset cover||1500||no compress||-|
|stays (narrow conical)||about 1550||low waist||fine?|
|stays (conical)||about 1575||lowered chest?||poor?|
|stays (narrow conical)||about 1700
|compressed lowered chest, low waist||poor|
|unstayed stays||about 1775||fine?|
|romanticism||ball-ball, hourglass||1815||low horizontal waist||medium||very rare|
|"pipestem" corset||1830||pipestem waist||fine||very rare|
|ice cone, ball-conical||1830||raised chest, low waist||fine||ballet, opera|
|conical-conical, hourglass||1855||raised chest, high wasp waist||fine||edge in liver|
|"oval chest"||1880||raised compressed chest, long concave waist||medium||flattened liver, not healthy|
|s-curve, 'Gibson girl'||1900||raised expanded chest, high sloping waist||fine||floozie, edge in liver|
|s-curve, 'Dagmar Hansen'||1910||low sloping wasp waist, raised expanded chest||fine||singer|
|straight front||1902||very big loin curve, expanded chest. wasp waist||medium||edge in kidney, bad back|
|straight front||1909||very high small loin, very high sloping waist||poor?||edge in kidney, bad back|
|pipe-shape||1910||expanded chest, no loin curve||fine|
|pipe-shape||1910||press buttock, no loin curve||fine||ugly, inconvenient|
|ice cone, ball-conical||1947||raised chest, low waist||fine||high shoulder|
|hybrid-corset||1970?||short pipestem waist||medium|
Iron corset covers, about 1500[edit | edit source]
It is sometimes claimed that these were the everyday wear of women and girls throughout Europe in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. But they are more likely to be orthopedic instruments used by a very few women whose posture was not considered acceptable by the health and beauty standards of the time.
- It is likely that the Iron Corset was originally a type of armour worn only by men.
- The fact is as the "iron corset" was used both of men and women, but only on dress occasions. The iron was heavy, but the dress was also heavy, and the iron was padded underneath like armour. The silk of that time was very expensive but of poor quality and stretched poorly. It looked beautiful on the shining metal. The iron corset also worked as a bulletproof waistcoat, because assassination by knife in heart was a common risk.
- The padded "iron corset" and armour was known as a corset on women, and a waistcoat (vest) on men.
In these images, you can see a man and woman in corset with iron cover, covered by silk.
Stays, 1550? to about 1890[edit | edit source]
Stays are an old type of corset. It is worn over the dress or skirt and is laced to the waist, as opposed to a more conventional corset which extends below the hips. Typically stays were made by hand in 1860 or earlier in some countries. Over time, stays became shorter and shorter, eventually evolving into an early form of brassiere.
A set of stays has a shoulder strap opposed to a waist cincher.
Victorian Corsets, 1831 - 1901[edit | edit source]
Most people have an idea of a "Victorian corset"; however, the British Victorian era comprised a long period of changes in culture and fashion from 1837 to 1901. During that time many styles of corsets were in use. The most ubiquitous feature was the "horizontal waist" which was common from about 1850 to 1899. The "Victorian corsets" for sale today are most likely New Look corsets.
The S-curve corset (1900 - ?) and the Straight-fronted corset 1903 - 1912?[edit | edit source]
The straight-front corset (also known as the swan-bill corset and the s-curve corset) was a type of corset worn from the start of the nineteenth century until around 1907. Its name is derived from the very rigid, straight busk that was used down the center of the front.
It was the most complex shape of corset ever made, with high-quality corsets consisting of up to 48 intricately curved and shaped pieces. The straight-front corset was intended to be less injurious to wearers' health than other corsets; but, when worn too tight, these corsets were the most uncomfortable and harmful style of corset to ever have been widely popular. The silhouette given by the straight-front corset is familiar from the Gibson Girl of the period.
The straight-front corset was popularised by Inez Gaches-Sarraute, a corsetiere with a degree in medicine. The style was probably the result of several like-minded corsetieres and medical professionals. It was intended to create fewer health problems and to be less constricting than previous types of corsets. The hourglass corset "suppress[ed] the bust," and the spoon busk, which often curved inwards for part of its length, "forced the organs downwards" claimed Gaches-Sarraute in her 1900 study Le Corset: Etude physiologique and pratique (The Corset: A Physiological and Practical Study).
Gaches-Sarraute suggested a corset that:
- freed the bust by starting below the breasts;
- supported, rather than constricted, the abdomen with a very rigid, straight busk and inflexible boning.
The first element was not problematic, although in order to create the 'monobosom' effect that was fashionable women started wearing bust supporters, the design of which eventually lead to the brassiere.
The second feature created more problems, though. When the straight-front corset was worn laced moderately tight, very little pressure was placed on the abdomen and some of the compression was transferred to the sides of the waist, where boning was lighter and more flexible. However, because of the extreme rigidity at the front of the corset, it was possible to achieve greater reductions on waist size than with the hourglass corset. When tightlaced, the straight-front corset put a great deal of pressure on the lower abdomen. This caused the S-curve silhouette: the wearer's hips were thrust back, giving a deep curve to her lower back, and her chest was thrust forward. In most cases, tightlacing in a straight-front corset caused lower back pain, breathing difficulties, and knee problems (through hyperextension). It has also been claimed that the pressure placed on the lower abdomen caused a prolapsed uterus, although this has not been proved.
- External link:-
Wasp Creations' page on corset shapes has a very good section on the straight-front corset, including good diagrams.
The Pipe-shape corsets, 1912 - 1928?[edit | edit source]
Pipe-shape was a name sometimes given to a type of corset in fashion from 1908 to 1920. It helped to give the slender, straight silhouette that was a reaction to the exaggerated curves of the S-shape corset.
Corset from 1993 to today[edit | edit source]
Nursing corsets[edit | edit source]
In the age before formulas and pre-made baby food, most Victorian mothers breastfed their babies, or the rich had wet nurses. Nowadays, nursing bras are available. But then, overbust corsets were in fashion, so nursing corsets were needed.
Maternity corsets[edit | edit source]
At that time women used corsets. They had a problem during pregnancy because they needed a corset to support the back and the sides, and because pressure from the tight lacing thinned the abdominal wall. The solution was a Maternity corset.
Corset: QUESTIONS OF PRESSURE AND DISPLACEMENT
a corset patent